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    Subject Term: "Systems acquisition"

    16 publications with a total of 45 open recommendations including 1 priority recommendation
    Director: Grover, Jennifer A
    Phone: 202-512-7141

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Commandant of the Coast Guard should complete a comprehensive cost estimate for a limited service life extension of the Polar Star that follows cost estimating best practices before committing to this approach for bridging the potential capability gap. (Recommendation 1)

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Coast Guard
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Joseph W. Kirschbaum
    Phone: (202) 512-9971

    6 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance enterprise-wide biometric strategic planning, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics should publish an updated biometric strategic plan to identify enterprise goals and objectives.

    Agency: Department of Defense: Office of the Secretary of Defense: Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To enhance enterprise-wide biometric strategic planning, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics should publish a supporting biometric implementation plan that includes intended outcomes, measures of effectiveness, and responsibilities, among other things.

    Agency: Department of Defense: Office of the Secretary of Defense: Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To facilitate more effective and efficient acquisition management of DOD's biometric and forensic enterprises, the Secretary of the Army, in coordination with the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, should assign a milestone decision authority to oversee the Near Real Time Identity Operations solution.

    Agency: Department of Defense: Department of the Army
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To facilitate more effective and efficient acquisition management of DOD's biometric and forensic enterprises, the Secretary of the Army, in coordination with the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, should complete a disposition analysis for the Near Real Time Identity Operations solution before the solution reaches operation and sustainment.

    Agency: Department of Defense: Department of the Army
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To facilitate more effective and efficient acquisition management of DOD's biometric and forensic enterprises, the Secretary of the Army, in coordination with the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, should consider including geographic dispersal as part of the selection criteria for the DOD Automated Biometric Information System (ABIS) follow-on system.

    Agency: Department of Defense: Department of the Army
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To facilitate more effective and efficient acquisition management of DOD's biometric and forensic enterprises, the Secretary of the Army, in coordination with the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, should use tradeoff selection criteria, rather than lowest-price technically acceptable criteria, for determining contractor support for DOD ABIS mission-critical functions when it is practicable to do so.

    Agency: Department of Defense: Department of the Army
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Michael J. Sullivan
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure DOD takes a strategic approach for its prototyping and innovation initiatives and overcomes funding and cultural barriers, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering to develop a high-level DOD-wide strategy, in collaboration with the military services and other appropriate DOD components, to communicate strategic goals and priorities and delineate roles and responsibilities among DOD's prototyping and innovation initiatives.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To help ensure DOD takes a strategic approach for its prototyping and innovation initiatives and overcomes funding and cultural barriers, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering to take steps, such as adopting a "strategic buckets" approach, to help ensure adequate investments in innovation that align with DOD-wide strategy.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To help ensure DOD takes a strategic approach for its prototyping and innovation initiatives and overcomes funding and cultural barriers, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering to expand the Community of Interest working groups to include budget activity 6.4-funded prototyping and innovation initiatives in their science and technology planning and coordination processes or employ a similar coordination mechanism for budget activity 6.4-funded prototyping and innovation initiatives.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To help ensure DOD takes a strategic approach for its prototyping and innovation initiatives and overcomes funding and cultural barriers, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering to review budget activity 6.4 funding requests to help maintain a level of investment for budget activity 6.4-funded prototyping and innovation efforts that is consistent with DOD-wide strategy.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Carol C. Harris
    Phone: (202) 512-4456

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help improve the management of DOD's MAIS programs, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to direct the program manager for Global Combat Support System-Army Increment 1 to establish standard operating procedures for managing risks that include guidance for establishing thresholds and bounds for key risk areas.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To help improve the management of DOD's MAIS programs, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to direct the program manager for Air and Space Operations Center-Weapon System Increment 10.2 to develop an overall risk mitigation plan to guide the implementation of individual risk mitigation and contingency plan activities.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To help improve the management of DOD's MAIS programs, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to direct the program manager for Joint Space Operations Center, Mission System Increment 2 to appoint a chief developmental tester to oversee systems testing and integration activities.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Michael J. Sullivan
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance program oversight and provide more robust input to budget deliberations, Congress should consider requiring DOD to report on each major acquisition program's systems engineering status in the department's annual budget request, beginning with the budget requesting funds to start development. The information could be presented on a simple timeline--as done for the case studies in this report--and at a minimum should reflect the status of a program's functional and allocated baselines as contained in the most current version of the program's systems engineering plan.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: Congress has not yet taken action on the matter for consideration. GAO will continue to monitor.
    Director: Joseph W. Kirschbaum
    Phone: (202) 512-9971

