Acquisition Guide Provides Practical Guidance to Federal Officials

August 2013
Key Questions for Acquisition Success provides federal acquisition officials with reminders and guidance to inform their actions and decisions. MITRE and The Aerospace Corporation have jointly published the guide, which is free and available online.

The guide serves as an aid to program managers, chief engineers, and contract specialists responsible for formulating and managing a federal acquisition program to help execute the program successfully. It assists the federal government with acquisition programs by providing a checklist of key questions to consider in the acquisition process. The guidance works across a range of acquisition programs, including large, major acquisitions and those using agile acquisition methods. The guide also includes affordability, efficiency, and effectiveness best practices.

"In complex environments like acquisitions, even experts can let details slip through the cracks, which can lead to cost growth or schedule delay," said Lou Metzger, MITRE's corporate chief engineer and MITRE Fellow. "Following check points, like those provided in this guide, reduces the risk of human error and its resulting program impact."

MITRE and Aerospace, not-for-profit organizations that operate federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs), have each advised the federal government on acquisition for more than half a century. FFRDCs address long-term problems of considerable complexity, approach technical questions with a high degree of objectivity, and provide creative and cost-effective solutions to national problems. Based on the collective experiences of both companies, Key Questions for Acquisition Success also draws on the best practices and lessons learned from past acquisitions by organizations across government and industry.

A Checklist to Support Successful Acquisition

MITRE and Aerospace are offering the guide to the acquisition community as an adjunct to the disciplined planning and implementation of acquisition programs. On programs that either company supports, our practitioners are available to assist in its use.

"Just as a pilot uses a checklist to walk through the key steps to takeoff, flight, landing, and taxiing, a program manager needs a checklist to make sure none of the critical factors for success are overlooked or ignored," said Rand Fisher, senior vice president of systems planning, engineering and quality at Aerospace.

The intent of the guide is not to replace existing guidance or management tools. Instead, it focuses attention on key elements that, if not done properly and at the right time, will cause a program to fail. It's a tool for experienced acquisition professionals who understand the issues and know how to mitigate the risks related to the checklist questions.

Feedback and lessons learned from user experiences will inform future versions of the document.

You can download Key Questions for Acquisition Success here.

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