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Pre-Milestone A and Early-Phase Systems Engineering: A Retrospective Review and Benefits for Future Air Force Systems Acquisition 3 Systems Engineering Workforce INTRODUCTION As illustrated by several of the case histories described in Chapter 2 (particularly those of the F-16, the fighter jet engine program, and the B-2), the presence of experienced, domain-knowledgeable systems engineers on the development team—on both the government and the industry sides—is a critical factor in the success of any Air Force acquisition program. However, in recent years the depth of systems engineering (SE) talent in the Air Force has declined owing to policies within the Department of Defense (DOD) that shifted the oversight of SE functions increasingly to outside contractors, as well as to the decline of in-house development planning capabilities in the Air Force (AF). The result is that there are no longer enough experienced systems engineers to fill the positions in programs that need them, particularly within the government. As acquisition programs continue to evolve from individual systems to systems of systems, this shortage will only become more acute. For the Air Force to be a “smart buyer” of systems and systems modification programs, its personnel must be well trained to supervise and critically evaluate progress in the various programs. The Air Force needs personnel qualified to anticipate problems and respond intelligently to them. The Air Force cannot outsource its technical and program management experience and intellect and still expect to acquire new systems that are both effective and affordable. This chapter discusses the U.S. SE workforce in terms of the production of systems engineers by U.S. universities, industry, and the Air Force. The approaches taken by industry to train systems engineers are described and, where there are specific areas of emphasis, these are noted. The duty assignments of Air Force systems-engineering-trained officers and civilians are described. For the
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Pre-Milestone A and Early-Phase Systems Engineering: A Retrospective Review and Benefits for Future Air Force Systems Acquisition U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA) and Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT), the chapter presents data on the number of systems engineering graduates and their follow-on assignments. The chapter also addresses the numbers of officers trained in systems engineering that the Air Force expects to have in the future. This is particularly important given the manpower drawdown that the Air Force is going through as a result of Program Budget Decision (PBD) 720.1 As best the committee can determine, the Air Force does not have systems engineers assigned between Milestones A and B; hence, the committee concludes that none are assigned in the pre-Milestone A period. Furthermore, as discussed later in this chapter, the personnel/manpower “accounting” system that the Air Force uses does not enable the easy tracking of personnel who are performing SE functions or jobs that require them. Hence it is nearly impossible to assess supply and demand for systems engineers. PRODUCTION OF SYSTEMS ENGINEERS BY U.S. UNIVERSITIES Figure 3-1 shows that the output of systems engineering degrees in U.S. universities has increased slowly over the past decade. This conclusion is supported by data cited in a forthcoming report by the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE),2 which is developing a reference curriculum for systems engineering. Engineering schools such as the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Stevens Institute of Technology are introducing new professional and executive master’s degree programs in systems engineering and systems management based on this INCOSE reference model. The curriculum places a strong emphasis on domain expertise (e.g., electrical engineering, mechanical engineering) at the undergraduate level. Figure 3-1 includes data for systems-engineering-centric programs only. It does not include domain-centric systems engineering programs. For example, universities such as Stanford University, Georgia Tech, and the California Institute of Technology have exceptional programs in aerospace engineering, electrical engineering, and industrial engineering that include aspects of systems engineering.3 1 Program Budget Decision 720, entitled “Air Force Transformation Flight Plan,” was issued on December 28, 2005, by the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller). In it, the Defense Comptroller directed reductions in Air Force manpower from 2007 to 2011 totaling over 40,000 people, including active, Air National Guard, and Air Force Reserve civilian, officer, and enlisted personnel. Manpower reductions in specific career fields were not specified in the PBD, but it is expected that the scientist, engineer, and acquisition manager career fields will experience significant reductions as the PBD 720 reductions are allocated. 2 R. Jain and D. Verma, 2007, Proposing a Framework for a Reference Curriculum for a Graduate Program in Systems Engineering, Hoboken, N.J.: International Council on Systems Engineering. 3 W. Fabrycky and E. McCrae, 2005, Systems Engineering Degree Programs in the United States, Hoboken, N.J.: International Council on Systems Engineering.
