“One of the biggest challenges facing the new administration, as well as future administrations, is the effective acquisition of complex products… This report examines contracting for complex products by reviewing the U.S. Coast Guard’s experience with its Deepwater Program… a major “system of systems” acquisition to upgrade and integrate the Coast Guard’… Important elements are missing from the Deepwater story, notably the impact of contract management and the behavior of each party within the IDIQ(Indefinite Delivery/ Indefinite Quantity) contract design… Although Deepwater has garnered headlines for some of its stumbles, a more complete review of the early phases suggests a more mixed and balanced record.”
DID has covered numerous aspects of the US Coast Guard’s $25 billion Deepwater program-of-programs; “US Coast Guard’s Deepwater Effort Hits More Rough Sailing” offers a good summary of developments to date, and links to most of the key articles. Readers can download the full IBM CBG report [PDF], which recommends more investment in building up the acquisition workforce (a workforce that is often cut short-sightedly when budgets get smaller), which leads to a better understanding of risk drivers. They CBG also recommends a commitment to learning by trying different kinds of contracts for complex systems, ensuring that the contracts can be modified mid-stream in light of experience, and collecting lessons learned.
This report was also discussed in USCG Rear Admiral Blore’s Dec 31/08 blog post, where he states his general agreement with the report, and contends that most of its recommendations have already been implemented.