Skip to Highlights
Highlights

Under the Ronald W. Reagan National Defense Authorization Act of 2005, GAO is required to to review the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program annually for the next 5 years. This is the first GAO report, and it (1) analyzes the JSF program's business case for delivering new capabilities to the warfighter and (2) determines whether the JSF program's acquisition strategy follows an evolutionary, knowledge-based approach. Also, the act requires GAO to certify whether we had access to sufficient information to make informed judgments on the matters contained in our report.

Skip to Recommendations

Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Defense 1. Given that DOD has invested only about 10 percent of the estimated cost to develop and produce the JSF aircraft, and that significant investments are planned in the next few years that can lock the program into a higher-risk acquisition, the Secretary of Defense, to increase the likelihood of having a successful program outcome by delivering capabilities to the warfighter when needed and within available resources, should establish an executable program consistent with the best practices and DOD policy regarding evolutionary acquisitions. DOD officials should define an affordable first increment, with its own business case that clearly defines the warfighter's most immediate needs and accurately identifies the resources required to deliver on this needed capability. The business case should be established with a high degree of confidence based on known constraints about technology, engineering knowledge, time, and money. For those warfighter needs that cannot be accommodated within this first increment, the program should outline a strategy to meet these needs through subsequent increments, each dependent on having sufficient product knowledge to start system development and demonstration. Each increment should be managed as a distinct acquisition with its own business case for supporting the investment.
Closed - Not Implemented
DOD partially concurred, stating their current acquisition approach is incremental. However, GAO does not agree that the strategy as currently planned meets its specific recommendation, as the current strategy is to buy the full capability and not a true incremental approach.
Department of Defense 2. Given that DOD has invested only about 10 percent of the estimated cost to develop and produce the JSF aircraft, and that significant investments are planned in the next few years that can lock the program into a higher-risk acquisition, the Secretary of Defense, to increase the likelihood of having a successful program outcome by delivering capabilities to the warfighter when needed and within available resources, should develop and implement a knowledge-based acquisition approach, as called for by best practices and DOD's acquisition policy, an approach that ensures attainment and use of demonstrated product knowledge before making future investments for each product increment. Before increasing the investment in production resources (tooling, materials, and personnel) greater than investments already in place to support the manufacturing of development test aircraft, the Secretary should ensure knowledge consistent with best practices is captured. This should help minimize the number of low-rate initial production aircraft DOD procures on a cost reimbursement basis, reducing the potential financial risk to the government.
Closed - Not Implemented
DOD partially concurred with GAO's recommendation but did not take additional actions, as it believes the current strategy satisfies a knowledge-based approach. GAO disagrees and has further recommended in a budget fact sheet that fiscal year 2006 funds be reduced to ensure production knowledge is attained before further investing in production capability.

Full Report

GAO Contacts