Tag Archives: Commonality

Relieving Joint Pain: Planning Government Acquisition of Complex Common Systems


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Authors: Anthony C. Wicht and Edward F. Crawley

Commonality, an increasingly popular strategy in developing complex defense projects, leverages sharing or reuse across projects to significantly reduce life-cycle costs. Despite its potential within DoD as a best practice, programs focused on commonality have met with mixed success. This article argues that commonality strategies must be matched with complementary acquisition strategies to improve outcomes. Full, open competition is not the best acquisition strategy if commonality can unlock life-cycle affordability. Metrics and payment structures must consider the commonality goals to be achieved; otherwise, contractor motivations and government goals will be misaligned. The recommendations in this article draw on commonality research conducted on behalf of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which examined 19 DoD, commercial, and NASA case studies.

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