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Colossal Collapses: An Analysis of 11 Department of Defense Acquisition Program Management Factors that Influence Department of Defense Acquisition Program Termination Using Relative Importance Weight and Chi-squared Distribution Open Access

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The United States Department of Defense (DoD) loses billions of dollars annually on cancelled or failed acquisition programs. Several DoD acquisition studies, Office of Management and Budget Studies, Government Accountability Office Reports, as well as other studies highlight the disturbing fact, of a plethora of programs that fail to meet full operational requirement capabilities, and therefore, are eventually cancelled. In these cases, the DoD loses billions of investment dollars without any return. Scholars, program managers, and systems engineers posit that there are a host of factors that influence whether a program is cancelled or allowed to continue. They include, but are not limited to political pressures, cost overruns, schedule overruns, and performance shortfalls. The research here aims to add to the body of knowledge of systems engineering, program management, and the factors that influence acquisition program terminations within the United States Department of Defense (DoD). Specifically, this research surveyed the United States DoD acquisition program managers, defense industry program managers, and defense industry consultants, to evaluate and analyze the key program factors that influence DoD acquisition program terminations. The research also conducted a comparison of different attributes that would lead to project failure amongst various groups. This research used relatively important weight calculations and a chi-squared distribution analysis in order to compare the differences between DoD acquisition program managers, defense industry program managers, and defense industry consultants, with regards to the factors that lead to DoD acquisition program terminations. This research aims to further answer several interrelated research questions, in order to identify the factors that have the greatest influence on program and project cancellation from the expert’s perspective, and capture any significant differences between DoD program managers, DoD industry personnel, and DoD consultants. The research questions include the following:1) Are there any statistically significant differences between what DoD program managers, DoD industry personnel, and DoD consultants personnel think influence program cancellation?2) Are there statistically significant differences of the various DoD acquisition program factors between what DoD program managers, DoD industry personnel, and DoD consultants personnel think influence program cancellation?An exhaustive literature review identified 11 critical factors that were associated with program management for examination. For this study, the examination and methodology used were the Relative Importance Weight technique, to analyze the attributes and factors. RIW methodology consisted of conducting a survey to identify and evaluate the relative importance of the significant factors influencing program termination. Respondents of this survey included the following groups: 1) DoD program and project managers, 2) DoD Industry personnel, and 3) DoD consultants. The outcomes of this research serve three primary purposes: 1) identify the Relative Importance Weight of DoD acquisition program factors that influence program termination, 2) fulfill a system’s engineering and program management’s knowledge gap, by understanding and identifying the most critical factors within the unique DoD acquisition program management system, and 3) serve as a spring board for future research for DoD program management. The results of this research indicate that a statistically significant difference does not exist between the three groups with relative importance of 11 program management factors.

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