An Approximate Dynamic Programming Approach to Financial Execution for Weapon System Programs




Morman, Erich

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During each twelve month fiscal year (FY) cycle weapon system programs across the Department of Defense (DoD) are expected to execute their allocated budgets in an expedient and timely manner. As the FY progresses, a weapon system's cash flow state at any given moment is primarily measured by the cumulative amounts of their budget that are either committed, obligated, accrued, or expended. Regulatory and oversight initiatives such as midyear financial execution reviews and published monthly execution goals serve as measures that are designed to ensure that there is in fact high utilization of a weapon system's allocated yearly budget. The challenge of finding an ideal monthly commitment cash flow policy that achieves a high level of utilization can be expressed as a sequential decision making problem over time. The mathematical area known as Markovian analysis is dedicated to modeling and finding solution methods that focus on such problems with emphasis on understanding how the system moves from state to state throughout the decision process. The complexity of the problem examined in this research stems from the size of the multimillion dollar budgets in question and the numerous projects they fund. In turn, weapon system offices must make hundreds of commitment action determinations over any given fiscal year in an environment of uncertainty. This intricate decision system necessitates that decision makers have good mathematical tools that can assist them with determining an optimal commitment policy.



Operations research, Finance, Approximate Dynamic Programming, Bellman's Equation, Budget Execution, Department of Defense, Financial Execution, Sequential Decision Making