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance DOD's efforts to better integrate and improve intelligence support to major defense acquisition programs, and to better enable personnel to provide intelligence inputs to their portfolios of acquisition programs, the Secretary of Defense should direct--as appropriate--the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics; the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence; and/or the Secretaries of the military departments, in coordination with one another, to establish certifications that include having these personnel complete required training.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD agreed with the recommendation. Once DOD has provided information on actions to address the recommendation we will update the status.
    Recommendation: To enhance DOD's efforts to better integrate and improve intelligence support to major defense acquisition programs, and to facilitate implementation of improved processes and procedures developed by the Acquisition Intelligence Requirements Task Force and by the Air Force for the integration of intelligence into major defense acquisition programs, the Secretary of Defense should direct--as appropriate--the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics; the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence; and/or the Secretaries of the military departments, in coordination with one another, to revise relevant guidance and procedures--including DOD Instruction 5000.02 and DOD Directive 5250.01-- require that intelligence mission data at the acquisition program, service, and department levels be prioritized.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD agreed with the recommendation. Once DOD has provided information on actions to address the recommendation we will update the status.
    Recommendation: To enhance DOD's efforts to better integrate and improve intelligence support to major defense acquisition programs, and to better ensure that DOD obtains useful feedback from stakeholders and the intended users of the Validated Online Lifecycle Threat tool, the Secretary of Defense should direct--as appropriate--the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics; the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence; and/or the Secretaries of the military departments, in coordination with one another, to instruct the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency to develop a communication plan for the tool that includes plans for communicating with and obtaining feedback from stakeholders and intended users such as acquisition program offices and personnel providing intelligence support to acquisition programs.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD agreed with the recommendation. Once DOD has provided information on actions to address the recommendation we will update the status.
    Recommendation: To enhance DOD's efforts to better integrate and improve intelligence support to major defense acquisition programs, and to ensure that it fulfills the needs of acquisition programs and the intelligence community and works as intended, the Secretary of Defense should direct--as appropriate--the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics; the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence; and/or the Secretaries of the military departments, in coordination with one another, to assess the need for the Acquisition Intelligence Support Assessment tool and, if validated by this assessment, define this tool's requirements for development and identify the entity responsible for providing oversight and funding for its continued development, implementation, and operation.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD agreed with the recommendation. Once DOD has provided information on actions to address the recommendation we will update the status.
    Director: Valerie C. Melvin
    Phone: (202) 512-6304

