DOD's Defense Acquisition Improvement Program: A Status Report

NSIAD-86-148: Published: Jul 23, 1986. Publicly Released: Aug 22, 1986.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Defense's (DOD) implementation of the Defense Acquisition Improvement Program to provide an overview of the status and results DOD has achieved since it focused high-level management attention on program initiatives.

GAO found that, although the initiatives have not fully achieved the intended results, there have been improvements in the acquisition process. DOD has claimed cost savings resulting from the implementation of several initiatives; however, its techniques for estimating savings are sometimes faulty and can lead to inconsistencies in benefits and cost information reporting. Although schedule slippages have become smaller in recent years, slippages continue to occur as systems proceed through full-scale development. DOD has focused on revising its acquisition policies to give weapons support considerations equal priority and to ensure that accelerated weapons acquisition strategies place emphasis on design requirements for reliability and supportability. Although DOD has enhanced the defense industrial base, GAO could not link improvements in the base to the industrial base initiative under the acquisition improvement program, and the initiative's effect has been minimal. Since most cost growth occurs after full-scale development, it is too early to assess the long-term impact that DOD improvements have made on the systems after it began the improvement program. DOD has made little progress in stabilizing weapons acquisition programs because of its inability to propose realistic and affordable defense programs and budgets to Congress for development and procurement.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD is continuing to address key initiatives and certain others were addressed in implementing the Packard Commission recommendations. It is still too early to assess any impact of the DOD actions.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should identify those specific initiatives which have the greatest potential and continue focusing top-level management attention on implementing these initiatives.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD addressed this recommendation as part of its implementation of the Packard Commission recommendations. It is still too early to assess the impact of DOD actions.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should include among these initiatives a DOD commitment to stabilize and improve the acquisition process by: (1) budgeting more realistically; (2) limiting the number of new program starts; and (3) eliminating marginal programs when necessary to fund other programs more efficiently.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Specific additional action, if any, will be determined by the new Defense Acquisition Executive.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should establish reporting mechanisms which will enable the Office of the Secretary of Defense to analyze, in a timely manner, the progress made in accomplishing the specific actions to improve the acquisition process so that corrective actions can be taken when necessary.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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