• Meet the DASA PPR

    The Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army (DASA) for Plans, Programs, and Resources (PPR) serves as the Chief Financial Officer and advisor to the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology (ASAALT), including program executive offices (PEOs) and Direct Reporting Units, which include the U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center. Our subordinate organizations include the PPR, Performance Assessment and Root Cause Analysis (PARCA), and Manpower and Force Structure Directorates. DASA PPR’s focus is to effectively and efficiently administer the programming, allocation, and execution of more than $43 billion annually, including more than 650 acquisition programs and $157 billion across the Future Years Defense Plan.

    As the co-chairs of both the Equipping and the Sustaining Program Evaluation Groups, DASA PPR manages the resources that enable the development and procurement of weapon systems and equipment for our warfighters. In addition, as Chief Information Officer for the community, DASA PPR oversees the Acquisition Information Technology Domain, which includes leading efforts to establish and maintain the Acquisition Domain Enterprise Architecture.

    As the focal point for program analysis of the procurement and research, development, test, and evaluation budgets, DASA PPR collaborates and coordinates with key stakeholders on the research, development, and acquisition (RDA) portions of the Army Modernization Strategy, the Army Plan, the Quadrennial Defense Review, Total Army Analysis, and other forms of strategic planning guidance, such as the Army Strategy. DASA PPR is primarily responsible for developing, presenting, and adjusting the RDA portion of the Program Objective Memorandum and serves as the ASAALT proponent for the weapon systems review process.

    During the past year, DASA PPR led the acquisition community by establishing our PARCA Directorate to complement the Office of the Secretary of Defense PARCA created under the Weapon Systems Acquisition Reform Act of 2009. This year, ASAALT PARCA visited each PEO and briefed the PEO and program management office (PMO) staff on “should cost” implementation as part of their annual performance reviews. (See Access AL&T article “Army PARCA Office.”)

    DASA PPR planned, coordinated, and executed 68 Weapon Systems Reviews in the sixth cycle of a very successful initiative that began in 2005. This initiative provides a venue for presentation of Acquisition Category I, II, and special interest programs to a cross-Program Evaluation Group. The result was to reduce resourcing synchronization issues in the budget planning process.

    This year, the DASA PPR’s goal is to work on Better Buying Power Affordability Initiatives specifically focused on instilling common processes and tracking should-cost goals to PEO and PMO levels. DASA PPR plans to develop and implement a common process for reviewing those goals. We will conduct the seventh cycle of Weapon Systems Reviews with the intent to review nearly 70 programs. DASA PPR expects fiscal challenges to increase as we work to cross-level resources to meet our warfighters’ needs and fund priority programs in a tight budget environment.


    • From the DASA PPR.

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  • Army PARCA Office

    In September 2010, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Plans, Programs, and Resources (DASA PPR) established the Army Performance Assessment and Root Cause Analyses (PARCA) office. The purpose was to realign the mission for program visibility, analysis, and reporting from the DASA for Acquisition and Systems Management and to include the related oversight of programs mission identified by the Weapon Systems Acquisition Reform Act (WSARA) of 2009.

    The responsibilities of the Army PARCA office are to:

    • Provide program visibility and acquisition reporting for all Major Defense Acquisition Programs, Major Automated Information Systems, and Acquisition Categories (ACAT) I, II, and III programs in accordance with 10 United States Code Chapters 144 and 144-A and WSARA.
    • Provide performance assessments and root-cause analysis for ACAT I, II, and III programs in accordance with WSARA.
    • Provide Earned Value Management expertise for the Army.
    • Work on efforts including the Better Buying Power Affordability Initiatives in accordance with the Nov. 3, 2010, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics memorandum Implementation Directive for Better Buying Power – Obtaining Greater Efficiency and Productivity in Defense Spending.
    • Provide Office of the Secretary of Defense policy implementation and guidance for mission areas.

    Over the past year, the PARCA office has acted as the Army lead for implementation of the “should cost” Better Buying Power initiative. In addition, the office has been active in DoD’s proposed changes to streamline reporting of Earned Value Management data.


    • From the DASA PPR.

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  • The Path to a Successful Army Cost Position: Understanding the Process

    The Army aligns program funds to the Army Cost Position (ACP) through the Cost Review Board, which supports well-informed, fiscally sound acquisition decisions. (SOURCE: DASA PPR.)

