ACDA's Coordination of Federal Arms Control Research and Management of its External Research Program Still Need Improvement

NSIAD-83-67: Published: Sep 30, 1983. Publicly Released: Sep 30, 1983.

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GAO reported on the adequacy of the administration of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency's (ACDA) research program and its coordination of arms control research throughout the federal government.

GAO found that ACDA needs to improve the operation of its external research program and to fulfill its responsibilities for coordinating all federal arms control and disarmament research or seek relief from them. GAO found that the same problems which it reported were hindering the research program's efficient operation more than 3 years ago are still present. The external research program has no formal project selection criteria, little internal coordination, no routine review of available research listings to help avoid project duplication, and inadequate use of contractor evaluations. In addition, ACDA is not meeting its legislated responsibilities for: (1) planning a program of arms control research; (2) advising other agencies of their research roles; (3) maintaining a continuing inventory of federal activities related to research; or (4) submitting periodic schedules of activities to the Office of Management and Budget.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: ACDA and relevant executive branch agencies established an interagency committee on arms control research which determined that a computerized database of federal arms control research and periodic committee meetings and review would comprise the necessary means to better coordinate federal arms control research.

    Recommendation: The Director, ACDA, should estimate the resources ACDA needs to effectively coordinate federal arms control research, based on the defined scope.

    Agency Affected: United States Arms Control and Disarmament Agency

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The executive branch established ACRCC, which agreed to define the scope of arms control research as including activities listed in Section 3 of the Arms Control and Disarmament Act of 1961. Agreement on this definition should enable ACDA to better comply with its mandated coordination role.

    Recommendation: The Director, ACDA, should define the scope of arms control research being conducted by or for the federal government, after consulting with the Secretaries of State, Defense, Energy, and Commerce, and the Directors of the Central Intelligence Agency and other affected agencies.

    Agency Affected: United States Arms Control and Disarmament Agency

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Director's new requirement for a one-page report on a project's findings within 30 days of its completion and their relevance to ACDA work and objectives does not address the need to track actual use made of the research products. Similar requirements in the contractor evaluations already exist for estimating a research project's usefulness.

    Recommendation: The Director, ACDA, should establish a follow-up tracking system to determine the actual use made of ACDA research products over a designated period of time.

    Agency Affected: United States Arms Control and Disarmament Agency

  4. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: ACDA officials believe that no new directives are needed. Officials say that current directives and continued motivation of staff to correctly use contractor evaluations are all that can be used.

    Recommendation: The Director, ACDA, should direct that contractor evaluations be properly completed, that they include specific discussions of any problems with the contractors, and that they be used to assess proposed contractors' prior performances.

    Agency Affected: United States Arms Control and Disarmament Agency

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: A computerized database of federal arms control research of the relevant agencies was established. ACDA operates the database system and its function and procedures will be reviewed periodically by an interagency committee. The database includes classified programs and will allow ACDA project officers easier access to available listings of federal government research.

    Recommendation: The Director, ACDA, should require project officers to use available listings of federal government research in order to more comprehensively identify research related to proposed projects.

    Agency Affected: United States Arms Control and Disarmament Agency

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Director established a Research Review Board to develop a program budget structure for external research activities and to review projects. Each bureau must justify proposed projects by addressing three broad criteria: (1) new knowledge to be gained; (2) similarity of research by others; and (3) results sought but not obtainable by in-house or consultant resources.

    Recommendation: The Director, ACDA, should establish criteria for use by bureaus in developing and selecting research projects.

    Agency Affected: United States Arms Control and Disarmament Agency

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Director, ACDA, circulated a memo on October 23, 1983, to other executive branch agencies proposing that their representatives meet regularly to coordinate federal arms control research. Subsequently, the Director circulated a memo on the need for specific coordination procedures and, as a result, ACRCC was established. This action better enables ACDA to perform its statutory responsibilities.

    Recommendation: The Director, ACDA, should determine whether ACDA will carry out its federal coordination role or seek relief from the requirements, after defining scope and estimating resources.

    Agency Affected: United States Arms Control and Disarmament Agency

 

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