by Joe Bauer
| September 25, 2014
So, what goes on out here in the corn fields, anyway? Did you know Dayton, Ohio is home to the Air Force Materiel Command? Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC), headquartered at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, “develops, acquires and sustains the aerospace power needed to defend the United States and its interests for today and tomorrow. This is accomplished through management, research, acquisition, development, testing and maintenance of existing and future weapons systems and their components” (afmc.af.mil).
In response to future budget uncertainty and a challenge by Congress to operate more efficiently, AFMC recently underwent a massive reorganization, reducing the number of centers from twelve to five. This change enabled AFMC leaders to reduce costs through consolidation, eliminating excessive overhead/management functions. What was formerly known as the Aeronautical Systems Center (ASC) at Wright-Patterson is now part of the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC). Three other centers also consolidated into AFLCMC, including Electronic Systems Center, Air Armament Center, and Air Force Security Assistance Center. AFLCMC was activated on July 20, 2012 and is also headquartered at Wright-Patterson AFB.
While the operational streamlining of such a large organization is interesting in itself, I find the name change especially interesting. Life cycle management (read total ownership cost) has never been a strong consideration within Air Force product acquisition centers, such as ASC. Generally, more effort was put into development and production cost estimating. Operations and sustainment (O&S) costs make up the vast majority of the total program cost, with some exceptions. Should the Air Force pay more attention to such a large portion of the program cost? Does the name change imply a renewed interest in true life cycle cost estimating of Air Force acquisitions? What does that mean for program offices here at Wright-Patterson AFB?
PRICE Systems will fill a key role. Estimators within AFLCMC can utilize the TruePlanning® Total Ownership cost object to model future O&S costs for systems that are still in development or production. I’ll wager that few government estimators have bothered to master total ownership cost modeling in TruePlanning. It is up to us to be ready to fill this critical need as the Air Force switches focus towards more comprehensive cost estimating.
As the GAO pointed out in 2000, “the Air Force does not give operating and support cost management the same high priority it assigns to other program concerns such as weapon performance during system development or improved combat capability after fielding” (gao.gov). Not much has changed since then, but I believe it is about to.