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Pre-Milestone A and Early-Phase Systems Engineering: A Retrospective Review and Benefits for Future Air Force Systems Acquisition FIGURE 3-1 Systems engineering degrees awarded in the United States in the past decade. SOURCE: Based on data gathered in Engineers Joint Council, Engineering Manpower Commission, and American Association of Engineering Societies, 2006, Engineering and Technology Degrees, New York: Engineering Manpower Commission. Thus, Figure 3-1 does not present a complete picture of U.S. university production of engineers that have an exposure to systems thinking. PRODUCTION OF SYSTEMS ENGINEERS BY U.S. INDUSTRY Industry has clearly recognized the need for SE-trained personnel. In fact, it has invested significantly in training programs that produce hundreds or even thousands of company-trained systems engineers per year. The committee interviewed representatives from four major U.S. aerospace companies to better understand industry approaches used to develop and train systems engineers. To protect the proprietary nature of any of the approaches being used, the companies themselves are not identified in the report. Some of these companies have emphasized systems engineering training for less than a decade, while others have been involved in it for as long as 30 years. The discussion below summarizes common themes that emerged from the interviews. Training, not just education, is crucial. All the companies agree that a person learns to be a systems engineer by on-the-job-training (OJT)—by practicing the trade. While tools that facilitate the management of a program can be taught and learned, the essence of being a good systems engineer depends on applying all knowledge, including functional and domain knowledge, along with the tools, at the right places in any given
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Pre-Milestone A and Early-Phase Systems Engineering: A Retrospective Review and Benefits for Future Air Force Systems Acquisition program. The skill is sharpened through experience, and both success and failure are good teachers. All the companies agree that mentoring is essential. This is especially true when the loss of experienced personnel occurs and the next level of personnel must be developed as quickly as possible. At the same time, most of the companies are aggressively documenting those practices and processes that are time-tested and essential so that these processes can be available to those who are learning, and not lost when the key personnel retire. Subject matter expertise and/or domain knowledge are more important than is a knowledge of tools. The foundation for a good systems engineer is his or her academic training in a technical area (e.g., aeronautical engineering, electrical engineering, or software engineering), augmented by OJT. The tools that are taught and acquired are a means to an end—necessary, but by no means sufficient. A person who is trained only in the tools of systems engineering is not a systems engineer. Both internal and external training are valuable; the most successful training approach is usually a hybrid. In general, the companies find that schools provide useful training but rarely provide the kind of insight that a tailored in-house program does. They also find that, for the most part, the cost of in-house training is on a par with the cost of university training. Of interest is the fact that some universities (e.g., the University of Southern California [USC]) have created positions called Professor of Practice. These nontenured positions are specifically designed to enable the hiring of practitioners of a given skill or craft to augment the regular faculty. At USC, professors of practice are hired in systems engineering, among other areas. Certification by and participation in INCOSE are considered essential. All the companies require certification (acquired through the right training and experience), and all participate in and support INCOSE. Investment in SE training is necessary whether or not the return on investment can be directly estimated. Some of the companies have been able to quantify their return on investment (ROI) for the training—they estimate or calculate the benefit, given the cost. All of them say, though, that they cannot compete without the training, even if they cannot directly estimate its ROI. A systems engineering culture is essential. All the companies agree that there must be a culture of systems engineering and that it must pervade every program, no matter how large or small. If the small programs are neglected, this can lead to problems and failure, which cost the company time and money to correct. The prevailing view is that systems engineering is not a phrase, a bumper sticker, an organization, or a job code—systems engineering is a discipline. It is not something that one can have
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Pre-Milestone A and Early-Phase Systems Engineering: A Retrospective Review and Benefits for Future Air Force Systems Acquisition a nodding acquaintance with; nor is it something that one can just be familiar with. It is something one has to own and believe in. Systems engineering organizations vary. Some of the companies interviewed have separate systems engineering groups or departments. In contrast, one company disbanded its systems-engineering-specific organization and dispersed the professionals to all functional levels. The reason given was that having a separate organization led to perceptions among Integrated Product Team (IPT) leaders that systems engineering responsibilities are handled by the “systems engineering group.” This caused these leaders to neglect the critical role and responsibility that they themselves had for implementing the systems engineering development environment. The “trigger” for a company’s emphasis on systems engineering is usually failing programs. Faced with several troubled programs, an analysis typically revealed that there was a fundamental lack of systems engineering in all of them or, if it was present at all, it was not being applied correctly. It was also often observed that the personnel who claimed to be systems engineers were insufficiently trained, including the managers who claimed to be systems engineers or to have training in it. THE ROLE OF FEDERALLY FUNDED RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT CENTERS Systems Engineering FFRDCs The Aerospace Corporation and the MITRE Corporation are Air Force systems engineering federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs). The FFRDCs provide independent, objective, credible support and work to the Air Force customers for whom they work. Each of them is allocated a total number of staff technical equivalents (STEs)—referred to as a ceiling—as a limit to which they can be funded. While not all of the work that they do is for the Air Force, the lion’s share of Aerospace’s is for the Air Force, while less than half of MITRE’s is assigned to the Air Force. Specifically, for Aerospace, approximately 89 percent of its total ceiling was allocated to the Air Force for fiscal year (FY) 2006, and 88 percent for FY 2007. For MITRE, approximately 49 percent of its total ceiling for FY 2006 was allocated to the Air Force Electronic Systems Center (ESC) and non-ESC Air Force organizations, and approximately 46 percent of its total ceiling for FY 2007.4 4 Data on both the Aerospace Corporation and the MITRE Corporation were provided in a private communication on April 4, 2007, between the committee and Michael Kratz, Chief of Acquisition Workforce Policy and Resources at SAF/AQX. Note that these figures were based on in internal review and do not include National Intelligence Program exclusions nor FY 2007 AF Military Intelligence Program exclusions. Also, in FY 2006, STE was placed on contracts with $780.5 million allocated to Aerospace and $250.9 million for AF allocation to MITRE.
