Defense Acquisitions:

Further Management and Oversight Changes Needed for Efforts to Modernize Cheyenne Mountain Attack Warning Systems

GAO-06-666: Published: Jul 6, 2006. Publicly Released: Jul 6, 2006.

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The Cheyenne Mountain Operations Center houses numerous complex computer systems for tracking air, missile, and space events that could threaten homeland security or undermine military operations in theater. To ensure this mission can be met, the systems require ongoing upgrades. The most recent upgrade program--the Combatant Commanders' Integrated Command and Control System (CCIC2S)--was initiated in 2000. Given the critical missions supported by Cheyenne Mountain systems, GAO initiated a review to (1) determine the status of the CCIC2S program in terms of meeting its cost, schedule, and performance goals; (2) gauge the extent to which DOD has followed best practices in managing program requirements; and (3) assess DOD's control and oversight mechanisms for CCIC2S.

Like its predecessor, the Department of Defense's (DOD) CCIC2S program is over cost, behind schedule, and some capabilities have been deferred indefinitely which could pose risks to performing some future operations. The Air Force, which has overall responsibility for the program, currently estimates program costs will total about $707 million through fiscal year 2006--about a 51 percent increase over initial estimates. Schedules have also expanded significantly, and most critical mission capabilities will not be delivered in fiscal year 2006, as initially planned. The deferral of capabilities and performance shortfalls has significant implications for future missions--especially if program dollars are needed to maintain legacy systems longer than expected. The tracking of space objects could be particularly affected, given that none of the work on CCIC2S's critical space mission capabilities has been completed, and estimated completion dates for this work have yet to be determined. Unstable program requirements and the failure to match requirements to available resources have contributed to the program's cost and schedule overruns. Since the program began in 2000, the Air Force has added, deleted, and modified requirements without adequately determining the effect of these changes on resources. To control cost growth, the Air Force has frequently deferred work to later years and has yet to determine when and at what cost development is to be completed. Several key controls needed to mitigate the CCIC2S program's cost and schedule problems are not in place. First, DOD did not designate the CCIC2S program as a major automated information system acquisition--a designation that would have required high-level oversight other than that provided by the Air Force, which has been ineffective. In addition, the Air Force's contracting approach has limited the program's ability to thoroughly assess the reliability of the contractor's cost and schedule performance information and the impact of defining, prioritizing, and adding capabilities. Despite this risky approach, the Defense Contract Management Agency did not independently monitor contractor performance. According to DOD officials, actions are being taken to implement better controls and to determine whether the CCIC2S program should be categorized as a major automated information system acquisition.

Status Legend:

