System Dynamics Modeling of Government Professional Services: SUPSHIP Groton


Christopher S. Trost

Supervisor of Shipbuilding

VIRGINIA Class Submarine Program

Groton CT.



Management of a professional oversight organization that does not produce the design products it reviews is a difficult task. At The Supervisor of Shipbuilding (SUPSHIP), Groton, management of the Engineering Department is further complicated by a high cost of mistakes and a significant lag between the time a mistake is made and when it is discovered in production. Recent defense cutbacks leading to reorganization of the department with significantly fewer personnel and periodic variations in workload have raised questions about maintaining expected quality levels. Additionally, downsizing has left the department with a senior workforce. Maintaining quality levels as senior, experienced engineers begin to retire in larger numbers is also a major concern for management. To better understand and explore these issues a formal system dynamics model that integrates the structural elements of the engineering departmentís workload and workforce was developed. Estimation, interviews, observation and archival data were used to calibrate the model for the departmentís performance over the past 10 years. Several key insights into the departments operation were gained during the modeling process that highlighted significant areas for management attention to better maintain output quality. Using the model to analyze expected performance during future peaks and valleys in the workload as well as expected retirements and new hiring allows management to develop policies that keep quality at acceptable levels.