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The weapons the Department of Defense (DOD) develops have no rival in superiority. How they are developed can be improved, without sacrificing the superiority of the outcome. GAO's reviews over the past 20 years have found consistent problems with weapon investments--cost increases, schedule delays and performance shortfalls--along with underlying causes, such as pressure on managers to promise more than they can deliver. The best practices of successful product developments offer a knowledge-based approach DOD can use to improve the way it develops new weapons. This report is new for GAO, and draws on its work in best practices for product development. GAO's goal for this report is to provide congressional and DOD decision makers with an independent, knowledge-based assessment of defense programs that identifies potential risks, and offers an opportunity for action when a program's projected attainment of knowledge diverges from the best practice. It can also highlight those programs that employ practices worthy of emulation by other programs. GAO plans to update and issue this report annually to the congressional defense committees.

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