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Pre-Milestone A and Early-Phase Systems Engineering: A Retrospective Review and Benefits for Future Air Force Systems Acquisition The committee was not able to obtain a breakout showing what functions these engineers are performing for their Air Force customers. Probably not all are performing systems engineering functions; however, these numbers represent upper bounds. Studies and Analysis and “Technology Transition” FFRDCs Studies and analysis FFRDCs such as the RAND Corporation and the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA) have played and can play an important role, particularly in the pre-Milestone A period. In the acquisition process, analysis needs to be done early (and continuously) to help frame the boundaries of requirements and system performance and to contribute to important knowledge and understanding at the intersection of operational needs analysis and technical solution analysis. These activities have been and should remain complementary to any Air Force requirements organizations. “Technology transition” FFRDCs, such as MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory and Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Engineering Institute (SEI), can contribute importantly as they focus on—and transition—best practices related to systems and software engineering. The committee saw evidence of these capabilities during the briefings that it received. SYSTEMS ENGINEERING TRAINING AND EDUCATION WITHIN THE AIR FORCE There are two Air Force institutions that provide formal systems engineering training—the AFIT and the USAFA. The AFIT program and the intense interest in systems engineering by Secretary of the Air Force James G. Roche was the stimulus for creating the USAFA program. While the USAFA program is at the undergraduate level only, it does teach the students principles of systems engineering, and they have to complete a senior project that is multidisciplinary and allows them to apply the aspects and elements of systems engineering at some level. The Genesis of the Air Force Center for Systems Engineering In the spring of 2002, while meeting with the commander of the Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC) and later with the commandant of the AFIT, Secretary of the Air Force Roche directed that an organization be created to help strengthen the Air Force’s systems engineering capabilities. Further, he directed that this organization be led by a general officer or civilian equivalent and be located at AFIT at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio. Following up on that direction in the fall of 2002, AFMC conducted a systems engineering forum bringing together 54 of the leading systems engineering experts in the country. The forum identified key gaps and shortfalls in the
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Pre-Milestone A and Early-Phase Systems Engineering: A Retrospective Review and Benefits for Future Air Force Systems Acquisition defense industry systems engineering community and provided recommendations to address those gaps and shortfalls. Additionally, the forum members discussed possible roles for an Air Force organization that could address the gaps and options and a structure for that organization. By the end of 2002, the commanders of the AFMC, the Air Force Space Command (AFSPC), and the Air Education and Training Command (AETC) decided that a new organization would be formed and that it would belong to AETC located at AFIT. Its director would be a member of the Senior Executive Service and would report directly to the AFIT commandant. The commanders also pledged to find positions from all three commands to staff the organization. Thus, the Air Force Center for Systems Engineering (CSE) was born in early 2003. The center director was the equivalent of a dean at AFIT, and the center had its own governing council. The focus for the center’s activities grew out of the recommendations of the systems engineering forum and included education, training, collaboration, and advocacy. As the center matured in the following months, it focused on two goals: To influence and institutionalize the systems engineering process. This goal includes an in-house rotational program for development of new systems engineers, consultation with other organizations, and the development of systems engineering tools, processes, and practices in collaboration with organizations such as INCOSE. To educate the workforce. This goal includes the development of systems engineering case studies; graduate programs; seminars, workshops, and short courses on systems engineering and architecture; and initiatives to provide accessibility to these programs at key locations throughout the Air Force. The Air Force CSE has delivered on the goals outlined above and has published comprehensive case studies on programs that include the C-5, F-111, Hubble Space Telescope, Theater Battle Management Core System, B-2, and the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM). It has published several SE guides and is an active participant in numerous systems engineering venues and initiatives. Additionally, AFIT has produced more than 200 graduates of its master’s and certificate programs in systems engineering and architecture since the center was formed in 2002. The center and AFIT collaborate with numerous universities on curricula, joint graduate capstone projects, delivery of the Graduate Certificate in Systems Engineering, and many short courses.5 Recently AFIT expanded its utilization of distance learning technology to make its courses available to more individuals and organizations across the nation. 5 A current list of AFIT graduate capstone projects can be found at http://www.usafa.af.mil/df/dfsem/Capstones.cfm?catname=dean%20of%20faculty. Last accessed on April 27, 2007.
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Pre-Milestone A and Early-Phase Systems Engineering: A Retrospective Review and Benefits for Future Air Force Systems Acquisition TABLE 3-1 Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) Intermediate Development Education (IDE) Students, 2004-2008 Graduation Year Total IDE Classa IDE SE Studentsa 2004 80 21 2005 140 37 2006 220 35 2007 80b 12b 2008 43c 21c aThe selection of Air Force officers for IDE at AFIT is a function of the number of officers designated by promotion boards to receive IDE, and the subsequent selection of officers to go to particular schools from those listed for a given year. As the number of officers in a year group goes down, the number being designated for IDE by any promotion board will decrease as well. bSlated to graduate. cInbound. Also, starting in 2007, the program had 4 versus the 12 options that were previously available. SOURCE: Air Force Institute of Technology. In addition, one option for Air Force intermediate development education (IDE) is to attend AFIT and obtain a master’s degree in addition to professional military education. One of the master’s degrees available is that of systems engineering. The first class graduated from this program in 2004. Table 3-1 shows the total numbers in these IDE classes (actual for years 2004 through 2006, slated to graduate in 2007, and planned for 2008) and of those how many received a master’s degree in systems engineering or plan to do so. U.S. Air Force Academy Training in Systems Engineering and Systems Engineering Management The Air Force Academy has two systems engineering majors: systems engineering and systems engineering management (SEM) (the latter is not accredited). Cadets in both majors get experience applying their specialties by teaming up with engineering domain-specific cadets in one of nine defined Capstone Design projects in the following departments: Aeronautical Engineering, Astronautical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Engineering Mechanics, and Operations Research. The first year that cadets graduated with degrees in these majors was 2006. The numbers of graduates for that year and those projected to graduate with these majors in 2007, 2008, and 2009 are shown in Table 3-2. Those who graduated in 2006 were assigned to the career fields shown in Table 3-3. Also shown are the assignments for those cadets who were expected to graduate with these majors in 2007. Both are summarized in Table 3-4.
