Weapons Acquisition:

Processes of Selected Foreign Governments

NSIAD-86-51FS: Published: Feb 26, 1986. Publicly Released: Feb 26, 1986.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the processes that France, the United Kingdom, West Germany, Israel, and the Soviet Union use to acquire weapon systems.

GAO found that, in the four countries visited: (1) the Ministries of Defense have a separate directorate or agency responsible for the entire procurement function for all new weapon system acquisitions although the military services play a role in the acquisition process; (2) each country follows roughly the same general acquisition phases for its major weapons systems; (3) each country conducts two major types of tests, developmental and operational; (4) the United States, the United Kingdom, and Israel generally use a specific monetary level to designate a major weapon system, but France and West Germany use more general criteria; (5) the extent of ownership or control over the defense industrial base varies; and (6) each country's legislature exercises varying degrees of oversight of the defense budget and most major acquisition programs. The Soviet Union offered the most contrast because it has a planned command economy which is hierarchically organized with a single political party. In general, the Soviet Union prefers: (1) modest technology advances; (2) low cost; (3) weapons in quantity; (4) disciplined system acquisition; (5) conservative design; and (6) extensive operational testing. However, even with this data, it would be difficult to compare the efficiency of the other countries' acquisition processes to the United States' because of fundamental political, cultural, and economic differences. Significant variations make it difficult to determine if the United States should adopt any of the acquisition practices of the other countries.

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