Acquisition Reform:

Role of Test and Evaluation in System Acquisition Should Not Be Weakened

T-NSIAD-94-124: Published: Mar 22, 1994. Publicly Released: Mar 22, 1994.

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GAO discussed current and proposed legislation affecting the test and evaluation (T&E) of defense systems. GAO noted that: (1) it generally supports most of the acquisition reform proposals, but most of the T&E reforms should not be enacted because they address perceived rather than actual problems and undermine a key management control over the Department of Defense's (DOD) acquisition process; (2) independent operational T&E is the most realistic way to determine if new defense systems meet performance requirements, but systems developers resent the delays and expense imposed by testing; (3) the T&E reform proposals support DOD use of low-rate initial production despite possible system deficiencies; (4) the T&E reform proposals decrease the priority of T&E in defense systems procurements; (5) many of the systems that DOD allowed to go into production before operational T&E required costly design changes and retrofits; (6) DOD needs to establish controls over low-rate initial production to prevent premature production; (7) acquisition reform legislation should apply to all systems acquisitions; (8) DOD should limit its commitments to defense systems until developers demonstrate that the systems meet performance requirements; and (9) any changes to current T&E legislation would weaken the primary mechanism used to discipline the DOD acquisition process.

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