A majority of the initiatives GAO reviewed (26 of 30) met, or expected to meet, the Department of Defense’s (DOD) expectation for fielding a capability in response to joint urgent operational needs within 2 years. However, performance in meeting schedule estimates varied, and more than half of the initiatives experienced schedule delays.
Initiatives leveraged three types of solutions: (1) off-the-shelf products, (2) modifications of off-the-shelf items to add capabilities, and (3) products requiring technology development. Off-the-shelf solutions should be fielded the quickest because existing products are being bought. However, while off-the-shelf solutions were fielded quickly once a contract was awarded, it took longer than the two other types to identify, fund, and contract for off-the-shelf solutions. In addition to the program offices that manage traditional acquisition programs, initiatives were also managed by research laboratories and engineering centers, such as the Army Research Laboratory or the Naval Surface Warfare Center. Program offices fielded solutions faster, in part, because program offices are experienced in the full range of acquisition activities. Also, laboratories and engineering centers depended on funding provided by other organizations and delays in receiving this funding affected the start of some initiatives.
GAO recommends that DOD reduce the time spent on identifying and contracting for off-the-shelf solutions, devise methods for providing early funding to research laboratories and engineering centers, require that initiative decision memorandums be prepared for all initiatives, and require acquisition organizations to communicate with the Central Command and other combatant commands about plans for fielding capabilities. DOD concurred with these recommendations. Read Full GAO Report