Home' Army Acquisition Logistics and Technology Magazine : Army ALT January-March 2017 Contents threads, comprise activities that PMs must manage to ensure the
thorough planning and careful monitoring of manufacturing.
The threads and sub-threads are:
• Technology and industrial base.
• Cost and funding.
• Process capability and control.
• Quality management.
• Manufacturing workforce, including engineering
• Manufacturing management.
Knowledge Management. Since 1998, GAO has emphasized
the importance of a shared understanding of critical knowledge
by the PM, the intermediate acquisition chain of command and
the acquisition authority at selected program decision reviews
(such as milestone B) before allowing a developmental acquisi-
tion program to proceed to its next step. In 1998, three knowl-
edge points began to take shape and have since become more
detailed and useful, as shown in GAO’s 2015 “Defense Acquisi-
tions” annual report. They are:
• Knowledge Point 1: Technologies, time, funding and other
resources match customer needs. Decision to invest in prod-
• Knowledge Point 2: Design is stable and performs as
expected. Decision to start building and testing production-
• Knowledge Point 3: Production meets cost, schedule and
quality targets. Decision to produce first units for customer.
The shared knowledge is likely to improve risk reduction at the
three points and increase confidence in decision reviews to con-
sider advancing an acquisition program to its next developmen-
tal phase. (See Figure 4, Page 143)
GAO is right about program knowledge point management.
The definitions are clear, and the specific review points align
easily to milestone B, the critical design review and milestone C.
Although the terminology of knowledge point management and
GAO’s specific recommendations have not carried over com-
pletely into DODI 5000.02 , its companion document, DOD
Directive 5000.01, is consistent with GAO’s intent, as in the
E1.1.14. Knowledge-Based Acquisition.
PMs shall provide knowledge about key aspects of a system at
key points in the acquisition process. PMs shall reduce tech-
nology risk, demonstrate technologies in a relevant environ-
ment, and identify technology alternatives, prior to program
initiation. They shall reduce integration risk and demonstrate
product design prior to the design readiness review. They shall
reduce manufacturing risk and demonstrate producibility pri-
or to full-rate production.
The OSD policy guidance is clear, but not as specific as GAO
recommends; in retrospect, acquisition leaders have a track re-
cord of too readily ignoring a lack of “program knowledge” and
forging ahead optimistically, hoping that missing knowledge
will somehow materialize when necessary. Ignoring knowledge
points appears misguided, however; the defense acquisition
landscape is littered with programs that did not have sufficient
“knowledge” to support success at the next acquisition step but
were authorized to move forward any way.
Beyond poor test results, the outcomes have been program cost
growth, schedule delays, warfighting systems that only margin-
ally perform their missions, unexpectedly high maintenance
and retrofit costs, unachievable readiness goals and even systems
that have been produced but cannot be deployed because they
are unsuitable or ineffective. GAO has described some of these
problems in its ongoing study of high-risk programs.
In my opinion, the expectation within the acquisition commu-
nity is that PMs typically push their programs for ward unless
their leadership tells them to halt. Therefore, if a program is
not ready to move to the next developmenta l phase, the mile-
stone decision authority has to be tough and disciplined, not
approving advancement of the program to the next acquisition
phase until it meets its knowledge requirements, to ensure a
reasonable likelihood of success.
From my perspective, the elephant in
the room is DOD’s propensity to launch
“mega” programs that are beyond its
ability to manage successfully.
144 Army AL&T Magazine
BEEN THERE, DONE THAT
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