GAO’s workforce is organized largely by subject area, with most employees working in 1 of 14 mission teams, many of which we have highlighted on the WatchBlog. Today we’ll be putting the spotlight on the Acquisition and Sourcing Management (ASM) team, which determines how efficiently and effectively the federal government is spending hundreds of billions in tax dollars to acquire what it needs.
ASM reports cover issues in acquisition and sourcing. Acquisition issues are about what the government wants to buy, and sourcing issues are about how the government goes about buying these things and determining who will provide them.
- Major Defense and Security Systems: The Department of Defense’s (DOD) acquisition of major weapon systems is on our High Risk List, and this 2013 testimony showed how Congress and DOD continually explore ways to improve acquisition outcomes. We also reported on major systems acquisitions at the Department of Homeland Security.
- DOD Space Systems: A testimony from earlier this year assessed potential effects of future changes in DOD’s acquisition of space-based capabilities.
- National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA): This is one of our annual assessments of NASA’s projects, such as space transportation vehicles or satellites with advanced sensors for studying space and earth.
- Best Practices: Since the 1990s, we have worked extensively on developing acquisition process best practices for government agencies, drawing from successful private sector firms.
- Acquisition Planning and Management: This report assessed competition in DOD’s contracts for goods and services.
- Strategic Sourcing: We identified practices at the leading edge in the private sector for buying strategically and explore what factors help or hurt the government’s strategic sourcing.
- Agency Acquisition Capacity: DOD, the intelligence community, and other agencies turn to contractors for their acquisitions, often without the necessary oversight.
- Acquiring and Protecting Critical Technologies: We have reviewed the effectiveness of government programs established to identify and protect technologies critical to U.S. interests, including export controls and non-export control programs.
For more information on our work, see our High Risk issue areas on DOD Contract Management, DOD Weapon Systems Acquisition, or NASA Acquisition Management. You can also see our numerous Key Issues by checking the “Government Operations,” “National Defense,” or “Space” boxes on this page.
In fiscal year 2014, ASM’s work saved taxpayers more than $12 billion. ASM directors testified before Congress 14 times, and Congress frequently cited our work as the impetus behind new laws, regulations, policies, and initiatives designed to save billions of dollars on government contracts and improved weapon system acquisitions.
A Closer Look at an ASM Report: Defense Acquisition “Quick Look”
The “Quick Look” is an annual assessment of DOD’s high dollar value acquisition programs, such as those shown below.
Images excerpted from GAO-14-340SP
Our 2014 assessment found the overall size of DOD’s large programs decreased, but the estimated cost increased by $14.1 billion. Additionally, we found that most of the programs we reviewed weren’t fully following a knowledge-based acquisition approach. This could carry risk into other phases of the acquisition, possibly resulting in increased costs and schedule delays.
Excerpted from GAO-14-340SP
Listen to this podcast with Michael Sullivan, a director in ASM, for more information on the 2014 Quick Look: