Automated Information Systems:

Defense's Oversight Process Should Be Improved

IMTEC-90-36: Published: Apr 16, 1990. Publicly Released: Apr 27, 1990.

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Samuel W. Bowlin
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Office of the Secretary of Defense's (OSD) oversight of major automated information system development.

GAO found that: (1) OSD did not effectively enforce established policies for controlling the acquisition of major automated information systems; (2) significant cost growth and schedule delays were generally due to weaknesses in executing life-cycle management policies, program management decisions, and service oversight; (3) although each service implemented an oversight process, deficiencies persisted in system development, including noncompliance with life-cycle management policies and procedures, unjustified costs and benefits, inadequate analysis of potential risks, ineffective program management, and incomplete system design; and (4) OSD allowed system development efforts to continue despite development problems.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Department of Defense (DOD) has strengthened its oversight process through reorganization.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should be more rigorous in enforcing policies for controlling the acquisition of major automated information systems.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD agreed in principle on compliance with policy. DOD also believes that the committee acts aggressively when committee reviews indicate action is warranted. DOD feels that, as a senior decision body, MAISRC must retain the authority to make judgements and take appropriate actions dependent upon program specifics and long-term effects.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should make greater use of the authority to redirect or terminate system development efforts when the results of Major Automated Information System Review Committee (MAISRC) reviews indicate that such action is warranted. To accomplish this, the Secretary should direct MAISRC to: (1) withhold milestone approval authority and prohibit further development when the services submit a system for review that does not comply with Defense policies; and (2) ensure that its decisions are reflected in the services' budgets.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD has strengthened the oversight process through review and reorganization.

    Recommendation: In order to achieve a long-term solution to the problem of noncompliance, the Secretary of Defense should direct MAISRC to implement a separate procedure to periodically assess the adequacy of the services' oversight processes, and recommend corrective action when it determines that the processes are deficient.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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