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Failure Is Not an Option: A Root Cause Analysis of Failed Acquisition Programs

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Technical Report

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Naval Postgraduate School Monterey United States

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The current budgetary climate in the federal government is one of increasing uncertainty, making the long-term acquisition of critical weapon systems within the Department of Defense a challenging prospect. Rapid budget growth and a preoccupation with global military operations over the last fifteen years created a difficult environment to prioritize and track failed acquisition programs, resulting in a poor understanding of the actual root causes of program failures. By studying a subset of cancelled major defense acquisition programs, it is possible to achieve a better understanding of root causes for failure and analyze whether there are commonalities among the root causes for failure to apply to future programs. This research informs military leadership and program executive officers of potential risk components in future acquisition programs that are critical to the achievement of national security objectives. Areas of particular concern include poor technology progression, negative congressional involvement, waiving milestone A, and a significant change in requirements.

Subject Categories:

  • Administration and Management
  • Logistics, Military Facilities and Supplies

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