Aerospace and MITRE Capture Best Practices

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Acquisition success begins with strong systems engineering discipline, which yields benefits throughout the program lifecycle. The Aerospace Corporation teamed with MITRE Corporation to identify best practices. Images: ULA and Aerospace staff.

A unique collaboration between Aerospace and MITRE has culminated in the release of a “Key Questions for Acquisition Success” checklist.  This comprehensive and pragmatic checklist is intended as an aid to program managers and others responsible for formulating or executing a federal acquisition program to improve its chance of success.  To produce the checklist, each organization exploited its 50-plus years of best practices and lessons gained through delivering objective technical analysis, risk assessment and systems engineering to Department of Defense, intelligence community and civilian agencies.  The joint team focused the checklist questions on those key factors that, if not properly addressed, could cause a program to fail, i.e., breach budget and/or schedule targets, or miss requirements thresholds. 

Click to download the Key Questions for Acquisition Success report.

Motivated by the urgent need to mitigate current acquisition challenges, the team used Dr. Atul Gawande’s “Checklist Manifesto:  How to Get Things Right” as a guide.  In his best-selling book, Gawande provides solid evidence that checklists can reduce the risk of human error and costly mistakes that even competent professionals can make in complex, high-intensity, mission-critical fields of work, such as medicine.  The relevance and similarity to the civil and national security space context was immediately recognized by the joint MITRE-Aerospace team. 

“Key Questions for Acquisition Success” can be used before an assessment or review to trigger reminders of topic areas to cover and, after such events, to help stimulate action planning. To address systemic acquisition challenges across diverse programs, the team emphasized early phase systems engineering and planning, where funding and schedule decisions are made that drive the rest of the life cycle.  The document has been approved for public release by both organizations.

To learn more about Aerospace’s systems engineering work, click here.