The VA has had “little success” in improving its management of acquisition of goods and services and is “not well positioned” to carry out a new framework, GAO has said.
A report said the department’s existing framework, called the Acquisition Program Management Framework, that has been in place since 2017 generally aligns with leading acquisition practices because it includes features that could provide for standardized management and oversight of major acquisitions. However, GAO said that the VA has not been using that framework and that the programs it reviewed “instead use program-specific approaches that vary widely in robustness.”
A new framework being put in place, called the Acquisition Lifecycle Framework, includes many similar features and processes but the VA “plans to implement it before addressing challenges that hindered adoption of its predecessor,” the report said. Those challenges include identifying programs to be subject to the framework, aligning the framework with other processes and ensuring compliance, it said.
GAO also cited skills gaps in the acquisition workforce, which “affected programs’ ability to implement the existing framework. Since VA has yet to assess its current workforce to determine whether gaps still exist, it will not know if current staff levels and skillsets are adequate to effectively support the new framework.”
“If VA does not take steps to address these challenges prior to implementing the new Acquisition Lifecycle Framework, then VA will face increased risks of another unsuccessful implementation that does not achieve meaningful improvements in management of its major acquisitions,” it said.
It said that VA management agreed with its recommendations for establishing a mechanism to collect and monitor program costs, assessing workforce gaps, aligning the proposed framework with other agency processes, identifying a mechanism to ensure compliance, and ensuring the steps are taken before implementation of the new framework.