Interviews Reveal Strong Dissatisfaction with Pentagon Acquisition Colleagues

Military Chiefs Say They’re Often Blindsided By Acquisition Problems

Interviews with 12 current and former military service chiefs reveal strong dissatisfaction with their Pentagon acquisition colleagues, who too often change the requirements for weapons systems or demand additional capability, according to the Government Accountability Office.

“Some current and former service chiefs said that because they lack visibility into programs, they are unable to influence trade-offs between requirements and resources,” said the watchdog in a report released Thursday. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps chiefs said they are “frequently caught by surprise when cost, schedule, and performance problems emerge in programs.”

The criticism comes as lawmakers debate the Senate version of the fiscal 2016 National Defense Authorization Act. It includes a plan—opposed by the White House—to decentralize decision making on weapons system milestones for service-unique programs and limit documentation of approvals. That would give more authority to service chiefs and less to the Defense Secretary’s office.

GAO’s analysis of original requirements set down for 78 major acquisition programs rarely produced cost growth or “creep.” Instead, “it is after a program has formally started development that the myriad lower-level, technical requirements needed to complete a weapon system’s design are defined,” auditors said, which is what “leads to the realization that much more time and resources are needed to build the weapon system.”

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Source: Government Executive, Article written by Charles S. Clark, published June 12, 2015


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