For the past 2 years, the Department of Defense (DOD) has been implementing the Weapon Systems Acquisition Reform Act (Reform Act) requirements for systems engineering and developmental testing. These activities are important to DOD's ability to control acquisition costs, which increased by $135 billion over the past 2 years for 98 major defense acquisition programs. GAO was asked to determine (1) DOD's progress in implementing the Reform Act's requirements and (2) whether there are challenges at the military service level that could affect their systems engineering and developmental testing activities. To do this, GAO analyzed implementation status documents, discussed developmental testing office concerns with current and former DOD officials, and analyzed military service workforce growth plans and test range funding data..
Matter for Congressional Consideration
|Contingent upon the results of DOD's assessment, the Congress may wish to consider revising any applicable statutory provisions necessary to allow for DOD to combine or shift resources between the Test Resource Management Center and the office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Developmental Test and Evaluation.||The assessment of developmental test resources that GAO recommended was completed in November 2011 and briefed to the Under Secretary for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics. The organizational structure of the Test Resource Management Center and the Developmental Test and Evaluation office was modified based on this study. This reorganization took effect in January 2012 without requiring any statutory changes.|
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Defense||The Secretary of Defense should assess the resources and influence needed by the developmental test and evaluation office to assist and oversee defense acquisition programs, including (1) the number of defense acquisition programs that can be supported by different developmental test and evaluation office staffing levels, including specifying the total number of personnel, the mix of government and contractor employees, and the number of senior executive service personnel needed for each of these staffing levels; (2) whether the Test Resource Management Center and the office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Developmental Test and Evaluation should be combined or resources shifted between organizations to more effectively support the activities of both organizations and if so, identify for Congress any statutory revisions that would be necessary; and (3) the proper reporting channel, taking into account the decision on whether or not to combine the organizations, the statutory oversight requirements, and the level of influence needed to oversee and assess program office developmental testing and service budgeting activities.|
|Department of Defense||The Secretary of Defense should develop a plan to implement the results of the assessment.|
|Department of Defense||The Secretary of Defense, with input from the military services, should develop metrics to assess the Major Range and Test Facility Base (MRTFB) test capabilities (expanding to DOD non-MRTFB, and non-DOD government test facilities once an approved set of metrics are in place supporting the MRTFB), justify funding, and assist in making decisions on the right-sizing of personnel, how best to allocate funding, or make future decisions on whether to mothball, shut down, or consolidate test facilities. These efforts should be coordinated with the Test Resource Management Center.|
|Department of Defense||The Secretary of Defense, with input from the military services, should report the impact budget cuts reflected in the fiscal year 2012 budget, as well as the insourcing policy clarification, will have on their (1) total workforce (civilians, military, and contractors) that support both of these activities and (2) ability to meet program office systems engineering and developmental test and evaluation needs.|