The Bush Adminstration will soon be history, but if anyone still believes Bush is worried about Nation Security I suggest you put down the koolaid, that is if you can still afford it. This GAO report focuses on the DOD specifically which is (no surprise) in need of major fiscal reform and fiscal prudence.
Why the GAO did the Study:
DOD’s investment in weapon systems represents one of the largest discretionary items in the budget. The department expects to invest about $900 billion (fiscal year 2008 dollars) over the next 5 years on development and procurement with more than $335 billion invested specifically in major defense acquisition programs. Every dollar spent inefficiently in acquiring weapon systems is less money available for other budget priorities—such as the global war on terror and growing entitlement programs.
This testimony focuses on (1) the overall performance of DOD’s weapon system investment portfolio; (2) our assessment of 72 weapon programs against best practices standards for successful product developments; and (3) potential solutions and recent DOD actions to improve weapon program outcomes. It is based on GAO-08-467SP, which included our analysis of broad trends in the performance of the programs in DOD’s weapon acquisition portfolio and our assessment of 72 defense programs, and recommendations made in past GAO reports.
Here is one of the GAO’s conclusions that to me proves even DOD has been taken over by for profit companies. There is much more in the report.
“We also found that DOD is relying more on contractors to support the management and oversight of weapon system acquisitions and contracts. For 52 DOD programs that provided information, about 48 percent of the program office staff was composed of individuals outside of DOD. In a prior review of space acquisition programs, we found that 8 of 13 cost-estimating organizations and program offices believed the number of cost estimators was inadequate and we found that 10 of those offices had more contractor personnel preparing cost estimates than government personnel. We also found examples during this year’s assessment where the program offices expressed concerns about having inadequate personnel to conduct their program office roles”.
What the GAO found:
The assessment indicated that cost and schedule outcomes for major weapon programs are not improving. Although well-conceived acquisition policy changes occurred in 2003 that reflect many best practices we have reported on in the past, these policy changes have not yet translated into practice at the program level.
None of the weapon programs we assessed this year had proceeded through system development meeting the best practices standards for mature technologies, stable design, and mature production processes—all prerequisites for achieving planned cost, schedule, and performance outcomes. In addition, only a small percentage of programs used two key systems engineering tools—preliminary design reviews and prototypes to demonstrate the maturity of the product’s design by critical junctures. This lack of disciplined systems engineering affects DOD’s ability to develop sound, executable business cases for programs.
Our work shows that acquisition problems will likely persist until DOD provides a better foundation for buying the right things, the right way. This involves making tough decisions as to which programs should be pursued, and more importantly, not pursued; making sure programs are executable; locking in requirements before programs are ever started; and making it clear who is responsible for what and holding people accountable when responsibilities are not fulfilled. Moreover, the environment and incentives that lead DOD and the military services to overpromise on capability and underestimate costs in order to sell new programs and capture funding will need to change. Based in part on GAO recommendations and congressional direction, DOD has begun several initiatives that, if adopted and implemented properly, could provide a foundation for establishing sound, knowledge-based business cases for individual acquisition programs and improving outcomes.
You can read the entire report here.