While the committee attempted to address the Milestone A and B issues in the case studies, it found very little information because of poor formal documentation regarding what happened in the Milestone A and B phases. Much of what is reported comes from the collective knowledge of committee members who were familiar with the programs. The point is that there is generally insufficient documented work done pre-Milestone A and B. The committee believed it important to include cases such as the C-5A to illustrate that good Milestone A and B work is not sufficient. It does not guarantee successful acquisition if poor decisions are made in source selection or during system design and development (SDD).

While it is not possible in most instances to draw from the cases a clear causal relationship to the individual findings and recommendations of this report, the committee found the case studies to be of value and expects that they will also provide useful information for the reader.

The important steps in the acquisition process are depicted as a continuous “thread” in Figure 2-1. Each segment of the thread is associated with a specific SE process. As Department of Defense (DOD) acquisition pulls the entire systems engineering thread, the thread can break at many different points for many different reasons. Thread breakage from perturbations in the SE processes tends to result in cost and schedule overruns and performance degradation.

The study schedule did not permit nor were the resources available to enable the committee to conduct in-depth, long-term studies of Air Force acquisition programs using a formal, rigorous, structured case study methodology. Instead, the committee had to use and to draw from published program data and formal

FIGURE 2-1 Systems engineering thread from defense strategy to system operation. IOC, initial operational capability. SOURCE: Contributed by committee member John Griffin.

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