    8 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To assist VA in sustaining an IT workforce with the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities to execute its mission and goals, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Chief Information Officer to track and review OI&T historical workforce data and projections related to leadership retirements.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: VA concurred with our recommendation and reported that OI&T's Human Capital Management Office (HCM) had completed a succession planning project that encompassed all senior leadership and included data review and risk assessment for each position. VA also stated that OI&T tracks the gains and losses associated with its leadership positions and provided this information for fiscal year 2016. However, the department has not provided documentation that supports the assertion that historical and projected OI&T leadership retirement data was presented and discussed as part of the succession planning project and did not provide data on projected retirements for OI&T's leadership positions. Additionally, the department stated that OI&T HCM has the ability to project retirement eligibility but has not provided documentation to support this assertion. It is important that VA tracks and reviews its OI&T historical workforce data and forecasts its leadership retirements to avoid being unprepared to effectively respond to vacancies in key leadership positions.
    Recommendation: To assist VA in sustaining an IT workforce with the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities to execute its mission and goals, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Chief Information Officer to identify IT skills needed beyond the current fiscal year to assist in identifying future skills gaps.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: VA concurred with our recommendation and reported that Information Technology Workforce Development (ITWD) will produce reports that identify skill gaps and will contain long-term recommendations that show the types of IT skills each organization needs to increase and which proficiency level targets need the most emphasis. As of July 2017, VA stated that ITWD reviewed, and updated where needed, the fiscal year 2017 competencies within each OI&T competency model role in order to align the models to the OI&T Transformation initiative. According to the department, the resulting updates support learning solutions that sustain and accelerate OI&T's transformation. Additionally, VA stated that 85 percent of OI&T staff completed a validated competency self-assessment and provided the OI&T fiscal year 2017 Training Gap Analysis Report which shows the strengths and gaps of OI&T by organization, trends between fiscal years 2016 and 2017, findings, next steps, and recommended actions for the next fiscal year. The department also stated that ITWD held meetings to review skill gap and learning solution reports. VA provided these reports and they present the top gaps and strengths, key findings, and next steps to address the skill gaps. While the department has taken these actions, its OI&T Training Gap Analysis Report does not identify IT skills needed beyond fiscal year 2017.
    Recommendation: To assist VA in establishing comprehensive and documented processes that reflect system development and acquisition best practices, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Chief Information Officer to revise OI&T's documented processes related to project planning, to include (1) estimating the level of effort that will need to be expended for work products and tasks, and (2) making adjustments to the project plan to reconcile differences between estimated and available resources.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: VA concurred with our recommendation and stated that OI&T is documenting changes to processes related to project planning as it transitions from PMAS to the Veteran-Focused Integration Process (VIP). According to VA, the VIP processes will lead to better requirements elaboration and prioritization, increasing significantly the accuracy of estimates related to level of effort. Additionally, the department stated that by using short Agile sprints, the project team will be able adjust the project plan frequently to reconcile differences between estimated and available resources. As of July 2017, VA stated that all projects have transitioned to the VIP, which ensures they are incorporating the Agile methodology into the project lifecycle. According to the department, the latest version of its VIP Guide incorporates the use of daily scrum and weekly scrum of scrum meetings that can be used to frequently adjust the project plan to reconcile differences between estimated and available resources. VA stated that the project planning processes will continue to evolve beyond July and expects to complete its actions in response to this recommendation by the end of fiscal year 2017.
    Recommendation: To assist VA in establishing comprehensive and documented processes that reflect system development and acquisition best practices, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Chief Information Officer to revise OI&T's documented processes related to requirements management, to include identifying changes to be made to plans and work products as a result of requirements baseline changes.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: VA concurred with our recommendation and reported that OI&T is revising its documentation related to requirements management as part of the transition to the Veteran-Focused Integration Process (VIP). According to VA, requirements will be tracked using the IBM Rational Tools Suite, which will be able to provide a snapshot of the original baseline and all captured changes in the form of an audit trail that captures the history of requirement changes. As of July 2017, the department stated that all projects have transitioned to the VIP and requirements baselines and subsequent changes are tracked in the Rational Tools Suite. VA also reported that efforts in fiscal year 2017 to consolidate all mandatory architectural, design, and process methodologies into a single library of requirements were successful, which resulted in combining the full body of requirements. Additionally according to the department, versioning of the requirements will allow the office to trace specific versions of individual requirements and their evolution by time period and project inheritance. VA stated that it expects to complete its actions in response to this recommendation by the end of fiscal year 2017.
    Recommendation: To assist VA in establishing comprehensive and documented processes that reflect system development and acquisition best practices, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Chief Information Officer to revise OI&T's documented processes related to risk management, to include (1) determining costs and benefits of implementing the risk mitigation plan for each risk and (2) collecting performance measures on risk handling activities.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: VA concurred with our recommendation and reported that the IBM Rational Tools Suite will be used to manage risks and issues. According to VA, the tools suite will allow requirements to be linked to risks, which will provide traceability; teams will be able to track and report steps taken to mitigate risks; and an audit trail will show the history of changes made to each risk. The department also reported that the Office of Privacy and Risk will establish risk mitigation strategies for OI&T. As of July 2017, VA stated that risks data capture has been developed as a standardized process and that data on project and program risks in the Rational Tools Suite is aggregated and prepared for use to verify aggressive management, and will be included in enterprise reporting. The department stated that work is underway with the Performance Management Office and that OI&T expects to complete its actions in response to this recommendation by the end of fiscal year 2017.
