Defense Acquisitions Issue Area Plan--Fiscal Years 1997-99

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1997-05-01.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

               United States General Accounting Office

GAO            National Security and International
               Affairs Division

May 1997

               Issue Area Plan,
               Fiscal Years


              The General Accounting Office’s goal is to provide unbiased analysis and
              timely, accurate information for decisionmakers in the Congress and
              executive agencies. Our work results in such products as reports,
              briefings, and testimonies. The Defense Acquisitions issue area is 1 of
              32 issues for which GAO periodically develops multiyear strategic plans.

              Relying heavily on consultation with congressional committees, as well as
              with industry, academia, and agency officials and other experts
              knowledgeable of the issues, GAO develops strategic plans to ensure that
              GAO’s limited resources are directed at the most important issues of
              concern to the Congress. For each issue area, GAO’s strategic plan
              describes the significance of the issues, our objectives, and the focus of
              our work.

              The Defense Acquisitions issue area covers programs of the Department of
              Defense (DOD), the individual military services, and other supporting
              defense agencies. It also is responsible for GAO’s work on the National
              Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Its work focuses on (1) the
              justification for new systems; (2) development and acquisition (or major
              modification) of weapon and space systems; (3) DOD’s and NASA’s
              budgeting for their procurement and research, development, test, and
              evaluation (RDT&E) accounts; (4) the management of the acquisition
              process, including acquisition reform initiatives and reductions in
              acquisition infrastructure; and (5) international collaboration and defense
              trade. The principal issues we cover are the

          •   adequacy of the justifications for systems selected for development or
          •   efficient, effective, and economical acquisition of systems;
          •   assurance that funds budgeted for procurement and for research,
              development, test, and evaluation can be and should be spent as indicated;
          •   cost savings from acquisition reform initiatives and related infrastructure
              reductions; and
          •   the use of international collaboration to acquire weapons in the most
              cost-effective manner.

              In the pages that follow, we describe our key planned work on these

              Because events may significantly affect even the best of plans, our
              planning process allows for updating the plan and responding quickly to

              Page 1                                   GAO/IAP-97-7 Defense Acquisitions Issues

emerging issues. If you have any questions or suggestions about this plan,
please call me at (202) 512-4841.

Louis J. Rodrigues
Defense Acquisitions Issues

Page 2                                   GAO/IAP-97-7 Defense Acquisitions Issues

Table I: Key Issues
Table II: Planned
Major Work
Table III: GAO

                      Page 3   GAO/IAP-97-7 Defense Acquisitions Issues
Table I: Key Issues

Issue                                            Significance
Weapon and Space Systems Justification:          Many of the military systems that are in planning or under development were designed to
Are DOD and NASA selecting for                   counter a no longer existing Soviet threat. The notion of an all-out confrontation in Europe
development only those systems and               has given way to concerns over regional instabilities. In light of these changes,
modifications that are adequately justified?     justifications for weapon systems must be revisited to determine whether the systems
                                                 support a new strategy focused on regional instabilities and to ensure that the
                                                 appropriate trade-offs are being made in the current constrained budget environment.
                                                 NASA systems need to be considered in light of significant reductions in resources to
                                                 achieve NASA’s mission.

Weapon and Space Systems Acquisition:            Despite the many attempts at acquisition reform, significant problems continue to occur.
Are DOD and NASA ensuring that systems           Major commitments to systems are still made before adequate testing ensures that the
are being acquired in an efficient, effective,   systems will meet critical performance requirements. Costs for systems continue to
and economical manner?                           escalate. Some recent systems have doubled in price. Schedules for the delivery of
                                                 systems continue to slip. New reform initiatives are opening the door to government use
                                                 of the best acquisition practices in the private sector. Use of these best practices can
                                                 improve the acquisition process and help ensure that systems are acquired in the most
                                                 efficient, effective, and economical manner.

Budget Analysis:                                 Over $150 billion was requested in fiscal years 1996 and 1997 for the acquisition of
Do acquisition-related budgets reflect           military systems and support items. Analyzing planned budgetary expenditures is
current needs and should prior-year funds        necessary to identify those that are unnecessary and those that can and should be
be rescinded?                                    delayed.