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  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to ensure management controls are in place so that changes to requirements are decided on the basis of costs, benefits, risks, and affordability.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In a March 20, 2007, report to Congress, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Networks and Information Integration (ASD/NII) states that over the past 18 months the Combatant Commanders' Integrated Command and Control System (CCIC2S) program office has developed and implemented the necessary controls and processes for a well-defined, structured approach. The report states that all new and emerging requirements and changes to requirements are to be carefully evaluated for impact to the acquisition program baseline (APB) and that any change that affects the APB will be submitted to the milestone decision authority prior to implementation. The report states that process improvement began in August 2004 with the establishment of a Joint Requirements Integrated Product Team (JRIPT)--chaired by Air Force Space Command and including participation by U.S. Strategic Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command--to review and prioritize changes to program requirements by assessing warfighter needs against funding and schedule constraints. Requirements changes approved by the JRIPT are then assessed with respect to cost, schedule, and risk by the CCIC2S program office through a Configuration Control Board (CCB)--led by the CCIC2S program manager and consisting of key program office members. The report states that the roles, responsibilities, and procedures of the CCB are defined in an operating instruction and that the CCB process is part of an overall effort to manage change through comprehensive systems engineering, requirements tracking, and risk management processes though all life-cycle phases. The report states that management control of requirements on contract is also improved. For example, for changes to the contract baseline, the contractor, under government oversight, conducts system-level technical reviews including a formal System Requirements Review. It states that these reviews are supported by a contractor-generated System Requirements Document or a Technical Requirements Document. Additionally, the contractor has implemented an internal engineering review board process to evaluate any proposed change to the contract baseline in terms of consistency with validated requirements and architectures as well as its impact to program cost and schedule estimates. Candidate changes suggested from the engineering review board that would impact the contractor's baseline are submitted to the government CCB for consideration. Furthermore, the report states that the integrated master schedule is now a team effort between the government and contractor and is used to manage the program to track and report progress and deconflict resource contention. As an added measure, the report states that the master schedule has been reviewed by an independent government team and the contractor/program office team has incorporated their recommendations. The report also states that the master schedule is assessed periodically by the Defense Contract Management Agency. Finally, the report states that the JRIPT/CCB process will continue to apply as the CCIC2S program transforms into other programs to satisfy space, air, and missile deferred requirements.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to develop and implement an approach that requires a rigorous analysis of resource impacts of any change in requirements for continuously making trade-offs between requirements and resources to ensure a match is maintained.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In a March 20, 2007, report to Congress, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Networks and Information Integration (ASD/NII) states that over the past 18 months the Combatant Commanders' Integrated Command and Control System (CCIC2S) program office has developed and implemented the necessary controls and processes for a well-defined, structured approach. The report states that all new and emerging requirements and changes to requirements are to be carefully evaluated for impact to the acquisition program baseline (APB) and that any change that affects the APB will be submitted to the milestone decision authority prior to implementation. The report states that process improvement began in August 2004 with the establishment of a Joint Requirements Integrated Product Team (JRIPT)--chaired by Air Force Space Command and including participation by U.S. Strategic Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command--to review and prioritize changes to program requirements by assessing warfighter needs against funding and schedule constraints. Requirements changes approved by the JRIPT are then assessed with respect to cost, schedule, and risk by the CCIC2S program office through a Configuration Control Board (CCB)--led by the CCIC2S program manager and consisting of key program office members. The report states that the roles, responsibilities, and procedures of the CCB are defined in an operating instruction and that the CCB process is part of an overall effort to manage change through comprehensive systems engineering, requirements tracking, and risk management processes though all life-cycle phases. The report states that management control of requirements on contract is also improved. For example, for changes to the contract baseline, the contractor, under government oversight, conducts system-level technical reviews including a formal System Requirements Review. It states that these reviews are supported by a contractor-generated System Requirements Document or a Technical Requirements Document. Additionally, the contractor has implemented an internal engineering review board process to evaluate any proposed change to the contract baseline in terms of consistency with validated requirements and architectures as well as its impact to program cost and schedule estimates. Candidate changes suggested from the engineering review board that would impact the contractor's baseline are submitted to the government CCB for consideration. Furthermore, the report states that the integrated master schedule is now a team effort between the government and contractor and is used to manage the program to track and report progress and deconflict resource contention. As an added measure, the report states that the master schedule has been reviewed by an independent government team and the contractor/program office team has incorporated their recommendations. The report also states that the master schedule is assessed periodically by the Defense Contract Management Agency. Finally, the report states that the JRIPT/CCB process will continue to apply as the CCIC2S program transforms into other programs to satisfy space, air, and missile deferred requirements.