    Recommendation: To assist VA in establishing comprehensive and documented processes that reflect system development and acquisition best practices, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Chief Information Officer to revise OI&T's documented processes related to project monitoring and control, to include the 10 best practices that were missing from the guidance.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: VA concurred with our recommendation and reported that implementation of the Veteran-Focused Integration Process (VIP) and Agile processes within OI&T will address eight of the ten best practices related to project monitoring and control that were missing from its guidance. In regard to monitoring the knowledge and skills of project staff, OI&T's IT Workforce Development (ITWD) group collects and analyzes competency assessment data, which is used in requirements gathering meetings with OI&T leaders. According to VA, during these meetings organizational needs and next steps are discussed in detail. Additionally, the department's latest version of its VIP Guide states that the product team should be cross-functional and include all skills needed to deliver a product. Further, the department reported that data management activities, issues, and impacts will be managed using VIP, Agile, and IBM Rational Tools Suite. According to its VIP Guide, OI&T expects that all products follow the Agile product management process and use the Rational Tools Suite to manage scheduled product sprints and backlog, product requirements, risks and issues, and product planning and engineering documentation, among others. Also, VA stated that Agile methodologies will require stakeholders to be involved in the daily scrum meetings, user acceptance testing, and acceptance of deliverables, which will address stakeholders being involved regularly and documenting the results of stakeholder involvement status reviews. According to the VIP Guide, the Agile development methodologies require development teams to meet often with stakeholders to ensure transparency and foster a collaborative work environment. Additionally, the department stated that critical decision events are using Rational based data assessments to report on level of satisfaction of project controls and process compliance requirements. Further, according to the VIP Guide, the Product Owner will have a key role in the decision-making process during the development of the product and will be able to regularly express concerns and/or approvals to best meet user satisfaction. The department stated that critical decision events are being held at the portfolio level, and action items from these events are being tracked. VA provided meeting minutes from critical decision events that were held in October and December 2016. The December 2016 meeting minutes identified action items and the status of those items. Although VA has taken actions to address the majority of best practices related to project monitoring and control, the department's new VIP process does not include two practices that call for (1) tracking expended effort and (2) monitoring the utilization of staff and resources. Until OI&T's documented processes for project monitoring and control fully reflect best practices, the office is at risk that its projects will not achieve expected results.
    Recommendation: To assist VA in establishing comprehensive and documented processes that reflect system development and acquisition best practices, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Chief Information Officer to revise OI&T's documented processes related to process and product quality assurance, to include (1) documenting a description of the quality assurance reporting chain and defining how objectivity will be ensured, and (2) periodically reviewing open noncompliance issues and trends with management that is designated to receive and act on them.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: VA concurred with our recommendation and reported that the implementation of the Veteran-Focused Integration Process (VIP), Agile processes, and the Rational Toolset within OI&T will address process and product quality assurance. According to VA, as a part of VIP, the Product Owner is engaged from intake through project completion, which will ensure that the quality of the product is maintained throughout the life cycle. Additionally the department reported that the process of periodically reviewing open non-compliance issues and trends with management that is designated to receive and act on them will be accomplished through CIOStat meetings held with OI&T senior leadership. VA also reported that the Rational Quality Manager tool is used to automate routine testing activities to identify non-compliance issues and trends. As of July 2017, the department stated that the Product Owner is beginning to have a stronger role on the project team, which enables them to assist in all types of issues, including quality assurance. VA also stated that Release Agents develop and distribute Release Readiness Reports, which provide a status of all release requirements and of traceability among requirements, deliverables, and test results. VA expects to complete its actions in response to this recommendation by the end of fiscal year 2017.
    Recommendation: To assist VA in establishing comprehensive and documented processes that reflect system development and acquisition best practices, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Chief Information Officer to revise OI&T's documented processes related to project scheduling, to include the 9 best practices that were missing from the guidance and revise the documented processes where the guidance was contrary to best practices.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: VA concurred with our recommendation and reported that the implementation of VIP and Agile processes within OI&T will address five of the nine best practices related to project scheduling that are missing from its guidance. According to VA, business and compliance requirements will be captured during the planning phase and maintained in the IBM Rational Tools Suite to manage scheduled project/product builds and backlog which will allow the project to more accurately maintain the schedule baseline, capture all schedule changes, and provides an audit trail of all the changes. Additionally, the department reported that the IBM Rational Tools Suite connects requirements, change orders, test cases, and test results in order to have full traceability in a closed loop system. VA also noted that the use of short development builds within Agile increases the probability of successful adherence to the schedule; and Agile provides the flexibility to make schedule changes using the backlog to prioritize requirements. As of July 2017, VA stated that Project Build Planning sessions capture and prioritize all backlog items with high level activities captured in the VIP Dashboard; and that each project task receives an estimated duration. The department also stated that the project team commits to a high level scope for each build and then the scope is solidified and committed to in detail at each Sprint Plan. According to VA, at the end of each sprint the Product Owner accepts or rejects the product of what was committed to at Sprint Planning. The department also stated that there is a high-level commitment at the Critical Decision 1 meeting; that each build gets committed to at a more granular level; and that sprint planning includes establishing a firm commitment for exactly what will be completed during the sprint. The department further stated that part of the Agile process being used by OI&T removes rigid, mandatory constraints as long as project teams follow compliance epics. Additionally, the department reported that because of the use of Agile methodology, if a task is critical today, the project team can reprioritize and address the needs of the project immediately. According to VA, Agile supports both sustainment and development projects, by allowing changes to the project backlog to address high priority functionality. VA also stated that Agile allows flexibility to shift from one build to another based on priorities and to shift backlog items based on VIP Triad priorities. Additionally, according to the department, risks are managed in the Rational Tools Suite and impediments are raised and escalated during daily scrums and scrum of scrum calls. The VIP Guide indicates that product teams are required to make timely updates to the VIP Dashboard regarding schedule and that the Rational Tools Suite will be used to manage and administer source control and baselines; manage risks and issues; and manage scheduled product sprints and backlogs. However, the VIP Guide does not include practices to (1) document that each project task should receive a duration estimate; (2)require that the project schedule be traceable horizontally and vertically; (3) sequence all activities; and (4) confirm that the critical path is valid. Until OI&T's documented processes for developing schedules fully reflect best practices, the office is at risk that schedules created for its projects will not be reliable.
    Director: Jennifer Grover
    Phone: (202) 512-7141

