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Program managers use prior experience to spot potential programmatic areas of concern. Augmenting this experience, the authors present an empirical procedure to estimate the likelihood of a program not exceeding two schedule and cost thresholds: (a) 15 percent of the initial total acquisition cost estimate from Milestone (MS) B to Initial Operating Capability (IOC); and (b) 15 percent of the estimated length (in months) between MS B and IOC—the second bound being 25 percent of the cost and schedule estimate. Using logistic regression and odds ratios, the authors analyze 49 Department of Defense programs and generally find that electronic system programs, extremely large programs (exceeding $17.5 billion in Base Year 2017 dollars), programs procuring smaller quantities of units, and programs with shorter schedules (less time from MS A to MS B and projected time from MS B to IOC) experience smaller percentages of cost growth and schedule slippage.


Defense ARJ is published by the Defense Acquisition University. The journal's online version is hosted at

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Defense Acquisition Research Journal