    Tracey Goldstein and Steve Loftus

    First of two installments

    For the past few years, DoD budget reductions have been looming just on the edge of the horizon. Now those budget limitations are upon us. As such, costs are at the forefront of the decision-making process. Leaders rely on high-quality cost estimates, based on approved requirement descriptions, to support their decisions on using limited DoD resources. Acquisition program managers need to be prepared to provide cost descriptions and estimates earlier in the life-cycle process, to explain and justify methodologies used, and to prove that the program is resourced in accordance with the estimate. These descriptions are provided to HQDA.

    Acquisition reform is forcing DoD to be more accountable for the way acquisition programs are executed by placing greater emphasis on cost, schedule, performance, and resourcing. Among other stipulations, Section 2366 of Title 10 states that a cost estimate for a Major Defense Acquisition Program must be submitted with the concurrence of the Director of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation, and that the level of resources required to develop, procure, and sustain the program is consistent with the priority level assigned by the Joint Requirements Oversight Council.

    At each milestone decision, the Milestone Decision Authority (MDA) must certify in writing that reasonable cost and schedule estimates have been developed, and that the program is fully funded through the Future Years Defense Plan.

    The Army is well-positioned to meet the cost estimating needs of senior leadership to aid with difficult decisions brought on by budget constraints. But for leadership to make the best possible decisions, data are required well in advance.

     

    Supporting Earlier Decision Points

    DoD Instruction (DoDI) 5000.02, Operation of the Defense Acquisition System, has been revised to better define mandatory early decision points. The push for earlier investment decisions affects not only the project management office (PMO), which must prepare the documentation and estimates, but also the HQDA agencies such as the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology (ASAALT) and the cost community.

    DoDI 5000.02 requires Service Cost Positions at Milestones A, B, C, and full-rate production decision reviews. For Acquisition Category I and special interest programs that have an MDA above the program executive office (PEO) level, these changes mean that the PMOs must plan and make life-cycle decisions and assumptions earlier in the process. In the past, service agencies did not develop estimates until Milestone B.

    The Army has a process to develop Service Cost Positions, referred to as the Army Cost Positions (ACPs). In addition, program funds are aligned to the ACP through the Cost Review Board (CRB). (See Figure 1.) Until recently, most Army programs first surfaced at the HQDA level for a decision at Milestone B; Milestone A was effectively tailored out of the process and managed at the PEO level. The DoD leadership recently started requiring Milestone A for programs.

    Each milestone requires analysis and evaluation to determine the program’s status. Documentation to support the analysis is required as part of the milestone decision. A complete list of documentation required at each milestone is available from the Army Systems Acquisition Review Council Executive Secretary. As programs move toward their respective milestone decisions, certain required documents are developed and become available to the analyst; they can be used to produce cost estimates using conventional cost estimating methodologies.

    To properly cost an acquisition program, extensive information about it must be identified. Without the detailed information, life-cycle cost data cannot be derived. The detailed information provided in the Cost Analysis Requirements Description (CARD) provides a complete description of the system being estimated. The intent is to define the program to a sufficient level of detail that captures quantities, fielding, sustainment, and training strategies.

    Currently, multiple estimates are developed to support acquisition decisions; the program office has an estimate that it develops internally, and the service cost centers develop a cost estimate. These estimates are built on the program description and capabilities as defined in the CARD. Multiple estimates are useful, because the delta between them can provide decision makers with information about the program’s risks and uncertainty. Estimates that are close to one another may mean that there are sufficient data to accurately project costs and that there should be confidence in the estimate. Estimates that are far apart usually indicate little supporting data or that the program contains risks.

    Although multiple estimates help identify the range of possible costs, decision makers usually require a single estimate. In the past, decision makers were asked to pick an estimate without knowing the underlying quality of the data sources used, assumptions made, or methodologies.

    The CRB recommends the program office provide draft copies of the CARD to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Cost and Economics (DASA-CE) and the ASAALT as early as possible, but no later than the established timeline to ensure an ACP to support the milestone decision. Note that submission of a draft CARD to DASA-CE does not constitute the beginning of the CRB ACP development process. PEO-signed and -approved CARDs are submitted to ASAALT to begin the formal process. (See Access AL&T article, “Journey of a Successful CARD.”)

