Best Practices:

DOD Teaming Practices Not Achieving Potential Results

GAO-01-510: Published: Apr 10, 2001. Publicly Released: Apr 10, 2001.

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GAO examined how best practices could help the Department of Defense (DOD) maximize the benefits of integrated product teams in its development of weapon systems. GAO conducted eight case studies--three from leading commercial firms; four from DOD programs experiencing cost, schedule, and performance problems; and one from a DOD program that has been meeting its objectives. GAO found that effective integrated product teams can make significant development decisions quickly and without relying on heavy consultations with organizations outside of the team. These teams have developed and delivered superior products within predicted time frames and budgets--often cutting calendar time in half compared with earlier products delivered without such teams. Officials from the more successful programs GAO reviewed--three commercial and one from DOD--all cited integrated product teams as a main factor in achieving such results. GAO found that the teams did not operate as effectively in the four DOD programs that were not meeting cost and schedule objectives. Their decision-making processes were sequential and involved many outside consultations for information and approval.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should put program offices in a better position to create and sustain effective IPTs by refining the IPT designation to be used exclusively for new product development teams encompassing core components.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD plans no action for this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should put program offices in a better position to create and sustain effective IPTs by ensuring IPTs have the sufficient knowledge and authority by (1) giving them responsibility for a deliverable product, along with the authority to make decisions on that product and (2) providing representation from each functional area of expertise critical to product design, development, and manufacture.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD plans no action for this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should put program offices in a better position to create and sustain effective IPTs by enabling IPT leaders to participate in program goal setting and holding the teams accountable for achieving those goals.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD plans no action for this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should put program offices in a better position to create and sustain effective IPTs by encouraging and supporting program managers' efforts to collocate team members, including contractor personnel.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD plans no action for this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should put program offices in a better position to create and sustain effective IPTs by providing program managers and team leaders with greater authority and control over selection of IPT members, rating authority, and rotation of members.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD plans no action for this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should put program offices in a better position to create and sustain effective IPTs by establishing indicators to enable program and team management to evaluate the performance of IPTs, such as the efficiency of the decision-making process employed by a team.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD plans no action for this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should help program managers and team leaders become catalysts for IPT implementation by devoting professional education to make existing and prospective program managers and IPT leaders aware of and capable of creating the culture necessary to foster IPTs in weapon system programs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Defense Acquisition University developed a program management course which includes case studies that emphasize best practices and integrated product teams.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should help program managers and team leaders become catalysts for IPT implementation by drawing lessons from programs like the Advanced Amphibious Assault Vehicle to (1) bridge barriers between program offices and contractors and (2) use collocation to break down barriers and create trust.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Defense Acquisition University developed a program management course which includes a case study on the Advanced Amphibious Assault Vehicle. Course case studies emphasize best practices and integrated product teams.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should designate as Integrated Product Teams (IPT) only those teams that will have the day-to-day responsibility for developing and delivering a product, such as a weapon system, and the cross-section of expertise to do so. For those teams so designated, the Secretary of Defense should use the IPT practices and characteristics in GAO's report to develop and communicate to program offices standards for defining what constitutes an effective IPT.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD plans no action for this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should help program managers and team leaders become catalysts for IPT implementation by supporting the IPTs with the resources--such as information technology, training, and expert help--needed to maximize their effectivenss.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Defense Acquisition University developed a program management course which includes case studies that emphasize best practices and integrated product teams. In addition, the University has taken action to reorganize to collocate training facilities with major development commands, making the training more accessible to program managers.

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