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“The Answer is 5”: Observations on Cost & Schedule in Small Defense Programs

Earned Value Management Track



Cost & schedule overruns have been an enduring issue in government acquisitions. Our largest programs are typically dissected and their flaws illuminated with 20/20 hindsight. DoDs smaller programs, though comprising the majority of the budget and quantity of programs, do not get this same attention. Over the course of the past year this study team has collected historical & current cost and schedule data on numerous programs that has been collected at similar points in each programs acquisition lifecycle. The end result is a database that allowed the team to examine how cost estimates and schedule expectations changed from year to year for the same events. Despite the diversity in the types of program being examined preliminary results have shown some rather startling trends. This paper will examine cost and schedule growth across programs, trends of how they relate, and highlight what this could potentially mean/offer suggestions for fixing the issue. It will also lend some strong support joint confidence levels- bringing cost & schedule risk analysis together.

Fun Study Question:
Did you know that in the majority of programs examined scheduled growth consistently outpaced cost growth % by 3:1?


Brian D. Fersch
Air Force ESC
Mr. Fersch is currently the Tech Director for Acquisition Cost Estimating at the Air Force Electronics Systems Center (ESC), Hanscom AFB, MA. He is responsible for leading ESC cost research efforts, training the cost workforce, and leading special cost estimating projects in early cost estimating/development planning, wartime material support, and rapid cyber acquisitions. Additionally Mr. Fersch has been working to expand the understanding of cost estimating outside of the FM workforce and has been collaborating to develop cost training for the engineering, program management, and contracting communities. He is also the ESC lead for collaborative cost research and training efforts across the federal government. Previously, Mr. Fersch served with the Air Force Cost Analysis Agency (AFCAA), the Office of The Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Cost and Economics (ODASA-CE) and as a defense contractor supporting the Secretary of Defense’s Business Initiative Council. Prior to his work within the DoD, Mr. Fersch ran a startup Internet Services Provider (ISP) that pioneered commercial wireless networking technology. Mr. Fersch has received numerous awards including being recognized as SAF/FMC & AFCAA Acquisition Cost Analyst of the Year (2008), Air Force Material Command Cost Analyst of the Year (2011), AF ESC Civilian of the Year (2011) and by the Secretary of the Army and Under Secretary of Defense (AT&L) in 2004 for his efforts facilitating business transformation across DoD.Mr. Fersch received his BS in economics & information technology from Virginia Tech, his MBA in strategy & international business from the University of Maryland, and graduated from the US Air War College in 2011. He is a SCEA Certified Cost Estimator/Analyst (CCE/A) and part time blacksmith.

Wesley Tate
Air Force ESC
Mr. Tate is currently the Cost Chief of AFPEO C3I and Networks at Electronic Systems Center (ESC), Hanscom AFB, MA. Mr. Tate is a 2002 graduate of the University of Montana at Missoula. He has been an operations research and cost analyst since 2002, starting at the NAVAIR 4.2 Cost Analysis Division at the Naval Air Station at Patuxent River, MD. At NAVAIR, he was a team lead acquisition cost analyst on the P-8A Multi Mission Maritime aircraft program. He has worked for ESC since 2005, first as a lead analyst for cost research, independent cost estimates and sufficiency reviews for electronic weapon systems and automated information systems. As Cost Chief of AFPEO C3I and Networks, he manages the Directorate’s cost estimating resources, provides cost analysis subject matter expertise, and provides the PEO with independent verification of major cost analysis and decision support.

Lt Colleen A. Leonard
Air Force ESC
Lt Leonard is currently a Cost Analyst for the Airborne Network Division at the Air Force Electronics Systems Center (ESC). She is the lead military cost analyst for the DRC program and lead cost analyst for source selection of the BACN Long Term Maintenance Contract. Previously, Lt Leonard served as the Comptroller for the AFCENT War Reserve Materiel Program at the US Embassy in Muscat Oman where she managed the $4.3M budget for all 7 WRM sites in the AOR. Prior to her work at the Embassy, Lt Leonard was the Flight Commander of the Financial Services Office at Altus AFB, Ok where she led a 15 person flight responsible for the payroll and travel reimbursements of over 4k military and civilian personnel. During her time there, her flight earned the Honor of AETC Finance Office of the Year and a SAF/FM monthly award. Individually she was recognized with multiple squadron and Wing Staff wide awards culminating in earning the Wing Staff JCGO of the Year in 2009. Lt. Leonard received her BS in Accounting from Samford University, and is scheduled to complete her Squadron Officer School Course this summer.