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better position the Coast Guard to effectively plan its Arctic operations, the Commandant of the Coast Guard should develop measures, as appropriate, for gauging how the agency's actions have helped to mitigate the Arctic capability gaps.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Coast Guard
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2016, we reviewed and reported on the U.S. Coast Guard's efforts in the Arctic. We found that the Coast Guard had taken actions to implement its Arctic strategy and conduct Arctic operations, which may help the Coast Guard to better understand and mitigate identified Arctic capability gaps. Further, we found that the Coast Guard was tracking, or had plans to track, its various activities in the Arctic, but that it had not developed measures to systematically assess how its actions have helped to mitigate Arctic capability gaps. We recommended that the Coast Guard develop measures, as appropriate, for gauging how the agency's actions have helped to mitigate the Arctic capability gaps. In response to our recommendation, in August 2016, the Coast Guard reported that specific measures for some activities would be developed and included as part of the Coast Guard's update to its implementation plan for its Arctic strategy. In March 2017, the Coast Guard reported that it completed an annual review of its implementation plan in January 2017. However, officials stated that technology updates and modifications to its tracking tool are required to better represent the completion percentage. To fully address this recommendation, the Coast Guard will need to finalize the development of its measures to gauge how its actions have helped to mitigate Arctic capability gaps.
    Recommendation: To better position the Coast Guard to effectively plan its Arctic operations, the Commandant of the Coast Guard should design and implement a process to systematically assess the extent to which actions taken agency-wide have helped mitigate the Arctic capability gaps for which it has responsibility.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Coast Guard
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2016, we reviewed and reported on the U.S. Coast Guard's efforts in the Arctic. We found that the Coast Guard had taken actions to implement its Arctic strategy and conduct Arctic operations, which may help the Coast Guard to better understand and mitigate identified Arctic capability gaps. Further, we found that the Coast Guard was tracking, or had plans to track, its various activities in the Arctic, but that it had not systematically assessed how its actions have helped to mitigate Arctic capability gaps. We recommended that the Coast Guard design and implement a process to systematically assess the extent to which actions taken agency-wide have helped mitigate the Arctic capability gaps for which it has responsibility, so that it will better understand the status of these gaps and be better positioned to effectively plan its Arctic operations. In August 2016, the Coast Guard reported that through its annual review of its implementation plan for its Arctic Strategy, that it will systematically assess how its actions have mitigated capability gaps for which it is the lead agency under the Implementation Framework for the National Strategy for the Arctic Region. In March 2017, the Coast Guard reported that it completed an annual review of its implementation plan in January 2017 which resulted in the consolidation, removal, and addition of Arctic initiatives. Further, officials stated that the Coast Guard will continue to work with the Arctic Executive Steering Committee to provide information for the tracking and measurement of national capabilities, needs and gaps, and impacts in the Arctic Region. To fully address this recommendation, the Coast Guard will need to assess how its actions have helped to mitigate Arctic capability gaps, and provide documentation that identifies the progress it has made in helping to mitigate Arctic capability gaps.
    Director: Michael J. Sullivan
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve DOD's use of portfolio management for its weapon system investments and ensure that its investment plans are affordable, strategy-driven, balance near- and long-term needs, and leverage efforts across the military services, as well as to provide a solid foundation for future portfolio management efforts at the enterprise-level, the Secretary of Defense should revise DOD Directive 7045.2 on Capability Portfolio Management in accordance with best practices and promote the development of better tools to enable more integrated portfolio reviews and analyses of weapon system investments. Key elements of this recommendation would include (1) designating the Deputy Secretary of Defense or some appropriate delegate responsibility for implementing the policy and overseeing portfolio management in DOD; (2) requiring annual enterprise-level portfolio reviews that incorporate key portfolio review elements, including information from the requirements, acquisition, and budget processes; (3) directing the Joint Staff, AT&L, and CAPE to collaborate on their data needs and develop a formal implementation plan for meeting those needs either by building on the database the Joint Staff is developing for its analysis or investing in new analytical tools; and (4) incorporating lessons learned from military service portfolio reviews and portfolio management activities, such as using multiple risk and funding scenarios to assess needs and re-evaluate priorities.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, the Department of Defense partially concurred with this recommendation and has taken steps to implement one part of it. In October 2016, the Joint Staff informed GAO that it was updating two of its databases on military capabilities and capability requirements to provide DOD with better analytical tools to support portfolio management. The Department of Defense has not taken any other actions to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve DOD's use of portfolio management for its weapon system investments and ensure that its investment plans are affordable, strategy-driven, balance near- and long-term needs, and leverage efforts across the military services, and to help ensure the military services' portfolio reviews are conducted regularly and effectively integrate information from the requirements, acquisition, and budget communities, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force to update or develop policies that require them to conduct annual portfolio reviews that incorporate key portfolio review elements, including information from the requirements, acquisition, and budget processes.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, DOD partially concurred with this recommendation but has not yet taken any actions necessary to implement it.
    Director: Sullivan, Michael J
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help improve DOD's milestone decision process, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics in collaboration with the military service acquisition executives, program executive officers, and program managers to, as a longer-term effort, select several current or new major defense acquisition programs to pilot, on a broader scale, different approaches for streamlining the entire milestone decision process, with the results evaluated and reported for potential wider use. The pilot programs should consider the following: (1) Defining the appropriate information needed to support milestone decisions while still ensuring program accountability and oversight. The information should be based on the business case principles needed for well-informed milestone decisions including well defined requirements, reasonable life-cycle cost estimates, and a knowledge-based acquisition plan. (2) Developing an efficient process for providing this information to the milestone decision authority by (a) minimizing any reviews between the program office and the different functional staff offices within each chain of command level and (b) establishing frequent, regular interaction between the program office and milestone decision makers, in lieu of documentation reviews, to help expedite the process.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Office of the Secretary of Defense issued a policy directive called Better Buying Power 3.0 in April 2015, which addresses this recommendation to pilot acquisition programs for streamlining. In September 2015, DOD designated one Navy program, the Next Generation Jammer, as a pilot program with streamlined oversight, processes, and documentation. The program manager believes that implementation of this model has allowed for more focus on improving program execution by significantly shortening decision cycle time and appropriately tailoring acquisition requirements. The Air Force and Army have not designated pilot programs at this time.
    Director: Cary Russell
    Phone: (202) 512-5431

