Ford Class Aircraft Carrier: Poor Outcomes Are the Predictable Consequences of the Prevalent Acquisition Culture
GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE WASHINGTON DC
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The Navy set ambitious goals for the Ford-class program, including an array of new technologies and design features that were intended to improve combat capability and create operational efficiencies, all while reducing acquisition and life-cycle costs. The lead ship, CVN 78, has experienced significant cost growth with a reduced capability expected at delivery. More cost growth is likely. While CVN 78 is close to delivery, examining its acquisition history may provide an opportunity to improve outcomes for the other ships in the class and illustrate the dynamics of defense acquisition. GAO has reported on the acquisition struggles facing the Ford-class, particularly in GA-07-866, GA-13- 396, and GA-15-22. This statement discusses 1 the Navys initial vision for CVN 78 and where the ship stands today 2 plans for follow-on ship cost and construction and 3 Ford-class experiences as illustrative of acquisition decision making. This statement is largely based on the three reports as well as GAOs larger work on shipbuilding and acquisition best practices, and also incorporates updated audit work where appropriate. GAO is not making any new recommendations in this statement but has made numerous recommendations to the Department of Defense in the past on Ford-class acquisition, including strengthening the programs business case before proceeding with acquisition decisions. While the Department has, at times, agreed with GAOs recommendations it has taken little to no action to implement them.
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