Integrate or Innovate: Controlling Schedule Risk in Major Defense Acquisition Programs Open Access

The last thirty years have seen multiple DoD acquisition programs with significant cost and schedule overruns. This paper posits that the primary driver of schedule overruns is the difficulty of “inventing on a schedule” by undertaking risky technology development efforts within a Major Defense Acquisition Program (MDAP), what the paper terms “innovation-based acquisition” and proposes an alternate approach relying on shorter term “integration-based acquisition” coupled with directed science and technology development external to the MDAP that is periodically harvested for incremental or spiral upgrades of systems or development of follow on systems. This paper uses a hybrid of several models to examine the system development process as a system, in and of itself. It treats the likelihood of developing and integrating subsystem technologies as a component in a system to examine the impact on schedule. The paper uses simulations of two well documented programs, the F-15 and F-22, to develop calibration values for Monte Carlo simulations of the F-16 and F-35. Those results are then evaluated against actual program performance. The results show good agreement between the predicted schedule distribution and actual program performance. Further, the research suggests an alternate process based on the low likelihood of meeting schedule goals when technology development activities are carried into Engineering and Manufacturing Development

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