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So if you’ve never heard of OSD-Cost Assessment & Program Evaluation (CAPE) before here is their introduction:

“The office of CAPE provides independent analysis and advice to the Secretary of Defense and other senior officials on a wide range of issues concerning

  1. cost estimation and cost analysis for major Department of Defense (DoD) acquisition programs (both Major Defense Acquisition Programs (MDAPs) and Major Automated Information System (MAIS) programs);
  2. the DoD Planning, Programming, Budgeting, and Execution (PPBE) system;
  3. resource decisions relating to military requirements;
  4. analysis of alternatives to ensure that DoD considers the full range of program and non-materiel solutions;
  5. evaluations of alternative military force structure, plans, and systems; and
  6. the development of improved analytical skills and competencies within the cost assessment and program evaluation workforce of the Department.

This report is concerned with the first topic—cost estimation and cost analysis.”  I’ve provided a few pointed excerpts I found throughout the FY 2011 Annual Report on Cost Assessment Activities from OSD-CAPE.

Interesting Tidbits:

“The Materiel Solution Analysis phase presents the first substantial opportunity to influence design through trade-off studies that balance requirements, performance, technology choices, schedule, and cost considerations. The CAPE independent cost estimate is now an important element of this process.  For MAIS programs, due to resource constraints, OSD CAPE involvement in cost estimates has been limited to those programs that experience a “Critical Change,” as defined in statute (described in Appendix C), when the USD(AT&L) is the MDA. In addition, cost reporting for the MAIS programs currently is poor, and both quality and compliance need to be improved. There remains much work to be done to improve the management and preparation of cost estimates for the approximately 46 MAIS and pre-MAIS programs now in the DoD portfolio.

“Similarly, OSD CAPE had only limited involvement in cost estimates prepared for major defense agency acquisition programs this year. For example, the Missile Defense Agency remains exempt from DoD acquisition regulations. Therefore, CAPE does not normally prepare independent cost estimates for the Missile Defense Agency’s major acquisition programs.”

Status of Major Programs (page 19-21)

LCS Comments:

“CAPE prepared an independent cost estimate for the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program in support of the Milestone B DAB review held on April 1, 2011. CAPE did not concur with the draft LCS Acquisition Program Baseline (APB) or the Acquisition Decision Memorandum (ADM). These documents were subsequently approved by the MDA. The ADM directed the Navy to fund the program to the Service Cost Position, which CAPE argued would result in insufficient funding in FY 2016. This in turn would have an adverse impact on the average unit procurement cost and run the risk of requiring additional resources to complete the ship builds. Also, CAPE recommended that the LCS Mission Module program, which provides tailored warfighting capability to the LCS seaframes, should be established as distinct subprograms for each mission area in order to more readily assess unit cost metrics and track cost performance.”

It is extremely important to understand how the Navy Budget is developed.

DoD Critical Unit Cost (Nunn-McCurdy) Breaches in FY 2011 (Table 2, page 24; page B-1 for severity levels):

  • Excalibur (US Army)
  • Chemical Demilitarization-Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives (DoD)
  • Global Hawk (US Air Force)

List of the Cost Analysis Organizations in DoD (Appendix A):

Independent Cost Assessment Organizations (4)

  • OSD – Deputy Director for Cost Assessment
  • Army – Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Cost and Economics
  • Navy – Naval Center for Cost Analysis
  • Air Force – Air Force Cost Analysis Agency

Additional Field-Level Cost Organizations and Activities

U.S. Army

  • TACOM Life Cycle Management Command (LCMC)
  • Aviation and Missile Life Cycle Management Command (AMCOM)
  • CECOM Life Cycle Management Command (LCMC)

U.S. Navy

  • Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR)
  • Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA)
  • Naval Surface Warfare Center

U.S. Air Force

  • Electronic Systems Center (ESC)
  • Air Force Space Command, Space and Missile Center (SMC)
  • Aeronautical Systems Center (ASC)


  • National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) Cost Analysis Improvement Group

[via OSD-CAPE]

*need Abbreviation or Acronym help?

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The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, starts out a recent Mission Command White Paper that focuses on development of the 2020 Joint Force with:

Mission command is the  conduct of military operations through decentralized execution based upon mission-type orders.  Successful mission command demands that subordinate leaders at all echelons exercise disciplined initiative and act aggressively and independently to accomplish the mission.” - Joint Publication 3-0 “Joint Operations” 11 AUG 2011

Immediately delving into the root of what Mission Command, commander’s intent, command by negation (used by the U.S. Navy and may come with some cockiness), centralized planning, decentralized execution the Chairman looks to move the “empowerment bar” back a bit more toward the tactical level.  Sounds much like I described in Developing Naval Leaders: A Gamer’s Method.  This will be critical as our Military forces must remain empowered to execute operations against an adversary in their tactical specific realm.  He goes further to note that these models of command must be complimented by adept and adaptable leaders at every level.

“The relevance of space and cyberspace to national security will grow exponentially in magnitude of importance.  Our reliance on technological superiority is a potential vulnerability that our adversaries will seek to exploit, often in covert or indirect ways.”

