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Technology Readiness Assessment Guide Best Practices for Evaluating the Readiness of Technology for Use in Acquisition Programs and Projects

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[Technical Report, Congressional Report]

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Federal agencies spend billions of dollars each year to develop, acquire, and build major systems, facilities, and equipment, including fighter aircraft, nuclear waste treatment facilities, electronic baggage screening equipment, and telescopes for exploring the universe. Managing these complex acquisitions has been a long-standing challenge for federal agencies. Many of the governments most costly and complex acquisition programs require the development of cutting-edge technologies and their integration into large and complex systems. Such acquisition efforts may also use existing technologies, but in new applications or environments. For two decades, the U.S. Government Accountability Office GAO has shown that using effective management practices and processes to assess how far a technology has matured and how this has been demonstrated are fundamental to evaluating its readiness to be integrated into a system and managed for risk in the federal governments major acquisitions. A technology readiness assessment TRA is a systematic, evidence-based process that evaluates the maturity of technologies hardware, software, and processes critical to the performance of a larger system or the fulfillment of the key objectives of an acquisition program, including cost and schedule. TRAs, which evaluate the technical maturity of a technology at a specific point in time for inclusion into a larger system, do not eliminate technology risk. But when done well, they can illuminate concerns and serve as the basis for realistic discussions on how to address potential risks as programs move from the early research and technology development to system development and beyond. In addition, TRAs help legislators, government officials, and the public hold government programs accountable for achieving technology performance goals.

Subject Categories:

  • Administration and Management

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[A, Approved For Public Release]