The development of cutting-edge technologies is critical to many of the government’s most costly acquisitions, including homeland security systems, new weapons, satellites, and nuclear facilities.
Technology readiness assessments (TRA) are used to evaluate the maturity of technologies and whether they are developed enough to be incorporated into a system without too much risk. Technologies that are not as mature as recommended have been the source of program delays and cost increases.
Relatively few federal agencies have guides for assessing a technology’s maturity and its readiness for integration into larger acquisition programs. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has therefore issued a guide intended to provide a better understanding of technology maturity and a framework for conducting high-quality TRAs.
The new TRA Guide can help program managers, technology developers, and governance bodies throughout the federal government by providing them a framework for better understanding technology maturity, and for conducting high-quality TRAs. Specifically, the TRA Guide has two objectives: to describe generally accepted best practices for conducting high-quality TRAs of technology developed for systems or acquisition programs; and to provide technology developers, program managers, and governance bodies with useful information to more effectively mature critical technologies, determine a technology’s readiness, and manage and address risk. In addition, oversight bodies—such as those with department or agency acquisition officials or government auditors—may use the TRA Guide to evaluate whether the fundamental processes and best practices of effective TRAs have been followed or whether TRAs demonstrate the characteristics (credibility, objectivity, reliability, and usefulness) of high-quality assessments.