Acquisition Reform:

DOD's Efforts to Streamline Its Acquisition System and Reduce Personnel

NSIAD-90-21: Published: Nov 1, 1989. Publicly Released: Nov 29, 1989.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Defense's (DOD) efforts to implement the Packard Commission's recommendations for streamlining defense acquisition organizations, focusing on: (1) a comparison of the services' current acquisition organizations; (2) whether the services achieved the Commission's streamlining objectives, particularly in reducing acquisition personnel; and (3) actions needed to accomplish the streamlining objectives.

GAO found that: (1) the Secretary of Defense did not clearly delegate the authority to supervise the entire acquisition system, resulting in fragmented acquisition policy-making; (2) each service created an acquisition chain in addition to its existing command chain, but none of the services incorporated all of the recommended characteristics or achieved the recommended objectives; (3) although the Army created a separate acquisition chain, program officials depended on the command chain to provide the resources to execute acquisition management decisions; (4) the Navy and Air Force assigned acquisition titles to existing positions with little or no change in responsibility or authority; (5) impediments to full implementation included disagreement with the Commission's belief that private-sector-style management could apply to defense management, DOD management failure to accept reform, the services' efforts to minimize any disruption to their existing command chains, and two Army and Air Force commands' retention of acquisition management within their respective services; and (6) DOD recently designated a single civilian official as the service acquisition executive for each service, required that funding and personnel authorizations have separate administrative authority, and required that the services' systems and materiel commands provide logistical support to the acquisition officials without duplicating any management functions.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Defense Management Report contained initiatives to fully streamline the managing and reporting structure for major weapons acquisition. These initiatives have been implemented by the services.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should, in reviewing the services' planned changes, ensure that plans for separating management of major acquisition programs from non-major programs will result in streamlining rather than expanding the acquisition organization.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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