Defense Manufacturing Technology Program: More Joint Projects and Tracking of Results Could Benefit Program

GAO-01-943 Published: Sep 20, 2001. Publicly Released: Sep 28, 2001.
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The Department of Defense (DOD) established the Defense Manufacturing Technology Program to develop and apply advanced manufacturing technologies to reduce the total cost and improve the manufacturing quality of weapon systems. By maturing and validating emerging manufacturing technology and transferring it to the factory floor, the program bridges the gap between technology invention and industrial application. The program, which has existed in various forms since the 1950's, received about $200 million in funding fiscal year 2001. DOD's Office of the Under Secretary of Defense provides guidance and oversight to the Army, Navy, Air Force, and the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), but each establishes its own policies and procedures for running the program and determines which technologies to develop. Users told GAO that the program was responding to their needs by developing technologies, products, and processes that reduced the cost and improved the quality of weapons systems. To the extent practicable, DOD used competitive procedures to award the work done under the program. The Army, Air Force, and DLA competitively awarded most of the projects GAO reviewed for fiscal years 1999 and 2000, and the remaining non-competitive awards were based on documented sole source justifications. DOD is missing opportunities to conduct more joint programs and lacks effective measures of program success. Joint projects would enable the services to address the funding issue by leveraging limited funding and integrating common requirements and approaches for developing manufacturing technologies.

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Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Defense DOD should develop additional measures to coordinate the services' planning cycles, budgets, and project selection criteria to better position them to identify and conduct joint projects.
Closed - Implemented
DOD and the military services have modified their process for coordinating and reviewing proposed ManTech projects through the Joint Defense Manufacturing Technology Panel. Programs are being reviewed for jointness earlier in the process, which has contributed to an increase in the number of joint programs from 15 percent in 2001, to 22 percent in 2002. Further joint funding of ManTech projects has been hampered by substantial reductions to the ManTech budget for the Air Force and Navy, forcing the cancellation of several joint efforts.
Department of Defense DOD should develop a more systematic means for determining the results of ManTech projects. This may be done, for example, by (1) using award or incentive fees to motivate contractor tracking of ManTech benefits over time, (2) including a requirement to track and report implementation as an evaluation criteria for awarding Man Tech work, or (3) conducting or contracting for periodic surveys or studies of the industrial base to quantify the impact of Man Tech projects.
Closed - Not Implemented
DOD and the military services have taken steps to begin measuring program results. The Joint Defense Manufacturing Technology Panel has decided to select two to three projects from each of the subpanel areas (e.g., composites, electronics, etc.), and monitor them for results over time. Although the subpanels continue to monitor selected projects, neither the panel nor the services have implemented a systematic method for measuring results. This is due primarily to the cost of developing a method for measuring results over time, which would mean less funding for projects.

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