Cost estimating's critical role within ICBM's risk to resource process.

Author:Carlson, John R.

The Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) Systems Directorate, located at Hill Air Force Base, Utah reports directly to the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center at Kirtland AFB, New Mexico and is responsible for delivering a safe, secure, responsive, on-time and on-target nuclear deterrent force to the warfighter as the nation's nucleus for ICBM development, acquisition, and sustainment.

Among its many achievements, the directorate was named the Outstanding Air Force Program Office for 2015 for the exceptional work of its 600 military and civilian Airmen in directly contributing to the sustainment of the highest alert rate in the Minuteman (MM) III missile's 50-year history by ensuring the operational readiness of hundreds of missiles, multiple launch centers, dozens of maintenance vehicles, multiple communication systems, and over 34,000 square miles of infrastructure. After hearing about the directorate's program management initiatives during the Utah Chapter's March 2016 Mini-PDI, the ASMC Executive Director advised the Chief of the Directorate's Program Control Division that an upcoming edition of the Armed Forces Comptroller would be devoted to the theme of "Cost Management" and mentioned it would be great to include an article about the ICBM program management.

The ICBM Systems Directorate initiated a substantial process improvement effort that leverages project and issue tracking software tools with innovative engineering, financial management, and cost estimating methodologies. The directorate needed to revamp internal processes used to plan, program, budget, and execute scarce resources to maximize the mitigation of identified weapon system issues/ risks for the MM III weapon system. The new process, labeled Risk Based Resource Allocation, or Risk to Resource (R2R), has proven invaluable in cataloging and communicating weapon system risk to stakeholders at all levels while ensuring optimal use of taxpayer dollars.

Making up the ground-based portion of the Department of Defense's (DoD) nuclear triad, the MM III weapon system deployed in 1970 with some of its equipment originating with MM I and MM II as early as 1963. Originally designed with a service life of 10 years, MM III has been actively on alert for nearly 46 years. With MM Ill's replacement program, called the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD), scheduled for Full Operational Capability (FOC) in 2036, the MM III requires attention to aging and attrition issues to continue as a credible deterrent through the fielding of GBSD. As with any mature weapon system, aging, diminishing manufacturing sources, and parts obsolescence are major factors that continue to impact long-term sustainment and present risks to continued system effectiveness.

This article outlines the interdependent planning and cost estimating processes used within the organization that enable effective mitigation of MM III weapon system risk while dealing with the all too familiar limitations on financial and human capital resources. Specifically, it details the cornerstones of the directorate's R2R methodology and how they tie to the DoD planning, programming, budget, and execution phases. It will also identify the varying cost estimating methodologies used throughout the process to provide stakeholders with a progressive level of cost fidelity. This cost fidelity enables data-driven decision support through major steps of the process, and efficient use of resources, driving maximum weapon system effectiveness and risk mitigation.

Risk Identification/Planning

The ICBM Systems Directorate is continuously evaluating immediate, mid, and long-term system risk using the weapon system's Operational Safety, Suitability, and Effectiveness (OSS&E) baseline. The purpose is to provide known essential characteristics and information needed to safely and effectively operate, upgrade, maintain, and sustain the MM III, its sub-systems, and critical end-items. Risks associated with OSS&E are identified and cataloged within an off-the-shelf Jira-based issue and project tracking system at the ICBM Risk Management Board...

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