Development of cutting-edge technologies is critical to many of the government’s most costly acquisitions, including new weapons, satellites, nuclear facilities, and homeland security systems.
Technology readiness assessments (TRA) are used to evaluate the maturity of technologies and whether they are developed enough to be incorporated into a system without too much risk. Technologies that are not as mature as recommended have been the source of program delays and cost increases.
This guide is intended to provide a better understanding of technology maturity and a framework for conducting high-quality TRAs.
The cover of the GAO Technology Readiness Assessment Guide
What GAO Found
Relatively few federal agencies have guides for assessing a technology’s maturity and its readiness for integration into larger acquisition programs. Development of cutting-edge technologies is critical to many of the government’s most costly acquisitions, including new weapons, satellites, nuclear facilities, and homeland security systems. Technology readiness assessments (TRA) are used to evaluate the maturity of technologies and whether these technologies are adequately developed to be integrated into a system so that it can move into production with minimal risk. Technologies that are not adequately mature have led to program delays and cost increases.
Why GAO Did This Study
Using effective management practices and processes to assess both the level of maturity of a technology and how this maturity has been demonstrated are fundamental to evaluating a technology’s readiness to be integrated into a system and is managed for risk in the federal government’s major acquisitions. The TRA Guide can help program managers, technology developers, and governance bodies throughout the federal government by providing them a framework for better understanding technology maturity, and for conducting high-quality TRAs.
Specifically, the TRA Guide has two objectives: (1) to describe generally accepted best practices for conducting high-quality TRAs of technology developed for systems or acquisition programs, and (2) to provide technology developers, program managers, and governance bodies with useful information to more effectively mature critical technologies, determine a technology’s readiness, and manage and address risk. In addition, oversight bodies—such as those with department or agency acquisition officials or government auditors—may use the TRA Guide to evaluate whether the fundamental processes and best practices of effective TRAs have been followed or whether TRAs demonstrate the characteristics (credibility, objectivity, reliability, and usefulness) of high-quality assessments.
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