Objectivity of the Defense Science Board's Task Force on Embedded Computer Resources Acquisition and Management

FPCD-82-55: Published: Jul 22, 1982. Publicly Released: Jul 23, 1982.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the operations of the Defense Science Board and the objectivity of the Board's Task Force on Embedded Computer Resources Acquisition and Management.

DSB convened the Task Force to review the Department of Defense (DOD) acquisition, management, and utilization of computers to support its military mission. In a prior report, GAO stated that the validity of a proposed DOD Instruction on computer standardization was questionable. The objectives of the Instruction are to curtail the high costs of hardware and software proliferation and to increase the effectiveness of embedded computer management. Although the Instruction has not been formally adopted, DOD has been using its principles and policies since 1978. More than 25 firms have contracts that are aligned to some degree with the standardization policy. GAO believes that DOD did not take adequate steps to assure that the Task Force membership was balanced in terms of perspective and expertise. Task Force members generally came from consulting firms or military-oriented computer firms currently under contract to the military services. GAO found that 7 of the 11 Task Force members have financial interests in one or more of the firms that have standardization contracts under Army, Navy, or Air Force programs. DOD narrowly applied the criteria for identifying potential conflicts of interest and did not review, approve, and certify all financial disclosure forms in a timely manner. Furthermore, DOD did not seriously consider the conflict-of-interest issues raised by the members' financial interests. GAO believes that the divergence of opinions on the Instruction were significant enough that DOD should have assured that all perspectives were adequately considered.

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