Defense Acquisition Infrastructure:

Changes in RDT&E Laboratories and Centers

NSIAD-96-221BR: Published: Sep 13, 1996. Publicly Released: Oct 15, 1996.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Defense's (DOD) research, development, test, and evaluation (RDT&E) infrastructure, focusing on: (1) actions DOD took to implement previous recommendations made about its infrastructure; and (2) RDT&E infrastructure funding, workforce composition, and operating costs.

GAO found that: (1) studies of DOD's laboratories and centers have reported excess capacity, but generally have made recommendations focusing on management efficiencies rather than infrastructure reductions; (2) despite four base realignment and closure (BRAC) rounds, reductions in DOD's infrastructure have not kept pace with reductions in funding, personnel, and force structure levels; (3) according to DOD officials, after all current BRAC actions have been completed, DOD's laboratory infrastructure still will have an excess capacity of approximately 35 percent; (4) officials believe that DOD lost opportunities in the BRAC 1995 process to reduce laboratory infrastructure by splitting the analysis of research and development (R&D) laboratories and test and evaluation (T&E) centers and because each service tried to protect its own facilities instead of adopting cross-service efficiencies; (5) in contrast to reductions in DOD's overall operations and maintenance, procurement, and RDT&E funding since FY 1990, the same accounts have been rising for its laboratories and centers; (6) limitations in the data available make it difficult for DOD to analyze fully trends in DOD's R&D laboratory and T&E center infrastructure, since: (a) each service has its own distinct laboratory and center organizational structure; (b) a significant discrepancy in data available about the laboratory workforce prevents an analysis of trends in workforce composition; (c) because each service has its own financial system to support unique organizational structures, management approaches, and cultures, DOD has multiple systems reporting disparate elements; and (d) as a result of these factors, DOD is unable to determine the true cost of operating its laboratory and center infrastructure; (7) as part of an ongoing study of successful RDT&E infrastructure consolidations, GAO is reviewing laboratory and center reductions undertaken by the United Kingdom and private industry in the United States; and (8) British government officials and private industry representatives said that to consolidate their RDT&E infrastructure, they needed: (a) clearly defined, comparable terms for RDT&E organizations and their infrastructure elements; (b) accurate, reliable, and comparable financial data; and (c) accurate and reliable data about the composition of the workforce.

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