A Critique of the Performance of the Defense Systems Acquisition Review Council:

Billions in Public Funds Involved

PSAD-78-14: Published: Jan 30, 1978. Publicly Released: Jan 30, 1978.

Additional Materials:


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

The Defense Systems Acquisition Review Council (DSARC) advises the Secretary of Defense on the acquisition of major defense systems, reviews the status of individual programs, and formulates recommendations to the Secretary of Defense. It has conducted over 178 reviews since it began in 1969, and some programs have required successive reviews.

Major changes in the management of weapon systems were recently introduced following criticism by the services of excessive program direction and micromanagement by the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD). These changes mean that future reviews of program progress for many weapon systems will be conducted by the military services and that OSD staffs will have a more limited role. Many claims of interference in program management stem from efforts of OSD to obtain the needed information for making meaningful reviews and recommendations. Program managers are responsible for expenditures involving billions of dollars, and a review of their actions is essential. Overall needs of DOD require coordination and control. There have been some problems in implementing the DSARC process, some aggrevated by rapid turnover of key personnel. Delegation of reviews to the services could be effective if the OSD maintained its capability of acquiring data, continued its participation in programs, and had final authority for major decisions.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should: expedite identification and description of all mission areas and define each service's responsibility for each mission; require the services to justify each new, planned major weapon system; reevaluate the new service review procedures instituted in January 1977 to insure OSD staff adequate participation; retain the requirement for his staff to prepare independent program evaluations and cost estimates before each decision point; and undertake a review of administrative practices in weapon system acquisition management.

    Agency Affected:


Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Mar 13, 2018

Feb 28, 2018

Feb 16, 2018

Feb 15, 2018

Feb 6, 2018

Jan 31, 2018

Jan 18, 2018

Jan 10, 2018

Looking for more? Browse all our products here