Dr. Larrie D. Ferreiro, Executive Editor, Defense ARJ
This issue’s theme, “The Visible Hand of Defense Systems Management,” reflects the fact that the development and fielding of military systems and services has never been directed solely by the “invisible hand” of market mechanisms, but rather has always relied on strong guidance by the “visible hand” of deliberate, well-considered management of the acquisition process. The origins of this process are engagingly described in Alfred Chandler’s The Visible Hand: The Managerial Revolution in American Business, this issue’s selection for the Defense Acquisition Professional Reading List and reviewed by Dr. Nayantara Hensel, a member of the Defense ARJ’s Research Advisory Board.
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.
Author: Matthew R. Kennedy and Lt Col Dan Ward, USAF
With the fast-paced nature of technology, rapidly fielding systems has never been more important. Success depends on well-defined requirements and the ability to rapidly respond to change during and after deployment. The inability to rapidly respond may cause the system to become obsolete before initial fielding. Creating a structure where processes allow for changes during system development requires restructuring system development values and principles at all levels. This article addresses progress toward agility and defines agile values and principles being used by agile organizations in the Business, System, and Software Aspects. It also defines operationally effective agile practices being utilized to implement those values and principles that provide a starting point for inserting agility into the system development process.
As the volume of government contracting increases, so does the importance of monitoring government contractors to guard against Organizational Conflict of Interest (OCI). For contracting officers to identify OCIs, they must be able to identify the relevant business interests of a contractor’s affiliates. This information may be private or not easily obtained. Using newly released data to develop preliminary visualizations of contractor organizational structures shows the organizational structure of many contractors to be complex and multinational. The complexity and the lack of easily available public information make it very unlikely that contracting officers could identify OCIs without substantial improvements in government data collection.
Learning curves are useful for assessing performance improvement due to the positive impact of learning. In recent years, the deleterious effects of forgetting have also been recognized. Workers experience forgetting or decline in performance over time. Consequently, contemporary learning curves have attempted to incorporate forgetting components into learning curves. An area of increasing interest is the study of how fast and how far the forgetting impact can influence overall performance. This article introduces the concept of half-life analysis of learning curves using the concept of growth and decay, with particular emphasis on applications in the defense acquisition process. The computational analysis of the proposed technique lends itself to applications for designing training and retraining programs for the Defense Acquisition Workforce.
Applying decision cost analysis provides the U.S. Government an alternative to the existing process for selecting construction contractors. The Decision Cost Model (DCM) proposed in this article evaluates each prospective contractor against computed cost factors and uses the contractor’s cost estimates to compute the total expected cost for construction projects. The DCM can be used with any number of contractors and with any number of construction division categories.
Publisher: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press
Copyright Date: 1993
Hard/Softcover: Both, 624 pages
Reviewed by: Dr. Nayantara Hensel, Professor of Industry and Business at National Defense University and a member of the Defense ARJ Research Advisory Board. Dr. Hensel’s PhD is from Harvard University, where she learned from Dr. Chandler himself.