Home » Budget Industry » Navy Leaders Will Hold Program Managers More Accountable for Cutting Time, Cost


Navy Leaders Will Hold Program Managers More Accountable for Cutting Time, Cost

An artist’s rendering of a Raytheon AN/ALQ-249 mid-range jammer on an EA-18G Growler. Raytheon Image

ARLINGTON, Va. – Even within the regular acquisition system, the Navy expects that all of its program managers will find ways to shave time and money off their programs. Anything less is a failure of leadership, the principal military deputy for the Navy acquisition chief said at an engineering conference last week. 

Much has been made in recent years of Congress giving the Navy new rapid acquisition authorities to speed along programs such as a carrier-based unmanned tanker, a large-displacement unmanned underwater vehicle and others.

But Vice Adm. Michael Moran, the top uniformed advisor to Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition James Geurts, said Thursday that even outside those special authorities “things can be done if we partner, if we trust, and if we have the folks leading our programs lead.”

“In the near term, Secretary Geurts can’t be more clear in his direction to the enterprise: lead. Stop being a victim; lead your program, knock down the barriers, and deliver the capability the fleet needs when and where they need it at a cost they can afford. Period,” he added later.

Moran offered several examples of program managers empowering their engineers and fighting to speed up weapons development to meet fleet needs.

He said the average acquisition program takes eight to 10 years to deliver, and the Next Generation Jammer’s mid-band capability was no exception. For the next iteration of NGJ, the low-band, the program office had a nine-year schedule laid out when they came in for a Milestone A review. Moran said Geurts made clear that the program could not take that long.

“Well, they just came back a couple months ago: it’s now a four- to five-year opportunity to deliver that capability that much sooner. No extra help, no extra coordination. Leadership,” Moran said.

Another example highlights the value of young and innovative employees and the ability to leverage new technologies such as additive manufacturing. The EA-18G Growlers today still use a legacy ALQ-99 pod that is 30 years old, somewhat obsolete and hard to maintain, Moran said. A young engineer at Point Mugu said a new antenna could quadruple the pod’s power output and make it much more effective against today’s threats. The engineer added that the antenna could be additively manufactured and said the risk was low because it was housed inside the pod and therefore couldn’t damage the aircraft if it were to unexpectedly fail.

After hearing the briefing, “the program looked at it and came back with a plan. And their plan was three years, $3.5 million. We’ll go ahead and investigate to see if that’s reality. Three years,” Moran said, calling that an unacceptable timeline.

“A couple folks challenged that, and in four months that antenna was fielded on an operational aircraft and flown in Red Flag. Four months. Additively manufactured. And it won Red Flag for its performance, because it knocked out [electronic warfare] systems. Four months.”

Moran added that the same young engineer then took that first success and went a step further.

“That same young engineer goes, you know what we can do with additive manufacturing? We can actually design an antenna for every mission and optimize its performance for the threat that that air wing is going to go after. That’s today. That’s not with anything new, that’s not with any organization change or any help; that’s leadership, listening and partnering across the force.”

“Those aren’t accelerated programs or anything formal, those are guys in the field making a difference,” Moran said.
“That’s what Secretary Geurts’ message is: hey listen, there’s things we need help with from Congress, from the organization, refocused priorities – yes, that all has to happen. But in the near term, we need our programs to lead. Partner with industry. What’s available, what’s mature, what can we field that will make a difference for our warfighters with what we have.”

In the case of the Growler pod, much of that time saved had to do with extensive test protocols that program offices usual create. They want to ensure the new item works in all environments, against all kinds of threats, and so on, and then conduct both developmental tests and operational tests. Moran said this thinking isn’t affordable and doesn’t meet operational commanders’ needs.

The vice admiral said the Navy acquisition community used to have a much closer relationship with the fleet and used fleet ships and planes to test new and evolving capabilities. That doesn’t happen as much anymore, with programs preferring extensive testing in more controlled environments first “because we don’t trust anybody, because we’ve got to go take it through the developmental cycle, through the operational test cycle, before we can trust that the fleet can actually use that system.”

