Department of Defense PM: Forget About the Baselines!

Tampa Bay, Florida Chapter

Greg is a Program Manager for Citibank's Global Program Management Office and a current Doctor of Business Administration student at the University of Florida.

As project managers, we rely on common baseline calculations and quality assurance processes to evaluate the progress of our projects. Now obviously, not all projects are created equal—and some baseline calculations become much more intricate when dealing with large projects, especially when fielding new technologies.

But at the end of the day, the premise is the same. Is our project within scope, on schedule and within budgeted costs? Being able to measure these factors can provide significant indicators of project issues, needed changes or review of deliverables.

As a member of the defense community, I am an advocate of new technology—and having weapon systems superior to other nations is essential to ensuring our ability to operate in nearly any contested environment (sea, air and land). However, there needs to be better accountability into the Department of Defense's program acquisitions and project management activities to ensure that the scope and baselines of these multi-billion dollar weapon systems are not spiraling out of control.

Most recently, the DOD has been criticized for its management of the F-35 Lightening II, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter program. This is the most expensive acquisition program the DOD has ever fielded, estimated at over $400 billion. The premise behind this program was the ability to develop one airframe that…

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