GAO 2006 Report on Key US Weapons Programs
The US Government Accountability Office is designed to be an independent breaucracy that offers audits and assessments of US government operations. This includes the defense field, and while their reports are at times disputed, they nonetheless offer important input into discussions. A March 31, 2006 annual report assessed the progress of many of America’s future weapons systems. Its summary page notes that:
“In the last 5 years, the Department of Defense (DOD) has doubled its planned investments in new weapon systems from about $700 billion in 2001 to nearly $1.4 trillion in 2006. While the weapons that DOD develops have no rival in superiority, weapon systems acquisition remains a long-standing high risk area. GAO’s reviews over the past 30 years have found consistent problems with weapon acquisitions such as cost increases, schedule delays, and performance shortfalls. In addition, DOD faces several budgetary challenges that underscore the need to deliver its new weapon programs within estimated costs and to obtain the most from these investments. This report provides congressional and DOD decision makers with an independent, knowledge-based assessment of selected defense programs that identifies potential risks and needed actions when a program’s projected attainment of knowledge diverges from the best practices.”
The full 7MB PDF report does exactly that, creating a handy reference document that surveys a wide range of ongoing American military programs. See also DID’s recent article re: a September 2006 GAO report that looked at the transition from research to fielded equipment, and compared the US military with leading corporate practices.