Moran said the Navy is doing more to both give program managers more authority and also more accountability, but but he noted that too many people outside the program offices have the ability to slow down programs without any accountability, with the test community being one example.

He mentioned an unnamed program manager set to conduct a milestone review with the Navy this week, and before meeting with Moran and Geurts that program manager had 10 other briefings that week alone with other entities in the Navy that demanded their own pre-milestone decision brief.

“How is that program manager with his team executing the work we’re asking of them? Everybody thinks they deserve one-on-one time to be able to ask and get answered the questions they have. We’ve got to give that time back. So we really have to get back to trust,” he said.

As each program learns how to navigate this renewed push to move faster, eliminate redundant or non-useful steps in the development process, find new uses for existing technologies and more, Moran – who previously served as the program executive officer for tactical aircraft program – said communication among the program managers and the program executive officers is key.

“I’m kind of embarrassed to say this: we never got together as PEOs. There’s 16 to 19 of us, depending on how you count them – but we never got together on a periodic basis to really have this kind of conversation about what’s affecting each of our business sections. We get together once a month now with [Geurts]. We have this conversation. And we are passing it down to our program managers,” he told USNI News during a question and answer session.
“In my opinion, the only way you’re ever going to get over [resistance or hesitancy] is just to do it and share and show that we can do it. So those are examples that we are sharing across the board of things that are happening right now, today, with some program managers who are out there leading. And that’s our expectation. So it’s communication – robust, often – and then doing and sharing.”

  • Marc Apter

    What a great idea, cut time and costs, just have no capability, funstions, or spares.

    • Curtis Conway

      Capability and function is determined by testing, and spares are a budget item. Testing can be combined/revised based upon the functionality in question, and the testing & analysis tools available.

      • Jason

        Capability is determined by engineering, you can’t test a capability into being. Spares are a budget item, but getting a stable design with lead time to put a parts program in place isn’t simple. These interact when testing drives late changes to hardware which forces changes to spares.

        Also, it doesn’t help when the parts budgets are cut.

        • Curtis Conway

          I will give you your ‘Engineering’ point. However, I will take that point back when it is conspicuous that the concurrency issue is not addressed in your ‘Spares’ discussion, for when the spares are changed, they are not always (and many times necessarily so) no longer backward compatible.

          • Jason

            “Concurrency issue”? It takes time to stock DLA. Trying to go faster means the hardware configurations aren’t finished until very close to fielding. Nobody wants to pay the regular price to properly spare systems, let alone the rush pricing to get spares and training in place 1 month post test completion.

            There’s quite a bit more to “spares” than “spares are a budget item.”

          • Curtis Conway

            So . . . getting all the now ‘out of compliance’ must be upgraded . . . right? When do you suppose that will happen?

          • Jason

            Out of compliance? I’m talking about the wrong parts. When designs change close to fielding, the parts change. The supply posture and sparing approach can even change.

            It seems that you’re talking about a form fit function replacement that has some concurrency in the supply system. Those can either be purged or consumed depending on the change.

          • Curtis Conway

            The aircraft configuration . . . for all three models (‘C’ – Bird probably least affected . . . has a final -3F software build compliant configuration. THAT configuration is supposed to be a target for getting all LRIP birds up to speed. Never going to happen?

          • Curtis Conway

            LRIP birds man, LRIP birds!

          • Jason

            Oh, you think configuration changes only happen in LRIP. That makes sense.

          • Curtis Conway

            Not at all, but once a configuration for OT&E is established, the common configuration (to the extent possible), should be backfit into the out of configuration pre-production birds. This is life-cycle logistics 101 if you want to get a return out of the pre-production bird investment. Otherwise they get parked with their first unique (no longer in production) broken parts.

          • Jason

            What a simplistic view! Cheers!

          • Jason

            I think you mean retrofitted, but I’m not sure.

          • Curtis Conway

            Precisely. That is what the ‘Concurrency’ is all about.

