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Defense Acquisitions. Better Weapon Program Outcomes Require Discipline, Accountability, and Fundamental Changes in the Acquisition Environment

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Final technical rept. Jan 2005-Nov 2007

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Since fiscal year 2000, DOD significantly increased the number of major defense acquisition programs and its overall investment in them. During this same time period, acquisition outcomes have not improved. Based on our analysis, total acquisition costs for the fiscal year 2007 portfolio of major defense acquisition programs increased 26 percent and development costs increased by 40 percent from first estimates both of which are higher than the corresponding increases in DOD s fiscal year 2000 portfolio. In most cases, the programs we assessed failed to deliver capabilities when promised often forcing warfighters to spend additional funds on maintaining legacy systems. Our analysis shows that current programs are experiencing, on average, a 21-month delay in delivering initial capabilities to the warfighter, a 5-month increase over fiscal year 2000 programs. Several underlying systemic problems at the strategic level and at the program level continue to contribute to poor weapon system program outcomes. At the strategic level, DOD does not prioritize weapon system investments and the department s processes for matching warfighter needs with resources are fragmented and broken. Furthermore, the requirements and acquisition processes are not agile enough to support programs that can meet current operational requirements. At the program level, programs are started without knowing what resources will truly be needed and are managed with lower levels of product knowledge at critical junctures than expected under best practices standards. In the absence of such knowledge, managers rely heavily on assumptions about system requirements, technology, and design maturity, which are consistently too optimistic. This exposes programs to significant and unnecessary technology, design, and production risks, and ultimately damaging cost growth and schedule delays.

Subject Categories:

  • Economics and Cost Analysis
  • Logistics, Military Facilities and Supplies

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