Skip to main content

Defense Acquisitions: Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs

GAO-11-233SP Published: Mar 29, 2011. Publicly Released: Mar 29, 2011.
Jump To:
Skip to Highlights


This is GAO's ninth annual assessment of Department of Defense (DOD) weapon system acquisitions, an area that is on GAO's high-risk list. The report is in response to the mandate in the joint explanatory statement to the DOD Appropriations Act, 2009. It includes observations on the performance of DOD's 2010 portfolio of 98 major defense acquisition programs; data on selected factors that can affect program outcomes; an assessment of the knowledge attained by key junctures in the acquisition process for a subset of 40 programs, which were selected because they were in development or early production; and observations on the implementation of acquisition reforms. To conduct this review, GAO analyzed cost, schedule, and quantity data from DOD's Selected Acquisition Reports and collected data from program offices on performance requirements and software development; technology, design, and manufacturing knowledge; and the implementation of DOD's acquisition policy and acquisition reforms. GAO also compiled one- or two-page assessments of 71 weapon programs. These programs were selected based on their cost, stage in the acquisition process, and congressional interest. DOD disagreed with GAO's use of total program cost growth as a performance metric because it includes costs associated with capability upgrades and quantity increases. GAO believes it remains a meaningful metric and that the report explicitly accounts for the cost effect of quantity changes.

Full Report

GAO Contacts

Office of Public Affairs


Cost analysisData collectionDefense industryDefense operationsMilitary research and developmentMilitary technologyPerformance appraisalPerformance measuresProgram evaluationRequirements definitionSystem softwareSystems analysisTechnology assessmentWeapons research and developmentWeapons systemsAssessmentsCost growthProgram costsProgram goals or objectivesProgram implementation