Assessing and Reducing Costs Early in System Life Cycle
Wanted to call your attention to a Defense.Gov DoD News (Defense Media Activity) article earlier this week entitled Nominee Seeks Enhanced Cost Estimation Process that highlights the focus areas of the administration’s nominee to be the next Assistant Secretary of Defense for Logistics and Materiel Readiness. Note the focus on logistics, designing for supportability early in the system life cycle, warfighter support, life cycle costs, and cost estimating.
“WASHINGTON, Dec. 2, 2014 – Among the latest in the key administration post announcements, the nominee for assistant secretary of defense for logistics and materiel readiness reported to Congress here today that absent superior logistics, there is little chance of long-term success. A longtime student and teacher of national defense and security, David Berteau told the Senate Armed Services Committee that history reflects the criticality of the role he’s primed to take.
Logistics an Important Concern
“The lessons of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have underscored the importance of logistics, not only for the battlefield but also for the capability provided by the organic elements of the military services as well as the support of the strong industrial base,” Berteau said.
He reported that his background both in and out of government has prepared him to help support service members as they undertake their varying missions around the world, specifically in developing the necessary weapons for those missions.
Cost Estimation Improvement
Berteau noted that the lion’s share of life-cycle cost of any weapons system is determined by the time it reaches what he called “Milestone B,” the engineering design and development decision stage. “The costs that are incurred later in cycle are largely determined upfront, so the single greatest challenge is to make a better evaluation at the front end in the design process,” he noted.
One of the requirements of the Weapon Systems Acquisition Reform Act of 2009, Berteau said, mandated enhanced methods by which the Pentagon estimates, contracts and purchases major weapons systems. Berteau said that if confirmed, he would carefully ascertain how much cost estimation improvement has extended into life-cycle cost and maintenance.
“Historically, that’s generally determined through a parametric model and what it cost on the previous weapon system,” Berteau said. “While that’s important, it may not be sufficient to be able to maintain that.” Ultimately, Berteau reported, contract logistic support and organic support depend on each weapon system and its respective plan, which he said he intends to analyze as part of the acquisition milestone review process.”