GAO Study Comparing Commercial and Military Shipbuilding Practices

The GAO issued a report 13 May comparing Navy and commercial shipbuilding practices.   All Engineering Duty Officers should at least read the Summary, which states, in part:

Delivering ships on time and within budget are imperatives...commercial shipbuilders and buyers do not [sign] a contract [without] a full understanding of the effort needed to design and construct the ship..., enabling the shipbuilder to sign a contract that fixes the price, delivery date, and ship performance parameters. Commercial shipbuilding is structured on shared priorities between buyer and shipbuilder, a healthy industrial base, and maintaining in-house expertise.... Navy programs often ... [start] construction without a stable design, [employ immature technology], [and] make little use of prior ship design, [which] ... cause Navy ships to cost more than they otherwise should, reducing the number of ships that can be bought under constrained budgets. ... In Navy shipbuilding, the buyer favors the introduction of new technologies on lead ships--often at the expense of other competing demands--including fleet size. This focus--along with low volume, a relative lack of shipyard competition, and insufficient expertise--contributes to high-risk practices in Navy programs. ...[T]he consequences of delayed deliveries and cost growth are not as severe in Navy programs because of the use of cost-reimbursable contracts.

These are some of the challenges we have to address as we build the affordable future fleet.  For those who are truly time challenged, there is a one page summary.