DoD too slow on weapons systems software development, says GAO – MeriTalk

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The Department of Defense (DoD) must accelerate the pace of its development and delivery of weapons systems software or face the possibility that Pentagon programs will miss out on the benefits of modernization, according to the assessment. DoD Weapons Annual Report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). purchases.

The DoD has built on modernization initiatives over the past year, with DoD leadership emphasizing key practices, the GAO said.

“However, most of the 39 programs that reported using a modern software development approach are delivering functional software to user feedback more slowly than recommended by industry Agile practices, which require fast and frequent software delivery. and rapid feedback cycles,” the GAO wrote.

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The GAO also found that weapons system cybersecurity is a critical area for the DoD that needs improvement, and that DoD programs do not fully implement recommended cybersecurity practices.

In this year’s annual report, the GAO analyzed 63 of the DoD’s costliest weapons system acquisition programs, including:

  • 40 major defense acquisition programs (MDAP);
  • Four future major weapons acquisitions; and
  • 19 programs using the mid-tier of the acquisition path for rapid prototyping and rapid commissioning efforts.

The report notes that MDAPs continue to struggle with planning delays and that more than half of the 29 MDAPs have not delivered the reported delays. A lack of funding data for future years in the FY2022 budget request prevented GAO from assessing the cost performance of the MDAP portfolio this year.

The GAO made two recommendations to the DoD, both of which were accepted. They are:

  • Update DoD Industrial Base Assessment Instructions to define circumstances that would constitute a known or anticipated problem or risk; and
  • Updated DoD Industrial Base Evaluation Instructions and Acquisition Policies to specify industrial base evaluation requirements that apply to programs utilizing AAF pathways.

The DoD’s difficulties in modernizing weapons system software are not new. Last year, the GAO’s annual assessment found that the DoD was struggling to implement and execute modern software development practices.

“The DOD has made efforts to improve in these areas, such as working to update its software and cybersecurity guidance and providing guidance on Agile software development practices,” the 2021 report states. “However, we found that the majority of programs we interviewed continue to struggle with executing modern software development practices and that many programs we interviewed struggle to implement iterative assessments. and early stages of cybersecurity.”

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