Case Studies

Acquisition Research Program (ARP) 

Case Studies 

Acoustic Rapid COTS Insertion: A Case Study in Spiral Development

Abstract: The purpose of the A-RCI case study is to create a learning vehicle that describes spiral development through Open Systems Design, which then can be used for training and education of acquisition practitioners and future acquisition leaders. The study considers such aspects as the PMO cultural environment, management techniques, open systems processes and controls, appropriate open systems metrics, resource impacts, business-case analysis (ROI), user and contractor participation, logistics planning, and required participant training.

Author: Michael W. Boudreau, Colonel, US Army (Ret),

Organization: Naval Postgraduate School

URL: NPS-PM-06-041


Active Matrix Liquid Crystal Display (AMLCD) A Case Study

Abstract: This case study was prepared for the Navy Director of Acquisition Career Management (DACM) as sponsored research for the Acquisition Research Program (ARP), Project #18-34.  Research for the case study was conducted during the period of February 20 through September 30, 2018. Students preparing for class discussion of this case study should first read the AMLCD Case Study Discussion Questions at Appendix B.  These questions will help students focus on key aspects of the case study as they prepare for class discussion of the case.  The Glossary at Appendix A, the Form BIS-999 at Appendix C, and the Department of Commerce (DOC) briefing on the Defense Priorities and Allocations System (DPAS) at Appendix D will also be helpful to students who do not have past experience, training, or education in these topics.

Author: William R. Fast

Organization: Naval Postgraduate School

URL: NPS-AM-19-006


Camouflage Combat Pattern Case Study

Abstract: The development, testing, and fielding of combat uniforms for United States (U.S.) soldiers offers project management (PM) professionals an opportunity to analyze how programs progress through the U.S. defense acquisition institution. This case study centers on the U.S. Army’s decision to change the camouflage patterns on combat uniforms and equipment not only for soldiers stationed in war zones around the world but also for soldiers in daily garrison operations stateside. The case study is broadly applicable to project managers, business managers, engineers, testers, and logisticians involved in PM within the private sector, while specifically targeting acquisition professionals within the government defense departments. Emphasis is placed on the development of critical thinking and analysis skills in the areas of stakeholder management and decision-making in a complex environment. The case is in two distinct parts. Part I allows PM professionals to analyze how to recommend a path forward to senior leaders with an increased chance of success of meeting desired objectives. Part II allows PM professionals to analyze how to recommend a set of options or courses of action for senior leaders to enable an informed, knowledge-based decision.

  1. Mortlock, R. F. (2018, October). Hiding in plain sight: the Army’s search for a better camouflage uniform. International Journal of Instructional Cases (IJIC), Vol 2, 1-22. Available online at
  2. Mortlock, R. F. (2019, January). Army camouflage:  you can’t kill what you can’t see. International Journal of Instructional Cases (IJIC), Vol 3, 1-22. Available online at

Author: Dr. Robert Mortlock

Organization: Naval Postgraduate School

URL: NPS-AM-18-219


Case Study: Readiness and Total Ownership Cost Analyses for New Fighter Aircraft, F-XX

Abstract: This case is intended to illustrate key trade-offs in planning the acquisition of a major weapon system.  In particular, the impact of logistics and maintenance decisions on life-cycle costs and readiness are examined.  The case provides sufficient data to allow a rich discussion of issues and trade-offs—without being overwhelming.  The case raises strategic policy issues but provides an analytical framework and data so that the policy issues can be discussed in detail, and not merely with generalities. Logistics and maintenance issues examined within the case include the critical protection (spare-part) levels and reliability of major components, depot and preventive maintenance turnaround times, as well as planning for exogenous factors such as variability in the price of petroleum, oil, and lubricants.  By examining a set of related decisions simultaneously, the case allows students to explore the relative leverage of logistics and maintenance decisions on cost and readiness.  By examining endogenous as well as exogenous factors, the case allows students to examine the impact of factors within the control of program managers as well the impact of factors beyond their control on budget and readiness risk.  The intent of the case is to move beyond planning simple budget and readiness targets and to encourage students to discuss methods of robust contingency planning. 

Authors: Dr. Keebom Kang and Dr. Kenneth H. Doerr

Organization: Naval Postgraduate School

URL: NPS-LM-12-212


Contract Closeout (A)

Abstract: Case Study for Contract Closeout.

