New GAO Report on Detailed Systems Engineering Early in the Life Cycle
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) today issued a new report entitled GAO-17-77 “Detailed Systems Engineering Prior to Product Development Positions Programs for Success”.
Given the linkages between robust systems engineering and product support, the importance of integrating design interface, designing for supportability, and life cycle product support, and the imperative for aligning the systems engineering and life cycle logistics functional communities, encourage you to take a moment to read through this report.
According to the auditors, “GAO’s analysis of nine case studies identified four factors that frame the challenge posed by a given weapon system’s requirements: acquisition approach, technology status, design maturity, and system interdependency. Systems engineering is the primary means for determining whether and how that challenge can be met. It is a disciplined learning process that translates requirements into specific design features and thus identifies key risks to be resolved. GAO’s prior best practices work has found that if detailed systems engineering is done early, a program can resolve such risks through trade-offs and additional investments before a program starts. A key point in systems engineering where this match can be assessed is the preliminary design. As shown below, establishing a preliminary design through early detailed systems engineering portends better program outcomes than doing so after program start. GAO’s analysis of selected Department of Defense (DOD) programs illustrates the relationship among the four factors, systems engineering, and program outcomes. Programs with modest requirements and early detailed systems engineering had better outcomes….Programs that began with more challenging requirements and insufficient systems engineering reported worse outcomes.”