    6 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To help DOD develop an affordable sustainment strategy for the F-35, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisitions, Technology and Logistics to direct the F-35 Program Executive Officer to establish affordability constraints linked to, and informed by, military service budgets that will help guide sustainment decisions, prioritize requirements, and identify additional areas for savings by March 2015, at which point the Future Support Construct decision will be approved.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: DOD concurred with our recommendation and stated in April 2017 that the F-35 Program Executive Officer and the F-35 enterprise have expanded their collaborative effort to reduce F-35 operating and support (O&S) costs to ensure that they deliver affordable readiness for the F-35 fleet. In an effort to reduce overall O&S costs, the department has undertaken several initiatives. For example, according to DOD, as of January 2017, a program office "cost war room" initiative had reduced the 2012 F-35 annual cost estimate by $60.7 billion. Additionally, according to DOD, a Reliability and Maintainability Improvement Program has resulted in a $1.7 billion O&S cost avoidance through the program's life cycle. Other efforts are also under way that aim to help reduce O&S costs by better informing sustainment decision-making. While the department is taking steps to try to reduce overall O&S costs, the program has yet to develop affordability constraints linked to the military services' budgets. Without affordability constraints that are linked to military service budgets, it remains unclear the extent to which the military services can afford to operate and sustain the F-35 throughout its life cycle as currently planned.
    Recommendation: To help DOD address key risks to F-35 affordability and operational readiness, and to improve the reliability of its O&S cost estimates for the life cycle of the program, the Secretary of Defense should direct the F-35 Program Executive Officer, to enable DOD to better identify, address, and mitigate performance issues with the Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) that could have an effect on affordability, as well as readiness, to establish a performance-measurement process for ALIS that includes, but is not limited to, performance metrics and targets that (1) are based on intended behavior of the system in actual operations and (2) tie system performance to user requirements.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to DOD officials, the ALIS Integrated Product Team (IPT) is continuing to work with the Joint Program Office's Performance Based Logistics (PBL) team to further develop and refine appropriate metrics for inclusion into future sustainment contracts. Although DOD has made progress in developing performance metrics for ALIS, as of September 2017, DOD has yet to develop metrics that are based on intended behavior of the system and tie system performance to user requirements. Until this progression is made, this recommendation will remain open.
    Recommendation: To help DOD address key risks to F-35 affordability and operational readiness, and to improve the reliability of its O&S cost estimates for the life cycle of the program, the Secretary of Defense should direct the F-35 Program Executive Officer, to develop a high level of confidence that the aircraft will achieve its R+M goals, to develop a software reliability and maintainability (R+M) assessment process, with metrics, by which the program can monitor and determine the effect that software issues may have on overall F-35 R+M issues.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD has an R&M assessment process in place, but as of September 2017, had not developed a process that would focus directly on software reliability and maintainability. Until DOD develops a process more focused on software and its effects on overall R&M issues, this recommendation will remain open.
    Recommendation: To help DOD address key risks to F-35 affordability and operational readiness, and to improve the reliability of its O&S cost estimates for the life cycle of the program, the Secretary of Defense should direct the F-35 Program Executive Officer, to promote competition, address affordability, and inform its overarching sustainment strategy, to develop a long-term Intellectual Property (IP) Strategy to include, but not be limited to, the identification of (1) current levels of technical data rights ownership by the federal government and (2) all critical technical data needs and their associated costs.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD has still not developed an overall strategy that would identify data rights ownership, needs, and costs. As of September 2017, the program had taken some steps to develop an Intellectual Property Strategy, but has not identified all critical needs and their associated costs. Program office officials said that they are currently working with the prime contractor to develop a list of technical data requirements. Until this strategy is developed, this recommendation will remain open.
    Recommendation: To help DOD address key risks to F-35 affordability and operational readiness, and to improve the reliability of its O&S cost estimates for the life cycle of the program, the Secretary of Defense should direct the F-35 Program Executive Officer, to understand the potential range of costs associated with the JPO F-35 O&S cost estimate, to conduct uncertainty analyses on future JPO estimates.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of September 2017, DOD had not applied risk/uncertainty analyses to its cost estimates. Until it does so, this recommendation will remain open.
    Recommendation: To improve the reliability of the CAPE F-35 O&S cost estimate, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Director of CAPE, for future F-35 O&S cost estimates, to conduct uncertainty analyses to understand the potential range of costs associated with its estimates to reflect the most likely costs associated with the program.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to DOD officials, the Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE) has not updated its F-35 estimate subsequent to the release of GAO-14-778. Pending a major program change, CAPE will update the F-35 O&S estimate for the full-rate production decision point in the second quarter of fiscal year 2019. Until CAPE updates its F-35 estimate, we will not be able to determine if they will perform any uncertainty analyses on its cost estimate; therefore, this recommendation will remain open as of September 1, 2017.
    Director: Michele Mackin
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that it receives accurate information on the full effect of funding decisions on acquisition programs, Congress should consider amending the law that governs the 5-year Capital Investment Plan to require the Coast Guard to submit cost and schedule information that reflects the impact of the annual President's budget request on each acquisition across the portfolio--in addition to the current practice of reporting the cost and schedule estimates in current program baselines.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: Thus far no congressional action has been taken on this Matter. We will continue to follow up with relevant congressional committees.
    Recommendation: To help the Coast Guard improve the long-term outlook of its portfolio, the Commandant of the Coast Guard should develop a 20-year fleet modernization plan that identifies all acquisitions needed to maintain the current level of service and the fiscal resources necessary to build the identified assets. The plan should also consider trade-offs if the fiscal resources needed to execute the plan are not consistent with annual budgets.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Coast Guard
    Status: Open