     

    Preparation Is Key

    The Army is well-positioned to meet the cost estimating needs of senior leadership to aid with difficult decisions brought on by budget constraints. But for leadership to make the best possible decisions, data are required well in advance. It is essential to prepare well-developed CARDs that capture not only the responsibilities of the PMO but also the requirements for DoD. Operation and Support tails need to be planned in advance in order to feed the Army’s decision-making process. It is also essential to be able to produce cost estimates to support milestone decisions, and to develop the capability to provide cost estimates that support investment decisions earlier in a program’s life cycle.

    The five major steps in the CRB process are to define and describe requirements through a well-defined CARD; estimate the costs via the Program Office Estimate and Independent Cost Estimates; reconcile the two estimates; conduct affordability analysis; and gain ACP approval. This enables leadership to make cost-informed decisions early when planning acquisition strategies. The results are well-defined programs with high-quality cost estimates that are documented, defendable, and affordable.

    NEXT: The CRB process, step by step.

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      • TRACEY GOLDSTEIN is a Management Analyst for the DASA PPR. She holds an M.B.A. and an M.P.A. from Syracuse University. She is Level III certified in business – cost estimating and is Level I certified in program management. Goldstein is a U.S. Army Acquisition Corps (AAC) member.

     

    • STEVE LOFTUS, an Army Field Artillery Officer for 10 years, is the Cost Review Board Director for the DASA-CE. Loftus holds a B.S. in math and computer science from The Citadel. He is Level III certified in business – cost estimating and Level I certified in program management. Loftus is an AAC member.

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  • Journey of a Successful CARD

    Proper preparation of a Cost Analysis Requirements Description (CARD) is a vital step in having a successful acquisition program. Here is how the CARD is completed:

    The Program Management Office (PMO) staff prepares the CARD. The project manager then signs the CARD and submits it to the program executive officer (PEO) for approval. Once signed by the PEO, the CARD is submitted to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Plans, Programs, and Resources (DASA PPR) for staffing to Cost Review Board (CRB) representatives.

    The representatives review the CARD sections that describe their respective functional areas for completeness, adherence to regulatory guidelines and laws, and mission priorities. Any deficiencies and concerns are identified through the staffing process, and the PMO adjudicates. The PMO then provides a formal CARD presentation to the CRB Working Group (WG) in preparation for the CRB members. DASA PPR schedules the brief, provides formats, and manages the CARD process and presentation to the CRB WG. Any changes are incorporated into the CARD and succeeding presentations.

    After the CRB WG, the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Cost and Economics schedules the CRB CARD presentation, which uses the same format and slides as the CRB WG. The CRB members approve the CARD submission.

    The process is a combined effort of the PMO and Army agencies that may be concerned with estimating the program’s cost and ensuring that they have an understanding of the program, its capabilities, and the system to plan and program as part of the Program Objective Memorandum.

    DoD 5000.4-M, Cost Analysis Guidance and Procedures, provides specifics on CARD preparation.


    • From the DASA PPR.

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  • The Cost Review Board Process: Reaching Consensus

    Figure 1 shows the organizations represented on the Cost Review Board, which was developed to bring Army agencies together and gain consensus on a single Army position for cost. (SOURCE: Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Plans, Programs, and Resources (DASA(PPR).)

    Tracey Goldstein and Steve Loftus

    Second of two installments

    To bring Army agencies together and gain consensus on a single Army position for cost, the Army developed the Cost Review Board (CRB). The end state of the CRB process is a life-cycle cost estimate called an Army Cost Position (ACP). The ACP is used to create a cost basis for Army program baselines, acquisition decisions, programming, and budgeting. The ACP is also the basis for the Army’s submission of the Acquisition Program Baseline submitted to the Office of the Secretary of Defense and Congress.

    The CRB process brings together senior Army leadership from the acquisition, requirements development, financial management, programming, installation, manpower, and logistics communities, with the purpose of developing ACPs that are acceptable to all Army stakeholders. Figure 1 identifies the organizations represented on the CRB.

    The five major steps to the CRB process are to define and describe requirements, estimate the costs, reconcile the estimates, conduct affordability analysis, and gain ACP approval. Figure 2 shows the process of developing and approving a Cost Analysis Requirements Description (CARD).

     

    STEP 1—Define and Describe Requirements

    Figure 2 shows the process of developing and approving a Cost Analysis Requirements Description (CARD).(SOURCE: DASA(PPR).)

