Review of the Impact of A-109 on Weapon System Acquisitions

MASAD-82-10: Published: Mar 17, 1982. Publicly Released: Mar 17, 1982.

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GAO reviewed the Department of Defense's (DOD) implementation of Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-109. The GAO objectives were to examine the Circular's effect on the acquisition programs for six new weapons systems and to determine the degree of compliance by DOD.

Overall, GAO found that DOD had made progress in its compliance with OMB Circular A-109; however, better compliance with the Circular's principles would compliment the acquisition management improvement efforts underway in DOD. DOD components should be informed of the DOD commitment to the basic policies of the Circular with emphasis on the: (1) flexibility inherent in the directive; (2) need for the establishment of a systematic method of mission analysis design to evaluate the capabilities of the services to perform their missions; and (3) criticality of obtaining approval of a statement of need early in the process. Critics have complained that the Circular's front end review process, which requires the agency to establish the need for a new system before embarking on a development program, unduly lengthens the time required to develop, procure, and field new weapons. However, GAO concluded that most delays were not caused by compliance with the Circular, but were due more to budgetary restraints, resistance within the services to prepare statements of need, and resistance to the requirement to obtain higher level approvals needed before an acquisition program could be started. GAO has consistently maintained that one of the most important steps to improve the acquisition process is the accomplishment of mission analysis to identify when and where new weapons systems are needed. DOD has not provided guidance on how such analysis should be accomplished, and the services have been left to their own devices.

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