Tag Archives: Shahram Sarkani

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Survey of Small Business Barriers to Department of Defense Contracts


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Ronnie Schilling, Thomas A. Mazzuchi, and Shahram Sarkani

A key tenet of the Better Buying Power initiatives is to increase small business participation in Department of Defense contracting. The department has had mixed success in retaining small businesses and meeting small business contracting goals. Results of a survey given to 681 small business leaders show many factors commonly exist that prevent small businesses from pursuing defense contracts. Some factors are more common than others, with the most cited factors related to a lack of communication from government leads or to the government taking too long to give approvals and make decisions. Statistical evidence also supports the perceptions, of smaller and newer small businesses, that the defense business is more challenging for them than for their larger and more experienced competitors. However, this turned out to be the case for only a subset of the factors we explored. Continue reading

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Tailoring a Large Organization’s Systems Engineering Process to Meet Project-Specific Needs


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Authors: Matthew Graviss, Shahram Sarkani, and Thomas A. Mazzuchi

Systems engineers are faced with the difficult challenge of adhering to broad systems engineering (SE) policies, while simultaneously tailoring SE processes to meet the unique challenges facing their projects. Tailoring is often performed in an ad hoc manner. Determining which stages, steps, and artifacts of the process are necessary can be time-consuming and challenging. SE guidebooks across industry and government organizations often stress the importance of tailoring, yet offer little practical guidance on how to perform the function. This article proposes a model for automating the SE tailoring process through the definition of an organizational rule set and a minimal set of project-specific inputs. The model is then analyzed through several case studies within the Department of Homeland Security to evaluate the proposed approach.

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A Comparative Analysis of the Value of Technology Readiness Assessments


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Authors: Reginald U. Bailey, Thomas A. Mazzuchi, Shahram Sarkani, and David F. Rico

The U.S. Department of Defense endorsed and later mandated the use of Technology Readiness Assessments (TRAs) and knowledge-based practices in the early 2000s for use as a tool in the management of program acquisition risk. Unfortunately, implementing TRAs can be costly, especially when programs include knowledge-based practices such as prototyping, performance specifications, test plans, and technology maturity plans. What is the economic impact of these TRA practices on the past and present acquisition performance of the U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force? The conundrum today is that no commonly accepted approach is in use to determine the economic value of TRAs. This article provides a model for the valuation of TRAs in assessing the risk of technical maturity.

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Dynamic Consequences of Cost, Schedule, and Performance Within DoD Project Management


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Authors: Patrick R. Cantwell, Dr. Shahram Sarkani, and Dr. Thomas A. Mazzuchi

Project management has been a constant challenge for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) acquisition community. While most DoD projects are technologically advanced, the tools and methods to manage these projects are the same as for simple, repetitive projects. The authors argue that traditional approaches fail because they only evaluate the relationships between two of the three elements of cost, schedule, and performance. Instead, they have developed a system dynamics model that allows cost, schedule, and performance to interact and influence one another. This model is complementary to other research and intended to be usable by the practicing project manager. The results from model runs will provide consequences for three potential control alternatives in DoD project management.

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U.S. Space Acquisition: Challenges in the Final Frontier


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Authors: Barry “Jay” Borst, Shahram Sarkani, and Thomas Mazzuchi

Space contributes to the security and economic stability of the United States. However, numerous studies, articles, and surveys state export control is hurting the space industrial base. The nation’s ability to acquire space systems, according to many published sources, is diminishing and may impact its leadership in the field of space. Many claim excessive export controls as one of the primary causes and often cite statistics, data, and information contained within a 2007 Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) survey to validate their claim. While the AFRL survey certainly provides insight and should not be entirely discounted, the application of System Dynamics Modeling suggests the survey’s findings on export control are outdated.

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Employing Risk Management to Control Military Construction Costs


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Authors: LTC Steven M. F. Stuban, USA (Ret.), Thomas A. Mazzuchi, and Shahram Sarkani

Systems acquisition inherently contains elements of uncertainty that must be effectively managed to meet project cost, schedule, and performance objectives. While the U.S. Department of Defense has a record of employing systems engineering technical management processes (including risk management) to address these uncertainties for major weapon systems acquisition, the application of risk management to Military Construction (MILCON) projects is a recent development. This research studies the use of a formal risk management program on a MILCON project and assesses whether such use influences the project’s total cost growth relative to that of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ historical data. A case study methodology is employed assessing the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA)’s multibillion dollar NGA Campus East program.

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Maximizing Federal IT Dollars: A Connection Between IT Investments and Organizational Performance


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Authors: BG Ennis C. “Jim” Whitehead, USAR (Ret.), Shahram Sarkani, and Thomas A. Mazzuchi

Evaluating how best to invest government information technology (IT) dollars means making choices. Should agencies strengthen infrastructure with energy-efficient servers and increased network bandwidth, purchase software to cut costs, increase collaboration, or invest more to meet stakeholders’ future needs? Is there a connection between the way agencies invest IT dollars and successful mission accomplishment? In this article, the authors show a connection between IT investment allocations and organizational performance in federal government agencies, and demonstrate how higher performing agencies invest differently in IT than lower performing agencies. Federal managers can compare their organization’s IT investment portfolio with high-performing agencies and compare their investment allocations with other federal organizations with similar missions to determine optimum IT investment allocations for their agencies.

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