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Sustainment Reviews (SR)

DAU GLOSSARY DEFINITION

An assessment of the Product Support Strategy (PSS), performance, and Operating & Support (O&S) costs of a covered system in accordance with 10 U.S.C. 4323.

General Information

SR requirements from 10 USC 4323 begin with this general statement: "The Secretary of each military department shall conduct a sustainment review of each covered system not later than five years after declaration of initial operational capability of a major defense acquisition program, and every five years thereafter throughout the life cycle of the covered system, to assess the product support strategy, performance, and operation and support costs of the covered system. The results of the sustainment review shall be documented in a memorandum by the relevant decision authority. The Secretary concerned shall make the memorandum and supporting documentation for each sustainment review available to the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment within 30 days after the review is completed."

In addition, the statute requires that SRs “…shall assess execution of the life cycle sustainment plan of the covered system and include the following elements:

  1. An independent cost estimate [ICE] for the remainder of the life cycle of the program.
  2. A comparison of actual costs to the amount of funds budgeted and appropriated in the previous five years, and if funding shortfalls exist, an explanation of the implications on equipment availability.
  3. A comparison between the assumed and achieved system reliabilities.
  4. An analysis of the most cost-effective source of repairs and maintenance.
  5. An evaluation of the cost of consumables and depot-level repairables.
  6. An evaluation of the costs of information technology, networks, computer hardware, and software maintenance and upgrades.
  7. As applicable, an assessment of the actual fuel efficiencies compared to the projected fuel efficiencies as demonstrated in tests or operations.
  8. As applicable, a comparison of actual manpower requirements to previous estimates.
  9. An analysis of whether accurate and complete data are being reported in the cost systems of the military department concerned, and if deficiencies exist, a plan to update the data and ensure accurate and complete data are submitted in the future.
  10. As applicable, information regarding any decision to restructure the life cycle sustainment plan for a covered system or any other action that will lead to critical operating and support cost growth.”

SR specifics are also called out in DoD Instruction (DoDI) 5000.91, Product Support Management for the Adaptive Acquisition Framework (Section 4.10.b). The DoDI states that SRs:

  • Are required for all active and in service covered weapon systems
  • End five years before a covered system’s planned end of service date*
  • Will focus on statutory sustainment elements and track O&S cost growth
  • Satisfy the requirement for Independent Logistics Assessments (ILA) after a program has achieved initial operational capability

*Note: Since a program's "planned" end of service date may be extended for operational reasons, delays in fielding a replacement system, or statutory or policy reasons, programs should be prepared to conduct SRs until they have initiated end of service activities (e.g., disposal, storage, etc.) 

Congressional Reporting

The Service is required to submit an annual SR report no later than 30 September of each Fiscal Year (FY).

Critical Operating & Support (O&S) Cost Growth

SR requirements include O&S cost comparisons between the ICE developed for the SR and both the original baseline estimate and the most recent ICE.  If a covered system experiences critical O&S cost growth (defined as 25% or greater increase to the most recent ICE or 50% or greater increase to the original baseline estimate), the Service Secretary must either submit a statement of certification that the cost growth is necessary to meet national security requirements; or submit a remediation plan as part of the Congressional submission.

SRs and ILAs

While ILAs are not required by statute or policy after the Full Rate Production decision, if conducted at Component discretion after IOC, their results can inform and complement SRs. ILA requirements are outlined in 10 USC 4325, Major weapon systems: assessment, management, and control of operating and support costs. This statute directs the Secretary of Defense to “… issue and maintain guidance on actions to be taken to assess, manage, and control Department of Defense costs for the operation and support of major weapon systems.” Among the elements outlined in this statute is the requirement for the military departments “… to conduct an independent logistics assessment of each major weapon system prior to key acquisition decision points (including milestone decisions) to identify features that are likely to drive future operating and support costs, changes to system design that could reduce such costs, and effective strategies for managing such costs." Policy requires “DoD Components will conduct ILAs for major weapon systems before key acquisition decision points, including Milestones B and C and the full rate production decision, to assess the sustainment strategy’s adequacy and to identify sustainment cost elements, factors, risks, and gaps that are likely to drive future O&S costs or identify changes to system design that could reduce costs, and to develop effective strategies for managing such costs.” (DoD Instruction (DoDI) 5000.91, Section 7.2.b(1)).