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Pre-Milestone A and Early-Phase Systems Engineering: A Retrospective Review and Benefits for Future Air Force Systems Acquisition TABLE 3-2 U.S. Air Force Academy Graduates with Majors in Systems Engineering and Systems Engineering Management, 2006-2009 Year Systems Engineeringa Systems Engineering Managementb 2006 32 (graduated) 68 (graduated) 2007 43 (projected) 91 (projected) 2008 51 (projected) 99 (projected) 2009 42 (projected) 67 (projected) aUp for initial ABET, Inc., accreditation in 2008. bNo plans to accredit. SOURCE: U.S. Air Force Academy. TABLE 3-3 Career Fields to Which U.S. Air Force Academy Graduates in 2006 and 2007 in Systems Engineering (SE) and Systems Engineering Management (SEM) Were Assigned CL2006 CL2007a Class SE SEM SE SEM 32E1G Civil Engineer 1 33S1 Communications and Information 2 3 3 61S1A Scientist 1 3 62xxx Development Engineer 2 9 63xxx Acquisition Manager 1 9 10 92M1 Medical Student 1 92T0 Pilot Trainee 19 45 29 53 92T1 Navigator Trainee 1 1 3 1 Army 1 13M1 Air Field Operations 1 2 13S1 Space and Missile 1 4 41A1 Health Services Administrator 1 64P1 Contracting 1 5 65F1 Financial Management 2 5 65W1 Cost Analysis 1 21A1 Aircraft Maintenance 1 2 4 21R1 Logistics Readiness 1 14N1 Intelligence 3 Total 32b 68 43 91 aClass of 2007 assignments are projected. bAssigned career fields for two 2006 SE graduates were unspecified. SOURCE: U.S. Air Force Academy.
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Pre-Milestone A and Early-Phase Systems Engineering: A Retrospective Review and Benefits for Future Air Force Systems Acquisition TABLE 3-4 Summary of Systems Engineering (SE) and Systems Engineering Management (SEM) Assignments (Classes of 2006 and 2007) Assignment Total Assignments (Percent) Rated 65 Operations (Air Field Operations/Space and Missile/Maintenance) 12 Technology (Scientist/Engineer/Communication/Information) 10 Contract/Finance/Cost Analysis 6 Acquisition 4 Other (Intelligence, Logistics, Health) 3 SOURCE: U.S. Air Force Academy. The goals of a new program to enhance engineering education at the Air Force Academy are to (1) encourage underclass cadets to major in ABET-accredited engineering disciplines, (2) motivate upperclass cadets to pursue Air Force careers in engineering, and (3) support improvement and expansion of the USAFA systems engineering program.6 The proposed approach includes fall and spring semester onsite lecture series and mentoring involving junior active-duty Air Force engineers. CURRENT INVENTORY OF AIR FORCE OFFICERS ASSIGNED AND TRAINED IN THE SCIENTIST, ENGINEER, AND ACQUISITION MANAGER CAREER FIELDS Systems engineering expertise derives from initial academic training to obtain domain expertise, postgraduate training to deepen domain experience, postgraduate training to learn how to use systems engineering management tools, and hands-on experience in program development and management. The formal training for systems engineers and the overt recognition of the importance of SE as an Air Force competency is a relatively recent occurrence. Perhaps that, coupled with the fact that there is no undergraduate degree in SE, is why there is not yet a classification code for systems engineers in the Air Force. Figures 3-2, 3-3, and 3-4 show, respectively, the numbers of officers in the 61S (scientist), 62E (engineer), and 63A (acquisition manager) career fields by years of service and grade. The number of officers in the 61, 62, and 63 career fields diminishes rapidly with increasing grade and years of service. The numbers of scientific and engineering Air Force officers are shown in Figure 3-5 for five areas of engineering (aerospace, astronautical, computer, 6 In 2006, Paul Kaminski, a graduate of the Air Force Academy, made a gift to the Association of Graduates to support and improve engineering education and enrollment at the Academy.
