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GAO: DoD Should Initiate Steps to Better Understand Nature, Scope of Independent R&D Projects

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The Government Accountability Office has recommended that the Department of Defense perform annual reviews of independent research and development projects and determine whether to require contractors to provide additional data on IR&D projects for inclusion in its database to understand the scope and nature of such initiatives.

GAO analyzed IR&D projects completed in 2018 against DoD’s 10 modernization priorities and found that only 38 percent of the projects are aligned with the Pentagon’s technology goals, according to the report published Thursday. 

Those modernization priorities include artificial intelligence and machine learning, autonomy, cyber, hypersonics and quantum science.

“As a result, DOD risks making decisions about its multi-billion dollar science and tech investments that could duplicate work or miss opportunities to fill in gaps that the contributions of private industry do not cover,” the report reads.

The congressional watchdog also found that DoD’s projects database does not capture enough information on cost and innovation and whether a project is aligned with any of the department’s modernization priorities.