Defense Organization:

Advantages and Disadvantages of a Centralized Civilian Acquisition Agency

NSIAD-87-36: Published: Nov 7, 1986. Publicly Released: Nov 7, 1986.

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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO: (1) reviewed reports and studies of the organizational structure for defense procurement; and (2) identified the potential advantages and disadvantages of establishing a centralized civilian procurement agency, either within or outside of the Department of Defense (DOD).

GAO found that the establishment of a centralized agency would: (1) reduce service parochialism, thereby encouraging more joint system development; (2) improve the quality and continuity of the acquisition work force; and (3) reduce the acquisition work force and administrative burden by consolidating duplicative functions. However, such an agency might not: (1) solve acquisition problems that are not organization-related; (2) be able to draw sufficiently from the military services' operational expertise; or (3) be manageable, because it would be very large. GAO also noted that: (1) very few studies or analyses have addressed the concept of a centralized civilian acquisition agency; (2) DOD is currently implementing some less-radical organizational changes designed to improve acquisition; (3) a detailed requirements analysis should precede any major change to the procurement system; (4) DOD could better solve some problems without organizational restructuring; and (5) many believe that any centralized acquisition agency should be placed within DOD, to allow the Secretary of Defense to retain control over, and accountability for, defense resources.

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