Department of Defense Acquisition Issues

Gao ID: 120890 March 23, 1983

Testimony was given concerning GAO analyses of weapon systems development and acquisition. Department of Defense (DOD) data on 47 weapon systems indicate that the cost of these systems has increased about 160 percent over their refined estimates. GAO has found that recent cost growth has been due to the administration's efforts to build up defense capabilities by increasing the number of missiles and aircraft over what was originally planned. In its annual detailed review of selected weapons systems, GAO identified six programs that have operational or performance limitations. This caused GAO to question the capability of the systems to function as designed and their potential threat to the environment. In four programs, GAO found problems with logistic support and reliability, maintainability, and availability. In addition, GAO has found that nine weapon programs have experienced cost increases which raise the question of whether sufficient funds will be made available to meet force level requirements. GAO questioned the adequacy of testing in five systems, and it also questioned the planning, organization, control, and evaluation of resource use in four systems. GAO has initiated a study of DOD cost estimating and reporting procedures for weapon systems and plans to initiate a study of the effectiveness of current test and evaluation being performed on weapon systems in light of recent DOD initiatives to improve the weapons acquisition process and has begun a DOD-wide review to identify the root causes behind production startup problems. A GAO review of joint systems acquisition has shown that some mergers have been ill-timed or ill-chosen and there are basic interservice differences which are difficult to overcome; however, GAO pointed out steps which would increase the likelihood of success for joint purchases. GAO has also been monitoring the Defense Acquisition Improvement Program and has recommended the use of multiyear contracting. Finally, GAO commented on Executive Order 12352, which mandates the simplification of the procurement process, the development of a professional work force, increased competition, and the strengthening of the management of the entire system. At present, neither DOD nor the military services have the management structure in place to effect the reforms recommended in the order.

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