GAO Report on U.S. Navy Future Shipbuilding Investment

June 8, 2018 12:00 PM

The following is the June 6, 2018 Government Accountability Office report Navy Shipbuilding Past Performance Provides Valuable Lessons for Future Investments.

From the Report

Challenges in meeting shipbuilding cost, schedule, and performance goals have resulted in a less-capable and smaller fleet today than the Navy planned over 10 years ago. While the Navy is continuing to accept delivery of ships, it has received $24 billion more in funding than originally planned but has 50 fewer ships in its inventory today, as compared to the goals it first established in its 2007 long-range shipbuilding plan. Cost growth has contributed to the erosion of the Navy’s buying power with ship costs exceeding estimates by over $11 billion during this time frame. Additionally, the Navy’s shipbuilding programs have had years of construction delays and, even when the ships eventually reached the fleet, they often fell short of quality and performance expectations. Congress and the Department of Defense have mandated or implemented various reform efforts that have led to some improvements, but poor outcomes tend to persist in shipbuilding programs.

The Navy is now planning for the most significant fleet size increase in over 30 years, which includes some costly and complex acquisitions, such as the Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine and a new class of guided missile frigates. In its long-range shipbuilding plan accompanying the fiscal year 2019 budget, the Navy estimated that it needs over $200 billion during the next 10 years to sustain a Navy fleet with more than 300 ships and begin working toward its ultimate goal of achieving a 355-ship fleet. As it embarks upon this plan, the Navy has an opportunity to improve its shipbuilding approach and avoid past difficulties. Over the last 10 years, we have issued 26 reports, identified shipbuilding best practices, testified before Congress on several occasions, and made 67 recommendations to help the Navy improve shipbuilding outcomes. The Department of Defense and the Navy have implemented 29 of our recommendations and have agreed with the principles of GAO’s identified best practices. In many cases, however, the Navy has not taken steps based upon these best practices. This product summarizes our key observations and identifies common challenges that shipbuilding programs have faced over the past decade to help the Navy deliver better outcomes for the sailor and the taxpayer going forward.

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