The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a new guide detailing best practices and techniques for conducting technology readiness assessments (TRA) at Federal agencies on Jan. 7.
In the guide, GAO asserts that developing cutting-edge technologies is a critical part of government acquisition strategies. If the existing technology is not adequately mature for change, it can cause program delays and increase costs.
“Technology readiness assessments are used to evaluate the maturity of technologies and whether these technologies are adequately developed to be integrated into a system so that it can move into production with minimal risk,” the guide states.
GAO, with this new guide, aims to provide a framework for agencies to better understand the importance of technology maturity and the process behind TRAs. To accomplish this, the agency developed a list of characteristics of high quality TRAs, best practices, maturity levels, the TRA process, report templates, and case studies.
“GAO found that when program managers and technology developers used disciplined processes, employed a knowledge-based approach throughout acquisitions, and had access to readily available information and readiness standards, it helped them to safeguard product development from undue technology risks,” the agency wrote in the report.
Additionally, GAO said that TRAs can protect program managers from accidentally acquiring immature technologies and improve cross organizational communication about technology.
At the Department of Defense (DoD), for example, GAO reported that space acquisition costs are routinely underestimated. Upon review, the oversight agency found that programs were initiated at DoD before staff determined if the goals were feasible given available resources. A process like TRAs would push DoD to assess the technological landscape before proceeding with a project.