GAO Report Seeks Improvement in DoD Major System Acquisitions

A report issued by the Government Accountability Office, Joint Action Needed by DOD and Congress to Improve Outcomes, examines the acquisition of major defense systems and makes recommendations for improving the procurement processes of these systems. The report discusses:

  • the performance of the current acquisition system,
  • the role of a sound business case in getting better acquisition outcomes;
  • systemic reasons for persistent problems; and
  • thoughts on actions DoD and Congress can take to get better outcomes from the acquisition process.

GAO’s work shows that establishing a sound business case is essential to achieving better program outcomes. GAO recommends not going forward with an acquisition without a sound business case. According to GAO, a solid, executable business case provides credible evidence that DoD’s needs are valid and that they can best be met with the chosen concept, and the concept can be developed and produced within existing resources, such as technologies, design knowledge, funding, and time. Also, establishing a sound business case for individual programs requires a realistic assessment of risks and costs. However, GAO found many of the business cases for new programs deficient.

GAO concludes that changing the acquisition culture will take the joint efforts of Congress and DoD to:

  • ensure that new programs exhibit desirable principles before funding is approved;
  • identify significant program risks up front and allot sufficient resources;
  • more closely align budget and program decisions;
  • develop technology before including it in product system;
  • develop system engineering and program manager capacity, and sufficient personnel with appropriate expertise and skills.


About George Gullo

George Gullo is an attorney editor in the Government Contracts group at Wolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory U.S. George serves as the principal editor of Cost Accounting Standards Guide and supports all of the group’s print and electronic publications, as well as legal research tools, including the Government Contracts Reporter, Board of Contract Appeals Decisions, and the FAR and DFARS Matrix Smart Charts. With more than 25 years experience in the legal publishing industry, including more than 15 years in the government contracts area, George also has a background in legal and business transactions. He is a graduate of DePaul University College of Law and a licensed Illinois attorney.
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