REQUIREMENT PORTFOLIOS AND THE JOINT WARFIGHTER
by Fred Gregory and Dr. Scott Maley
NO FOREGONE CONCLUSIONS
Since assuming his current role, the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (VCJCS) has made it clear that a comprehensive understanding of the Joint force requirement portfolios will be the foundation for improved analysis and decision making by the Joint Requirements Oversight Council (JROC).
After implementing updated guidance for the requirements process in January, the JROC has considered several issues from this portfolio perspective, enabling a more focused discussion at the fourstar level on key issues: how the specific capability contributes to the Joint force; the health of related acquisition programs; potential unnecessary duplication within the portfolio; potential trade-offs in requirements; and overall affordability.
It is not a simple task to change the way the Joint force considers its capability requirements. To help decision makers understand the portfolios, the Joint Staff has developed a set of “scene-setting” portfolio assessments, relating strategy to investment and acquisition program health in terms of cost, schedule, and performance. The Functional Capability Boards can then establish more focused assessments of their portfolios for each specific issue or document review, relating performance or cost parameters to specific validated capability requirements that are not represented in the scene-setting assessments.
The Joint Staff is also working closely with the Acquisition, Technology, andLogistics community to explore how portfolio-level cost-benefit comparison analysis and performance “excursion” assessments can be incorporated into the portfolio review process.
In the past, almost everything presented to the JROC was validated. The sponsor briefed the JROC knowing full well that approval was a foregone conclusion, and would simply discuss the pros of a given requirement from the sponsor’s perspective. There was little or no Joint force context, consideration from a portfolio perspective, or assessment of service or DoD affordability considerations.
Validating every new requirement, when there are more pressing priorities, is no longer reasonable. Using the portfolio context, the JROC can now ask more focused questions before deciding to validate capability requirements. For example: • Is range more important than speed for a given capability requirement? Is speed then tradable against range for that specific capability solution, or across all capability solutions in the portfolio? • If requirements are reduced as part of cost-performance trade-offs, what is the operational risk? Can other capability solutions in the portfolio mitigate some or all of the risk?
• Is there any existing capability solution in the Joint portfolio that performs the same or similar function and could be adapted to satisfy the new requirement?
• If additional funding is available to invest in the portfolio, where would it go? If overall funding is being reduced within the portfolio, which acquisition programs should be reduced or discontinued?
From this point forward, the JROC will question assumptions, understand the warfighter impact if a capability is (or is not) developed, and consider the operational risk of trade-offs within or across portfolios.
In some portfolios, capability gaps or “at risk” acquisition programs may present unacceptable operational risk. In other portfolios, redundancies or lower-priority gaps may present an opportunity to shift resources to more critical requirements to further reduce their operational risk.
The JROC will now say “no” to a new requirement when there is something similar in the portfolio, even if it’s not a perfect solution or the sponsor must use a capability developed by another service. It will seek out the “knee in the curve” to ensure that each dollar spent provides the best value to the Joint warfighter atacceptable operational risk. The JROC will also prioritize requirement portfolios and their associated acquisition programs based upon changes in strategic guidance, and will de-validate requirements if appropriate.
This is new ground for the JROC and participating organizations, and will require continued reinforcement. The VCJCS continues to emphasize the importance of considering requirements from a portfolio perspective and will only validate capability requirements rooted in solid analysis that are in the best interests of the Joint force.
Once validated, the capability requirements and their associated capability solutions must continue to be relevant to the Joint force in light of evolving threats and the national strategy. Capability solutions that become less relevant, either from a threat/strategy perspective or from changes in schedule, quantity, or cost, will be heavily scrutinized in a fiscally constrainedenvironment.
It’s a brave new world out there, and the portfolio perspective is a key element in ensuring that acquisition programs across the Department of Defense are successful, focused, synchronized, and responsive to warfighter needs.
FRED GREGORY is the Acquisition Policy and Process Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Staff and resides in the Capabilities and Acquisition Division in J-8. He holds a B.S. in engineering with a focus on aeronautics and astronautics from Stanford University, and an M.S. in engineering management from the University of Florida. Gregory is Level III certified in program management and in test and evaluation engineering, and Level I certified in systems planning, research, development, and engineering – systems engineering. Gregory is a Defense Acquisition Corps member.
DR. SCOTT MALEY is Deputy Chief of the Joint Requirements Assessment Division in the Joint Staff, J-8. He holds a B.S. in mechanical engineering from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, an M.S. and Ph.D. in aeronautics and astronautics from Purdue University, an M.B.A. with a concentration in acquisition and contract management from Florida Institute of Technology, and an M.S. in national security strategy from the National War College. Maley is Level III certified in program systems engineering, systems engineering, and logistics; Level II certified in science and technology management; and Level I certified in program management. He is a Defense Acquisition Corps member.