A GAO report has found that the Department of Defense could improve the way it develops its acquisition program managers.
Major defense acquisition programs have been plagued with cost and schedule overruns – initial expectations have been exceeded by $484 million and average overruns are 31 months – so acquisition program managers are essential to keep things on track.
Although the GAO found that military services have taken steps to develop “top-notch talent” for this role, it says that their training, mentoring, retention and selection of program managers falls short compared with other leading organizations.
GAO found that most leading organizations use 10 key practices to develop program managers, which include training classes that allow managers to share their experiences, mentoring and education subsidies. The military is only using four of these practices extensively across all three of its services.
For one of the key practices, financial rewards for good performance, neither the Air Force nor the Navy had implemented it at all and it was only partially used when developing the Army’s acquisition program managers.
GAO recommends that the secretaries of the Air Force, Army and Navy should all ensure that their development of program managers aligns with the top practices used by leading commercial organizations. It also recommends that all three secretaries should make better use of the Defense Acquisition Workforce Development Fund to recognize high performers, and that the secretaries of the Air Force and the Navy should identify lessons learned by the Army related to the Army’s experience to extend coverage of AcqDemo across the civilian program management workforce.