ADP Systems:

Concerns About the Acquisition Plan for DOD's Composite Health Care System

IMTEC-86-12: Published: Mar 31, 1986. Publicly Released: Mar 31, 1986.

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As required by the Department of Defense (DOD) Authorization Act of 1986, GAO evaluated the DOD methodology and acquisition strategy for selecting and awarding Composite Health Care System (CHCS) contracts.

GAO found that, although DOD has implemented a sound methodology for selecting first-stage vendors to compete for CHCS contracts, there are other aspects of its acquisition strategy that could limit the program's success, namely that: (1) the extended CHCS benchmark test was incomplete and did not include many complex functional requirements; (2) DOD will award the final contract before the selected vendor demonstrates whether the proposed system can function in a military hospital; and (3) DOD will not study all essential site preparation and hardware equipment requirements until after the final award. GAO also found that: (1) under the CHCS benchmark test plan, DOD did not adequately evaluate whether critical functions could be successfully integrated; (2) although DOD believes that it will not be difficult or costly to develop the remaining requirements, thorough system testing is imperative before final production begins or vendor selection is made; (3) even though the extended benchmark test (EBT) must be passed before CHCS software is deployed, CHCS hardware deployment is not contingent upon the successful EBT completion; (4) DOD chose the current test approach and proposed CHCS contract award strategy to maintain a rapid deployment schedule; (5) DOD did not modify CHCS requirements to reflect valid system changes that could have affected the function and cost of CHCS; and (6) the information DOD provided prospective vendors for use in their proposed system designs may have resulted in erroneous estimates.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD awarded EBT contracts in September 1986 before completing action on this recommendation. However, DOD continues to refine the hospital model it uses to make system sizing conditions. Data from operational test and evaluation notes would lead to further refinements.

    Recommendation: To ensure that the CHCS acquisition selection process identifies the true capabilities of competing vendors and results in the development of a comprehensive medical ADP system that meets user needs at a reasonable cost, the Secretary of Defense should award the CHCS EBT contract only after deficiencies are addressed. Specifically, DOD should validate system sizing data to ensure that the data accurately reflect current needs and operating conditions found in the varying size hospitals existing within each class of medical treatment facility, and provide any necessary revisions to CHCS offerers.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The DOD April 1987 change in acquisition strategy effectively negates this recommendation. However, CHCS contractor designs will be demonstrated during the operational test and evaluation phase of the acquisition, scheduled to begin in March 1988.

    Recommendation: To ensure that the CHCS acquisition selection process identifies the true capabilities of competing vendors and results in the development of a comprehensive medical ADP system that meets user needs at a reasonable cost, the Secretary of Defense should award the CHCS EBT contract only after deficiencies are addressed. Specifically, DOD should modify the CHCS request for proposals to require the winning vendor to successfully demonstrate the CHCS design in one or more military hospitals before DOD awards the full-production contract.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: EBT is scheduled for completion in December 1987. System change requests will not be incorporated until after award of the operational test and evaluation contracts in March and April 1988. However, fulfillment of valid system change requests is due to be a requirement of those contracts.

    Recommendation: To ensure that the CHCS acquisition selection process identifies the true capabilities of competing vendors and results in the development of a comprehensive medical ADP system that meets user needs at a reasonable cost, the Secretary of Defense should award the CHCS EBT contract only after the deficiencies are addressed. Specifically, DOD should: (1) analyze valid existing system change requests to determine their impact on CHCS vendor designs; (2) incorporate critical changes into the CHCS specifications being addressed during EBT; and (3) require that these changes be addressed.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD concurred with this recommendation. It agreed to review the process used to select capabilities for inclusion in EBT to ensure that EBT includes all high-risk capabilities of CHCS and adequately tests CHCS integrated capabilities necessary to support the military medical treatment facilities (MTF).

    Recommendation: To ensure that the CHCS acquisition selection process identifies the true capabilities of competing vendors and results in the development of a comprehensive medical automatic data processing (ADP) system that meets user needs at a reasonable cost, the Secretary of Defense should award the CHCS EBT contract only after the deficiencies discussed in this report are addressed. Specifically, DOD should: (1) assess the risk of not including all functional requirements in EBT compared with the cost of including them; and (2) have the CHCS program systems engineering and technical assistance contractor certify that all complex CHCS functions, such as those in the nursing module, are addressed during the benchmark test.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD concurred with this recommendation and has completed a survey of all CHCS facilities to provide the information needed to evaluate site limitations on hardware approaches and estimate hardware and communication configurations. DOD provided this information to the vendors after initial contract award in September 1986.

    Recommendation: To ensure that the CHCS acquisition selection process identifies the true capabilities of competing vendors and results in the development of a comprehensive medical ADP system that meets user needs at a reasonable cost, the Secretary of Defense should award the CHCS EBT contract only after deficiencies are addressed. Specifically, DOD should: (1) make specific site information available to CHCS offerers for use in designing proposed systems and estimating site-preparation requirements and costs; and (2) require that site-preparation costs be included as part of the evaluation used to select the winning vendor.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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