  • DaSaint

    The MIC factor – The long testing cycles have as much to do with billing by the contractors for the testing, benches, environments, etc., as it has to do with the systems’ reliability. Cutting down a program from 3 years to 4 months takes money out of lots of people’s pockets. What a novel concept.

    • NavySubNuke

      Hard to fault the contractor too much for that test equipment when the Navy requires them to test and certify that their system will work while the plane is flying inverted, at night, during a category III hurricane with hail the size of quarter or some other nonsense.
      You can blame the MIC all you like but the MIC doesn’t make up this nonsense and would rather not waste time dealing with it. It isn’t interesting and it slows down real work which drives staff away. Why work on a DoD project where you will spend 3 years having to justify why you used titanium when you could have otherwise used a steel alloy when you go work for Space X for example.

      • DaSaint

        You’re absolutely right in some circumstances, but certainly you would agree that not every project should last 8 to 10 years. We can’t afford long development cycles on every item. Some should be fast tracked, and some shouldn’t even be called fast tracked, they should just happen relatively quickly. Our opponents develop weapons and systems in faster cycles, and we have to respond. Revolutionary leaps will be expected to take longer, but upgrades and/or evolutionary improvements should reasonably be faster. Problem is there has been no incentive to do that, and in fact a disincentive to do so.

        • NavySubNuke

          I agree completely. My only disagreement was in you laying the blame on the MIC. Certainly industry is not without fault… but they aren’t the entire problem either.
          The debacle of LCS Hulls 1-4 is an excellent example — the incompetence and mismanagement of the program office, the way they changed requirements during construction, and the problems at the shipyards all combined to cause the actual problems.

          • DaSaint

            Yes, LCS was poorly managed by many. And decision-making was more than problematic. The thought of selecting 2 disparate vessel designs for the same mission was mind-bending! As some here have said in the past, that was arguably an example of corporate welfare. Just imagine if the USAF bought both the F-16 and F-18, or the F-22 and F-23. SMH.

            I think the overall concept had and has merit, but IMHO, when I think of modularity, I think about the benefits of rapid upgrades or easily switching out weapons systems at mid-life upgrades, not switching them out per mission – at an forward base with limited support. That, plus the speed requirement and the limitations that brought…

          • Duane

            No – LCS was NOT “poorly managed by many” – that is simply not true at all. It was properly managed and has met the required schedule and budget requirements after the initial developmental hulls were delivered, after which it went to large block buy contracts for both variants starting in 2011 when Congress finally decided to fund full production.

            The two variants are fully responsive to the varying requirements for operations in the West Pacific theater which are very different than in the Atlantic/Med/Persian Gulf theater. West Pac requires long legs – which the Independence variant features, while the Atlantic/Med/Persian Gulf theater does not, so the Freedom variant has shorter legs than the Independence. The ships are based accordingly today.

          • DaSaint

            Yes Duane, the LCS program is PERFECT!
            A STELLAR example of a pristine acquisition program.
            Everyone is wrong. You are right.
            The Navy wrong. Congress wrong. The shipbuilders and lead contractors infallible.

            Right…

          • Duane

            No acquisition program is or ever has been perfect. You are very proficient, apparently, at straw man argumentation and mockery.

            But thank you for your mockery of one of the key components of the US Navy fleet now and for the next 30 plus years. I’m sure our naval leaders and the crews and the program staff really love your strong support.

          • Rocco

            Get over it already!!

      • PolicyWonk

        You are right that the entire problem is not with the MIC. Current acquisition practices still commonly permit requirements changes all the way from inception through manufacture/construction, sometimes with goodies that haven’t been invented yet, or systems that were never intended to be used together.

        Requirements that force engineers to defy/violate the laws of physics, science, metallurgy, and time (let alone common sense, or Murphy), are killing us.

    • Rocco

      Nothing new!

    • Jason

      The money grubbing contractor argument isn’t very helpful, or useful. They’re in business to make money, and they look to satisfy their customers.

      The government chooses the contract type.
      The government sets out the wickets for the contractor to meet.
      The government has an onerous requirements process.
      The government has an onerous contracting process.
      The government tends to change what they want and induce redesigns throughout a system.
      The government is the lead.

