We would like to share that everything that everything we do is focused on delivering the required capability to the Warfighter in the most affordable and timely manner possible while meeting our commitments, and we are continually seeking to drive cost out of the program and maximize the dollars entrusted to execute this program.
An accelerated/high risk program requires a stable funding profile, especially early in the program. The accelerated acquisition construct results in unusual budget and financial execution metrics. Minor budget changes/corrections or marks to the program have significant impact due to compressed time for analysis and recovery.
Program requirements and their relationship to threats have been thoroughly scrubbed with design and system development elements of the program tightly coordinated with stakeholders. Technical risks are well understood with sound mitigation strategies aligned to earliest retirement prior to lead system construction. Since achieving lead system and follow “ready for patrol” milestones are paramount to meeting mission
We are on track for cost and performance, and system development is on schedule. Challenges remain in program oversight, program staffing, test schedule, production quantities, and integration with other systems. Opportunities include introduction of a new Mission Control Station, and a common baseline for system model types.
We have several major development efforts, which are closely monitored with respect to the program controls regarding cost, schedule and performance. All stakeholders must act as a team to execute our current program activity within cost and schedule constraints. The program impact of shifting of funding, and the generation of disruptive, unplanned activity, creates problems.
We have to manage a highly technical, challenging program with associated risks. However, we have a very methodical, build-up prototype testing and risk management approach in support of design/technology maturation in order to minimize risk and increase confidence in a successful effort leading to production and fielding of this critical capability. .
We have established an initiative to improve weapons system program office reliability. The results of that effort give confidence that we are aggressively progressing up the reliability growth curve to meet reliability requirements, though further work is required and continued diligence.
Our sustainment team has worked extremely hard to put a lot of effort into our Reliability and Maintainability (R&M) efforts, getting a head start on our understanding of risk areas for R&M by staffing maintenance monitors throughout the testing at by incorporating Supportability Test and Evaluation into our ground test program, and by improving on known R&M cost drivers.
The assessment is that, while we are not where we need to be for reliability, we really are not in too bad of shape either when looked at in the context of what it takes to introduce a new system of this complexity. The fundamental building blocks all work.
We received the proposal and continue to work through the contractual actions required to get to award. This remains one of our highest priorities and we have undertaken an effort to monitor progress daily to ensure we stay on schedule for award.
As far as areas of concern, we have multiple areas that we are paying close attention to and sharing for your awareness but not looking for help. The first is getting our prime contractor under contract in a timely manner to execute the program in front of us. We have a highly competent team that has continued to perform at a high level for a long time.
There is a key areas where our track record is not as good as we would like. One area is Quality Management. We have a history of quality escapes where vendors have provided noncompliant parts, and our management process did not detect those escapes until after they were installed in subsystems. We have focused special effort on vendor inspections, first article inspections, and acceptance testing to turn this around.
Another area of concern is contracting. We are currently war-gaming options that include requesting the extension of critical scope through completion of development while exploring opportunities to compete other parts of the program.
These potential competitive opportunities include all up round production, operations and support of the fielded system, system level engineering, test support, and some portions of the ground system. Breaking out these areas for competitive award provides opportunity for future cost savings. We will need to step up our game with integrating these functions to maintain a closely coupled system.
We are working multiple procurement actions, all in different stages of execution. Through the normal course of retirements, rotations, and promotion opportunities elsewhere, we have undergone a fairly significant turnover in personnel where we have lost significant experience and institutional knowledge specific to the program.
Even with qualified personnel, ours, like any program, requires time on station to be fully effective in order to execute efficiently. The net effect is it takes longer to execute as we collectively grow and come up to speed as a team. We may go slow for a while in order to go fast in the long run.
Another problem we have is that the manning structure does not support an increasing workload. This is manifested in struggling to meet schedules and constantly re-prioritizing work to ensure we do not lose money, exceed proposal validity dates, etc.
The current composition, numbers and skills, was designed to support the original program strategy, where heavy reliance was placed on the vendor for support and resolution of issues with program office oversight. Over the past several years, we have seen a steady increase in technical issues and wear and tear on the aircraft.
We have program staffing challenges in the area of contracting. Shortages of Contract Specialists have put us behind in contract awards and make it difficult to get sufficient contract input early in the procurement planning process. While our existing workforce is hard-working and extremely motivated, there is a shortage of experience and insufficient numbers to produce work of the desired quality and quantity.
Another staffing concern is in program management. While current staffing is sufficient, continued pressure on manning levels gives us concern we will lose some of the billets needed to properly plan and monitor execution of our procurements.
