Department of Defense (DOD) weapon programs often experience significant cost and schedule problems because they are allowed to start with too many technical unknowns and not enough knowledge about the development and production risks they entail. GAO was asked to review the department's Analysis of Alternatives (AOA) process--a key first step in the acquisition process intended to assess the operational effectiveness, costs, and risks of alternative weapon system solutions for addressing a validated warfighting need. This report (1) examines whether AOAs have been effective in identifying the most promising options and providing a sound rationale for weapon program initiation, (2) determines what factors have affected the scope and quality of AOAs, and (3) assesses whether recent DOD policy changes will enhance the effectiveness of AOAs. To meet these objectives, GAO efforts included collecting information on AOAs from 32 major defense acquisition programs, reviewing guidance and other documents, and interviewing subject matter experts.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Defense||1. To further strengthen the effectiveness of AOAs in helping DOD establish sound business cases for major weapon programs, the Secretary of Defense should establish specific criteria and guidance for how AOAs should be conducted, including how technical and other programmatic risks should be assessed and compared.|
|Department of Defense||2. To further strengthen the effectiveness of AOAs in helping DOD establish sound business cases for major weapon programs, the Secretary of Defense should ensure that AOAs are completed and approved before program requirements--key performance parameters and attributes--are finalized and approved.|