I wrote about Technology-Centric Warfare supported by Information-Centricity and one of its main points was the technological superiority aspect that the U.S. Military has always relied upon.  The Chairman also notes that the “pace of change” and the “speed of operations” will only increase.  This brief statement has a very large and monolithic challenge hidden within.  The human element, for the most part, has been relatively constant with its ability to learn & understand.  This then translates to a fairly constant speed at which we’re able to change and adapt both individually and organizationally.

“Smaller, lighter forces operating in an environment of increased uncertainty, complexity and competitiveness will require freedom of action to develop the situation and rapidly exploit opportunities.  Decentralization will occur beyond current comfort levels and habits of practice.”

This conceptual statement dies rapidly at the staffing level, within the Navy, if not assured by the Commander’s authority and responsibility.  But is in the “spirit” of John Boyd’s Observe-orient-decide-act or “OODA Loop” cycle.

Much of this cyclical process is based on the empowered Commander’s ability to understand and ensure trust both up and down the echelon scale.  These abilities will then foster the capability to provide “superior speed in competitive cycles of decision making;” a significant necessity I’ve seen numerous leaders state requirements for yet goes without being addressed.   To instill this ability should we be supplementing the education our leaders receive with something like Carnegie Mellon’s Decision Sciences or Strategy, Entrepreneurship, and Technological Change?

What I do know is that while we routinely enjoy being in communication with subordinate units, the next higher echelon, and the planet the Military and Navy are not ready to execute without that tether.  A far cry from our history.

“Any commander who fails to exceed his authority is not of much use to his subordinates.” - Admiral Arleigh Burke


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Valve’s Handbook (of Half Life and Left 4 Dead notoriety) for New Employees was let loose recently on the Internet.  So as any good Cyber geek I had to take a look at this fine software makers internal thought process.  I must say their thinking is quite impressive and shows how they’ve come so far in the relatively short time they’ve been a company.  There are several connections and similarities, between Valve and the U.S. Navy & U.S. Military, I see that I’d like to expound on.

“Flatland” Empowerment - This picture says everything about the organization.  Challenges the legacy regime of full hierarchy of an organization and empowers every individual to ensure they represent the company.  The Navy, like it’s sister services, attempts to place the responsibility upon each of it’s members while maintaining the organizational hierarchy.  More than any time in history we are seeing young people fully engaged on a global scale and making a massive difference in the world, yet numerous leaders discount this impressive untapped resource and capability.

“We’ve heard that other companies have people allocate a percentage of their time to self-directed projects. At Valve, that percentage is 100.” - Valve Handbook for New Employees

Risk - Failure as a “massive learning” experience mentality.  With Valve they are taught to make predictions and anticipate nasty outcomes as we are with the Military (at some level -not every individual unfortunately).  “What would I expect if I’m right?”  and “What would I expect if I’m wrong?” are two main mantras each individual is trained to understand and embrace.  Then ensure they bounce these ideas and possibilities off of each other to ensure they match reality.  Too often within our Navy there is a fear of embarrassing situations instead of fearlessness.

Peer Reviews & Stack ranking (and compensation) - The Navy has operated off a supervisory review model for it’s entire history.  Yes it leaves a bit up to navigating the peer environment, a possible ranking board for recommendation by mid-level supervisors to Senior raters, or solely up to the Senior rater to ensure success.  In my short time with the Navy I’ve yet to see any peer ranking taken into account in the overall review process.  I think this would ensure a bit more interaction between peers.  I know I’ve seen issues both within my peer group and higher levels.  I think this has the ability to remove the “ego effect” or “negative personality”  component out of the peer interaction level and make us, the Navy, significantly more effective.  I would also change the bonus structure within the Navy.  It would shift from solely role based (Nuclear power, Aviation, Surface Warfare) to key role and performance hybrid.  I know too many individuals that “try” merely to achieve a locked in bonus then significantly “relax” once it’s obtained.  This isn’t how a bonus structure should operate nor should it be how our tax dollars are expended.  I do like how their ranking structure is broken out:

  1. Skill Level/Technical Ability
  2. Productivity/Output
  3. Group Contribution
  4. Product Contribution

We believe that high-performance people are generally self-improving. - Valve Handbook for New Employees

Employee Development consists of these mantras:

  • Engineers: code is only the beginning
  • Non-Engineers: program or be programmed

It is as simple as that.  I believe this is just like what I’ve experienced at Carnegie Mellon University.  Everyone needs to understand how programming works if not program themselves.  This self improving mantra is very much like that I’ve seen in the U.S. Military and Navy.  Those that can effectively educate themselves to ensure they have the correct balance at the time and through their career are often the most successful.

Hiring - If you haven’t noticed the U.S. Military isn’t having any issues with hiring, firing or retention.  We’re full up actually.  But are we being selective enough in this period?  I don’t believe we are and believe that we could be adjusting better to meet our current and future needs in a much better fashion.  We’re in a period where we’ve not adjusted fast enough and have already had to separate individuals because of it through Enlisted Review Boards (ERB) and a similar Officer separation program.

Lastly I’ll leave you with a final image.  It represents the main similarity between the Military, Navy and Valve.  But too often we’re allowing our people within the Navy to forget their expertise and default to the wide general areas.  This cannot continue into this more stringent and efficiency based era.

[via Flamehaus]

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