The program is progressing through system design, having completed to-date the System Requirements Review at which the system requirements baseline was formally established, and the System Functional Review, at which the system functional baseline was established, and is scheduled to complete the Preliminary Design Review with establishment of the system allocated baseline.
Prototyping and test activity provides for data to inform the system design process as well as a methodical approach to risk reduction to—and increased confidence in—the Engineering and Manufacturing Development phase and meeting of system Key Performance Parameters/Attributes .
We have demonstrated labor savings from optimized modular construction plans. An examination looks at multiple elements of construction, including the best strategy of major ship module construction between contractors and how to best capitalize on material and component procurements from the industrial base.
We produced a tailored set documentation for our upcoming milestone and achieve the proper balance for a build program for statutory compliance, appropriate oversight, and value-added efforts for the program office to generate documents that are useful to our ability to execute our mission.
We have said there should be an opportunity established up-front for all future non-developmental, commercial-based recapitalization programs to make the same decision earlier so as to afford maximum program benefit, including avoidance of unnecessary program efforts and documentation development.
The program has been on track for key areas of focus including the System Development and Demonstration, the transition to production, preparations for fleet integration and introduction occuring following Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) in and the initiation of the development effort for a capability upgrade.
We have focused the review boards on prioritizing our deficiency trouble reports, and on aligning that prioritization with their potential to manifest as deficiencies from the test team or as risk to satisfaction of an IOT&E Measure of Effectiveness or Suitability.
We will align the build to correct all the deficiencies that we can within the cost and schedule parameters that we have, and will ensure we have a thorough understanding of the risk or work-arounds for those deficiencies we are not able to fix prior to IOT&E.
We manage risk through close collaboration between the daily review boards, our development team’s weekly cost and schedule reviews, our test team daily and weekly reviews, and PM reviews. Each of these elements is a collaborative effort and pressure points are the volume of deficiencies we will have to manage.
Management is key to maximizing functionality and meeting schedule. We have some margin with the schedule, and we work every day to balance discovery that might drive delays with opportunities to accelerate, with emphasis on applying execution reality to our attempts to capture those opportunities.
Our production team has done an excellent job gaining insight into why our system costs what it does to produce, and we are using that insight to establish the best incentive arrangements for our production contracts. Our focus is on the cost of poor quality, indirect costs, and schedule.
We will incentivize quality so that we do not have excessive scrap rates built into supplier costs, we will target indirect costs deep into the supply chain, and we will incentivize reduced lead time to meet our delivery needs and reduce build time cost.
We are doing Business Case Analyses to identify the optimum sources of depot repair and analyzing how to drive repair of items to the lowest level, understanding that it is less expensive to repair items at an operator level instead of a depot level. As the program progresses, we will continue to use an events-based approach but will work to instill increased schedule discipline without being reckless.
The Program Office has been awarding single-year contracts for production and sustainment. We are trying to break that cycle. The production contract is planned to have a base year with multiple option years. The contractor has struggled to get the cost data from their suppliers to support it. If we have to, we will award the single year and re-attack, but we have not given up yet. The sustainment contract was originally planned for an even longer period of performance.
Pulling us back to a shorter multi-option year contract is not ideal, but this would still give us breathing room before negotiating the next one and at least break the single year paradigm. The next contract we are awarding is our next system improvement contract. This could be an interesting negotiation, as we did not receive the funding to support all the system changes.
Despite the success in executing to the recovery plan, we need to see continued maturation in contractor production processes, as well as improvements in subcontractor and supply chain management. There remain inefficiencies which may impact execution and cost when the production quantities increase.
Engaging with the prime, first, and second-tier vendors is a step forward. We had reduced onsite visits in the past but apparently swung the needle too far. We have seen benefit with the increased contractor site visits. We also placed pressure on other agencies for improved support. This effort had been lacking for some time, but now overall support has been excellent and effective.
It was evident that material cost and labor rates were increasing for suppliers. We have been very engaged with contractor not just for their cost analysis, but to support an assessment of the industrial base. We had them conduct an initial criticality and fragility analysis and based on the result, we identified several vendors that we need to monitor more closely.
But some contract compliance requirements are levied on the programs without funding, causing planned capabilities to be pushed to the right or out of scope completely. If the new contracting compliance requirements were bundled and sent out on a scheduled basis with sufficient funding and time to implement, the programs could make the necessary adjustments without negative consequences on program objectives.
An area where our programs need help is in the cycle time for review and approval of acquisition milestone and contracting documents. Specific concerns include the serial nature of the process, the requirement to include documents that are ancillary and/or premature to the decision point, the duration of individual reviews.