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Pre-Milestone A and Early-Phase Systems Engineering: A Retrospective Review and Benefits for Future Air Force Systems Acquisition FIGURE 3-2 Number of scientists (61S) by grade and years of service. SOURCE: Air Force Personnel Center, Interactive Demographic Analysis System (IDEAS), http://w11.afpc.randolph.af.mil/vbin/broker8.exe?_program=ideas.IDEAS_default.sas&_service=vpool1&_debug=0 (as of March 2007). electrical, and mechanical engineering), the level of degree (BS, MS, and PhD), and where the officers were assigned. Since there is no tracking of officers who have any education in SE or experience applying it, it is not possible to make that distinction from these data. Note the very small numbers of engineers in the 63A career field, where program managers would be found. The only way that an officer with academic SE training can be found in the Air Force personnel database is by searching for the degree type. The shortcomings of this process are that there is not a consistent description of degrees, and it is very time-consuming. Further, this type of search does not reveal if a person so trained has had any successful hands-on experience in the application of systems engineering principles. AIR FORCE CIVILIAN SYSTEMS ENGINEERING POSITIONS Most of the engineering positions in the Air Force are in the materiel and space commands (AFMC and AFSPC, respectively), in which the bulk of pro-
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Pre-Milestone A and Early-Phase Systems Engineering: A Retrospective Review and Benefits for Future Air Force Systems Acquisition FIGURE 3-4 Number of acquisition managers (63A) by grade and years of service. SOURCE: Air Force Personnel Center, Interactive Demographic Analysis System (IDEAS), http://w11.afpc.randolph.af.mil/vbin/broker8.exe?_program=ideas.IDEAS_default.sas&_service=vpool1&_debug=0 (as of March 2007). The definitions in the AFMCI for each position type are as follows: Lead engineer. Engineer responsible for a single end item, or family of end items; has operational safety, suitability and effectiveness (OSS&E) responsibility; responsible for all end item/commodity technical activities, including engineering configuration changes. Chief engineer. Senior engineer/technical authority for a weapon system or equivalent product; has OSS&E responsibility. Director of engineering. Senior engineer/technical authority responsible for multiple chief or lead engineering positions; ensures programs under their purview are addressing OSS&E; ensures chief and lead engineers assigned to systems/end items within their organization are executing their responsibilities appropriately; fulfills chief engineer responsibilities for systems/end items without an assigned chief engineer. Technical director. Senior engineer; technical specialty position for engineering; provides expertise on technical aspects supporting directorate or wing operation and processes; has various levels of OSS&E responsibility.
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Pre-Milestone A and Early-Phase Systems Engineering: A Retrospective Review and Benefits for Future Air Force Systems Acquisition FIGURE 3-5 Air Force officers with engineering degrees: breakdown by field of specialization and career track. SOURCE: Air Force Personnel Center, Interactive Demographic Analysis System (IDEAS), http://w11.afpc.randolph.af.mil/vbin/broker8.exe?_program=ideas.IDEAS_default.sas&_service=vpool1&_debug=0 (as of March 2007). Lead engineer positions are most likely domain-centric; thus individuals in these positions would not necessarily be working at the systems level and performing systems engineering tasks in a leadership role as discussed here. Individuals in the chief engineer, director of engineering, and technical director positions probably are doing work at the systems level and thus are performing systems engineering leadership tasks. As of March 2007, AFMC had 231 of these critical engineering positions, with 180 at product centers and the remaining 51 at logistics centers.7 All are organic, with the exception of 45 at ESC, which are staffed with individuals from MITRE, an FFRDC. Not all are civilian, but most are. Unfortunately, the data from AFMC do not break out the military positions. Breaking out these positions by code puts 84 in the lead engineer category, 88 in the chief engineer category, 36 in the director of engineering category, and 23 in the technical director category. 7 Personal communication between committee member Mark K. Wilson and Dominick Tucillo, Air Force Materiel Command Engineering Directorate.
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Pre-Milestone A and Early-Phase Systems Engineering: A Retrospective Review and Benefits for Future Air Force Systems Acquisition Not counting those in the lead engineer category and adding one each for the AFMC centers for their director of engineering SES positions (6 when SMC is included), two positions for the AFMC Engineering Directorate (AFMC/EN) (director and technical director), and six positions at the Air Force CSE (including its director), the total number of “systems engineering leadership” positions is 161. Therefore, it is estimated that approximately 160 of the engineering positions in the Air Force (if filled) have incumbents who are performing systems-engineering-related work in a leadership role. Note also that AFMC Instruction 62-202 establishes the criteria to be used in the selection process for individuals in these critical engineering positions. EFFECTS OF PROGRAM BUDGET DECISION 720 The Air Force has made a concerted effort to access, retain, and shape the military scientist and engineer (S&E) career fields. Following low retention years in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the Air Force offered its scientists and engineers retention bonuses and increased the S&E accession levels well above what was required on a steady-state basis to maintain a healthy force. These efforts had a dramatic effect between 2001 and 2005, increasing the manning of these career fields as shown in Table 3-5. However, after PBD 720 is fully implemented, the numbers of officers accessed into Air Force 61S and 62E career fields are expected to be smaller. As a result of PBD 720, the Air Force has taken a hard, detailed look at each of its officer career fields. The S&E share of the authorization cuts are shown in Table 3-6. To shape the inventory to match these reductions while taking into account the future health of the force, the Air Force has used a steady-state sustainment methodology. In the steady state, accession levels are set to provide 100 percent manning over the course of 30 years—constant accessions against a constant retention rate, calculated distinctly for each career field. During the force-reduction years, the Air Force planned to meet required end strength by accessing each specialty at the sustainment level and managing losses through primarily voluntary losses. The S&E community is currently planned to access at 91 percent of sustainment through FY 2009, after which it will return to the sustainment level. Table 3-7 shows for the 61S (scientists) and 62E (engineers) career fields the actual accessions for FY 2001 through FY 2006 and the planned accessions for years FY 2007 through FY 2009. Also shown are the annual sustainment targets for each career field, goals that will sustain a healthy force for the future while allowing the Air Force to meet end-strength targets during this period of significant force drawdown.
