Assessing Weapon System Acquisition Cycle Times: Setting Program Schedules
Institute for Defense Analyses Alexandria
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Defense acquisition has long been criticized for taking too long to field new systemsi.e., the cycle time. The current Better Buying Power initiatives have established shorter cycle time as an important objective. This project investigates how MDAP schedules are set and how they are managed, to provide timely capabilities to DOD forces. The research team reviewed documentation on schedule setting and conducted interviews with personnel in both the requirements and acquisition communities. Six MDAPs were selected for investigation. The team sought to determine what methodologies the requirements community used to set times for when capabilities are needed and how those times affected program schedules. The research team found that the process for setting schedules is highly variable and generally lacking in rigor. Schedules are more of an output than an input. In most cases, that was not a problem in itselffor most acquisition programs getting it right is more important than meeting a predetermined schedule unless that schedule is driven by firm, critical operational requirements. If schedule is a strong driver, then the technology chosen for use in the program must be at a high level of maturity.