National Defense:

Navy's Evaluation Process in Ship Donation

NSIAD-97-171R: Published: Jun 3, 1997. Publicly Released: Jun 4, 1997.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the facts surrounding the donation process for the U.S.S. Missouri, focusing on the: (1) process of applying for the ship; (2) evaluation criteria and weighting used to evaluate the applications, and (3) use of the criteria and weighting in the selection process.

GAO noted that: (1) the Navy began the donation process for the Missouri in the same manner as prior donations, by requesting financial and technical information from the applicants and working with applicants to help ensure that their applications would satisfy the Navy's financial and technical requirements; (2) subsequently, the Navy decided that, with respect to the Missouri, additional evaluation criteria, "historical significance" and "public affairs benefits to the Navy," were needed to assist the Secretary in making the donation decision among four of five applicants that met the Navy's financial and technical requirements; (3) this was the first time such additional criteria were used in any donation selection process; (4) while the Navy's donation process appears to have been impartially applied, and all applicants were provided the same information on the additional criteria at the same time, the Navy did not do a good job in communicating its additional requirements to the applicants; (5) specifically, applicants were not told: (a) what the relative importance of the evaluation criteria was in the process (the added criteria actually represented 75 percent of the donation award weight); (b) what the added evaluation criteria meant; and (c) how well already submitted applications met the added criteria (a procedure routinely used in the financial and technical evaluation process); (6) these factors are particularly important because the Navy's evaluation teams were told to base their scoring only on the information contained in the applications; (7) as a result, to varying degrees, the evaluation teams found all applications lacking in information when measured against the added criteria; (8) according to some applicants, had they known that the additional criteria carried so much weight, they would have revised their applications; and (9) as a result of GAO's review, GAO is preparing a separate report to the Secretary of the Navy recommending changes to the Navy's donation procedures to better handle future situations where there may be multiple applicants.

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