It’s also a problem to receive comments that are not substantive or material to the acquisition Strategy. It simply does not make sense to require development and review of, for example, a final Performance Work Statement and Source Selection Plan for an acquisition whose strategy is not yet approved.
We will better focus on the work ahead, more adequately spread the load, and improve our overall speed and agility. We are preparing alternative offers to our resource sponsors, which will assess the risk of manpower cuts at various levels while also identifying tasks which will not be completed as a result.
The complexity of coordinating and maturing new processes, executing multiple efforts within the network architecture in a fixed price contract structure, and aligning with our industry, operational and external partners and organizations introduces significant risk of using excessive processes as a preferred control approach by the team.
To combat complexity internally and mitigate the risk of process stasis in the new program model, standing orders have been issued to each division lead to eliminate any piece of a process that, in their judgment, does not clearly add value. We will continue to evaluate and streamline all processes over which we have control in an aggressive manner.
We are formulating specific recommendations to streamline the process. We are exploring innovative contract strategies to reduce the cost of competition and enable a smoother budget profile over time. To date we have identified some alternative strategies, which may meet these needs and which we continue to flesh out
We need to look into ways to use special contracts approaches if required to enable faster fielding of equipment and services. We must support acquisition streamlining and limit documentation to only those which are either clearly proven to provide value added to the PM or meet a statutory requirement.
Although there are some parts shortages that are causing delays and out of station rework, these are manageable and part of a typical production launch for a complex system. These inefficiencies have contributed to some cost growth, but the growth is small when compared to total contract value. Of course Readiness Matters More than cost.
We do not expect the schedule delays to impact the test events on the critical path yet, and with the contract structure, the vendor is motivated to correct the issues. Finally, parts shortages are on a path to be corrected soon so that later vehicles will be built more efficiently with few or no out of station retrofits.
Upgrades for increased survivability and reliability are in production and the fielding effort is on schedule and well below cost., but we have experienced cost growth related to underestimating prototype build cost and the complexity of meeting Information Assurance requirements. These requirements have grown more complex and challenging for our systems recently, and there is a shortage both in the PM shops and at the vendor of personnel with a solid grasp of the field.
Also, the program is challenged with respect to RDT&E funding. We have deferred some requirements, like training devices, in order to live within the adjusted budget. Though program disbursements should return to health eventually, additional RDT&E decrements or sequestration will force a significant schedule slip.
With the significant number of technical issues that have escalated over time, we struggle to support them all in a timely manner due to limited resources across their competencies. To meet acquisition office requirements as evidenced through engineering contract modification proposal inadequacies and lengthy negotiations complicated by inconsistent/non-compliant disclosures and rate structures as determined by review boards.
On the positive side, some vendors have made progress in resolving some outstanding contractual and audit non-compliance issues. There is now a more “customer focused” approach, which has improved the overall situation.
The modernization effort has been long time coming and the light is finally at the end of the tunnel. This program is progressing in an exemplary fashion and is tracking extremely well, accomplishing key critical milestones. Bottom line, this effort is proceeding very well, and we are confident we can overcome the challenges that still remain by empowering the PM to make critical decisions.
My weapons system program extension efforts are technically sound and delivering on schedule. However, I have increasing concerns in my long-term ability to sustain the reliability and accuracy of the Weapons System.
It is critical my project continues to get support from senior leadership to ensure the success of my program, I must be properly resourced. I am constantly battling for resources to offset the “loss of buying power”
Without getting the budget stability a program needs my buying power will be decimated and compromise my ability to continue to certify and maintain a capable weapon system,.
At some point, it will become impossible for my best efforts to result in continued program success unless we make reliability investments in developing tools/systems to assess combat support resource levels and ensure constant communications with warfighter.
1. Develop a unifying vision and strategy articulating the value of Reliability enterprise management to support the warfighter
2. Improve communication within and among centers so all centers are using the same warfighter requirements and assumptions to support Reliability enterprise processes
3. Stand up shop such as the Combat Support Planning, Execution, and Control office to conduct Reliability enterprise-level warfighter requirements analyses
4. Document Reliability processes in tactics, techniques, procedures and policy
5. Determine how operational demands should be developed and translated to Reliability requirements
6. Describe how Reliability assessments will be conducted and shared across functional areas
7. Create strategy for how Reliability assessment effects will be communicated with the war fighter
8. Create ability to look across functional Reliability enterprise stovepipes to identify opportunities to better balance capabilities
9. Provide insights into Reliability investments to enhance combat support capabilities and the ability to quantify how those investments impact mission capabilities
10. Invest in development of decision-support tools to aid Reliability enterprise analyses and better communicate with the war fighter.