      Perhaps the government should recruit, hire, and pay people that have expertise and know how to get things done. The Navy in particular doesn’t respect acquisition professionals. Communities don’t understand the impact of sending the folks that can’t cut it in the fleet to NAVSEA or NAVAIR.

  • Ed L

    The services need to think like warriors not hedge fund managers To get the most bang for the buck as quick as possible into the field. not figuring out ways to keep the private sector employed. Think and develop new weapon systems as quickly and into production. The current way things have been going the Admiral’s aide gets their Stars by the time the system gets into service

  • PolicyWonk

    “…the Navy expects that all of its program managers will find ways to shave time and money off their programs…”
    ================================================
    So NOW the USN decides to set expectations! Too bad they didn’t do this before the LCS program started (the “program that broke naval acquisition”), or for that matter, the USS Ford, or maybe even the DDG-1000 program.

    The LCS program is clearly an outlier (and not in a positive way), in that its had pitifully small success even though its now been almost 18 years…

    • Lazarus

      The LCS would benefit from the Navy reducing some of those “outside influencers” that VADM Moran spoke of; organizations that do not pay for the demands they make on programs (such as DOT&E.) That less formalized and more effective OT&E system that Moran also spoke fondly of is the pre-DOT&E world (pre 1986) when systems such as AEGIS, New Threat Upgrade and others got less formalized but more effective testing.
      Getting rid of administrative bureaucracy is the first step to restoring a more effective time schedule to all programs. Heck, if we cannot even build a jammer system in 10 years then how can we expect a whole warship with dozens of such systems in the same amount of time?

      • PolicyWonk

        Its far too late for the USN to remove “influencers” from the LCS program: that pony left the barn almost two decades ago.

        The energy, money, time, and resources have been thoroughly wasted, and our only hope is that someday and some way, someone will find a reasonable (i.e. safe) and useful way to employ these ships.

        But your point w/r/t components to equip our ships with is on-target, which is why these should all be standardized, modular, and purchased in bulk. On a high level, this was the idea behind LCS: lamentably its the execution that failed so miserably.

      • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

        Not sure how you characterize pre-1986 as “more effective” testing. The gear we were getting back then wasn’t exactly setting records for reliability, safety or maintainability.

        I believe DO&E performs a valuable and needed service. I suspect you tend to harp on them because LCS has done very poorly in testing. You cannot refute the message, so you go after the messenger. 🙂

        Regardless: their methods and data are respected and cited by Congress and OSD – which is kind of the point. They are the customers. Not the Services. PMs/PEOs in my experience get that.

        The issue isn’t whether our systems need to be thoroughly tested. It’s whether we’d get an objective and complete evalutation from the Services – absent something like DOT&E providing oversight.

        I have my doubts. There’s too much incentive for Services to cut corners, reduce test plans and/or lower the requirements to ensure the system under test gets fielded. We’ve definitely seen the latter wrt LCS.

    • old guy

      The old Navy contracter game of lowballing the bid and then loading on chages at high cost. This has worked for years. All you need is a sloppy spec and a cooperative C.O. The last time the cost increases were challenged was in 1979, by,then NAVSEA 01, RADM Frank Manganero. It brought back $2.3 Billion ,from the yards, and cost him his shot at NAVSEA 00, and his career

  • Curtis Conway

    Laziness in industry has become too much of a habit. Many a Plan of Action & Milestones can be revised/compressed based upon the new technology, manufacturing techniques, and testing capabilities. The metrics for testing perhaps cannot be revised too much particularly in human safety areas, but functionality of equipment can be determined in much shorter periods. Appropriateness of materials in many cases can be determined with FEA (Finite Element Analysis), and tested physically in a shorter period of time.

    • Lazarus

      I would not expect much alacrity from govt. Industry gives the govt. what it is contracted to build. It is govt bureaucracy that slow rolls industry more often than not.

      • DaSaint

        The LCS program however is an example where the Navy allowed the primes to in effect design their own ships for the intended mission. In the past, the NAVY spec’d out the ship and industry bid and built.

