Northrop Grumman's Dur says requirements are the key to acquisition success

Northrop Grumman's Dur says requirements are the key to acquisition success

SAN DIEGO'The failure or success of the acquisition process in the Defense Department often hinges on whether requirements are accurately aligned with a program.

When new requirements are added as a program is in development, it often leads to cost overruns and schedule delays, said Philip A. Dur, president of Northrop Grumman Corp.'s Ship Systems division, during a panel discussion yesterday at the AFCEA West 2005 conference.

Dur said studies by Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. of McLean, Va., and the Government Accountability Office found scheduling delays are often tied to acquisition requirements that don't match the resources available for a project's development. Other causes for delay, according to the independent groups, are lack of technology maturity and funding problems.

"Requirements are a very, very important element in the debate on what is right and wrong in acquisition," Dur said.

Dur said procurement officials must not let additional requirements be added midway through a program's development without assuring additional funding.

John J. Young Jr., assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition, said the quick turnover of requirements staff in the DOD also has contributed to procurement problems.

Young also stressed that requirements must be consistent. For example, the Joint Tactical Radio System, a software-defined radio that is currently being built in clusters, has several different sets of requirements for various clusters. "I don't know how to deliver a radio against three sets of requirements," Young said.

Further, the National Security Agency "parachuted in some new security requirements" to JTRS. Implementing them at this stage in program development will delay the rollout of the system, Young said.

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