This study presents the combined efforts of three military Research Fellows, participating in an 11-month Defense Systems Management College Research Fellowship program, sponsored by the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Technology. In keeping with its role as the center for systems management education in the Department of Defense (DoD), the Defense Systems Management College (DSMC) conducts this annual fellowship program to research a subject of vital interest to the U.S. defense acquisition community.
To achieve program objectives, program managers have long been applying modeling and simulation (M&S) tools to efforts within the various stages of their programs. Recently, however, declining defense budgets have increased the pressure on the acquisition community to find cheaper ways to develop and field systems. Additionally, the rapid pace of changing world events demands that these material solutions get into the hands of the warfighter faster. To meet the increased challenge of budget and time constraints, many programs have radically changed the way they conduct business. These programs recognize the powerful increases in productivity and decreases in cost brought by M&S tools. Within these programs, program management looks to weave M&S applications across program phases and seeks to leverage the strengths of external M&S applications to efforts within their program. This new way of doing business, coupling rapid advances in simulation technology with process change, is fueling a new approach to how we acquire defense systems. This new approach is being termed Simulation Based Acquisition, or SBA.
Objective of Study
The objective of this book is to convince program managers that SBA is a smarter way of doing business. We will do this by defining SBA, explaining the strengths of SBA, and describing the forces that will encourage its use. Where possible, we highlight best practices and useful implementation guidance.
Within the DoD, there are a staggering number of variables that an acquisition program office must evaluate and analyze. There is an almost infinite number of possible applications of SBA activities within DoD acquisition programs. Where they apply, we present examples of com-mercial applications of SBA. Most, however, are narrowly focused and are of questionable general use to acquisition program offices. This is partly because acquisition programs within the DoD are unique in their complexity compared with many commercial enterprises. Systems that the DoD produces are usually composed of many varied sub-components that push the boundaries of technology. When these complex sub-components are brought together in the aggregate at the system level, the complexity of the program is compounded. We hope that this "round down range" will stimulate discussion and provide the mark from which to "adjust fire."
We conducted our research in four areas. First, we embarked on basic research and information collection while attending the 12-week residential Program for Management Development (PMD) course at the Harvard University Graduate School of Business. Second, we conducted an extensive search of the applicable literature. Third, we conducted interviews and attended briefings and conferences on Simulation Based Acquisition. Finally, we held two in-process reviews with students attending the DSMC Advanced Program Managersment Course (APMC), and with the DSMC faculty.
Our initial research began while we were at the Harvard Business School. There, we presented and discussed issues concerning SBA with faculty members and our fellow classmates. As our classmates (157 students from 38 countries) represented both U.S. and international companies, we gained truly global insights into a few of the topic areas. We were also fortunate to have a few classmates working for U.S. defense contractors, who provided valuable perspectives into government and industry interrelationships and model sharing. Our discussions centered on applicable business practices and answers to numerous questions raised by our research topic. For example, should program managers be provided incentives to design and develop models and simulations that allow for reuse and/or integration into other programs? Are there applicable business practices, or measures of success/metrics that could evaluate the effective use of a government program's modeling and simulation efforts? Where did they see technology going in the near future?
Our second area of research was a comprehensive literature review and Internet search covering the topical areas of modeling and simulation and Simulation Based Acquisition. A particularly useful area was the SBA Special Interest Group on the Defense Modeling and Simulation Office's World Wide Web home page (www.dmso.mil), which contains a lot of historical and current information on the subject, as well as up-to-date links to modeling and simulation organizations and groups which are active on the web.
Our third area of research, conducting interviews and attending briefings and conferences, provided most of our information. We broke our areas of emphasis into three categories: government, defense industry and commercial industry. To gain insight into government program-matic issues, we visited Service Acquisition Offices, acquisition and test organizations, newly formed program offices, and established program offices. We obtained an understanding of the defense industry's support to government programs through visits to corporation headquarters and contractor facilities. We visited commercial firms that have been making significant investments in simulation technology. In all, we conducted over 85 interviews (see Appendix B). Some interviews were as short as thirty minutes, while some lasted over the course of three days. Most, however, were three or four hours in duration. The level of the interviewees varied greatly, from Senior Acquisition Officials and Program Managers to individuals tasked with constructing physical wooden mock-ups (used in the verification of virtual models). Though the sources varied, there was a great deal of commonality in the views expressed. We also participated in and attended several SBA conferences and workshops. Each site visited provided unique insights into the collage that is the Simulation Based Acquisition picture.
Our final area of data collection was through peer and faculty review at DSMC. Through frank discussions conducted in our office spaces and the use of the DSMC's Management Deliberation Center (a Group Decision Support System), many of the APMC students provided us with an excellent sounding board on the direction and progress of our research. These in-process reviews helped ensure we were addressing the issues most important to the acquisition community concerning Simulation Based Acquisition.
The Research Fellows extend a special note of appreciation to Ms. Joan Sable, DSMC Military Research Fellowship Coordinator. Ms. Sable ensured that our administrative and logistical requirements were met at DSMC and Harvard, and her support enabled us to concentrate our attention and energies on the research and writing of this report.
For all of their guidance throughout our research project we pay special thanks to Colonel Kenneth "Crash" Konwin, Director Defense Modeling and Simulation Office; Ms. Robin Frost, Office of the Secretary of Defense (Director of Test, Systems Engineering, and Evaluation); and Mr. Steve Olson and the other members of the National Defense Industrial Association's SBA Industry Steering Group.
We appreciate the efforts of the DSMC Press staff for their many hours working on this report to ensure its highest quality. Thanks to the Visual Arts and Press staff for their work on the graphs, charts and cover page as well as their many hours in the layout of this report. Finally, we extend a special thank you to Air Force Academy Cadets First Class Paul Ferguson and Nathan Atherley for their research assistance during their summer internship at DSMC.
There are others, too numerous to mention
individually, who deserve recognition. The three Research Fellows would like
to thank all of those interviewed. As a token of our appreciation, we dedicate
this effort to you. May our report be as helpful to you as you were to