      • Curtis Conway

        You forget it was Nipper (RCA) that built the Mk VII (A Jack Webb Production) Aegis Combat System for the US Navy. I was there. They not only met, but exceeded many a requirement. From the broad hi-level A-Spec, through the B-Spec, right down to the very elements in the C-Spec. There are few things in the spec that were not met, and there are a few of us who know what they are. Today, in many modern systems, we have a hard time getting things to turn on and function, much less actually perform at a minimum level (I won’t say like LCS). FFG(X) better not be that way being an amalgamation of existing elements.

    • Rocco

      Like sending 🙈🙉🙊 in space??

  • Jason

    So, are they going to give PM’s more authority, or just expect faster? Where are the cuts to the red tape and “help” from oversight?

  • Duane

    Another example of grotesquely long acquisition and development schedules is the Navy’s primary shipboard electronic warfare suite. The old SLQ-32 dates back to the 1970s. A new replacement, an advanced EW system, was authorized in 1996, but by 2002 funding was withdrawn. Then the Navy started work on an incremental replacement of the Slick 32 called “SEWIP”, which was first installed in the Burkes and later on LCS in 2014, but sequestration cuts delayed full rate production.

    Given the mortal threat posed by swarms of enemy antiship cruise missiles and drones, it would seem that the Navy’s primary EW/ECM system would be a priority.

    Again, this is a great example – the slowness of Navy acquisition and system development, combined with Congressional budget cuts, results in inordinate delays that impact fleet readiness and battle survivability.

  • Curtis Conway

    Obviously you are not remembering (or selectively forgetting) the problems with the first hulls, and the miserable evaluation by Operational Test & Evaluation of the platforms, or the cost vs performance aspects of the hull-form and propulsion systems compared to initial projections. Also, the LCS was to be a low end combatant which stretched our budget into more platforms with greater efficiencies and effectiveness. With respect to training, logistical support and maintenance, operational effectiveness . . . with two so disparate configurations, it is difficult to understand how anything LCS is a success today, or even in the future. Upon demonstration of some operational effectiveness via real world completion of assigned tasks . . . this may change, but the training and logistical support with two different configurations, training, maintenance, and logistical support efficiencies will never be what they should have been with a common down selection. They don’t even use the same engines!

    • Duane

      There are no “problems with the hulls”. They performed and continue to perform according to requirements. The “engineering casualties” were determined to be the result of operator errors that were in turn caused by poor training and a need for a revised manning system (changing from 3-2-1 to Blue-Gold, and reducing the frequency of mission module changeouts to better preserve overall crew continuity).

      The hulls have never been found to be non-compliant, non-conforming, or in any other respect not meeting requirements.

      The hulls have been produced consistently according to contract requirements, including pricing, and any schedule stretches were due to the Congress cutting funding for LCS as they did practically everything else in the Navy starting in FY2012 with the sequester.

      • NavySubNuke

        “They performed and continue to perform according to requirements”
        The failure of the Freedom class to meet the range requirement and the Independence class to meet the speed requirement of the LCS CDD are well documented.

        • Duane

          There is no failure to meet the range requirement by the Freedom variant (not class). It meets the required minimum 3,500 nm range. The Independence variant greatly exceeds the minimum range requirement at 4,500 nm, or 5,400 nm with existing auxiliary fuel tanks topped off.

          • Curtis Conway

            The proof is in the pudding. We shall start seeing in a month!? There better be some huge drug bust headlines in the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific in early 2019 at the hands of LCS’s with LEDET on board.

        • PolicyWonk

          Yo NSN:

          “They performed and continue to perform according to requirements” is *entirely* true, providing the requirement was to remain tied to pier.

        • Refguy

          If you re-baseline every year, you will never be late or over budget, and you will always meet spec.

      • DaSaint

        Poor/errant program decision-making/management led to the 3-2-1 crew concept, and the Blue-Gold concept.

        • Curtis Conway

          Yes, and he has the gaul to talk about ‘Crew Continuity’? The LCS Program DESTROYED crew continuity! Set themselves up to fail in 3-2-1, and still didn’t fix the problem with Blue-Gold.

