DOD Business Systems Modernization:

Additional Action Needed to Achieve Intended Outcomes

GAO-15-627: Published: Jul 16, 2015. Publicly Released: Jul 16, 2015.

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Carol R. Cha
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What GAO Found

The Department of Defense (DOD) has implemented 5 of the 16 recommendations made by GAO since June 2011 to address each of the overarching provisions for improving business systems management in the Ronald W. Reagan National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2005 , as amended (NDAA) (10 U.S.C. § 2222) (see table). For example, it has implemented the recommendation to improve the data available for its business systems by making improvements to its repositories used for tracking information about the systems. Based on GAO's analysis, the department has partially implemented the remaining 11 recommendations. Implementing all recommended actions will improve DOD's modernization management controls and help fulfill the department's execution of the act's requirements.

Status of DOD's Implementation of Prior Recommendations Associated with the Fiscal Year 2005 NDAA, as Amended, as of April 2015

NDAA Provision


Partially Implemented


Business Enterprise Architecture




Enterprise Transition Plan




Investment Management




Investment Certification and Approval




Mandated Budgetary Reporting




Other (Human Capital)








Source: GAO analysis of DOD documentation. | GAO-15-627.

DOD's business enterprise architecture and process reengineering efforts are not fully achieving the intended outcomes described in statute. More specifically, portfolio managers reported through GAO's survey that the architecture was not effective in constraining system investments or enabling DOD to produce reliable and timely information for decision-making purposes, among other things. As a result, the architecture has produced limited value. Portfolio managers reported that the department's business process reengineering efforts were moderately effective in streamlining business processes, but much less so in limiting the tailoring of commercial off-the-shelf systems. They also reported that these efforts have been useful in realizing selected benefits, such as improved documentation of business needs.

Managers GAO surveyed reported various challenges that impede the department's ability to fully achieve intended outcomes, such as cultural resistance to change and the lack of skilled staff. The department has work under way to address some of these challenges; however, gaps exist and the portfolio managers provided suggestions on how to close some of them. More fully addressing the challenges cited by the portfolio managers would help the department achieve better outcomes, including greater operational efficiencies and cost savings.

Why GAO Did This Study

GAO designated DOD's multibillion dollar business systems modernization program as high risk in 1995, and since then has provided a series of recommendations aimed at strengthening its institutional approach to modernizing its business systems investments. Section 332 of the NDAA for fiscal year 2005, as amended, requires the department to take specific actions consistent with GAO's prior recommendations and included a provision for GAO to review DOD's efforts. In addition, the Senate Armed Services Committee Report for the NDAA for fiscal year 2015 included a provision for GAO to evaluate the usefulness and effectiveness of DOD's business enterprise architecture and business process reengineering processes. This report addresses both of those provisions.

In evaluating the department's compliance, GAO analyzed DOD's efforts to address open recommendations made in previous reviews. To evaluate the usefulness and effectiveness of the department's business enterprise architecture and business process reengineering processes, GAO surveyed the military department portfolio managers (24 in total) and interviewed officials. The response rate for the survey was 100 percent, making the results of the survey generalizable.

What GAO Recommends

GAO recommends that DOD utilize the results of the survey to determine additional actions that can improve management of its business process reengineering and enterprise architecture activities. DOD concurred with the recommendation.

For more information, contact Carol R. Cha at (202) 512-4456 or

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Open

    Comments: DOD has made progress implementing the recommendation. Specifically, in January 2017, the department issued a business enterprise architecture improvement plan. The plan was intended to address business enterprise architecture usability and deficiencies in information supporting the investment management process. As part of its planning efforts, the department identified opportunities to address the results of our survey. For example, according to the plan, our survey results were used to identify opportunities for improving management and integration of existing enterprise business processes and investments; assessing duplication early in the analysis phase and finding process and capability reuse across the department; and providing a federated business enterprise architecture information environment and capabilities to discover and exchange information from other sources. The plan included delivering three major capabilities. In October 2019, the office of the Chief Management Officer (CMO) demonstrated its new capabilities to GAO. Further, in October 2019, staff within the office of the CMO were working to move the capabilities to a government-approved host environment, although the office had not yet finalized its plan to do so. As of November 2019, the department had not yet deployed the capabilities.

    Recommendation: To help ensure that the department can better achieve business process reengineering and enterprise architecture outcomes and benefits, the Secretary of Defense should utilize the results of our portfolio manager survey to determine additional actions that can improve the department's management of its business process reengineering and enterprise architecture activities.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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