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Analysis of Cost and Schedule Estimation Trends for Major Defense Acquisition Programs
This study uses both descriptive and inferential techniques to investigate trends in cost and schedule estimates created by the Department of Defense for their Major Defense Acquisition Programs (MDAPs) throughout the last five decades. For schedule growth percentages, we did not identify any statistically significant trend regarding increasing or decreasing schedule changes or variances of schedule estimates throughout the five decades analyzed. Examining the overall cost growth of MDAPs, a statistically significant difference between the Cost Growth Factors (CGFs) calculated between the 1990s and the 2010s was found, with the 2010s exhibiting lower CGFs. A downward trend in the variances of overall CGFs throughout the decades was identified in three out of four of the analyses conducted. Lastly, differences were detected in the program acquisition unit cost (PAUC) CGFs between the 1990s and the 2010s, and slight differences between the 1970s and the 2010s. Additionally, PAUC CGFs also displayed differences in variances. Overall, we found no trends identifying that the DoD is improving accuracy of cost or schedule estimates for MDAPs; however, we did identify a statistically consistent reduction in the variances of overall CGFs for MDAPs through the five decades. This finding appears to be the first documented case known to us.
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