          • Duane

            Blue Gold is an extremely successful, totally proven multi-decades long crewing structure totally proven out by our SSBNs since the late 1950s.

            But go ahead, mock it. You are mocking the single most critical component of our entire naval force.

          • Curtis Conway

            Proud Duane. I take NOTHING away from the Submarine force(s), or the roots from which they came. However, that manning technique has not been the experience of the Surface Combatant Forces ever, and when someone else gets their grimy hands on my equipment, and leaves it in a shambles for me to fix upon my return ? . . . Pride of Ownership is REAL, and the US Navy has used (and still does use in the vast majority of the fleet) this as a tool and concept for maintaining equipment, systems, ships, and aircraft since our earliest days, and has a FAR LONGER HiStory of success in maintaining effective and ready forces. Pride of ownership is REAL! However, when I can just run a PMS card and leave the real problems for someone who gives a flying you know what . . . well, that is what the unprofessional do.

      • Curtis Conway

        “The hulls have never been found to be non-compliant, non-conforming, or in any other respect not meeting requirements.”

        Now let’s see . . . how many times was the spec tweaked?

        • PolicyWonk

          Right!

          And lets not forget, PEO LCS’s explanation of why the costs of the first sea-frames were so expensive: because they were being rebuilt/upgraded to meet the Level-1 standard (on the slipways, no less!).

          Then we find out in a subsequent article on Defense Industry Daily, that PEO LCS finally admitted that no version of LCS (past, present, or future), would ever meet the USN’s Level-1 standard.

          Even the editors at Breaking Defense were floored by that discovery…

    • PolicyWonk

      Just one look at the LockMart FFG(X) design, demonstrates that even LockMart isn’t wild about the Freedom class, because they removed the waterjets, and replaced the entire propulsion system.

      That change alone is sufficiently significant to remove their offering form the running (barring complete corruption on the part of PEO USC), because that makes it a “new” ship, as opposed to a proven platform.

      • Rocco

        What replaced it?

        • PolicyWonk

          Get this: propellers!

          And separate engine rooms, in case one floods due to battle damage (etc.).

          • Rocco

            Oh yeah! This was talked about a few months back! Can’t say it’s not a good thing!

          • PolicyWonk

            Its definitely a solid step in the right direction. Whether any of them ever get built given the significance of the design change (when they want a proven design), remains to be seen.

      • Duane

        Geez, get over your LCS trolling.

        It is not Lockmart. It is Lockheed Martin.

        For another thing, the requirements for FFGX are different in several respects from the requirements for LCS, including the requirement for 40+ knot speeds. So if FFGX does not need the propulsion system that produces such high speeds, it would make no sense at all for LM to propose a propulsion plant that is “overkill”, and would add expense for a capability that is not required.

        The LCS parent design is just a point of beginning for LM’s FFGX design submittal. There will be a few other differences also, such as larger fuel tankage to meet the longer range requirement of FFGX, and the addition of a VLS. The end result will be a longer, higher displacement hull than LCS – a “stretch LCS” very similar to LM’s design for the Saudi multi mission frigate which is very close to what the Navy specified for FFGX.

        • DaSaint

          So…it’s not Lockmart, but it is LM? Really?
          You’re entitled to your abbreviation, but he isn’t?
          BTW, if you Google Lockmart, Lockheed Martin is one of the entries, about fourth or fifth in line. If you Google LM, Legg Mason shows up…so…
          He’s more right than you Duane!

          • Duane

            LM is an abbreviation. “Lockmart” is a slander.

            Do I really have to explain that to you? And you seriously maintain that Google is the keeper of corporate names?

          • Curtis Conway

            Really Duane, YOU are worried about slandering someone?

          • Rocco

            Lol like there’s no. Tomorrow!!!

          • Curtis Conway

            Just Tripled your pay Rocco.

      • Curtis Conway

        That’s right. By definition its propulsion system is BRAND NEW, and never tested anywhere on that LCS hull-form!

