Skip to Highlights
Highlights

A critical element in the life cycle of a weapon system is the availability of the item's technical data--recorded information used to define a design and to produce, support, maintain, or operate the item. Because a weapon system may remain in the defense inventory for decades following initial acquisition, technical data decisions made during acquisition can have far-reaching implications over its life cycle. In August 2004, GAO recommended that the Department of Defense (DOD) consider requiring program offices to develop acquisition strategies that provide for future delivery of technical data should the need arise to select an alternative source for logistics support or to offer the work out for competition. For this review, GAO (1) evaluated how sustainment plans for Army and Air Force weapon systems had been affected by technical data rights and (2) examined requirements for obtaining technical data rights under current DOD acquisition policies.

Skip to Recommendations

Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Defense 1. To ensure that DOD can support sustainment plans for weapon systems throughout their life cycle, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics) to specifically require program managers to assess long-term technical data needs and establish corresponding acquisition strategies that provide for technical data rights needed to sustain weapon systems over their life cycle. These assessments and corresponding acquisition strategies should be developed prior to issuance of the contract solicitation.
Closed - Implemented
In the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007, Congress added a provision requiring program managers to assess long-term technical data needs for weapon systems and to establish corresponding acquisition strategies. The legislative provision approved by Congress drew heavily from GAO's recommendations. On July 19, 2007, DOD issued a policy memorandum that requires program managers, regardless of planned sustainment approach, to assess the long-term technical data needs of their systems and reflect the assessment in a data management strategy, which shall be integrated with other life cycle sustainment planning and included in the system acquisition strategy. These changes in legislation and DOD policy should improve DOD's acquisition strategies by better addressing the technical data needed to sustain weapon systems.
Department of Defense 2. To ensure that DOD can support sustainment plans for weapon systems throughout their life cycle, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics) to specifically require program managers to assess long-term technical data needs and establish corresponding acquisition strategies that provide for technical data rights needed to sustain weapon systems over their life cycle. These assessments and corresponding acquisition strategies should address the merits of including a priced contract option for the future delivery of technical data.
Closed - Implemented
In the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007, Congress added a provision requiring program managers to assess long-term technical data needs for weapon systems and to establish corresponding acquisition strategies. The legislative provision approved by Congress drew heavily from GAO's recommendations. On July 19, 2007, DOD issued a policy memorandum that requires program managers, regardless of planned sustainment approach, to assess the long-term technical data needs of their systems and reflect the assessment in a data management strategy, which shall be integrated with other life cycle sustainment planning and included in the system acquisition strategy. These changes in legislation and DOD policy should improve DOD's acquisition strategies by better addressing the technical data needed to sustain weapon systems.
Department of Defense 3. To ensure that DOD can support sustainment plans for weapon systems throughout their life cycle, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics) to specifically require program managers to assess long-term technical data needs and establish corresponding acquisition strategies that provide for technical data rights needed to sustain weapon systems over their life cycle. These assessments and corresponding acquisition strategies should address the potential for changes in the sustainment plan over the weapon system's life cycle, which may include the development of maintenance capability at public depots, the development of new sources of supply to increase production, or the solicitation of competitive offers for the acquisition of spare parts and components.
Closed - Implemented
In the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007, Congress added a provision requiring program managers to assess long-term technical data needs for weapon systems and to establish corresponding acquisition strategies. The legislative provision approved by Congress drew heavily from GAO's recommendations. On July 19, 2007, DOD issued a policy memorandum that requires program managers, regardless of planned sustainment approach, to assess the long-term technical data needs of their systems and reflect the assessment in a data management strategy, which shall be integrated with other life cycle sustainment planning and included in the system acquisition strategy. These changes in legislation and DOD policy should improve DOD's acquisition strategies by better addressing the technical data needed to sustain weapon systems.
Department of Defense 4. To ensure that DOD can support sustainment plans for weapon systems throughout their life cycle, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics) to specifically require program managers to assess long-term technical data needs and establish corresponding acquisition strategies that provide for technical data rights needed to sustain weapon systems over their life cycle. These assessments and corresponding acquisition strategies should apply to weapon systems that are to be supported by performance-based logistics arrangements as well as to weapon systems that are to be supported by other sustainment approaches.
Closed - Implemented
In the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007, Congress added a provision requiring program managers to assess long-term technical data needs for weapon systems and to establish corresponding acquisition strategies. The legislative provision approved by Congress drew heavily from GAO's recommendations. On July 19, 2007, DOD issued a policy memorandum that requires program managers, regardless of planned sustainment approach, to assess the long-term technical data needs of their systems and reflect the assessment in a data management strategy, which shall be integrated with other life cycle sustainment planning and included in the system acquisition strategy. These changes in legislation and DOD policy should improve DOD's acquisition strategies by better addressing the technical data needed to sustain weapon systems.
Department of Defense 5. The Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics) to incorporate these policy changes into DOD Directive 5000.1 and DOD Instruction 5000.2 when they are next updated.
Closed - Implemented
In the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007, Congress added a provision requiring program managers to assess long-term technical data needs for weapon systems and to establish corresponding acquisition strategies. The legislative provision approved by Congress drew heavily from GAO's recommendations. On July 19, 2007, DOD issued a policy memorandum that requires program managers, regardless of planned sustainment approach, to assess the long-term technical data needs of their systems and reflect the assessment in a data management strategy, which shall be integrated with other life cycle sustainment planning and included in the system acquisition strategy. These changes in legislation and DOD policy should improve DOD's acquisition strategies by better addressing the technical data needed to sustain weapon systems.

Full Report