                                                 Page 4                                            GAO/IAP-97-7 Defense Acquisitions Issues
                                                Table I: Key Issues

Objectives                                                              Focus of Work
• Determine whether the justifications for new and modified             • Justifications of major systems such as F-22, V-22, and F/A-18
systems are reasonable and logical and support the national             E/F; directed energy weapons; precision-guided munitions;
military strategy.                                                      national and theater missile defense; the Navy’s new arsenal ship;
                                                                        the new attack submarine; and DOD and NASA space systems.
• Determine whether DOD, the services, and NASA have
adequately considered meeting stated requirements through
alternative uses of or modifications to current systems.

• Assess whether accurate cost estimates, including estimates for
operation and support costs, are being developed and used to
determine which programs should be pursued and which systems
best meet requirements within limited budgets.
• Determine whether DOD, the services, and NASA have selected           • Acquisition of major systems such as B-2, F-22, Joint Primary
the lowest risk and least costly acquisition strategies consistent with Aircraft Training System (JPATS), F-14, Comanche, F/A-18 E/F,
the need for the planned system or modification.                        Joint Strike Fighter, DOD and NASA space systems, Crusader,
                                                                        Navy systems to improve littoral warfare capability, and digitized
• Determine whether selected acquisition strategies commit the          battlefield systems.
government to production before sufficient testing is accomplished.

• Ensure that key milestone decisions in the acquisition process are
timely and are adequately supported.

• Identify whether technical problems identified during testing
affect the system’s capability and costs.

• Determine whether the services and NASA are incorporating
acquisition reform initiatives into their processes for acquiring new
systems or modifying current systems.

• Determine whether the services and NASA are using the best
acquisition practices.
• Identify items in current budget requests that should be              • Reviews of the procurement and research, development, test,
considered for denial or reduction.                                     and evaluation budget accounts for aircraft, C3I, ships, ground
                                                                        and DOD space systems, missiles, munitions, ballistic missile
• Identify prior-year appropriations that could be rescinded.           defense, defense agencies, and NASA systems.

                                                Page 5                                            GAO/IAP-97-7 Defense Acquisitions Issues
                                               Table I: Key Issues

Issue                                          Significance
Acquisition Management:                        The Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act and the Federal Acquisition Reform Act require
Are DOD and NASA streamlining and              GAO evaluations of several provisions’ implementation across the federal government. In
improving their acquisition processes,         addition, DOD has underway numerous reengineering initiatives and pilot programs
practices, and infrastructure while ensuring   designed to further acquisition reform and is expecting to see reductions in the
public funds are properly spent?               acquisition infrastructure. The success of these reform initiatives and reductions in
                                               infrastructure are intended to improve the way DOD buys its goods and services and
                                               provide DOD a major source of the future funding for its modernization program. At the
                                               same time, defense acquisition and DOD and NASA contract management remain
                                               high-risk areas for misuse of billions of dollars in public funds.

International Collaboration and Defense        Tightening budget pressures and changes in DOD’s acquisition policies point to an
Trade:                                         increased role for international collaboration in weapons acquisition through
How can DOD take advantage of the              co-development and production of major systems and buying and selling systems and
international marketplace to safely acquire    components. International competitive pressures, including foreign government defense
weapons in the most cost-effective manner?     procurement policies, pose new challenges for U.S. companies and government
                                               policymakers. U.S. government responses to this complex international environment will
                                               be a major factor in safeguarding U.S. technological leadership and in influencing the
                                               health of the U.S. defense industry.

                                               Page 6                                         GAO/IAP-97-7 Defense Acquisitions Issues
                                                Table I: Key Issues

Objectives                                                               Focus of Work
• Evaluate the implementation of governmentwide acquisition              • Acquisition reform initiatives, such as the use of off-the-shelf and
reform legislation and the costs/benefits of new proposals.              nondevelopmental technology, Federal Acquisition Streamlining
                                                                         Act evaluations, electronic commerce systems, high-risk area
• Identify best commercial acquisition practices that can be             updates, use of task order contracts and research and
incorporated into the DOD and NASA acquisition processes.                development contracts as “pass throughs,” evaluation of best
                                                                         acquisition practices and acquisition infrastructure adjustments,
• Determine whether the savings that have been estimated as a            and the impact of defense industry restructuring.
result of acquisition reform and acquisition infrastructure reductions
are likely to materialize.

