Every year, the Department of Defense (DoD) invests billions of dollars on the development of major defense acquisition programs. In return, many of these weapon systems have been plagued with cost overruns and schedule delays during the Engineering and Manufacturing Development phase. Under conflicting guidance, DoD and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) suggest that weapon systems should contain subsystems with relatively mature technologies (based on the Technology Readiness Level of critical technologies) and mature designs (based on the percentage of releasable design drawings) during system development. However, there has been no published research to date on the relationship between technology and design maturity guidance and the resulting cost change and schedule change of DoD weapon systems. The research presented in this dissertation confirms that the GAO guidance for design maturity can lead to a reduction of cost change and schedule change of DoD weapon systems. In contrast, the research indicates that GAO technology maturity guidance only impacts the schedule change of weapon systems, and not the potential cost change. There is a lack of evidence to suggest that DoD guidance for maturity impacts the cost and schedule change of weapon systems realized in the development phase. With the quantitative results from the research, DoD and GAO officials can provide additional guidance to the planning and execution of the EMD phase, such as allocation of research and development funds to maturity achievement efforts.
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