Author: Dr. David Lamm

Organization: Naval Postgraduate School

URL: NPS-CM-03-005


Downsizing in the Navy: Privatization of the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Indianapolis

Abstract: This case is divided into three sections.  Part I describes the history of the Naval Air Warfare Center, Aircraft Division, Indianapolis (NAWC-ADI); the Base Reuse and Closure (BRAC) process; introduces the key players; and describes the preliminary options put forth for the Navy and the City of Indianapolis. Part II discusses the “wins” for the Navy; explains how the details for implementing a privatization-in-place were worked out; shows how conflicts were resolved; and describes the award and negotiations processes. Part III describes what happened to NAWC-ADI after the privatization-in-place, and offers a commentary on the BRAC process, as a whole.

Authors: Dr. William Lucyshyn, Jeffrey Cuskey, and Jonathan Roberts

Organization: Naval Postgraduate School and University of Maryland

URL: NPS-CM-04-008


Enhanced Combat Helmet (ECH) Case Study

Abstract: This Enhanced Combat Helmet (ECH) case study encourages critical analysis of a U.S. Defense Department project at two key decision points: project start and production. The case centers on the development, testing, and procurement (also referred to as acquisition) of the ECH for U.S. Army Soldiers. Two things make this case study particularly interesting. First is that key project stakeholders are passionate about helmets because they save lives in combat and all Soldiers consider themselves subject matter experts on helmets—resulting in wide applicability. Second is the fact that the key decisions involved with the ECH effort involved ambiguous data within a complex acquisition environment—requiring decision making under uncertainty. The ECH case study reinforces critical thinking in uncertain environments, documents lessons learned for sound project management for future application, and provides wide private sector exposure to the complexities of public sector acquisition and helmet manufacture, in particular.

  1. Mortlock, R. F. (2018, February–March). Protecting American soldiers:  the development, testing, and fielding of the enhanced combat helmet (ECH). Project Management Journal, 49(1), 96-109.  The case study was awarded second place in the Project Management Institute (PMI) annual teaching case study competition.  Available online at

Author: Dr. Robert Mortlock

Organization: Naval Postgraduate School

URL: NPS-AM-17-211


Improving Readiness with a Public-Private Partnership:  NAVAIR Auxiliary Power Unit Total Logistics Support Program

Abstract: The morning of April 15th, 1998, found Debra Bautista struggling with a daunting assignment. As the Program Manager for the F/A-18 fighter Auxiliary Power Unit at the Naval Aviation Depot, Cherry Point (NADEP-CP), she was charged with developing and implementing a partnership between NADEP-CP and private industry to help reduce the cost of managing and distributing repairable F/A-18 auxiliary power units (APUs) and to increase system reliability, maintainability, and related spare parts availability. The APU performs the critical function of generating power to start the aircraft’s engines and provide electrical power on the ground. In fact, the day before, Honeywell, Inc. had visited the Cherry Point depot to discuss such a partnering arrangement for APU repair. This would be the Navy’s first public-private venture; thus the task facing Bautista was a considerable one.

Authors: Dr. William Lucyshyn, Dr. Rene Rendon, and Stephanie Novello

Organization: University of Maryland and Naval Postgraduate School

URL: UMD-CM-05-019


Market Dominance, Efficiency, Innovation and Globalization: A Case Study of the Tanker Competition between Boeing and Northrop Grumman/EADS

Abstract: The purpose of this analysis is to provide a case study of the competition between Boeing and Northrop Grumman/EADS for the Air Force refueling tankers contract and to discuss the role of many of these considerations in the controversy. This is an important case study because it highlights: (a) the concerns of the American people that they are continuing to lose manufacturing jobs overseas and the solutions that they are considering to lessen that problem; (b) the conflict between the concept of the US and European defense companies as partners against common threats to provide the best systems possible and the concept of them as competitors; (c) the concerns of an incumbent that it is losing its traditional edge; and (d) the desire to have an open and fair government procurement process in which all parties are able to accept the outcome that the process produces. This case study explores the background behind the contract, the reactions to the awarding of the contract, the reasons for the awarding of the contract, and the likely implications of the Boeing and Northrop Grumman/EADS competition for the competing firms, the government contracting process, and the global market.

Author: Dr. Nayantara Hensel

Organization: Naval Postgraduate School

URL: NPS-CM-09-116


Naval Aviation Maintenance:  A Case Study for Process Improvement

Abstract: This case is divided into two parts: Part A describes the J52-P408 engine repair process prior to the implementation of AIRspeed at the AIMD Naval Air Station, Whidbey Island (NASWI) J52 engine repair shop. Part B discusses the post-implementation of AIRSpeed and the use of Value Stream Mapping (VSM) to eliminate non-value-added processes; the use of which resulted in increased productivity.