• Identify and report internal control weaknesses on individual
systems and in the acquisition process that result in fraudulent,
wasteful, or abusive practices in systems acquisitions.

• Assess DOD’s efforts to utilize opportunities for international  • Consolidation of the European defense sector, cost savings
cooperation in the development and production of weapon systems. realized by DOD from sales to non-DOD customers, recent
                                                                   practices in offset arrangements, and the medium
• Examine changes in the international defense market and the U.S. extended-range air defense system (MEADS) co-development
government response and determine their impact on the              program.
competitiveness and capabilities of the U.S. defense industry and
on U.S. trade policies.

                                                Page 7                                              GAO/IAP-97-7 Defense Acquisitions Issues
Table II: Planned Major Work

Issue                             Planned Major Job Starts
Weapon and space system           — Navy’s plans to develop an arsenal ship.
justifications                    — Precision-guided munitions acquisition.
                                  — Airborne laser boost phase intercept program.*
                                  — Sea-Based Theater Ballistic Missile Defense.*
                                  — Intratheater airlift requirements.*
                                  — Aircraft investments.*
                                  — Unmanned aerial vehicle requirements.
Weapon and space system           — B-2 cost and performance.*
acquisitions                      — F-22 status.*
                                  — F-14 modernization programs.*
                                  — Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) progress.*
                                  — Joint Primary Aircraft Training System.*
                                  — Comanche Helicopter Program.
                                  — Joint direct attack munition.*
                                  — DOD’s space plans, programs, and activities.
                                  — Army’s Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles program.
                                  — Space station development, operational planning, and management.
                                  — Army’s development of the digitized battlefield.
                                  — Navy’s New Attack Submarine.*
                                  — Joint STARS.*
Budget analysis                   — DOD’s and NASA’s fiscal year 1998 RDT&E and procurement budget requests for weapon
                                  and space systems and intelligence programs.*
Acquisition management            — Savings from acquisition reform.*
                                  — Potential savings from industry restructuring.
                                  — DOD’s initiative to use commercial off-the-shelf and non-developmental item alternatives.
                                  — Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act effectiveness.*
                                  — DOD’s use of multiple award task and delivery order contracts.
                                  — R&D contract pass throughs.*
                                  — Technology insertion/Advanced Concept Technology Demonstrations.
                                  — High-risk updates on defense and NASA.
                                  — FACNET.*
International collaboration and   — European defense consolidation.
defense trade                     — Practices in offset arrangements.
                                  — Medium extended-range air defense system co-development program.
                                  — Realizing unit cost savings from weapons exports.*
                                  — U.S. benefits from international data exchange agreements.
                                         *Ongoing assignments.

                                         Page 8                                           GAO/IAP-97-7 Defense Acquisitions Issues
Table III: GAO Contacts

Director              Louis J. Rodrigues      (202) 512-4841

Associate Directors   David E. Cooper
                      Katherine V. Schinasi
                      Thomas J. Schulz
                      Thomas J. Brew (Denver)
                      Allan Li

Assistant Directors   Francis P. Degnan, Jr.
                      Thomas J. Denomme
                      Lee A. Edwards (Huntsville)
                      William R. Graveline (Huntsville)
                      Paul L. Francis
                      John K. Harper
                      Steven F. Kuhta
                      Robert D. Murphy (Dayton)
                      Richard J. Price
                      Charles F. Rey
                      James K. Spencer*
                      Clifton E. Spruill
                      Derek B. Stewart*
                      Robert J. Stolba
                      Kevin M. Tansey*
                      Charles W. Thompson
                      Homer H. Thomson
                      Charles A. Ward
                      Karen S. Zuckerstein

                      * Staff on detail

(806300)              Page 9                                   GAO/IAP-97-7 Defense Acquisitions Issues
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