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to maintain Cheyenne Mountain's essential operation and maintenance activities and to limit future development activities to those deemed critical to national security needs until the Department determines and clearly delineates oversight responsibilities and accountability for the successful implementation of CCIC2S.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In a March 20, 2007, report to Congress, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Networks and Information Integration (ASD/NII)states that the Combatant Commanders' Integrated Command and Control System (CCIC2S) program was designated as a major automated information system acquisition with oversight by ASD/NII on September 1, 2006. The report states that due to the late stage of the development of Block 1--with most of the developmental work on Block 1 completed and funding expended--ASD/NII delegated oversight of the remaining portions of Block 1 to the Air Force Component Acquisition Executive. The report states that ASD/NII will retain oversight of all future CCIC2S efforts. The report further states that ASD/NII will continue to review the program status via avenues such as the quarterly Defense Acquisition Executive Summary and action officer-level discussions. Additionally, it states that ASD/NII asked the program office to provide the Overarching Integrated Product Team with its intended plan of action regarding deferred CCIC2S capabilities.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to maintain Cheyenne Mountain's essential operation and maintenance activities and to limit future development activities to those deemed critical to national security needs until the Department conducts an independent estimate of program life-cycle costs, to provide a basis for relying on the cost estimates.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In July 2007, the Air Force Cost Analysis Improvement Group (AFCAIG) issued a report title"Combatant Commanders' Integrated Command and Control (CCIC2) Recommended Independent Life Cycle Cost Estimate and Affordability Assessment". According to the cover memo dated July 3, 2007, from the Department of the Air Force Deputy Assistant Secretary Richard Hartley, the report summarizes the independent life cycle cost estimate in response to the July 2006 GAO review (GAO-06-666) of DOD's efforts to modernize the Cheyenne Mountain attack warning systems.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to maintain Cheyenne Mountain's essential operation and maintenance activities and to limit future development activities to those deemed critical to national security needs until the Department conducts an economic analysis to assess the life-cycle costs and benefits of the program.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: On May 31, 2007, the Air Force Materiel Command's Electronic Systems Center issued a report titled "Combatant Commanders Integrated Command and Control System (CCIC2S) Block 1 Economic Analysis". In the preface, the report states that this document is required to comply with the recommendations in the July 2006 GAO review (GAO-06-666) of DOD's efforts to modernize the Cheyenne Mountain attack warning systems.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to maintain Cheyenne Mountain's essential operation and maintenance activities and to limit future development activities to those deemed critical to national security needs until the Department conducts an affordability assessment to demonstrate that the program's resource estimates are realistic and achievable in terms of DOD's overall long-range modernization priorities and investment plans for Cheyenne Mountain. Such an assessment would require ensuring the requirements baseline is verified and validated and making a match between these requirements and available resources.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In July 2007, the Air Force Cost Analysis Improvement Group (AFCAIG) issued a report titled "Combatant Commanders' Integrated Command and Control (CCIC2) Recommended Independent Life Cycle Cost Estimate and Affordability Assessment". According to the cover memo dated July 3, 2007, from the Department of the Air Force Deputy Assistant Secretary Richard Hartley, the report summarizes the affordability assessment in response to the July 2006 GAO review (GAO-06-666) of DOD's efforts to modernize the Cheyenne Mountain attack warning systems.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to maintain Cheyenne Mountain's essential operation and maintenance activities and to limit future development activities to those deemed critical to national security needs until the Department designates the program as a major automated information system acquisition.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In a March 20, 2007, report to Congress, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Networks and Information Integration (ASD/NII) states that the September 1, 2006, ASD/NII Oversight List designated the Combatant Commanders' Integrated Command and Control System (CCIC2S) program as a major automated information system acquisition.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to develop and implement an approach for ensuring program cost and performance data are reliable.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In a March 20, 2007, report to Congress, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Networks and Information Integration (ASD/NII) states that the Combatant Commanders' Integrated Command and Control System (CCIC2S) contractor's work breakdown structure now enables the development team to better associate costs with individual products and that further reliability of cost data has been improved by implementing an automated and highly-structured earned value management system. The report states that the Defense Contract Management Agency conducts regular joint reviews with the program office and the contractor to evaluate the contractor's earned value management system's policies and processes. Additionally, it states that an integrated baseline review is conducted whenever new work is added to the contract or the baseline is changed to identify cost, schedule, and technical risks to ensure more reliable cost and performance data.

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