“Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.”1
— Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1957
The ever-quotable Dwight D. Eisenhower, speaking to a group of industry executives who could be mobilized for war at a moment’s notice, was echoing an old adage about warfare: “No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy.”2 Eisenhower’s message, like the man himself, was straightforward: “The reason it is so important to plan [is] to keep yourselves steeped in the character of the problem that you may one day be called upon to solve—or to help to solve.” He was reminding them that warfare is inherently fluid, and that the only way to adjust to quickly changing circumstances is to have planned for such contingencies in advance.
Strategic Planning and Management (SP&M) methods are widely used in the commercial sector and are a required organizational activity within the U.S. Government. More specifically, defense acquisition organizations use SP&M methods to strengthen the management of defense acquisition organizations/programs. This article reports results of a survey of the defense acquisition community that assessed how SP&M methods and practices promote management effectiveness. The results show that SP&M is viewed as valuable to Department of Defense system acquisition programs and organizations. Moreover, this effort identified high-value activities, tools, processes, practices, and common roadblocks to effective SP&M. These results imply that training on processes and tool use can be very important, especially for senior leaders, and implementation assistance can also be useful.
Author: Daniel Deitz, Timothy J. Eveleigh, Thomas H. Holzer, and Shahryar Sarkani
Today, programs are required to do more with less. With 70 percent of a system’s life-cycle cost set at pre-Milestone B, the most significant cost savings potential is prior to Milestone B. Pre-Milestone B efforts are usually reduced to meet tight program schedules. This article proposes a new Systems Engineering Concept Tool and Method (SECTM) that uses genetic algorithms to quickly identify optimal solutions. Both are applied to unmanned undersea vehicle design to show process feasibility. The method increases the number of alternatives assessed, considers technology maturity risk, and incorporates systems engineering cost into the Analysis of Alternatives process. While not validated, the SECTM would enhance the likelihood of success for sufficiently resourced programs.
Program managers typically focus on controlling costs and delivering a quality product. The acquisition stool’s third leg—program schedule—appears to be a resource that can be slipped to accommodate unstable funding or technical difficulties. Despite studies linking high program cost and long schedules, few major defense acquisition programs are completed in less than a decade. Programs with longer schedules experience further schedule slips, exacerbating the problem. This article is based on research presented at the 2012 Naval Postgraduate School’s 9th Annual Research Symposium. It includes a review of the extant literature on cost and schedule relationships, presents analysis of a survey of program manager perceptions and master schedule usage, and examines why schedules may be problematic to acquisition success.
Numerous studies have provided evidence that performance based logistics (PBL) can control cost and improve performance. The success—and failure—of PBL strategies suggest the need to position the PBL research domain into a fabric of theory. Just as engineering theories predict the reliability of a new armored vehicle, economic and business theories provide a framework that explains the efficacy of PBL. This article describes the underlying theoretical fabric of PBL. Armed with a framework grounded in theory, senior leaders can make science-based decisions to explain, predict, refine, and advocate for affordability-enhancing, life-cycle governance structures by leveraging the critical success factors of PBL.
Author: CDR E. Cory Yoder, USN (Ret.), Maj William E. Long, Jr., USAF (Ret.), and Dayne E. Nix
Contracting in expeditionary operations is not new. What is new is the scope and magnitude of the roles that contracting and contractors play in today’s military operations. Lack of planning and sound contract integration at the strategic level leads to inefficiencies, ineffectiveness, and, in many cases, outright fraud. Annex W, Operational Contract Support Plan, is the overall operations plan for Geographic Combatant Commands and the Services within the Adaptive Planning and Execution System framework. The authors propose an Integrated Planner and Executor (IPE) model for operational contract support and its integration into Annex W and existing war planning systems by congressionally mandating, authorizing, and funding IPE positions within Service structures. The IPE would be vested with the authority to establish, monitor, and manage Annex W.
Authors: Col Robert L. Tremaine, USAF (Ret.), and Donna J. Kinnear-Seligman
Managing an acquisition program in the DoD is a complicated process. The turbulence created by funding instability can make it even more difficult. Nonetheless, to help program offices maintain their overall funding execution pace, the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) instituted Obligation and Expenditure rate goals over two decades ago. For numerous reasons, acquisition program managers have found it difficult to meet established Obligation and Expenditure rate goals. For purposes of this article, and based on Defense Acquisition University and OSD subject matter expertise, the authors looked more closely at the potential causal factors that could be interfering with the achievement of these goals.