The Decline and Fall of Joint Acquisition Programs

Report Number: NPS-AM-14-C11P13R01-051

Series: Acquisition Management

Category: Joint Acquisition Programs

Report Series: Proceedings Paper

Authors: Andrew Moore, William Novak, Matthews Collins, Jay Marchetti, Julie Cohen

Title: The Decline and Fall of Joint Acquisition Programs

Published: 2014-04-01

Sponsored By: Acquisition Research Program

Status: Published--Unlimited Distribution

Research Type: Other Research Faculty

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Keywords: joint acquisition program, cost and schedule overruns, cost growth


Studies have shown that joint acquisition programs are prone to experience larger cost and schedule overruns than single service programs, but that cost growth is not related to their generally larger sizes. This paper explains the unique and substantial cost growth of joint programs by describing an underlying causal mechanism that drives the observable schedule delays and cost overruns. Through analysis of actual joint program performance data and the use of that data in a system dynamics model of acquisition program behavior, we characterize two primary sources of joint program cost growth: (1) requirements growth and rework due to a social dilemma that occurs for the Joint Program Office due to interactions among stakeholder programs, and (2) rework driven by more traditional causes such as contract underbidding and the resulting schedule pressure increasing defect levels, and then effectively depressing productivity through the resultant rework. The combination of the two effects diminishes joint program performance significantly, explaining the previously identified degree of severity. In joint programs, the slowing performance manifests itself as a cascade of departing stakeholder programs who are unwilling to accept the growing schedule and cost, ultimately resulting in the cancellation of the program.