GAO says A-76 isn't working for Defense

In General Accounting Office testimony before a Senate subcommittee hearing, Comptroller General David M. Walker said the Defense Department's acquisition and competitive sourcing practices are not cost-effective and are not meeting DOD's objectives.

The biggest competitive sourcing headache for DOD continues to be the Office of Management and Budget's Circular A-76, which lets public- and private-sector workers compete in outsourced competitions, Walker told the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support.

'As we have tracked DOD's progress in implementing its A-76 program since the mid- to late 1990s, we have identified a number of challenges,' Walker said Wednesday. He cited the time required to complete A-76 studies, the resources needed to implement them, and the difficulty of grouping positions to compete and reliably estimating the savings.

'Our reviews continue to show that DOD is not carrying out acquisitions cost-effectively and that the acquisitions themselves are not always achieving DOD's objectives,' Walker said. The biggest problems, he said, are high-risk acquisition strategies and unrealistic cost, schedule and performance estimates.

Since the 1990s, the department has spent billions of dollars each year attempting to modernize its IT business processes. But success has been elusive because of 'DOD's inconsistent use of best practices for acquiring IT services,' he told the Senate panel.

Walker recommended that DOD adopt the commercial best practices of leading companies involved in IT outsourcing when it acquires IT products and services through competitive sourcing. He said DOD should:

  • Acquire systems in accordance with mature processes

  • Constrain acquisitions to fit an enterprise architecture

  • Pay for systems in a series of economically justified incremental builds.


  • The recommendations await comment from DOD.


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