Department of Defense's Waiver of Competitive Prototyping Requirement for Combat Rescue Helicopter Program

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Correspondence issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "DOD's rationale for waiving WSARA's competitive prototyping requirement for CRH addresses one of the two bases provided in the statute; namely that the cost of producing competitive prototypes exceeds the expected life-cycle benefits (in constant dollars) of producing the prototypes. The CRH program's acquisition strategy, which anticipates integrating an existing, in-production and flight-proven aircraft with technologically mature subsystems, is consistent with this rationale. The Air Force believes that any technology risk reduction associated with, or potentially benefitting, the CRH program has already occurred during the efforts to develop ... continued below

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United States. Government Accountability Office. March 7, 2013.

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Correspondence issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "DOD's rationale for waiving WSARA's competitive prototyping requirement for CRH addresses one of the two bases provided in the statute; namely that the cost of producing competitive prototypes exceeds the expected life-cycle benefits (in constant dollars) of producing the prototypes. The CRH program's acquisition strategy, which anticipates integrating an existing, in-production and flight-proven aircraft with technologically mature subsystems, is consistent with this rationale. The Air Force believes that any technology risk reduction associated with, or potentially benefitting, the CRH program has already occurred during the efforts to develop these in-production aircraft. This includes any risk reduction that could be achieved through competitive prototyping. In granting the waiver, DOD also found reasonable the Air Force's conclusion that the estimated $725 million cost of conducting competitive prototyping exceeded the maximum expected life-cycle benefits of $12 million. However, the Air Force only evaluated one potential approach to implementing competitive prototyping, which involved funding two contractors for much of the program's system development. This resulted in a high cost estimate for competitive prototyping that is more than 10 times greater than the target unit cost of the helicopter. DOD's policy on economic analysis states that each feasible alternative for meeting an objective must be considered, and its life-cycle costs and benefits evaluated. The Air Force could have more fully evaluated the cost and benefits of additional prototyping strategies, including more limited approaches that are mentioned in WSARA or DOD's implementing memorandum, such as producing a single prototype or prototyping critical subsystems before Milestone B. The potential cost and benefits of these strategies were not included in the Air Force's supporting analysis. While there are questions about the methodology the Air Force used to evaluate the cost and benefits of competitive prototyping for the CRH program, the decision to not pursue prototyping may still be sound given the other actions that the Air Force has taken to reduce cost and risk on the program."

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Government Accountability Office Reports

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for the U.S. Congress investigating how the federal government spends taxpayers' money. Its goal is to increase accountability and improve the performance of the federal government. The Government Accountability Office Reports Collection consists of over 13,000 documents on a variety of topics ranging from fiscal issues to international affairs.

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  • March 7, 2013

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  • June 12, 2014, 7:50 p.m.

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United States. Government Accountability Office. Department of Defense's Waiver of Competitive Prototyping Requirement for Combat Rescue Helicopter Program, text, March 7, 2013; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc295803/: accessed August 18, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.