Last week, we issued our annual review of the Department of Defense’s (DOD) major weapon programs. This review assessed 78 programs that will cost a combined $1.4 trillion to acquire. Read on for highlights of our latest DOD “Quick Look” report. Lower Costs, Continued Risks The total estimated cost of DOD’s major weapons acquisition programs decreased over the past year, putting it at the lowest level of spending in a decade. Costs for the 78 programs we assessed decreased by $7.6 billion over the past year, partially as a result of DOD ordering fewer Littoral Combat Ships and shrinking a communications program, the Warfighter Information Network—Tactical Increment 3. Although overall costs are down, the 78 programs collectively lost $2.2 billion* in buying power, meaning that they must spend more money to buy the same materials and equipment (or less) than originally planned. DOD’s defense acquisition programs continue to be risky, as they do not always incorporate all of our acquisition best practices. In our latest report, we found that
- all 6 of the programs that started developing systems in the past year neglected to fully follow best practices for product development;
- 2 other programs progressed through a critical design review step without completing all best practices; and
- 3 programs delayed production, and had not fully followed best practices at earlier stages.
(Excerpted from GAO-15-342SP)Still, DOD continues to accept risks by allowing programs to
- waive important certifications when they start developing systems, or
- begin production before completing developmental testing.