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Pre-Milestone A and Early-Phase Systems Engineering: A Retrospective Review and Benefits for Future Air Force Systems Acquisition TABLE 3-5 Increase in the Number of Air Force Scientists and Engineers from 2001 to 2005 Career Field AFSC 2001 2005 Inventory Authorizations Manning Inventory Authorizations Manning 61S (Scientist) 753 923 82% 889 899 99% 62E (Engineer) 2,072 3,045 68% 2,614 2,702 97% SOURCE: Headquarters U.S. Air Force /A1. TABLE 3-6 Current and Projected Cuts in Air Force Science and Engineering Personnel Resulting from Program Budget Decision 720 61S (Scientist) 62E (Engineer) FY Permanent Party Authorizations % Change Cumulative % Change Permanent Party Authorizations % Change Cumulative % Change 2006 877 2,654 2007 796 −9.20 −9.20 2,405 −9.40 −9.40 2008 791 −0.60 −9.80 2,411 0.20 −9.20 2009 768 −2.90 −12.40 2,384 −1.10 −10.20 SOURCE: Headquarters U.S. Air Force /A1. TABLE 3-7 61S and 62E Actual and Planned Accessions and Sustainment Targets Career Field Sustainment Targeta Actual Accessions Planned Accessions 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 61S (Scientist) 70 69 94 128 94 91 90 97 64 64 62E (Engineer) 297 155 196 326 371 386 312 346 272 272 aNumber of qualified accessions required to meet future force authorizations (using FY 2011 authorizations from the FY 2007 President’s Budget end strength; authorizations remain the same from FY 2009 through FY 2011). SOURCE: Headquarters U.S. Air Force /A1.
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Pre-Milestone A and Early-Phase Systems Engineering: A Retrospective Review and Benefits for Future Air Force Systems Acquisition CONGRESSIONAL ACTIONS TO CUT DOD ACQUISITION WORKFORCE The PBD 720 workforce cuts that the Air Force is taking are not the first significant reductions in the acquisition workforce. In fact, Congress participated with direction in the FY 1996, FY 1997, FY 1998, and FY 1999 Defense Authorization Acts to reduce the DOD acquisition workforce. The reductions mandated by Congress in FY 1996 put the Air Force’s acquisition workforce on a precipitous path. The Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act (FASA) II (called the Federal Acquisition Reform Act [FARA]) was passed during the first session of the 104th Congress. It built on the earlier FASA legislation and was included in the FY 1996 DOD Authorization Act (P.L. 104-106). The newest reform provisions sought (1) to simplify procedures for procuring commercial products and services, and at the same time to preserve the concept of full and open competition; (2) to reduce barriers to acquiring commercial products by eliminating the requirement for certified cost and pricing data for commercial products; and (3) to streamline the bid protest process by providing for all bid protests to be adjudicated by the General Accounting Office (GAO; now the Government Accountability Office). To reflect the projected efficiencies of acquisition reform and the broader personnel reductions occurring at DOD, FASA directed DOD to reduce its acquisition workforce by 15,000 personnel during FY 1996 and to report to Congress on how to implement an overall 25 percent reduction during the next 5 years (from October 1, 1995). In the FY 1997 Defense Authorization Act, Congress directed an acquisition workforce reduction of an additional 15,000 in Section 902 of the act: SEC. 902. ADDITIONAL REQUIRED REDUCTION IN DEFENSE ACQUISITION WORKFORCE. ADDITIONAL REDUCTIONS FOR FISCAL YEAR 1997.—Section 906(d) of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1996 (Public Law 104–106; 110 Stat. 405) is amended in paragraph (1) by striking out “positions during fiscal year 1996” and all that follows and inserting in lieu thereof “so that—“(A) the total number of defense acquisition personnel as of October 1, 1996, is less than the baseline number by at least 15,000; and “(B) the total number of defense acquisition personnel as of October 1, 1997, is less than the baseline number by at least 30,000.”. BASELINE NUMBER.—Such section is further amended by adding at the end the following new paragraph: “(3) For purposes of this subsection, the term ‘baseline number’ means the total number of defense acquisition personnel as of October 1, 1995.”. Additional reductions were proposed in 1997 by the House National Security Committee in H.R. 1778, which was described as follows:
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Pre-Milestone A and Early-Phase Systems Engineering: A Retrospective Review and Benefits for Future Air Force Systems Acquisition To accelerate the process of reform, the House National Security Committee reported H.R. 1778, the Defense Reform Act of 1997, to the House of Representatives. This bill pursues meaningful reform in three basic areas: streamlining the defense bureaucracy, improving defense business practices and adding a measure of common sense to the environmental regulations governing the Department’s operations. Chief among the bureaucratic reforms are initiatives to reduce headquarters staffs by 25 percent and the defense acquisition workforce by more than 40 percent. According to the Congressional Budget Office, these reforms will save $15 billion over the next five years and an additional $5 billion each year thereafter without taking into account the additional potential savings resulting