Status of Major Acquisitions as of September 30, 1981:

Better Reporting Essential to Controlling Cost Growth

MASAD-82-24: Published: Apr 22, 1982. Publicly Released: Apr 22, 1982.

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GAO reviewed the status of major Federal acquisitions, including acquisitions financed solely with Federal funds and those financed jointly with Federal, State, and other funds. Cost growth of major Federal acquisitions has been a longstanding problem and is a major reason for the preparation annual financial status reports by GAO. This year's data were collected on 802 projects. Previous status reports primarily contained cost data; however, this report includes scheduling and quantity status in addition to cost data. All program statistics in this report were supplied by the Federal departments and agencies, and GAO did not validate the data for accuracy.

GAO found that the agencies' cost, schedule, and quantity data show that the initial estimates and planning data provided to Congress and used by the agencies vary greatly from current estimates. Further, GAO found that: (1) the cost of 376 projects increased a total of approximately $318 billion over the total estimated cost of projects provided to Congress in initial budget justifications; (2) the cost of 465 projects increased by about $258 billion over the initial congressional budget estimate adjusted for changes in scope; (3) schedule data provided for 170 projects showed that 139 slipped their completion dates by more than 6 months, and the extent to which this contributed to cost growth could not be determined from the data; and (4) quantity data provided for 146 projects showed 57 variances in excess of 25 percent, and the extent to which these variances contributed to cost growth could not be determined from the data provided. Over the years, GAO has reported on the problem of cost growth, the need to improve existing reporting systems, and the need for establishing a reporting system to include all major civil acquisitions and those major defense programs not on the Department of Defense Selected Acquisition Reporting system. At this time, there is no standardized reporting system to periodically record the status of major civil programs. However, legislation has been proposed along these lines.

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