The Department of Defense (DOD) and other federal agencies face challenges to maintain suppliers capable of meeting current and future mission requirements. Changing security threats, rapidly evolving science and technology, and budget imbalances have created an uncertain acquisition environment. As DOD, Department of Homeland Security, and others seek to fundamentally transform operations, they are giving contractors increased program management responsibilities to develop requirements, design products, and select major system and subsystem contractors. At the same time, the government workforce that manages and oversees these purchases has decreased. An increasingly global and interconnected defense and commercial supplier base also poses significant acquisition challenges. To identify and discuss key supplier issues, GAO sponsored a 1-day forum in October 2005 where defense policy experts from federal agencies, defense industry, nonprofit organizations, and academia shared insights into the current supplier base environment. As agreed with the participants, GAO's goal was to engage in a dialog on a non-attribution basis to reach consensus on the top challenges facing agencies as they seek to manage the supplier base. This report provides highlights of the forum.
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