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U.S. GAO Annual Report on the U.S. Department of Defense

Credit: U.S. GAO

Ibadan, 20 June 2024. – The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has submitted in its 22nd annual assessment of DOD’s weapon systems acquisition, that the U.S. Department of Defense is still struggling to deliver new technologies quickly, despite facing constantly evolving threats.

According to the report, the US DoD continues struggling to deliver innovative technologies quickly, despite its plans to invest more than $2 trillion to develop and acquire its costliest weapon programs. Recent reforms hoped to facilitate faster results, but slow, linear development approaches persist. In July 2023, the GAO also found that leading commercial companies deliver complex, innovative products faster through iterative cycles of design, development, and production.

GAO assessed 20 of DOD’s largest middle tier of acquisition (MTA) programs, with a joint estimated total cost of over $35 billion. GAO subsequently found that five MTA programs continue to report delays to a key milestone intended to demonstrate capability. Although the MTA pathway’s design was for speed, GAO found most MTA programs do not plan to implement leading practices to facilitate that speed. For example, most MTA acquisition strategies do not outline how programs plan to leverage leading practices to develop and deliver an initial fieldable capability—the goal of an iterative approach—within 5 years.

The report consequently made three recommendations; that DOD address how MTA programs implement leading practices for product development; define goals for its software cadre; and identify strategies and resources necessary to achieve those goals. DOD concurred with the software workforce recommendations and partially concurred with the remaining recommendations. DOD also stated that to facilitate effective implementation, the recommendation should focus on updating policy rather than guidance. GAO subsequently agreed with DOD’s rationale and revised its recommendation accordingly.

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