Major DoD acquisition programs taking too long, GAO says

Processes for big weapons systems seem to be headed in the wrong direction.

  • When it comes to speeding up the Defense Department’s acquisition processes for big weapons systems, things are headed in the wrong direction. That is one of the findings of the Government Accountability Office’s annual assessment of the Pentagon’s major procurements. GAO said on average, DoD’s major acquisition programs are taking 11 years to deliver their first capabilities — about three years longer than planned. The report also found slowdowns in DoD’s so-called “middle tier” of acquisition — a pathway that’s explicitly designed for speed.
    (Weapon Systems Annual Assessment - Government Accountability Office)
  • The IRS is taking major strides to wean itself off paper. The IRS estimates more than 94% of individual taxpayers no longer need to send mail to the agency, and that 125 million pieces of correspondence can be submitted digitally each year. For taxpayers who still prefer filing paper tax returns, IRS is working on being able to digitize that paper return. “If you choose to send us the paper, we will process it. But we are ushering in some nice tools with the modernization," said Darnita Trower, the director of emerging programs and initiatives at the IRS. "We don't intend to have people continue keying in tax returns manually. We want to scan and extract that data,” Trower said.
  • A National Science Foundation initiative aims to bring better data to the cyber workforce challenge. The Cybersecurity Workforce Data Initiative is out with a new report explaining how many official labor data sources do not fully account for cybersecurity work. That includes classifications used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Education Department. The initiative’s report recommends marrying up cyber workforce definitions with federal labor databases. And the initiative, led out of the NSF, is now preparing to potentially conduct a survey of the U.S. cyber workforce.
  • The Senate Armed Services Committee has greenlit a number of AI-related provisions in its version of the 2025 defense policy bill. The committee's version of the bill requires the Defense Department to initiate a pilot program that will assess the use of AI to improve DoD shipyards and manufacturing facilities operations. Lawmakers also want the Defense Department to develop a plan to ensure that the budgeting process for AI programs includes cost estimates for the full lifecycle of data management. The bill would also expand the duties of the Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Officer Governing Council.
  • Victims of identity theft are waiting nearly two years, on average, for the IRS to give them their tax refunds. In cases where a scammer stole someone’s identify to get that person's refund check, the IRS took about 22 months to complete those cases. The National Taxpayer Advocate said the COVID-19 pandemic drove up wait times when the IRS shut down processing centers. But, so far this year, wait times are not going back down to pre-pandemic levels.
  • The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency just ran the federal government’s first artificial intelligence tabletop exercises. It involved more than 50 AI experts from government and industry, who convened last week at a Microsoft facility in Reston, Virginia. The exercise simulated a cybersecurity incident on an AI-enabled system. The event will help shape an AI Security Incident Collaboration Playbook being developed by CISA’s Joint Cyber Defense Collaborative.
  • Senate lawmakers are seeking to limit funding available for the Defense Department's initiative designed to support cyber operations across the military services. It is known as the Joint Warfighting Cyber Architecture (JCWA). The Senate version of the defense policy bill is looking to restrict funding available for the effort until the commander of U.S. Cyber Command (CYBERCOM) provides a comprehensive plan to minimize work on the current JCWA. The Senate Armed Services committee also wants CYBERCOM to create a baseline plan for a more advanced version of JCWA. House and Senate leaders will begin negotiating the defense bill once the Senate clears its final version of the measure.
    (Senate seeks to limit funding for JCWA - Senate Armed Services Committee)
  • The Biden Administration is contemplating a new acquisition policy that would clear up some confusion on when contractors have to follow the government’s rigorous cost-accounting standards. The Cost Accounting Standards Board is asking for public feedback on potential rules that would lay out exactly how those standards apply to indefinite delivery contracts. According to the Government Accountability Office, those types of agreements make up about half of federal contract spending, but there are not clear standards on when the cost accounting standards apply to them.
    (Whether and How to Amend CAS Rule - Office of Federal Procurement Policy, Cost Accounting Standards Board)


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