Major System Acquisition Management in the Department of Justice

GGD-82-18: Published: Dec 29, 1981. Publicly Released: Dec 29, 1981.

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GAO reviewed the Department of Justice's progress in implementing Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-109 to manage major system acquisitions. Circular A-109 supplies a framework of flexible management policies that can be applied to all systems, ranging from defense weapons to electronic data processing. Under the guidelines of A-109, each agency must: (1) define the need in terms of its mission; (2) reconcile needs and goals with agency capabilities; (3) evaluate industry's competitive efforts to develop alternative designs; and (4) choose the best alternative on the basis of demonstrated performance and price commitments. Emphasis is on mission-oriented planning, high visibility, strong program management, and reliance on private industry for alternative system designs.

GAO found that Justice has not established an adequate foundation for implementing Circular A-109. Justice has not issued an implementing directive, provided any training, or designated any programs as major system acquisitions. A directive implementing Circular A-109 in Justice is needed. In addition, the responsibility for implementing and monitoring A-109 is not clearly placed within Justice. This responsibility should lie within an office which deals with planning and policy. The acquisition executive should make sure that the delegated responsibility is clear and is focused on an individual office which has Justice-wide oversight of planned major system acquisitions. Justice has not designated any acquisition programs as A-109 programs. However, most electronic data processing programs meet the cost criterion to be so designated. GAO believes that more effort is needed to identify potential major system acquisition programs.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Justice Management Division has been tasked with responsibility for A-109 procurements and heads of procurement activities are responsible for A-109 activities at the six independent Justice components.

    Recommendation: The Assistant Attorney General for Administration should place the responsibility for implementing and monitoring A-109 in an appropriate office in the Justice Management Division and designate a focal point of responsibility for monitoring A-109 implementation in each of the larger organizational components.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Guidelines are written, and although not officially issued, are being followed for current A-109 procurements.

    Recommendation: The Assistant Attorney General for Administration should issue a department-wide directive covering policies, procedures, and guidelines to be followed in A-109 implementation.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FIA and the Justice Management Division provide training in A-109 activities. This training will be modified as OMB alters the current A-109 circular in 1985.

    Recommendation: The Assistant Attorney General for Administration should provide training in major system acquisition management through either Department of Justice training programs or Federal Acquisition Institute programs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice


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