    Comments: Based on this recommendation, Congress has requested that the Coast Guard develop a 20-year plan that identifies all acquisitions needed to maintain the Coast Guard's current level of service and the financial commitment necessary to achieve this plan. As a part of a series of testimonies in June and July 2017, we found that Coast Guard officials stated they are developing a 20-year Capital Investment Plan (CIP), but the timeframe for completion is unknown. The Coast Guard does, however, submit a 5-year CIP annually to Congress that projects acquisition funding needs for the upcoming 5 years. GAO found the CIPs do not match budget realities in that tradeoffs are not included. In the 20-year CIP, GAO would expect to see all acquisitions needed to maintain current service levels and the fiscal resources to build the identified assets as well as tradeoffs in light of funding constraints.
    Director: Sullivan, Michael J
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve tracking and reporting of technology transition outcomes for SBIR projects, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Office of Small Business Programs to establish a common definition of technology transition for all SBIR projects to support annual reporting requirements.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) officials stated they have come up with a standard definition of technology transition as the production and delivery (whether by the originating party or by others) of products, processes, technologies, or services for sale to or use by the Federal Government or a Contractor in support of a Government requirement. Despite repeated attempted at obtaining documentary evidence of this action, we have not received any response from DOD and until documentation is provided this recommendation will remain open.
    Director: Sullivan, Michael J
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve visibility and management of the department's efforts to transition technologies to support the needs of the warfighter, the Secretary of Defense should require that all technology transition programs track and measure project outcomes, to include not only whether technologies transitioned to an intended user but also the longer-term impact of whether the technologies benefitted acquisition programs or military users in the field.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In commenting on GAO's recommendation, DOD indicated it would continue to anecdotally measure the results of technology investments for 3, 5, or even 10 years after investment and highlight the long-term benefits, as needed, to validate the investment levels associated with the research and development programs. However, the department did not plan to formally require its technology transition programs to track and measure project outcomes, noting concern that tracking and measuring outcomes for hundreds of technology projects would be a labor-intensive and very time-consuming process. DOD's own tracking of its response to this recommendation indicates no planned action and considers the recommendation closed. Nevertheless, GAO continues to monitor the department's activities related to technology transition, as several ongoing DOD efforts may eventually sufficiently address the intent of this recommendation. For example, DOD continues to pursue improvement to technology transition as part of its Better Buying Power 3.0 initiative. This includes a best practices handbook that is expected to address ways to increase collaboration between DOD and commercial industry and, among other things, support technology transition. In August 2017, the Defense Laboratory Office within the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering confirmed that the handbook, which was stated in summer 2016 to be nearly finalized, stalled out in its completion for an unknown reason and remains on hold. Interest remains in completing it but no definitive plans exist for when that may occur. We will continue to monitor DOD's efforts to track and measure technology transition outcomes, particularly as they relate to completing the handbook, as previous indications were that the handbook could potentially fulfill the intent of our recommendation.
    Director: Chaplain, Cristina T
    Phone: (202)512-3000

