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Government Operations: Major System Acquisition Management in the Department of Justice

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Citation Edit

General Accounting Office, Government Operations: Major System Acquisition Management in the Department of Justice (GGD-82-18) (Dec. 29, 1981) (full-text).

Overview Edit

The GAO reviewed the Department of Justice's progress in implementing OMB Circular No. A-109 to manage major system acquisitions. OMB Circular No. A-109 supplies a framework of flexible management policies that can be applied to all systems, ranging from defense weapons to electronic data processing. Under the guidelines of A-109, each agency must: (1) define the need in terms of its mission; (2) reconcile needs and goals with agency capabilities; (3) evaluate industry's competitive efforts to develop alternative designs; and (4) choose the best alternative on the basis of demonstrated performance and price commitments. Emphasis is on mission-oriented planning, high visibility, strong program management, and reliance on private industry for alternative system designs.

The GAO found that Justice has not established an adequate foundation for implementing Circular A-109. Justice has not issued an implementing directive, provided any training, or designated any programs as major system acquisitions. A directive implementing Circular A-109 in Justice is needed.

In addition, the responsibility for implementing and monitoring A-109 is not clearly placed within Justice. This responsibility should lie within an office which deals with planning and policy. The acquisition executive should make sure that the delegated responsibility is clear and is focused on an individual office which has Justice-wide oversight of planned major system acquisitions. Justice has not designated any acquisition programs as A-109 programs. However, most electronic data processing programs meet the cost criterion to be so designated. The GAO believes that more effort is needed to identify potential major system acquisition programs.

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