Air Force Computers:

Development Risks of Logistics Modernization Program Can Be Reduced

IMTEC-87-19: Published: May 15, 1987. Publicly Released: Jul 6, 1987.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of the Air Force's Logistics Management Systems (LMS) Modernization Program and the acquisition strategy it used in procuring the program.

GAO found that the Air Force: (1) reduced the risk of overall developmental problems because the program is smaller in scope and less complex than an earlier system; (2) did not complete its initial planning activities, which increased the potential for cost increases, schedule delays, and ineffective performance; (3) does not have an effective method to ensure the accurate measurement of project costs, schedules, and performance status; (4) approved eight of the nine projects without feasibility studies; (5) did not regularly validate contractor cost and schedule performance reports; and (6) should have requested delegations of procurement authority in order to avoid possible future program delays. GAO believes that, although the Air Force has taken actions on some projects to alleviate planning weaknesses, project costs may greatly exceed current estimates unless it institutes controls over contractor status reporting and system effectiveness.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In recent contracts, the Air Force has taken actions to more closely tie contract options to oversight approval milestones. This, in effect, acts as a control mechanism.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Air Force should direct the Commander, AFLC, to establish cost and schedule tracking mechanisms which accurately reflect contractor performance and, as a control mechanism, routinely validate the reliability of this information. When established cost and schedule thresholds have been exceeded, the Secretary of the Air Force should report changes in individual project cost and schedule estimates resulting from these validation efforts to the Secretary of Defense and Congress.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Air Force

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Air Force directed each program to strengthen configuration management within its LMS system developments. This included transfer reviews of draft documents and the effective use of design problem reports to track corrective action with errors in data deliverables.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Air Force should direct the Commander, AFLC, to strengthen program oversight procedures to ensure that project management rigorously enforces review and documentation requirements and records and shares lessons learned with other project managers.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Air Force

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Air Force has taken several actions to strengthen contract controls. Four of the last five LMS contracts awarded have achieved acceptable contract levels. The process to ensure that quality assurance provisions are incorporated in software contracts has been formalized by an Air Force directive and will be required for all future LMS contracts.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Air Force should direct the Commander, AFLC, to establish and incorporate provisions for measurable tasks, development milestones, and quality assurance into the two development contracts which have not yet been awarded.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Air Force

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Air Force Audit Agency has completed a validation of AFLC projected LMS benefits, however, AFLC has yet to measure benefits actually achieved for any of the LMS projects or to establish a formal mechanism to measure achievement of benefits. This recommendation will be followed up in subsequent work.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Air Force should direct the Commander, AFLC, to clearly define expected benefits and establish specific criteria to measure achievement of those benefits. The Air Force should identify specific budget line items where logistics support savings or precise readiness improvements, or both, will result. It should establish system effectiveness criteria and measurement methods in an evaluation plan during early system development. This plan should provide direction and guidance to development contractors and should be used by the Air Force project managers to evaluate contractor performance and to ensure that benefits are being achieved.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Air Force

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: AFLC has completed information engineering studies on all remaining LMS projects. Through this effort and more clearly developed functional descriptions for each project, it has been able to negotiate fixed price contracts and foster better project and cost control.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Air Force should direct the Commander of the Air Force Logistics Command (AFLC) to precisely define the existing problems in AFLC operations and document how AFLC will ensure that the system being developed will correct these deficiencies to meet mission requirements. Deficiencies and user needs should be expeditiously defined for the seven development projects already under contract and defined for the remaining two projects prior to awarding any contracts. Feasible alternatives should also be identified and fully evaluated prior to awarding contracts for these two projects. Specifically, the Air Force Systems Command's Acquisition Management Information System should be fully assessed as an alternative to developing the new Contract Data Management System being proposed by AFLC.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Air Force

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Air Force has taken several actions to strengthen contract controls. Four of the last five LMS contracts awarded have achieved acceptable contract levels. The process to ensure that quality assurance provisions are incorporated in software contracts has been formalized by an Air Force directive and will be required for all future LMS contracts.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Air Force should direct the Commander, AFLC, to determine whether amendments can be made in these areas to increase Air Force control over contractor performance for seven projects already under development contract.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Air Force

 

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