Defense Acquisition:

Best Commercial Practices Can Improve Program Outcomes

T-NSIAD-99-116: Published: Mar 17, 1999. Publicly Released: Mar 17, 1999.

Additional Materials:


Louis J. Rodrigues
(202) 512-4841


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the best practices that can improve the way the Department of Defense (DOD) buys major weapon systems.

GAO noted that: (1) on the basis of the work GAO has done over the past 3 years, GAO believes the best practices of leading commercial firms can be used to improve the development of technology and weapon systems in DOD; (2) knowledge standards that are rigorously applied, coupled with the practice of keeping technology development separate from product development, stand out as key factors in the most successful commercial examples; (3) these practices have put managers in the best position to succeed in developing better products in less time and producing them within estimated costs; (4) DOD programs, with some exceptions, proceed with lower levels of knowledge available about key factors of product development; (5) DOD allows technology development to take place during product development; (6) these practices put DOD program managers in a much more difficult position to deliver better weapons more quickly and within cost projections; (7) getting better outcomes on weapon systems programs will take more than attempting to graft commercial best practices onto the existing acquisition process; (8) there are underlying reasons and incentives for why such practices are not a natural part of how weapon systems are bought; (9) environmental factors encourage lower standards of knowledge and the acceptance of higher, but unrecognized, risks; (10) what GAO offers to help the adoption of best practices is not a cookbook recipe, but a series of actions aimed at fostering an environment in DOD that encourages or rewards such practices; and (11) these actions will put managers of DOD programs in a better position to succeed, for GAO believes they are as informed and capable as their commercial counterparts.

Oct 21, 2020

Oct 7, 2020

Oct 1, 2020

Sep 23, 2020

Aug 20, 2020

Aug 14, 2020

Aug 6, 2020

Jul 30, 2020

Jul 27, 2020

Looking for more? Browse all our products here