High Risk Series

Defense Weapons Systems Acquisition Gao ID: HR-95-4 February 1, 1995

In 1990, GAO began a special effort to identify federal programs at high risk of waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement. GAO issued a series of reports in December 1992 on the fundamental causes of the problems in the high-risk areas. This report on defense weapons systems acquisition is part of the second series that updates the status of this high-risk area. Readers have the following three options in ordering the high-risk series: (1) request any of the individual reports in the series, including the Overview (HR-95-1), the Guide (HR-95-2), or any of the 10 issue area reports; (2) request the Overview and the Guide as a package (HR-95-21SET); or (3) request the entire series as a package (HR-95-20SET).

GAO found that: (1) although the overall defense budget has declined, wasteful practices that inflate defense acquisition costs remain; (2) DOD continues to establish questionable requirements for its weapon systems, project unrealistic cost and performance estimates, develop duplicative weapons systems, and prematurely commit to production before completing testing; (3) DOD has supported efforts to eliminate overlapping and redundant weapon requirements and reduce high-risk acquisition strategies; (4) DOD has begun to reassess many of its most expense weapon programs to determine which systems should be terminated, reduced, or delayed; (5) Congress has established an independent commission to reevaluate the military services' roles and missions and examine whether the DOD acquisition structure is too complex; (6) DOD initiatives to improve its weapons acquisition process cannot be assessed because they are in various stages of implementation; and (7) DOD believes that substantive reforms in its acquisition process can be achieved due to fiscal constraints, reduced threats, dwindling forces, congressional support, and DOD commitment to reform.

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