Using Leading Indicators To Improve DoD Acquisitions
By: Jacques Gansler, William Lucyshyn
National budgetary challenges will continue to exert downward pressure on the Department of Defense’s (DoD’s) budgets. In the past, the DoD relied on personnel reductions in order to constrain costs. Today, however, the active military force structure is already near an all-time low, meaning that significant reductions are unlikely. At the same time, the challenges to the nation’s security continue to grow. Consequently, the DoD must strive to develop an acquisition strategy that is not only affordable, but also provides the quality and quantity of forces required.
The current metrics that are used to evaluate DoD programs do not provide decision-makers with timely, consistent, reliable, or useful data in that they rely on lagging indicators (i.e., they provide information about past performance). In an effort to better control costs, schedule, and product quality, the DoD should develop and adopt effective “leading indicators”—reliable and predictive metrics that provide earlier warnings of programmatic problems and challenges. The successful use of leading indicators could provide program managers, the DoD, and Congress with earlier warnings of program difficulty.