• acquisition practices;
  • project management;
  • systems engineering;
  • federal government


The analysis of several government defense and intelligence agency large-scale acquisition programs that experienced significant cost and schedule growth shows that several critical factors need to be addressed in the preacquisition phase of the acquisition cycle. These include overzealous advocacy, technology readiness levels, life-cycle cost, schedule details, requirements maturity, acquisition and contract strategy, program office personnel tenure and experience, risk management, systems engineering, and trade studies. The results of this study—which incorporated data from industry responses, government and industry executive interviews, numerous studies, and reports—indicate that early preacquisition activities executed in a rigorous fashion can significantly reduce the risk of cost and schedule growth. In this paper, the root causes of the cost and schedule growth are discussed as well as techniques and alternatives to improve program performance.