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Highlights

GAO has previously reported that requirements changes are factors in poor cost and schedule outcomes on Department of Defense (DOD) weapon programs. In 2007, DOD introduced Configuration Steering Boards (CSBs) to review requirement and configuration changes that could adversely affect programs. In 2008, Congress made annual CSB meetings a requirement for all of the military departments' major defense acquisition programs. In response to the Senate report accompanying the bill for the Ike Skelton National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011, GAO assessed (1) the extent to which DOD has complied with the statutory requirements for CSBs, and (2) the extent to which CSBs have been effective in controlling requirements and mitigating cost and schedule risks. To conduct this work, GAO surveyed DOD's major defense acquisition programs, reviewed CSB documentation, and interviewed relevant military service and program officials.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Defense 1. The Secretary of Defense should direct the Navy to amend its policy on CSBs to ensure that all statutorily required participants, particularly the Joint Staff, are included.
Closed - Implemented
The Navy updated its acquisition instruction to have CSBs explicitly include the Joint Staff and OSD.
Department of Defense 2. The Secretary of Defense should direct the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) to amend its policy to ensure that all statutorily required participants for military department CSBs are included in MDA's Program Change Board, particularly the Joint Staff, if it is to serve as an equivalent review.
Closed - Not Implemented
DOD partially concurred with our recommendation, but did not take action to address it. In its comments on the report, DOD stated that Joint Staff participation would provide little value because the Joint Staff is not a stakeholder in the detailed execution of the MDA Ballistic Missile Defense System acquisition process and requirements are not derived from Joint Capabilities Integration Development Systems. Since the report was issued, no further action has been taken. We continue to believe that if the Program Change Board is to act as the forum for discussing configuration and requirements changes, it is important that the user communities, as represented by the Joint Staff, participate in these discussions.
Department of Defense 3. The Secretary of Defense should direct Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (USD (AT&L)) to amend its acquisition instruction to ensure that all statutorily required participants, in particular the comptroller, are included on CSBs.
Closed - Implemented
In November 2013, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics issued an interim update of its primary acquisition instruction specifying that DOD components are to include all statutorily-required participants in configuration steering boards, including the comptroller.
Department of Defense 4. The Secretary of Defense should direct USD (AT&L) to amend its acquisition instruction to require CSB meetings for major defense acquisition programs in production as well as development but also coordinate with the military departments and the Congress to evaluate the effectiveness of CSB meetings for programs well into production.
Closed - Implemented
In November 2013, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (USD (AT&L) issued an interim update of DOD's primary acquisition instruction specifying that DOD components are to hold configuration steering board (CSB) meetings for all major defense acquisition programs in production. Additionally, USD (AT&L) officials told us that, through coordination, they have determined that CSBs for programs throughout production, and even into sustainment, are valuable.
Department of Defense 5. The Secretary of Defense should direct USD (AT&L) to amend its acquisition instruction to develop the means to better track CSBs and ensure compliance with the requirement that CSBs hold a meeting at least once each year.
Closed - Not Implemented
In its response to the report, DOD partially concurred with this recommendation stating that, rather than amending acquisition policy, the Department plans to issue configuration steering board (CSB) "best practices" to the military departments that would address the need for the military departments to ensure adequate tracking vehicles were in place to ensure compliance with CSB statute and policy. However, officials from the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics stated that DOD is no longer pursing this "best practices" report because of updates to DOD's primary acquisition instruction. According to these officials, there are no formal measures in place to ensure that CSBs are held annually, nor are there plans to develop any.
Department of Defense 6. The Secretary of Defense should direct USD (AT&L) to work with DOD components to determine whether paper CSBs are as effective as in-person meetings and, if not, amend the acquisition instruction accordingly.
Closed - Implemented
In July 2014 officials from the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics stated they have communicated with service officials and found that while practices differ for configuration steering boards held administratively through "paper CSBs", the process as a whole is working and there are no plans to amend policy to account for "paper CSBs".
Department of Defense 7. The Secretary of Defense should direct DOD components to amend their policies to encourage alignment between CSB meetings and other complementary reviews whenever possible.
Closed - Implemented
In November 2013, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics issued an interim update of its primary acquisition instruction which linked CSB meetings with complementary reviews.

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