Specific Focus for Systems Acquisition Agent

Given the phases outlined in Exhibit 2.1, the acquisition agent for the customer or user of a system must focus on certain activities in order to assure that the acquisition process is as effective as possible. The following areas of focus are suggested, with emphasis that depends on the particular phase that is being approached:

1. Restatement of needs/goals/objectives (of that phase)

2. Reiteration of requirements

3. Preparation of tasks statements, statements of work (SOWs), and work breakdown structures (WBSs)

4. Key schedule milestones

5. Budget limitations and constraints

6. Project reviews

At each and every phase depicted in Exhibit 2.1, it is necessary for the acquisition agent to restate the needs, goals, and objectives of the customer or user. These may change from phase to phase, but are required to provide new guidance to a project and systems engineering team. The requirements for each phase will almost certainly change throughout the acquisition process, so it is necessary to state explicitly what the requirements are for the forthcoming phase. Such requirements are work requirements as contrasted to system requirements, which may remain relatively unchanged. As suggested in Chapter 1, requirements become an important point of departure for a systems engineering contractor, for example, to design and develop the system. Similarly, each new phase carries with it a new statement of work and associated WBS that must be conveyed in writing to the system designer. With respect to schedule, the customer usually defines when it is that the system must ultimately be fielded and how that impacts the schedule of the phase under consideration. It therefore falls on the acquisition agent to establish key schedule milestones. Relative to budget matters, monies are allocated to the execution of each phase and these allocations become constraints within which a project team must perform.

The issue of project reviews is often considered as an integral part of the acquisition process. At least four reviews have become more or less standard, namely

1. The system requirements review(s) (SRR)

2. The system design review (SDR)

3. The preliminary design review (PDR)

4. The critical design review (CDR)

with the following general practice:

• Various SRRs are carried out during concept definition and validation.

• The SDR is executed during concept validation.

• Both the PDR and CDR are implemented during the engineering development phase.

It is also standard procedure that a formal review and approval is required to move from one phase to the next phase in the sequence. In addition, it is expected that an interim operational capability (IOC) is achieved at some point in the production phase and a final operational capability (FOC) is confirmed before entering the formal operations phase. Changes to the system in the form of engineering change proposals (ECPs) are considered during this operations phase. Additional guidance relative to these matters is provided in the next section in which certain standards for system acquisition are explored.

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