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GAO Issues New Best Practices Guide to Curb Technology Problems in Government Projects

WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 7, 2020) — The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) today issued a new technology readiness assessment guide — the third in its Best Practices Guide series — to help ensure that cutting-edge technologies used in major government projects, including weapon systems, satellites, nuclear plants, and homeland security systems, are up to the job and can be deployed with a minimum of risk.  Through its decades of oversight work on science and technology programs and projects, GAO has identified inadequately developed technologies as a source of significant delays, cost overruns, and gaps in performance.

“GAO’s new technology readiness assessment guide will assist professionals working on government projects — from program managers and system engineers to auditors — to evaluate whether a given technology is mature enough to be used confidently in a new product or system,” said Gene L. Dodaro, Comptroller General of the United States and the head of the GAO. “We believe that our guide has great potential to help the government avoid the serious technology and management problems that have plagued some of its most expensive acquisitions in the past.”

GAO’s guide establishes a methodology for evaluating technology maturity based on best practices that can be used across the federal government. That methodology can be applied across acquisition projects of all sizes. It presents a number of case studies drawn from GAO reviews and outlines a five-step process for developing and producing high-quality technology readiness assessments. 

The Guide is part of a lengthy exposure process, during which GAO consulted outside experts in academia and the private sector, and took comments on an exposure draft prior to this guide being issued.

In the guide, GAO also outlines a roadmap for preparing technology maturation plans, assessing software, and enhancing technology assessments. The Technology Readiness Assessment Guide is available free of charge on GAO’s website.  The new guide is a companion to two other GAO publications used by federal managers: the Cost Estimating and Assessment Guide and the Schedule Assessment Guide.

For more information, contact Chuck Young, Managing Director of Public Affairs, at 202-512-4800.


The Government Accountability Office, known as the investigative arm of Congress, is an independent, nonpartisan agency that exists to support Congress in meeting its constitutional responsibilities. GAO also works to improve the performance of the federal government and ensure its accountability to the American people. The agency examines the use of public funds; evaluates federal programs and policies; and provides analyses, recommendations, and other assistance to help Congress make informed oversight, policy, and funding decisions. GAO provides Congress with timely information that is objective, fact-based, nonideological, fair, and balanced. GAO’s commitment to good government is reflected in its core values of accountability, integrity, and reliability.

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