Defense ADP:

Lessons Learned From Development of Defense Distribution System

IMTEC-92-25: Published: Mar 20, 1992. Publicly Released: Mar 26, 1992.


Samuel W. Bowlin
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO evaluated the Department of Defense's (DOD) development, evaluation, and subsequent rejection of the Defense Distribution System (DDS) prototype for consolidating military depot management, as a case study of DOD efforts to standardize automated systems under its Corporate Information Management (CIM) Initiative.

GAO found that DOD: (1) based DDS on an integration of the Defense Logistics Agency's Warehousing and Shipping Procedures System and the Navy's Integrated Storage, Tracking, and Retrieval System, as well as portions of Army and Air Force warehousing systems; (2) spent about $20 million on DDS development and installation before CIM officials assessed it and selected another system, the Army's Area-Oriented Depot System, for consolidating depot management; (3) did not conduct the required cost-benefit analysis prior to selecting DDS and did not provide any cost-benefit or economic analysis to justify DDS as an interim standard system; (4) did not develop an overall implementation plan or detailed cost estimate for DDS, although its summary cost information indicated that full deployment of DDS could cost almost $100 million; (5) completed one technical evaluation of DDS, which raised several technical questions regarding DDS suitability as a standard system; and (6) lacks adequate data standards across its independently developed systems, making it difficult to test technical feasibility and integration potential.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • 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 ensure that further development of other supply depot systems be curtailed while DOD validates the selection of the Army system. The validation process for the selected standard distribution system should ensure that: (1) the system's benefits clearly justify its costs; (2) its functional and technical features justify it as the best alternative for a standard; and (3) the significant system integration problems facing the proposed system have been adequately addressed.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD completed a functional economic analysis of the merits of alternative automated supply depot systems. As a result, it discontinued implementation of the DDS system, thereby saving installation costs. GAO plans to prepare an accomplishment report as soon as possible.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should ensure that the newly established program for data standards should at a minimum include a: (1) process for developing and controlling standard data definitions and formats; and (2) mechanism for ensuring that those standards are uniformly and consistently implemented in all CIM standard systems.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: A similar recommendation will be repeated in another IMTEC report on Defense's program for developing a standard data dictionary.

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