The Office of the Under Secretary of Defense, Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (AT&L) recently presented analyses of cost and schedule growth on Major Defense Acquisition Programs (MDAPs)over the last 20 years (2013, 2014). For naval ships, AT&L (2013) concluded that contract work content growth (not capability growth) dominates total cost growth statistically. In addition, costs-over-target are significant and reflect poor cost estimation or faulty framing assumptions. AT&L (2014) also concluded prices on fixed-price contracts are only “fixed” if the contractual work content remains fixed, but this is often not the case. The authors show that under-sizing the ship during concept design studies increases ship outfit density and adds complexities to the design. These early stage design decisions on sizing the ship are a major contributor to unnecessary work content growth later in Detail Design and Construction (DD&C) that cannot be eliminated no matter how productive the shipbuilder. However, new ship design methods are being developed and integrated with legacy physics-based design and analysis tools into a Rapid Ship Design Environment (RSDE)that will enable a more rational process for initially sizing ships. The authors also identify the need for early stage design measures of complexity and ship costing tools that are more sensitive to these measures, and proposed solutions that will aid decision-makers in reducing DD&C work content by making cost-effective design decisions in early stage naval ship design.

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