Defense Acquisitions Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs: documentation

What GAO Found

Page 12GAO-12-400SP Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs


The Joint Strike Fighter is driving much of DOD’s poor portfolio performance and it will continue to drive outcomes for the foreseeable future.
Among the 96 programs in DOD’s 2011 portfolio,the Joint Strike Fighter is the costliest, the poorest performer in terms of cost growth, and the program with the largest remaining funding needs.The Joint Strike Fighter accounts for 21 percent, or nearly $327 billion,of the planned total acquisition cost of the portfolio. It is also responsible for the most significant research and development,procurement, and total acquisition cost growth in the past year, as shown in figure 1. This growth took place without any change inprocurement quantities by the program.
Figure 1: Joint Strike Fighter as a Portion of 2011 Portfolio Cost Growth

Most of the remaining funding for the 2011 portfolio is for procurement.
Over 91 percent of the almost $705 billion needed to complete the programs in the 2011 portfolio consists of procurement funding; therefore, any future funding cuts to these programs will likely result in quantity reductions. The Joint Strike Fighter program alone i sexpected to account for 38 percent—or almost $246 billion—of the future procurement funding needed. This amount is enough to fund the remaining procurement costs of the next 15 largest programs. Figure


In the past 3 years, GAO has reported that newer programs are demonstrating higher levels of knowledge at key decision points. However, most of the 37 programs GAO assessed this year are still not fully adhering to a knowledge-based acquisition approach. Of the eight programs from this group that passed through one of three key decision points in the acquisition process in the past year, only one—Excalibur Increment Ib—implemented all of the applicable knowledge-based practices. As a result, most of these programs will carry technology, design, and production risks into subsequent phases of the acquisition process that could result in cost growth or schedule delays.

GAO also assessed the implementation of selected acquisition reforms and found that most of the 16 future programs we assessed have implemented key provisions of the Weapon Systems Acquisition Reform Act of 2009. Programs have also started to implement new DOD initiatives, such as developing affordability targets and conducting “should cost” analysis. Finally, as could be expected from the increased activity early in the acquisition cycle, the 16 future programs we assessed are planning to spend more funds in technology development than current major defense acquisition programs.

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