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To strengthen its baselines, facilitate external and independent reviews of those baselines, ensure effective oversight of the BMDS, and further improve transparency and accountability of its efforts, and to improve clarity, consistency, and completeness of the baselines reported to Congress, the Secretary of Defense should ensure that MDA, for resource baselines, obtain independent cost estimates for each baseline.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on our report, the agency concurred with this recommendation but has not yet taken all actions necessary to implement it. Although the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) has received independent cost estimates from its internal independent cost group for some programs and components that support the baselines provided in MDA's Ballistic Missile Defense System Accountability Report (BAR), MDA officials told us they have not yet completed independent estimates for all the BAR baselines. In addition, the independent estimates will not have full lifecycle costs which will hamper their effectiveness. We will continue to monitor MDA's progress over the course of our next annual review.
    Recommendation: To strengthen its baselines, facilitate external and independent reviews of those baselines, ensure effective oversight of the BMDS, and further improve transparency and accountability of its efforts, and to improve clarity, consistency, and completeness of the baselines reported to Congress, the Secretary of Defense should ensure that MDA, for schedule baselines, in meeting new statutory requirements to report variances between reported acquisition baselines, also report variances between the test plan as presented in the previous acquisition baseline and the test plan as executed that explain the reason for any changes.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, the Department of Defense concurred with our recommendation and has taken initial steps to report the test variances, by laying out the dates of the proposed changes. However, the variances do not include all changes to test objectives, detail when tests are deleted, nor when the altered objectives will be satisfied. MDA has initiated an effort with DOT&E and the OTA to track the movement of test objectives, however these changes are not reported and are only used internally. In addition, MDA utilizes a "mid-year" test change memorandum. The change explains the difference from the prior master test plan, but is not reported. Thus, changes that are included in the mid-year memorandum can not be tracked if one only receives the annual test plan. We will continue to monitor MDA's progress in fiscal year 2017 and determine whether MDA lays out the changes in its upcoming integrated master test plan.
    Director: Chaplain, Cristina T
    Phone: (202)512-3000

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct MDA to ensure that developmental hardware and software changes are not made to the operational baseline that disrupt the assessments needed to understand the capabilities and limitations of new BMDS developments.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, the agency concurred with this recommendation. In the June 2010 Ballistic Missile Defense System Accountability Report (BAR), Missile Defense Agency (MDA) provided some operational baselines and continues to do so annually. Nonetheless, configuration changes continue to pose challenges to a thorough assessment of the BMDS architecture. For example, the Director, Operational Test and Evaluation stated that the many configurations of the fielded ground-based interceptor inhibits a full evaluation of the GMD program. Moreover, some changes to BMDS elements are still delivered while testing of the architecture is already underway. We will continue to assess whether MDA fully adopts an approach allowing time for the warfighter and testers to fully understand hardware and software before placing it in the operational baseline.