GAO highlights Pentagon shortcomings

Defense Department initiatives account for eight of 30 government programs cited today in a biannual report by General Accountability Office auditors as susceptible to waste, fraud and mismanagement.

GAO officials added four programs to the list last issued in 2003. Two of the four include DOD ones: the department's approach to business transformation and its security clearance program, said GAO officials in the report "High-Risk Areas" signed by David Walker, U.S. comptroller general.

"Senior leaders have shown commitment to business transformation through individual initiatives in acquisition reform, business modernization and financial management, among others, but little tangible evidence of actual improvement has been seen in DOD's business operations to date," GAO officials wrote in the report. "DOD needs to take stronger steps to achieve and sustain business reform on a departmentwide basis."

GAO officials said they regularly track inefficiencies across DOD business areas "resulting in billions of dollars of wasted resources." Last July, GAO officials issued a 79-page report, "DOD Business Systems Modernization: Billions Continue to be Invested with Inadequate Management Oversight and Accountability," that criticizes Pentagon officials for not establishing an effective structure for controlling business systems investments.

In this week's 95-page report, GAO officials make several recommendations, including:

Business transformation: Create a chief management officer position to develop and oversee a broad, consistent and cohesive plan.

Business systems modernization: Develop an enterprise architecture and institute effective management practices and acquisition processes.

Personnel security clearance program: Forecast clearance needs and monitoring backlogs, match staffing to workloads, and start a plan to eliminate clearance delays.

Support infrastructure management: Implement plans to integrate business transformation efforts and that address future building requirements and maintenance.

Financial management: Identify plans, responsibilities, controls and incentives.

Supply chain management: Create a plan that links logistics re-engineering efforts of the services and agencies.

Weapon systems acquisition: Plan for warfighter needs and capabilities and product development and testing.

Contract management: Use commercial best practices to acquire services and better train personnel on new acquisition techniques and approaches.

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