        • PolicyWonk

          I consider the LockMart FFG(X) a new ship based on the completely different propulsion system, despite the fact that it represents a significant improvement.

          In this case, the options are: using an existing sea-frame with a proven propulsion system, and accept a new superstructure and weapons – or – using existing superstructure (etc.) and going with an entirely new propulsion system.

          IMO, the former is definitely preferable over the latter. But I’m talking as an engineer who prefers a strong foundation to build (and expand) upon. The USN has also accepted this premise in the past, using the Spruance sea-frames as the starting point for the excellent and still formidable Tico’s.

          How the USN views such things today, is an entirely different matter. When it comes to PEO USC, as we have all seen in the past, all bets are off because they’ve made some (and doubled-down on) astonishingly lousy decisions.

  • thebard3

    The US government is presumably the single largest buyer on earth. They should be able to exert their spending power to influence the bad habits of suppliers, both to overcharge and underdeliver, as well as to stimulate competition. Too bad they don’t follow the models of the evil capitalist companies like Wal-Mart. Bureaucracy, arcane procedures, and red tape take care of that.

    • Jason

      Yes, and buying ships and aircraft is just like buying soap and potato chips.

  • NavySubNuke

    There are legions of people at work in the Pentagon today whose job is to do nothing but make themselves feel important and slow down otherwise high performing programs. As shown by this statement: “He mentioned an unnamed program manager set to conduct a milestone review with the Navy this week, and before meeting with Moran and Geurts that program manager had 10 other briefings that week alone with other entities in the Navy that demanded their own pre-milestone decision brief.”
    How many man hours were wasted simply scheduling those 10 briefings, never mind actually building and tailoring the briefs for each engagement, conducting the briefing, and then responding to any action items or comments are part of that. What a colossal waste. You could fire every third bureaucrat in line for lunch at the pentagon and not lose anything.

    • Duane

      Pre milestone briefings are not necessarily a waste, even 10 of them. It all depends.

      A major development program has a great many stakeholders whose own work is affected by its progress and by specific program development decisions. These include programs that produce related products, or sub-systems, or affiliated systems, for instance. Ditto with other people who are tasked with providing support systems, or who are responsible for making sure that all manner of resources are not being over-committed.

      Realistically, a major program, such as a new ship type or aircraft type, could easily impact many dozens if not hundreds of other ongoing programs and resources. Failing to properly coordinate can cause a chain reaction of bad things to happen throughout the entire naval ecosystem.

      That does not mean that every person in the Pentagon is entitled to their pound of flesh, or merely to satisfy egos as you suggest. There are efficient ways to provide the necessary coordination, and inefficient ways. A poor program manager just might want to blame all those other stakeholders for his or her incompetence and failure to meet schedules or budget or quality or scope of work requirements.

      A high quality program management process identifies potential bottlenecks, risk factors, and other resource constraints, and makes allowances or provisions to efficiently manage them. Doing all of that skillfully is quite the trick, and the “art” of effective program and project management.

      Bureaucracy imposes its own costs and constraints, and wherever possible the acquisition authorities need to root out unnecessary bureaucratese without slashing necessary coordination and resource management.

      • RunningBear

        ……a bit “Off The Subject”, IIRC the LCS ASW module was completed within this last month and delivered. Now I’m reading where the onboard ship test at sea is postponed for two?? years because the schedule doesn’t require it?

        Please correct me with a pertinent link!

        I’m looking forward to this newer technology and with it demonstrated on the LCS it may be an upgrade for the Burkes and a baseline for the FFG(x). I’m not sure that with our networking capabilities, that “Any thing that floats,”, can pull a ASW tow behind, for the ASW network.
        IMHO
        Fly Navy
        🙂

  • Chesapeakeguy

    Yeah, right…

  • Jason

    Another interesting thought is, who did they think was accountable before? Why aren’t PEO’s being held accountable for their portfolios?

