Better Value Solution for the F-35 Joint Project Office Using Multiple Objective Decision Analysis

Challenge

The F-35 Lightning II Program is a joint, multi-national program, and is the Department of Defense's (DoD) focal point for delivering an affordable next generation strike aircraft. With an overall total life cycle cost estimate of $1.75T through 2081 the F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) manages the largest defense acquisition program in history with Operations & Sustainment (O&S) representing approximately 70% of those costs. Like many high-technology programs before it, reaching that capability has put the program above its original budget and behind the planned schedule.

The F-35 Product Support Manager (PSM) is responsible for the development and implementation of sustainment strategy and the achievement of warfighter performance requirements (goals/objectives) within resource constraints (budget/cost) for the F-35 Enterprise. Periodically the PSM is required to evaluate the performance of the current sustainment approach and compare it with alternatives to enable decision makers to consider changes if they offer “better value.” This process is known as a Product Support Business Case Analysis (PS BCA). The PSM needed a methodology to objectively evaluate alternative sustainment strategies to determine better value.

Solution

Better value is generally defined as the most advantageous combination of cost, quality, and suitability to meet customer requirements. For example, when purchasing a car, cost, comfort, safety, and fuel economy may be some of the main criteria one would consider – but it is unusual that the cheapest car is the most comfortable and the safest one.

The F-35 Joint Program Office selected Guidehouse to help the F-35 program evaluate alternatives to the current sustainment strategy to enable decision makers to consider changes if they offered better value. Guidehouse employed Multiple Objective Decision Analysis (MODA) an operations research technique for evaluating a decision under multiple, sometimes conflicting objectives or criteria, based on a set of underlying values belonging to the decision makers. Decision problems are characterized by several or many alternatives, none of which is obviously the best because the decision makers have to try to balance multiple objectives (e.g., cost, performance) as well as risk regarding how well each alternative will perform across the objectives.

By using Guidehouse’s 11-step PS BCA process, we were able to add a quantitively rigorous analytical perspective to a subjective decision through the development of a graphical representation of the cost and benefit tradeoffs among multiple alternatives. The results inform affordability decisions based upon data, objectives analysis, and expert input, while balancing cost, benefit, and risk tradeoffs. 

Impact

Working side-by-side with our client, the Guidehouse Team delivered an on-time and on budget F-35 PS BCA that included input and buy-in from the stakeholders of the F-35 Enterprise.  We identified, documented, and recommended a best value long-term F-35 Product Support strategy to aid the F-35 Leadership team in setting the programs O&S Phase execution plan. Key to this success was the Team’s ability to employ the MODA methodology to translate an extremely complex product support ecosystem into a quantitatively rigorous analysis of potential product support strategies and identifying the best value course of action for the F-35 Program. Because of the completeness and rigor of the PS BCA and the Guidehouse MODA process, the F-35 JPO Team:

  • Effectively documented and communicated alternatives on the best means to provide product support to the F-35
  • Identified relative strengths and weaknesses of product support approaches
  • Addressed cost, performance, and risk implications of each alternative
  • Created a mechanism that fostered a data-driven discussion of product support alternatives across the F-35 Enterprise

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