DOD needs to sharpen acquisition skills, GAO says

The Defense Department still has a shortage of best practices and controls in business systems acquisition, the Government Accountability Office said today.

DOD last year released a set of acquisition guidelines for all its acquisition programs. Directives 5000.1 and 5000.2 instruct acquisition program managers to consider five factors in buying products: flexibility, responsiveness, innovation, discipline, and streamlined and effective management.

But GAO said the revised policies still lack sufficient controls to ensure that Defense agencies actually abide by the rules. Also, GAO said, in many cases the policies and guidance are inconsistent with industry best practices.

In a report released today, GAO said the department should follow 18 recognized best practices. It said current acquisition policies and guidance fully incorporate eight of the best practices, partially incorporate five and omit the remaining five.

'Although the revised policies and guidance require acquisition managers to examine and, as appropriate, adopt best practices, they do not cite what that examination entails,' the report said.

Without specific requirements to validate use of best practices, there is a risk they will not be followed, and that in turn raises 'risk that system investments will not meet expectations,' GAO said.

DOD is currently expanding its acquisition guidance and expects to be finished by Sept. 30.

Among GAO's 14 recommendations:

  • Develop and implement an explicit plan for incorporating into the 5000 series the best practices currently missing

  • Develop and implement an explicit plan for tasks to be performed, resources needed and assigned, and milestones for completing tasks and tracking progress

  • Implement a plan for evaluating systems integrators' ability to use commercial products

  • Implement a plan that, at minimum, provides for measurement and verification of DOD's acquisition best practices.


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