  • NavySubNuke

    It would also help if the Navy had PEOs stay in place long enough to feel the pain of their decisions and if the same PEO was then required to sustain the system throughout the system’s life. Those two steps would give PEOs a valuable long term focus that they currently lack.
    SSP and NR are two examples in the Navy. SSP is a 7 year tour and owns the Strategic Weapon System from cradle to gave. NR is an 8 year tour and they own every aspect of the Navy Nuclear power portfolio from cradle to grave as well. Both have been amazing successful at accomplishing their missions for over 60 years without a major accident between them. There are a lot of lessons the rest of the Navy can learn from these two high performing organizations about planning for long term success. The fact that both traditionally operate outside of the usual Pentagon/Acquisition bureaucracy is just icing on the cake of all that is wrong with the way DoD acquires and sustains systems.

    • Marauder 2048

      There was a recent study (and of course I can’t remember who performed it…IDA or RAND maybe) that showed that there was no statistically significant relationship between duration of PM/PEO tenure and program outcomes.

      edit:
      “Does the Program Manager Matter? New Public Management and Defense Acquisition” (Naval Postgraduate School)

      The RAND study from 2013 pretty much found the same thing.

      • NavySubNuke

        They missed the “and” step when they simply left the PEOs in place longer. Just leaving them there longer isn’t going to solve the problem — you also need to make it so they are “required to sustain the system throughout the system’s life” (quoting my original post).
        That level of cradle to grave responsibility is, I believe, a key part of the success of both SSP and NR.

    • Duane

      NR did virtually all of its development under Adm Rickover – the quintesential super PM, or rather, Program Owner. He had unique, never since repeated political powers to run his program as he saw fit from the late 1940s til the 1980s when he was finally forced to retire. He did it by cultivating leaders in the Senate and House to provide him personal protection from the rest of the Navy establishment which literally hated Rickover, being jealous of his powers and independence.

      After Rickover was forced to retire, his third and fourth generation senior officers took over and basically just kept it going mostly as is, with a few changes here and there (such as allowing high levels of automation in the Ford CVN reactor plant, a design philosophy which Rickover always vehemently opposed while he was alive).

      • Rocco

        Rickover was a drunken pushover!!

      • NavySubNuke

        “basically just kept it going mostly as is, with a few changes here and there (such as allowing high levels of automation in the Ford CVN reactor plant, a design philosophy which Rickover always vehemently opposed while he was alive)”
        Oh Duane, I do so love when you throw in incorrect little anecdotes like this. If you knew what the Navy had actually done with the Virginia design you would be quite surprised. Never mind what we are doing with Columbia.

        • NEC338x

          Likely wouldn’t have approved the significant design changes in A1B going to the fleet without a land based prototype.

  • jerry

    I can’t imagine any of this happening. This type of change is not possible or practicle, too many heads will (constantly) role. In short this approach is unaffordable.

    • Rocco

      You just clime out of a cave??

  • Doesn’t it come down to leadership decisions in the end? If a program can go from three years to four months because “a couple of folks challenge” things, then EITHER the regular processes are way to cumbersome and need to be changed (->leadership decision) OR the processes are right and someone has been taking excessive risks and should have gotten approval to do so (->leadership decision),OR program managers are hugely incompetent on average, which calls for a review of how they are selected (->leadership decision). The bottom line is, if navy leaders – or any other business or government leaders – think that improvements need to be made, they should start with challenging themselves and their decisions. Not doing so and just pushing the pressure down the chain is a failure of leadership.

  • old guy

    Welcome to the real world.
    Back in 1970, I had a $50 million/ yr. Navy R&D program. Fresh out of industry, I recruited a crackerjack team of BUSINESS experts to run the Program, backed up by a technical group and NSRDC.
    On my desk was a sign,”I am the Program Manager. My word is law. The law never changes. For changes, see the Contracting Officer.
    We ran over 10 years. Came in ahead of schedule, UNDER cost and better than Tech Spec objectives.
    This was verified by a 3 month, on site investigation by the GAO. ,instigated by some unhappy contractors and their Congressional shills.
    The Exacutive summary led off with. “We could determine NO discrepency in technical, financial or schedule operations.”
    It CAN be done. We did it with a dedicated team.