Key Supporting Documentation

In addition to statutory and policy requirements, the DoD Independent Logistics Assessment (ILA) Guidebook addresses the themes of affordability, controlling cost growth, and innovation in industry. The DoD ILA Guidebook (and the associated Service-specific requirements and guidance documents) provides a structure for conducting product support assessments throughout the life cycle - starting in development and continuing throughout the weapon systems' service life. The 2023 update to the Guidebook addresses the relationship between ILAs and SRs.

MIL-HDBK-502AProduct Support Analysis, defines the process and activities required to define the product support system for new products, systems and end items. PSA includes a wide range of analyses that are conducted within the Systems Engineering process throughout the life cycle.

In general, the goals of PSAs are to ensure that supportability is included as a system performance requirement and to ensure the system is concurrently developed or acquired with the optimal support system and infrastructure. PSA includes the integration of various analytical techniques with the objective of designing and developing an effective and efficient product support package. The outcomes of these analytical efforts will serve as the supportability baseline upon which future SRs can be based.

The primary techniques used in PSA are:

Two MIL-HDBK-502A PSA activities specifically address the use of this analytical material in long term sustainment assessments. They include:

  • Activity 15 Field Feedback - states that field feedback is required to correct potential post-production support problems prior to closing production lines, and it recommends that a post-production support plan be developed to ensure effective support during the system life cycle.
  • Activity 17 Operational Suitability - states that an evaluation of suitability is required to assess the achievement of specified support parameters, to identify reasons for deviations from projections, and recommend changes to correct deficiencies and improve system readiness.

MIL-HDBK-502A states further that post deployment reviews and assessments should continue as the PSS is executed and operational support provided. The Program Manager (PM) and Product Support Manager (PSM) should the use existing reporting systems to the extent practicable to collect operational feedback to evaluate the fielded systems against their initial performance profiles, including both cost and performance, and update the PSS and its support accordingly.

Metrics and SRs

Metrics are central to SRs and form the common thread between the analytical processes - starting from setting the Warfighter requirements in the Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System (JCIDS) Process and following through to the actions required to achieve affordable readiness during the O&S phase.  An effective, well-developed LCSP should identify the metrics, goals, and frequency measure for: each of the integrated product support elements; reliability, availability, and maintainability (RAM); and Congressional interest areas (e.g., cost drivers, fuel efficiency, etc.).  It is essential that programs track metrics from first unit equipped (FUE) (or equivalent term) and monitor across all aspects of support (i.e., maintenance, supply support, reliability, etc.), since the SR includes a discussion of trends and plans to address any related issues identified.  If program metrics are managed well, the SR should not be the first time the program recognizes an issue.

Army Operational Sustainment Reviews (OSR) and SRs

In their implementation of OSR, the Army has identified a number of proven practices to facilitate successful SR outcomes, including:

  • Developing a program-specific introduction to the program for all key stakeholders
  • Establishing a cost working group with the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Cost and Economics and the Office of the Secretary of Defense Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE)
  • Leveraging results of previously conducted ILAs to validate and measure actual fielded system performance in comparison with the Life Cycle Sustainment Plan (LCSP) baseline
  • Addressing the 12 Integrated Product Support (IPS) Elements and the additional areas of product support
  • Building standard formalized slides to meet each of the Congressional requirements
  • Conducting three Integrated Product Reviews (IPR) leading up to a final Senior Leader Briefing
  • Conducting IPRs virtually and Senior Leader Briefings in person (conditions permitting)
  • Key Senior Executive Service (SES)/General Officer- (GO) level stakeholder participation from across the Army enterprise
  • Program Executive Officer (PEO), PM, PSM participation, with the PM and PSM attending in person (conditions permitting)
  • Key external stakeholder participation (e.g., Defense Logistics Agency (DLA)Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE), Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (OASD) for Sustainment))
  • Identifying variances between sustainment planning and actual sustainment processes and activities
  • Documenting and tracking actions in a Sustainment Action Memorandum (SAM), which meets the requirement within statute to issue a memorandum and supporting documentation for each sustainment review within 30 days after the review is completed

Additional Resources

  • View the recording of a Logistics LIVE: Crosstalk on Sustainment Reviews held 20 Mar 2023 featuring perspectives from Product Support leaders within the offices of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Sustainment and the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Logistics and Product Support.