Major Acquisitions:

Summary of Recurring Problems and Systemic Issues--1960-1987

NSIAD-88-135BR: Published: Sep 13, 1988. Publicly Released: Oct 17, 1988.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Defense's (DOD) weapon acquisitions to determine whether problems in acquiring defense weapon systems were different than in the past.

GAO found that: (1) weapons systems have experienced the same systemic problems and affordability issues since the 1960s; (2) external influences that affected major weapons systems included preprogram decisions, instability in upper management's commitment to weapons requirements, insufficient funding, and inappropriate external management direction; (3) program managers' premature commitment to unproven designs led to cost growth, performance pitfalls, and schedule slippages; (4) although the 1980 systems experienced lower cost growth and schedule slippage rates, the systems were in an acquisition cycle where significant cost growth and slippages historically occurred; and (5) legislative reforms have focused on changing the requirements process to produce less systems starts, changing weapons programs management through milestone budgeting and baselining, and using multiyear contracting and existing commercial products more frequently.

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