Returning from a one week holiday, I found the June 8th Aviation Week had an editorial titled "VH-71: Spending to Save." The cancellation of the presidential helicopter brought everyone out of the wood work. The article's key point was "failure to manage requirements on the part of the government is a key cause of the cancellation." What started out as a $6.8B program grew to a $13B program. The president was quoted as saying "The helicopter I have now seems perfectly adequate."
Marine One is actually a fleet of VH-3's and VH-60N's. Emphasis on "Fleet" since more than one is needed to move the president. That aside the management of requirements seems to be a common cause of failure in may programs these. Both in and out of government procurement.
So why is this? Why with all our fancy dancy project management process ranging from PMBOK based methods to extreme programming, can't we manage requirements?
I'm not a requirements management specialist. Program Controls is my sweet spot. But I can say by observation where the problem is.
Not a profession in many domains that is. Requirements growth is a key contributor to cost overrun as documented in many GAO, NASA, DoD IG reports as well as the commercial IT and construction press.. Managing requirements is a verb.
But requirements growth in the absence of budget management is the real problem. Budget authority without requirements management controls leads to OTB. OTB is the code word for "you blew the budget." Over Target Baseline. Here's some quick background.
This problem is common in commerical IT as well. We simply can't control our urges to add features. What we're really saying is we can't manage the project in a professional manner. One that controls the requirements in a way to assures all stakeholder know what they're getting for the money invested.
How could the government has not known that adding requirements to the VH-71 woudl not have increased it's cost? How could the government not had a "not to exceed" budget - the Total Allocated Budget shown on the Earned Value Management Gold Card?
Poor management, that's how. Simple as that. Poor Program Management. Rememeber that the next time someone comes with "magic beans" in an attempt to convince you that the profession of managing projects and programs has been replaced. No Magic Bean is going to fix poor management.