from the mandated increases in competition of defense support services.8 The defense acquisition workforce continued as a source of congressional oversight during the 105th Congress. The FY 1998 Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 105-85) required a 25 percent reduction in the number of personnel assigned to DOD management headquarters and headquarters support activities over 5 years; it specifically directed a 5 percent reduction during FY 1998, as well as a 5 percent reduction in staff at the United States Transportation Command during FY 1998. The compromise reached on the downsizing of the defense acquisition workforce (previously, the FY 1998 House Authorization Bill contained a provision that would have mandated a reduction of 124,000 personnel by October 1, 2001, but the Senate bill omitted any provisions) was to require a reduction of 25,000 defense acquisition workforce personnel in FY 1998; included in this bill are provisions that grant authority to the Secretary of Defense to waive up to 15,000 of the 25,000, based on his assessment that a greater reduction would “be inconsistent with cost-effective management of the defense acquisition workforce system to obtain best value equipment and would adversely affect military readiness.” The FY 1999 Defense Authorization Act directed the administration to reduce the workforce by 25,000 acquisition personnel by October 1, 1999, lowering it to 12,500 personnel if the Secretary of Defense certifies that such a reduction would cause an adverse effect on military readiness or management of the acquisition system. THE FUTURE ENGINEERING FORCE It is important that the Air Force evaluate its needs for scientists and engineers for the future, access them in proper numbers, develop and train them, and assign them to extract the best value for the Air Force. The development and training of these officers and civilians should include OJT that is supervised by 8 House of Representatives Report 105-132, National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1998, Report of the Committee on National Security, House of Representatives, on H.R. 1119 together with Additional and Dissenting Views, June 16, 1997, Washington, D.C.
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Pre-Milestone A and Early-Phase Systems Engineering: A Retrospective Review and Benefits for Future Air Force Systems Acquisition qualified, experienced personnel; academic training when required to maintain and sharpen skills (much like the Weapon School does for operators); and education with industry. The Air Force Academy programs for SE and systems engineering management (SEM) have important value; however, those programs will never produce graduates with these majors in large numbers. Although these students will not be qualified to be practicing systems engineers upon graduation from the Air Force Academy, their Air Force Academy training will have instilled in them an appreciation for what systems engineering means and for its importance. It is important that the Academy work with the Air Force Personnel Center regarding assignments of its graduates so that the Air Force can capitalize on the cadets’ SE training. The Academy might benefit from an adjunct faculty position called Professor of Practice in Systems Engineering, similar to the faculty positions at USC mentioned earlier. Similarly, AFIT’s SE program will not graduate students trained in SE in large numbers. However, their training will be of value to the Air Force as it is applied in future assignments. AFIT might also benefit from an adjunct faculty position called Professor of Practice in Systems Engineering. REVITALIZING THE ACQUISITION CORPS Because of the dearth of Air Force acquisition programs that an Air Force officer or civilian will be involved with during his or her career, there are not many opportunities to gain insight and experience from OJT. As a means to provide such opportunities, the Air Force Secretary and Chief of Staff could establish a small mentoring group made up of retired Air Force general officers and civilians and representatives from industry and FFRDCs with credibility in acquisition; the establishment of this group would be a way to start the revitalization of the acquisition corps to a high level of excellence and to identify initiatives to accelerate effective, affordable combat capability to the field. This group would serve to (1) mentor the acquisition personnel, (2) provide individual and private expert advice and counsel to program managers, and (3) at the strategic level make recommendations to the Chief of Staff and Secretary on policy that could accelerate the revitalization process. This close and meaningful attention to the people of the acquisition community is called for in conjunction with the new policies coming from the Defense Acquisition Performance Assessment and the 40,000 person cut that the Air Force is currently mandated to take; its workforce needs to be better trained, more efficient, and more motivated than ever before. The military members of the acquisition workforce should deploy and serve as part of the warfighting Aerospace Expeditionary Forces if they are to be the greatest value to the Air Force during conflicts, and later when they take responsibility for acquiring future weapons systems and apply the valuable lessons learned in the field.
