US GAO Issues 2008 Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs
The USA’s Congressional Government Accountability Office has delivered its 6th annual assessment of 72 selected weapon programs on land, sea, and air. America’s Department of Defense (DOD) has roughly doubled its planned investment in new systems from $790 billion to $1.6 trillion in 2007, and total acquisition costs for major defense programs in the fiscal year 2007 portfolio have increased 26% from first estimates, compared with 6% in 2000.
While the report acknowledged progress, it added that: “DOD’s acquisition outcomes appear increasingly suboptimal, a condition that needs to be corrected given the pressures faced by the department from other military and major nondiscretionary government demands.”
Key factors cited include:
- The practice of scheduling concurrent conception, design & production stages, rather than running them in sequence;
- Performance requirements that change after system development has begun;
- Program manager tenures that are too short;
- Issues associated with the skill level of the military’s acquisition personnel, and the accompanying cycle of reliance on nongovernmental contractors in program office roles; and
- Software management issues.
Following the report, the Aerospace Industries Association pointed to one of these items in particular:
“Sixty-three percent of the programs GAO reviewed had requirement changes after system development began. These programs had cost increases of 72 percent versus 11 percent on programs where requirements did not change.”