National Defense:

March 19 Hearing on Sourcing and Acquisition--Questions for the Record

GAO-03-771R: Published: May 23, 2003. Publicly Released: May 23, 2003.

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GAO appeared before the Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support, House Committee on Armed Services on March 19, 2003, to discuss various sourcing and acquisition issues. This letter responds to a request for our views on the following questions for the record.

GAO found that between fiscal years 1990 and 2001, the Department of Defense's (DOD) acquisition workforce was reduced significantly--by more than 50 percent. At the same time, DOD's contracting workload increased by 12 percent. While the Congress and the executive branch have looked for ways to streamline the acquisition process and generate savings, many of our recent reviews indicate that DOD has missed out on opportunities to reduce administrative burdens and enhance its acquisition outcomes. Although we have not evaluated the extent to which reductions in the size of the acquisition workforce may have contributed to these results, DOD's Inspector General has identified a number of adverse impacts attributable to reductions in DOD's acquisition workforce. The 12-member Commercial Activities Panel produced two sets of recommendations for improving the way federal agencies make sourcing decisions. The first set, which the panel unanimously agreed to, consisted of a set of principles to guide sourcing policy for the federal government. The second set involved use of the Federal Acquisition Regulation to conduct public-private competitions, limited changes to Circular A-76, and the promotion of high-performing organizations across the federal government. GAO also shared its opinion that all parties, both public and private, be privy to the bid protest process. Finally, GAO emphasized that the administration's goals for conducting public-private competitions could have a significant impact on the acquisition workforce.

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