The Department of Defense (DoD) has been working to establish a software acquisition pathway that emphasizes rapid delivery and user engagement, but the Pentagon has not collected data or developed tools needed to oversee programs using the pathways, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

“[DoD] increasingly relies on software to operate its weapon and business information technology (IT) systems,” GAO said in a new report. “Yet, DoD has long faced challenges with software development. Over the past several years, DoD made efforts to modernize its software development approaches.”

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According to GAO, many DoD programs have yet to implement some recommended practices associated with modern software development approaches – including those in the June 2021 assessments of DoD’s weapon and business IT systems.

During that June assessment, GAO reported that DoD created a new acquisition framework in January 2020 with six acquisition pathways. DoD began implementing the pathway, but the department didn’t have a data collection strategy for it. GAO then recommended DoD automate data collection efforts for the pathway – a recommendation to which DoD agreed.

Additionally, GAO said, DoD programs have reported other challenges that could affect their ability to implement reforms. Those include staffing challenges with over half of the weapon systems and nearly all major business IT programs GAO reviewed.

“In June 2021, GAO recommended that DoD automate data collection efforts for the software acquisition pathway,” GAO wrote. “DoD concurred with the recommendation and reported that it is developing plans for automation of data collection.”

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.