An Analysis of Weapon System Cost Growth
AIR FORCE MOBILITY CENTER CHARLESTON AFB SC
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Cost growth in weapon system development, one result of the inherent risk of developing advanced systems, has been a prevalent problem for many years. A systematic bias in cost estimates can undermine the basis of resource allocation decisions, an important problem in a tight budget environment. Currently DoD is in this situation. This exploratory research attempts to gain new insight into this old acquisition issue. In particular, our objectives were to quantify the magnitude of cost growth in weapon systems, and identify factors affecting cost growth. A better understanding of the scope of the cost growth problem would provide decisionmakers with an improved basis for mitigating cost growth. Insight into the drivers of cost growth might suggest policy alternatives appropriate to the goal of mitigating cost growth. This research uses a database composed of 197 major weapon systems reporting through the Selected Acquisition Report SAR process as of December 1990 to address these issues. While we have quantified the magnitude of weapon system cost growth along a number of dimensions, we could not definitively account for the observed cost growth patterns. Thus, no silver bullet policy option is available for mitigating cost growth.
- Economics and Cost Analysis
- Defense Systems