The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently released details of its annual analysis of the Department of Defense’s (DOD) revised weapon system portfolio and purchasing reform policies.
GOA officials said the agency reports on the programs DOD uses to buy its 86 major weapon systems, which are worth $1.66 trillion.
GAO’s breakdown showed programs initiated since 2010 had better cost performance between 2016 and 2017 than the rest of the portfolio, representing an estimated $5.6 billion decrease versus a $60.3 billion increase.
The GAO said it is too early to determine whether the performance will continue and curb future cost growth.
The DOD’s major acquisition programs proceed through three phases, technology development, system development and production, aligning with three key points for demonstrating knowledge.
The GAO learned DOD programs have still not fully implemented knowledge-based acquisition practices, observing most of the 45 current programs have proceeded into system development, through critical design reviews, and into production without completing key knowledge-based practices.
Almost all of the 12 future programs GAO reviewed, not yet in DOD’s portfolio, reported they do not currently plan to fully meet all applicable practices when starting system development.
While newer defense weapon systems have done a better job of staying within budget estimates, the GAO maintains many are proceeding without key pieces of knowledge essential to good cost and schedule outcomes.