The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report indicates that more than half of the Pentagon’s major acquisition programs are delayed due to an inconsistent implementation of commercial practices. While the report praises some programs that align with leading company product development principles, it also highlights the issues plaguing other projects, which significantly impacts key weapons development, such as the Air Force’s Sentinel intercontinental ballistic missile and the Navy’s Zumwalt destroyer.
- The GAO report praised programs that adopted successful product development principles such as defining project goals before allocating funds, utilizing modern design tools like 3D printing, and incorporating operator feedback during design stages. The Army’s Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon System and the Extended Range Cannon Artillery program are notable successes.
- However, the report also criticizes programs that failed to adhere to these principles. The Navy’s Zumwalt guided-missile destroyer program is a significant example, with its operational testing delayed by a year due to additional features and capabilities.
- Even when the Pentagon follows successful development principles, there can be delays due to the ambitious nature of its technology requirements. The Army’s IVAS program, which seeks to develop an augmented-reality headset for soldiers, is one such case.
- The GAO report underlines the need for the Defense Department to consistently apply successful product development principles across all programs, increase tolerance for experimental failure, and prevent such failures from escalating costs and delays.