Authors: LCDR Eric Jafar, LCDR(sel) Terence Noel C. Mejos, and LT Chieh Yang

Organization: Naval Postgraduate School

URL: NPS-LM-06-043


Operation Arctic Heat Case and Exercise for Advanced Contingency Contracting

Abstract: Operation Arctic Heat is a series of structured case exercises designed to promote and capitalize on graduate-level concepts in the planning and conduct of contingency and expeditionary contracting events.  The case exercises utilize the most current strategic, operational, and tactical directives and guidance as their foundations and supporting structure, including, but not limited to, Joint Publication 4-10, Joint Publication 5-0, and Operational Contract Support directives, while capitalizing on advanced graduate pedagogy.  The cases are designed to complement briefings and lectures, in-class discussions, and student readings contained in the Naval Postgraduate School’s MN3318 Contingency Contracting course, and the Defense Acquisition University’s CON234 and CON334 courses.  It is recommended that these cases be utilized after a sound foundation of contingency contracting course work has been completed either within the initial segments of MN3318, or after completing CON234, or both, and utilized in harmony with and concurrent to the MN3318 or CON334 course deliveries. 

Author: E. Cory Yoder

Organization: Naval Postgraduate School

URL: NPS-CM-12-038


Real Options in Military System Acquisition: The Case Study of Technology Development for the Javelin Anti-Tank Weapon System

Abstract: Three different technologies were considered in the technology development phase of the Javelin anti-tank missile system: a laser-beam riding system, a fiber-optic system, and a forward looking infrared system. The Army awarded three “Proof of Principle” contracts to three competing contractor teams to develop and conduct a “fly-off” technology competition. The current work analyzed the three alternatives using measures of effectiveness (MOE) to combine performance across nine acquisition objectives. These MOEs were compared with development and procurement cost estimates. No alternative dominated. Marginal benefits analysis was next used to define the trade–off space among the alternatives. Differences in the likelihood of successful development of the alternatives were evaluated, resulting in one technology appearing to dominate. However, the acquisition approach created a real option for the best alternative that could differentially add value to the alternatives. A real options model was used to analyze the value provided by investing in this competitive option. Results indicate the Army paid less than the total value of the three options, but could have increased net savings by paying different amounts to test each alternative. The analysis method provides a logical and defendable approach to the analysis of alternatives during technology development uncertainty.

Authors: Dr. Diana Angelis, Dr. David N. Ford, and John Dillard

Organization: Naval Postgraduate School

URL: NPS-AM-13-013


The Army Seeks a World Class Logistics Modernization Program

Abstract: On a hot summer day in early August 1999, Paul Capelli walked from the Longworth House of Representatives office building after briefing the staffers of Representative Richard Gephardt on the Army program for which he was responsible.  He was on his way to brief another House member and his staffers in the Rayburn office building.  This trip felt like his 100th, and he wondered if they would ever stop.  Capelli had been tasked by the Army Materiel Command (AMC) to lead a project team to modernize the Army’s logistics management and information systems in the Logistics Modernization Program (LMP). In the beginning, Paul Capelli was concerned mainly with assembling the right team and developing innovative alternatives for modernization.  However, he had soon realized his major resistance would come due to the unprecedented nature of the modernization, and the political resistance that resulted.

Authors: Dr. William Lucyshyn, Dr. Keith F. Snider, and Robert Maly

Organization: Naval Postgraduate School and University of Maryland

URL: NPS-PM-04-010


The Naval Ordnance Station Louisville: A Case Study of Privatization-in-Place

Abstract: On the afternoon of March 7, 1996, Mike Seale, then Director of Public/Private Partnering for United Defense, waited anxiously while the Louisville/Jefferson County Redevelopment Authority (LJCRA) in Kentucky deliberated over the fate of the Naval Ordnance Station Louisville (NOSL). Seale and Tom Rabaut, the President/CEO of United Defense had just presented a proposal to the LJCRA for United Defense to privatize the Naval Ordnance Station “in place.” Privatization-in-place is a concept for privatizing military installations wherein the defense-related workload is retained at the privatized facility.1 But Seale knew that if the LJCRA was willing to take a chance on United Defense, privatization-in-place of NOSL could be a win-win-win situation for the company, the city of Louisville, and the Navy.

