GAO and another whittling the beak

Special May Day Whittle by ilsm:

GAO Testimony Apr 29 2008 on the widely commented upon DoD acquisition problems with the 95 Systems they reviewed this year.

States part of the problems at the “What GAO Found” page:

“In addition, only a small percentage of programs used two key systems engineering tools- preliminary design reviews and prototypes to demonstrate maturity of the product’s design by critical junctures.”

Quite obvious that system engineering does nothing when wht\ittling beaks, should we be impressed with GAO?

Junctures are code for decisions made based on no knowledge of the contracted system’s performance. “Real” program managers do as little risk reduction as they can hide. Only whimps follow the rules and do not play fast and loose with fraud, waste and abuse.

Done properly preliminary design review requires rational design and test processes which usually get cut; to make the program look ‘affordable’ the PM cuts needed design process to deliver scrap and rework. To them ‘affordable’ is what they can get away with without doing system engineering or design quality assurance. Preliminary design reviews are not rocket science, but they do cost money to make sure there are no surprises in the future. Better save some money now, the next guys’ successors will vcome up with money for the overruns. Small wonder the GAO finds worse each year. Butthe issue I have with GAO is NO ONE will ever fail preliminary design review.

Prototypes do not imply any faith that can be done in a lab is what gets to the field. There is almost no fidelity, prototypes were not the issue with Joint Strike Fighter, the one that was close to “capability” but was far off won the fixed fly off, both actually should have been cancelled. See the culture of environment and incentives below.

It is the culture of mendacity, that must be fixed to get key system engineering process executed.

Good conclusion: “Moreover, the environment and incentives that lead DoD and the military services to over promise on capability and underestimate costs in order to sell new programs and capture funding will need to change”.

GAO does not refer to the culture of ignoring waste and abuse of the false promises made. Scrap and work is just fine in spending the “defense” dollar and the best wasters are promoted.

The GAO for the past several years have hoped that: “DoD has begun several initiatives that, if adopted and implemented, could provide a foundation for establishing sound knowledge based business cases for individual acquisition programs and improving outcomes.”

How do you get knowledge based business cases in the culture that rewards mendacity hiding affordability issues?

So many qualifiers I am not surprised that year to year GAO finds things worse.

Nothing will change and the next report will see as much whittling beaks or more than this year.
This one by ilsm