Supportability and the RAC
For nearly two years, the Supportability Information and Decision Analysis Center (SIDAC) functioned as a part of the Reliability
Analysis Center (RAC), operated by the IIT Research Institute (IITRI). In August 1998, the Air Force Material Command had contracted with IITRI to operate the SIDAC because the technical scopes of the two centers are so closely related. Previously operated
under a separate five-year contract, SIDAC retained its identity but benefited from the expertise and information holdings of RAC
along with a proven Information Analysis Center infrastructure. In May 2000, SIDAC operations were totally integrated into the RAC
and the mission of the RAC was correspondingly expanded. The RAC now addresses all aspects of reliability, maintainability, quality and supportability.
At first glance, the advantage of integrating supportability into the RAC mission may not be apparent. Historically, RACs focus has
been on reliability, maintainability, and quality (RM&Q). Even before assuming specific responsibility for supportability, however,
RAC recognized the growing importance of affordability and the affect of a shrinking acquisition budget on re-capitalization of the
defense force structure. For many years, the operating and support (O&S) costs associated with current weapon systems have been
estimated to consume 60-70% of the defense budget, so finding adequate funds to develop and acquire new systems has always been
a challenge a shrinking budget has simply made the challenge more daunting. If the costs required to operate and maintain old systems can be reduced as a percentage of the total budget, additional funds could be made available for new systems.
As a result of the decrease in total funding and the fact that O&S costs increase as systems age, the military services are taking three
separate courses of action. The first is to increase the focus on planned life extension. Under planned life extension, a well-defined
processes and associated decision tools are used to continually evaluate the O&S costs of a system together with the systems effectiveness to determine when and if life extension is a viable option. (Life extension is discussed in RAC publication Service Life
Extension Assessment, SLEA in the RAC catalog.) The second course of action is to reduce O&S costs by improving the processes
of O&S. Basically, the services are doing this by streamlining the support infrastructures, introducing new technology, and implementing more efficient management systems. Many of the initiatives associated with this course of action are discussed in the
RAC/SIDAC product Survey of Military Logistics Initiatives (LOGI in the RAC catalog). Finally, for new system development and
even in early Science and Technology efforts, affordability has been made an important criterion for success.
Reliability, maintainability, and quality all affect system effectiveness and life cycle costs. Support concepts, the logistics infrastructure, and other supportability considerations also affect effectiveness and costs. Finally, RM&Q influence the inherent supportability of a system. So the marriage of RAC and SIDAC is extremely appropriate and helps the RAC continue to provide the technical support needed by the military services. The unchanging and ultimate objective of this support is to ensure that American warfighters
have the right systems in the right place at the right time.