    Requirements are identified using the CARD. The CARD document is prepared and submitted at each milestone decision. Acquisition Category (ACAT) I and II Special Interest Program officials submit CARDs to the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology (ASAALT) for final approval. For all other ACAT II and ACAT III programs, CARDs are also prepared, but they receive final approval from the program executive officer (PEO). DoD 5000.4M, Cost Analysis Guidelines and Procedures, dated Dec. 12, 1992, provides specifics on preparation of CARD documents.

    The CARD, which is written by the acquisition program office, provides both narrative and tabular data, covering the areas listed in Figure 3. This document serves as the genesis for costing the program.

    The component program management office (PMO) prepares the CARD, and the component PEO approves it. After the PEO approves the CARD for submission to HQDA, AR 70-1, Army Acquisition Policy, dated July 22, 2011, states that the Army Acquisition Executive shall review and approve the Army CARD. The approval part of the Army Systems Acquisition Review Council process. Consequently, the CRB process requires the PMO to submit a PEO-approved CARD to the ASAALT, who in return staffs the CARD through HQDA offices represented on the CRB.

    The CRB process brings together senior Army leadership from the acquisition, requirements development, financial management, programming, installation, manpower, and logistics communities, with the purpose of developing ACPs that are acceptable to all Army stakeholders.

    The staffing process ensures that the Army as a whole is in agreement with the program requirements described in the CARD. The CARD is staffed to representatives of the CRB members for comments. The staffing includes adjudication of comments and a CARD presentation to the CRB Working Group (CRBWG), an O-6/GS-15-level forum leading to the CRB. The approval process culminates with a formal CARD presentation to the CRB members. Once approved, the CARD becomes the basis for all cost estimates developed in support of the milestone decision.

     

    STEP 2—Estimate Costs

    The estimates developed for the acquisition decision review are the Program Office Estimate (POE), developed by the program office, and the Independent Cost Estimate (ICE), developed by the Acquisition Costing Directorate of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Cost and Economics (DASA-CE). If the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) is responsible for the acquisition decision, then the OSD Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation Directorate also develops an ICE using the CARD.

    Figure 3 shows the areas covered in the CARD, which provides both narrative and tabular data.(SOURCE: DASA(PPR).)

     

    STEP 3—Reconcile Estimates

    The CRB Office convenes the CRBWG, which is composed of action officers from the organizations represented on the CRB, to develop the recommended ACP through the reconciliation of the ICE and the POE. The reconciliation, which takes about two weeks, is designed to provide a recommended ACP that accurately reflects the program’s life-cycle costs. These include all costs associated with the program from inception until demilitarization or retirement. The process ensures that the estimate is based on sound and defendable cost estimating methodologies and that the program adheres to HQDA policies. Issues and inconsistencies are identified and resolved.

     

    STEP 4—Conduct Affordability Analysis

    Once the reconciliation is completed, the Army G-8‘s Program Analysis and Evaluation Directorate conducts an affordability analysis to determine whether the program is fully funded through the Futures Years Development Plan (FYDP). If there are funding shortfalls, the Army identifies alternate funding sources or modifies the program to work within its existing funding. If there is excess funding, the program is accelerated or the funds are used for other priorities. At this stage, funds included in the life-cycle costs but funded in other areas or programs are subtracted to preclude double-counting of required resources.

     

    STEP 5—Reconvene CRB

    The CRB reconvenes to review the recommended ACP, resolve any outstanding issues, and come to a consensus. It is important to note that the resulting ACP is not the program office’s position, nor DASA-CE’s. The ACP has the Army’s endorsement and is truly the Army Cost Position. Based upon the CRB’s recommendation, the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Financial Management and Comptroller (ASA (FM&C)) approves the ACP, signifying that the program under review has a reasonable cost estimate and is affordable through the FYDP. The ASA FM&C provides the ACP documentation to the Army Acquisition Executive to support the 2366 Certification requirement.

     

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      • TRACEY GOLDSTEIN is a Management Analyst for the DASA PPR. She holds an M.B.A. and an M.P.A. from Syracuse University. She is Level III certified in business – cost estimating and is Level I certified in program management. Goldstein is a U.S. Army Acquisition Corps (AAC) member.

     

    • STEVE LOFTUS, an Army Field Artillery Officer for 10 years, is the Cost Review Board Director for the DASA-CE. Loftus holds a B.S. in math and computer science from The Citadel. He is Level III certified in business – cost estimating and Level I certified in program management. Loftus is an AAC member.

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