Date of Award

Spring 2010

Access Restriction

Campus Access only theses

Degree Name

Master of Science


Systems Engineering

School or College

Seaver College of Science and Engineering


During the 1990's the Department of Defense (DoD) underwent an Acquisition Reform (AR) intended to reduce cost and improve schedule. This increase in efficiency was to be brought about by reducing the responsibility of the Government acquisition community and relying more on industry to deliver completed programs. Known as Total System Performance Responsibility (TSPR), this strategy removed many bureaucratic reporting processes from contractors and gave them freedom to make decisions within the trade space in order to meet operational requirements. With the intention of leveraging industry best practice and reducing Government oversight, TSPR was implemented on many defense contracts in the late 1990's. Contractors would focus on delivering a fully operational system while the Government would continue to execute their core functions of program direction, financials/budgeting, requirements determination, contract management, and security.

While sound in theory, the implementation of TSPR did not produce the expected results. Many programs on which TSPR was implemented resulted in poor cost and schedule performance as well as struggled with systems engineering functions including requirements decomposition and flow down. The Government was intended to fulfill an "insight" role with the implementation of TSPR. However, it was often the case that the removal of Government oversight was never replaced with the close working relationship associated to insight. Contractors had new responsibilities that they may not have been prepared to take over as part of their experienced best practices, and the lack of Government involvement in these areas negatively impacted the overall program performance.

The TSPR label has been applied in many forms. For the purposes of this paper TSPR in the use of acquisition efforts for which Systems Engineering was impacted will be considered. Other TSPR implementations include Performance Based Logistics and Reduction in Total Ownership Cost. These were other Acquisition Reform era efforts that focused on more contractor responsibility, but did not have the systems engineering impacts and therefore do not provide the lessons learned to base recommendations from regarding systems engineering efforts.

In order to realize many of the benefits originally intended by this acquisition reform effort the implementation must be modified. Recommendations contained within this paper are aimed at how TSPR may reduce the cost and schedule associated to acquisition programs without negatively impacting the systems engineering function within Government.

AshleyJohnson_Systems_Presentation.pdf (17634 kB)
Oral Presentation