Weapons Acquisition:

A Rare Opportunity for Lasting Change

NSIAD-93-15: Published: Dec 1, 1992. Publicly Released: Dec 1, 1992.

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GAO reviewed the Department of Defense's (DOD) major weapons acquisition issues, focusing on the cultural aspects of acquisition problems.

GAO found that: (1) despite attempts to improve the acquisition process, weapons still cost more, take longer to field, often encounter performance problems, and are difficult to produce or support; (2) cost growth, schedule delays, and performance shortfalls can befall weapons acquisition programs that are not well conceived, planned, managed, funded, and supported; (3) many analyses for justifying major acquisitions are narrowly focused and do not fully consider alternative solutions; (4) many acquisition programs take longer and cost more to develop and produce weapons than the estimates on which the programs were initially approved; (5) weapons take too long to develop and field; (6) weapons begin production too quickly and are fielded with major unknowns or unresolved problems and many weapons encounter significant problems on the production line and in the field; (7) program sponsors frequently make optimistic cost assumptions and reduce quantities or program scope or prolong the schedule to make a program affordable and thereby avoid cancellation; (8) program survival is a more powerful incentive than program affordability; (9) successful programs have tended to pursue reasonable performance objectives and avoid the effects of design instability and the equation of program success with technical success; and (10) reforms in management practices include realistic estimating, thorough testing, and accurate reporting.

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