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NLS Technical Writings

Digital Talking Books, Planning for the Future

July 1998

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Appendix I: Details to Be Considered in Implementing the Digital Talking-Book Program

Decision Matrix Theory

One way to solve a technology or any other type of problem is to employ mathematical techniques. We will use decision matrix theory. To begin the process, we will recognize and define the problem. Then gather all the facts from all the information sources, including engineering development models. Data collected will be classified into the following categories: facts, assumptions, criteria, opinions, and definitions. Of these data, facts and criteria are the most important. Then, we will list the possible solutions that have been developed concerning the types of players and media. Once the alternatives are determined, some will be eliminated because they do not meet established conditions or minimum standards.

Next, we will prepare a list of the advantages and disadvantages that result from testing each alternative against the stated evaluation criteria.

After testing each alternative against the stated criteria, we will compare the alternatives with one another using quantitative techniques such as a decision matrix, selected weights, and sensitivity analysis. These values will then be placed in a computer-generated mathematical model to determine which course of action is the best.

After generation of the computer model whether a relative- value matrix or a multiplication matrix we will summarize the results in language that is easy to read, perhaps in an appendix to the main report.

New Acquisition or Procurement

At the outset of any new acquisition, it is neither practical nor necessary to define and describe all the technical requirements down to the smallest detail. The requirements should be specified on a progressive basis as our program evolves, based on design revisions. Requirements will be stated in broad terms for the functional and performance characteristics, with little reference to how the characteristics will be achieved. This will allow our contracting personnel to use their ingenuity and experience in developing cost-effective and technically current designs. As the design process progresses through the acquisition phase into production of the design, requirements are identified in greater detail and the selective application of formal requirements can increase.

Specifications and standards spell out the technical, procedural, quality, and documentation requirements necessary to complete the system or hardware acquisition. Whether addressing the use of a single specification standard or preparing a system specification, redundancy of the documents should be avoided. The use of each specification and standard will use "critical examination" to ensure that only the minimum acceptable standards are used. This process will consider the specific current technology from the decision matrix and a listing of the functional and operational requirements of the system, to ensure compatibility and avoid ambiguities.

Upon receipt of the operational requirement, the NLS engineering staff will complete the statement of work and the specifications depicting the course of action from the decision matrix. The specification will address both engineering and logistics concerns described earlier.

It is essential that NLS technical and Library of Congress procurement personnel work together to develop a Statement of Work (SOW) that describes the purpose, nature, and requirements of the work. The SOW identifies any tasks required under the scope of the contract and is the means by which the contractor is evaluated as the work progresses. It will be developed by reducing the range of possible requirements to the least acceptable requirements.

Documents specifically cited and those directly referenced in the SOW are contractually binding on the contractor.

Issuing a draft SOW to those in industry will allow interested organizations to review and comment on the ability to produce our product. The federal solicitation process is the vehicle by which the government advertises to industry to purchase goods and services. A draft request for proposals (RFP) will be sent out to industry for comment prior to the actual solicitation. Then an industry-wide forum may be held to receive input on the approach. Once the input is gathered, the NLS team will refine the RFP and issue the solicitation via the Commerce Business Daily. Various industry representatives then respond with their best offers. The technical and cost committees then analyze their respective sections of the proposals.

The technical and cost committees will respond to possible contractors with questions about their proposals to determine whether the proposals are acceptable, unacceptable but can be made acceptable through discussions, or unacceptable. The contractors will respond to the questions, and then the technical and cost teams review the proposals to determine which contractor is best able to meet the operational requirements. For all acceptable proposals, an audit will be initiated to ensure fair pricing. When this review is completed, the contracting officer will hold discussions and call for "best and final offers" before awarding the contract.

After the contract is awarded, a post-award meeting will be held to allow team building between the government and the contractor and to ensure that all tasks are clearly understood before production begins.

Note: Some of the information concerning decision matrix theory was derived from materials found in the Combined Arms Staff and Services School 1998 Problem Solving Decision Matrix handouts, F-121, from the U.S. Army at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. The new acquisition or procurement information was derived from material in the Naval Air Systems Command Acquisition Course.

Wells B. Kormann, Chief, Materials Development Division

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prologue --- planning --- NISO --- activity planning --- 20 steps --- 9 tasks --- consumer involvement

bibliography --- appendix i: details in implementation --- appendix ii: overview of contracting approach

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Posted on 2013-06-28