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Pre-Milestone A and Early-Phase Systems Engineering: A Retrospective Review and Benefits for Future Air Force Systems Acquisition Technology and the producing of superior weapons systems have been the bedrock of the Air Force along with its people since 1947; the acquisition expertise that provided that capability in the past has eroded, and something needs to be done now to demonstrate to the people that serve the USAF in this area that they are important and vital to a successful Air Force; the acquisition community in turn needs to understand that “it’s all about combat capability.” CONCLUDING THOUGHTS Questions That Need to Be Addressed by DOD All the military departments are wrestling with the role of SE in research and development (R&D) and the collective composition of the acquisition and science and technology (S&T) workforce for the Civil Service, the military, supporting FFRDCs, the service industry, and contractors. As SE matures as a discipline, terminology, curriculum, practices, and so on will become more standardized. Developing an SE workforce will continue to be a challenge. The requirements in industry and government far exceed the number of qualified SE in the workforce. However, more fundamental philosophical questions should be addressed by DOD that will require hiring and/or retraining of engineers with new skill sets. These questions include the following: Should the DOD military service component be the lead systems integrator for large system-of-systems systems or should this role be contracted? Should the R&D structure in the laboratories be transitioned to one that is balanced in basic science, engineering, and SE competencies? Should SE be a recognized functional area within both the military and civilian workforce? What are the roles of the FFRDCs in oversight and research in SE? Contractor and Government Considerations The government and contractors each require experience in and access to similar or the same systems engineering competencies. Differences arise from the application and focus of these skills. The government’s focus should be on developing requirements, on pre-Milestone A activities, and on monitoring and assessing the contractor’s performance during pre-Milestone A and throughout programs through close coordination with the contractor(s). While the government is the “customer,” the contractor(s) plays an important role in informing the government regarding what is possible or not. Government’s challenges are to understand and manage programs and ensure that the contractors and the program offices have well-designed and fully integrated systems engineering plans (SEPs) and follow the documented processes.
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Pre-Milestone A and Early-Phase Systems Engineering: A Retrospective Review and Benefits for Future Air Force Systems Acquisition Contractors often align their SE efforts based on functions that provide the engineering integration across the program life cycle. These functions need to be recognized and managed, particularly in the early phases of program planning. Some of the functions and skills (translated directly to job titles in many companies) that might be found where a strong emphasis on SE exists include these: Operations/systems analysis; System(s) architecture; Affordability analysis; Modeling and simulation; Integration, verification, and validation; Reliability, maintainability, and supportability; Human factors and ergonomics; Certification/qualification; System security; System safety; Integrated risk management; Testing and evaluation; and Configuration management. FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS Based on the discussion in this chapter, underpinned by the many briefings that the committee heard and by discussions within the committee itself, the committee offers the findings and recommendations shown below. They represent an accumulation of information and evidence, as opposed to conclusions of a particular specific study or studies. Finding 3-1. The creation of a robust systems engineering process is critically dependent on having experienced systems engineers with adequate knowledge of the domain relevant to a contemplated program. While the systems engineering process is, broadly, reusable, it depends on having domain experts who are aware of what has gone wrong (and right) in the past recognize the potential to repeat the successes under new circumstances and avoid repeating the errors. Ideally, a person or persons with domain knowledge would have had experience working on exactly the same problem, or at least a problem related to the one at hand. If that is not so (and it might not be if the problem has never been addressed before, as was the case for Apollo and nuclear submarines), the term could be taken to refer to academic training in the relevant field of engineering or science. It would also refer to the practice in critical thinking and problem solving that comes with learning to be a systems engineer and then building on that
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Pre-Milestone A and Early-Phase Systems Engineering: A Retrospective Review and Benefits for Future Air Force Systems Acquisition foundation to gain the experiential knowledge and understanding of engineering in the context of an entire system. Systems engineering is enabled by tools that have been developed to assist in the management of systems engineering (not to be confused with the practice of systems engineering). Both industry and Air Force presenters told the committee that there are not enough domain-knowledgeable and experienced systems engineers to support all of the programs that need them. Recommendation 3-1. The Air Force should assess its needs for officers and civilians in the systems engineering field and evaluate whether either its internal training programs, which include assignments on Air Force programs that provide mentoring by experienced people and hands-on experience in the application of systems engineering principles, or external organizations are able to produce the required quality and quantity of systems engineers and systems engineering skills. Based on this assessment, the Air Force first should determine how and where students should be trained, in what numbers, and at what cost, and then implement a program that meets its needs. The Air Force needs to attract, develop, reward, and retain systems engineers across the full spectrum of relevant domains, engage them in the early (pre-Milestone A) phase of new programs (or modification programs), and sustain their participation throughout the life of the programs. One important step in this process would be to create an Air Force occupational code for systems engineering so that engineers’ experience and education can be tracked and managed more effectively. The Air Force should support an internal systems engineering career track that rewards the mentoring of junior systems engineering personnel, provides engineers with broad systems engineering experience, provides appropriate financial compensation to senior systems engineers, and enables an engineering career path into program management and operations. Finding 3-2. The government, FFRDCs, and industry all have important roles to play throughout the acquisition life cycle of modern weapons systems. Since the need for a new or upgraded weapon system is most often first recognized by the military user, it is appropriate for the military to codify its requirements and, with support from FFRDC and independent systems engineering and technical assistance (SETA) contractors, to explore materiel and nonmateriel solutions (such as doctrinal, organizational, or procedural changes) as well as to assess the potential for new technology to provide enhanced capabilities. While it is appropriate and usually desirable to engage development contractors in the pre-Milestone B process using competitive study contracts, the source selection for system development and demonstration should not be made until after the work associated with Milestones A and B is complete.
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Pre-Milestone A and Early-Phase Systems Engineering: A Retrospective Review and Benefits for Future Air Force Systems Acquisition Recommendation 3-2. Decisions made prior to Milestone A should be supported by a rigorous systems analysis and systems engineering process involving teams of users, acquirers, and industry representatives. Working together, government and industry can develop and explore solutions using systems engineering methodology to arrive at an optimal systems solution.