DLA software projects at risk

"Inconsistent Software Acquisition Processes at the Defense Logistics Agency Increase Project Risks"

The lack of an enterprise-level software acquisition strategy at the Defense Logistics Agency puts the department's software projects at risk of not being delivered on time and budget, according to a report released last week by the General Accounting Office.

The report, "Inconsistent Software Acquisition Processes at the Defense Logistics Agency Increase Project Risks," includes results from GAO officials who used a software acquisition capability maturity model from Carnegie Mellon University's Software Engineering Institute (SEI) to evaluate DLA's two ongoing software acquisitions.

One software acquisition, Business Systems Modernization (BSM), is designed to enable the agency to meet business objectives while supporting improved military readiness through rapid access to logistics information. The other, the Fuels Automated System (FAS), is designed to help the Defense Energy Support Center manage about $5 billion in annual contracts with petroleum buyers.

The GAO officials found that BSM "fully satisfied requirements for most of the key process areas evaluated, [but] FAS did not fully satisfy all the criteria for any key process area." Key process areas included software acquisition management, project management, and contract tracking and oversight.

The report concluded that "as evidenced by the wide disparity in the rigor and discipline of processes between the two systems, DLA does not have the institutional management capabilities necessary for effectively acquiring software repeatedly on one project after another."

The report also found that DLA has not established a new software process improvement program since the previous one was eliminated in 1998, even though the agency's chief information officer has said the program would be re-established.

"Without a software process improvement program, it is unlikely that DLA can effectively improve its institutional software acquisition capabilities, which in turn means that DLA's software projects will be at risk of not delivering promised capabilities and on time and within budget," the report stated.

The GAO report recommends the DLA director take the following actions:

* Issue a policy that the agency's software-intensive acquisition projects meet all applicable SEI requirements and that contractors have comparable maturity models.

* Direct the CIO to establish and sustain a software improvement program and report to the director every six months on progress against plans.

The deputy undersecretary of Defense for logistics and materiel readiness offered "official oral comments" on a draft of the GAO report. DOD indicated that it generally concurred with the report and its recommendations. The report stated that DOD will issue policy directives requiring DLA's director to "correct identified software acquisition practice weaknesses, except in circumstances in which corrections to past events make doing so impractical," and it will establish plans to satisfy the GAO's other two recommendations.

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