Authors: Dr. William Lucyshyn and Stephanie Novello

Organization: University of Maryland

URL: UMD-CM-05-018


The Nett Warrior System: A Case Study for the Acquisition of Soldier Systems

Abstract: This project provides an analysis of the Army’s acquisition of the Nett Warrior (NW) soldier system. Its objectives are to document the legacy of the system and provide an overview of how acquisition strategy has adapted with respect to key acquisition elements since its inception on September 8, 1993. The product is a document that provides an analysis of the actions taken and the obstacles encountered and how the warfighters, user representatives, materiel developers, and lawmakers dealt with them. The NW need was approved in February 2009. The requirement was to provide improvements for dismounted soldiers in the five specific capability categories of lethality, command and control, mobility, survivability, and sustainment. For a period lasting approximately 20 years, the NW has evolved. Despite the Army’s decision to terminate the Land Warrior, the predecessor to the Nett Warrior system, in FY 2007, the NW’s foundation for follow-on soldier system initiatives had been established. The success of NW will depend on the program’s ability to incorporate soldier-driven design requirements, commercial technology, and thorough system testing.  

Authors: Maj. Joseph L. Rosen, USA and Maj. Jason W. Walsh, USA

Organization: Naval Postgraduate School

URL: NPS-AM-11-205


The Stryker Mobile Gun System:  A Case Study on Managing Complexity

Abstract: This case study analyzes how the Stryker Mobile Gun System (MGS) program managed complexity.  The MGS is one of the ten variants of the Stryker series of vehicles that equip the Army’s Stryker Brigade Combat Teams.  These brigades were created by the Army Chief of Staff (from 1999–2003), General Eric Shinseki, to provide the Army with a highly deployable medium-force capability.  Initially intended as a variant that required limited development, the MGS experienced a number of significant challenges during systems development. 

Author: MAJ Christian C. Ayers, USA

Organization: Naval Postgraduate School

URL: NPS-AM-09-041


Total Ownership Cost Reduction Case Study: AEGIS Microwave Power Tubes

Abstract: This research provides a descriptive case study that chronicles the operational and engineering processes that were used to reduce total ownership cost for microwave power tube components of the AEGIS Shipbuilding Project while dramatically improving their mean time between failure. The processes used to achieve these results are important to understand in light of the current reductions in various acquisition support resources including financial support, manpower and in-house technical expertise. In particular, this case highlights the role that Naval Warfare Centers can and do play in the acquisition process and its supporting engineering disciplines.

Authors: Dr. Aruna U. Apte and Eugene (Joe) Dutkowski

Organization: Naval Postgraduate School

URL: NPS-AM-06-008


Total Ownership Cost Reduction Case Study: AEGIS Radar Phase Shifters

Abstract: The goal of this research is to provide a case study that captures the production and design processes and program management solutions used to reduce total ownership costs of AEGIS Radar Phase Shifters. Specifically, it will focus on the design and redesign of the SPY-1 radar phase shifter; a redesign that dramatically improved performance without increasing Average Procurement Unit Costs (APUC). The researchers will analyze various process- improvement projects (PIP) used to reduce touch-labor and improve production process yield (percentage of manufactured items that are defect-free) of SPY-1B/D phase shifters, and will review programs that improved phase shifter production either directly or indirectly, i.e., consolidated purchasing, lean and six sigma, productivity improvement projects, etc. This case study was conducted with the sponsorship and assistance of the Acquisition Research Program, Graduate School of Business & Public Policy, Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, CA. 

Authors: LCDR Wray W. Bridger and Capt Mark D. Ruiz 

Organization: Naval Postgraduate School

URL: NPS-AM-06-050


"VT-136" Market Research and Sourcing Case Exercise

Abstract: Market research is essential for Government and private commercial buyers to make qualified decisions in purchasing goods and services.  While arguably a necessary component of all acquisition and contracting offices, the understanding, conduct and exercise of sound market research practices is often neglected or omitted as a precursor to effective and efficient market actions.  What really is market research?  Simply stated, market research is the process utilized to collect, organize, maintain, analyze, and present data for the purpose of maximizing the capabilities, technologies, and competitive forces of the market place to meet an organization’s need for supplies and services. Market research is done to optimize the potential for the Federal Government to acquire and utilize commercial items, commercial services, and non-developmental items to meet its needs.  Additionally, market research may enhance our capability to elicit greater competition within the market place. Market research for the Federal Government is an imperative. 

Author: E. Cory Yoder

Organization: Naval Postgraduate School

URL: PS-CM-07-001