Risk Area 1: Interfacing with the
Undoubtedly, there is no one in the acquisition of defense systems who does not know that the DoD Planning, Programming, and Budgeting System (PPBS) is the framework within which the Secretary of Defense and the Service secretaries make decisions regarding weapon system development and production. Whereas the acquisition process proceeds in phases, each of which could involve anywhere from part of a single budget cycle to several full cycles, the PPBS runs on a tightly structured schedule from initial planning through congressional enactment to budget execution. PPBS decisions are not based on particular project needs but rather on the higher level need for balancing all DoD programs within financial limits established by Congress, Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) for both a particular fiscal year and the overall Six Year Defense Plan (SYDP).
Needless to say, it does not take an alert government project manager very long to discover that he always will be plagued by two constant dilemmas. One is the lack of a roadmap through an acquisition process which has not been integrated with the PPBS; the second is the fact that the authors of and watchdogs over both the acquisition process and the PPBS are generally those with non-technical backgrounds (e.g. comptrollers, lawyers, accountants). In other words, a government project manager, together with his prime and subcontractor team, is asked to traverse an uncharted acquisition path through innumerable technical traps and pitfalls and, while enroute, be subject to reviews by personnel not qualified for their review assignment, using guidelines which are irrelevant to the predominantly technical reasons causing cost, schedule, and performance to go awry.
How does a project manager navigate safely through these technical traps and pitfalls since the acquisition process is known for its management orientation and the PPBS for its fiscal orientation? Given that he has surrounded himself with a competent staff and established an effective working relationship with his contractor, the project manager should begin by understanding thoroughly the acquisition process and the PPBS, and their strengths and weaknesses..."know your enemy," so to speak.
On February 23, 1991, the DoD 5000 series of directives and instructions were radically rewritten in an effort to refine the acquisition process in light of current initiatives to 1) translate operational needs into stable, affordable programs, 2) acquire quality products, and 3) organize for efficiency and effectiveness. These new instructions provide guidance on the integration of the requirements generation system, the acquisition management system, and the PPBS. See the DoD 5000 Series automated handbook for more information.
Risk Area 2: Proper Money Phasing
Inadequate RDT&E funding is, of course, an obvious major risk area. Aside from this "quantity" issue, however, there is another funding risk area that deals with the phasing of money: inadequate early RDT&E funds.
The associated graph depicts this money phasing trap. It illustrates the
"design and engineering gap" caused by lack of RDT&E funds early in the
Since an operationally effective weapon system can best be affordable by a sound design during the early phase of development, RDT&E funding can have a much higher payoff than any other appropriation. For most projects, it can generally be demonstrated how a well-structured, technically sound development effort can cost no more RDT&E dollars than a poorly structured program without technical discipline.
Have technical justifications been prepared to influence PPBS decisions?
Have alternative solutions been to technical problems been prepared with different cost options?
Is DoD 4245.7-M used as a predominant directive for compliance and funding profile?
Do critical early design and engineering activities receive adequate funding?