Increased Standardization Would Reduce Costs of Ground Support Equipment for Military Aircraft

LCD-80-30: Published: Feb 7, 1980. Publicly Released: Feb 7, 1980.

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Military aircraft ground support equipment was reviewed to determine whether more commonality of support equipment was feasible and whether earlier planning during the aircraft design phase could reduce the number and kinds of this equipment entering military inventories. Each new aircraft developed for the military services results in the development of thousands of ground support equipment items, much of which performs the same function as equipment already in service.

Substantial cost savings could be realized in research and development, procurement, and logistics if ground support equipment could service more than one type of aircraft. The Department of Defense (DOD) has no organization responsible for issuing policy and guidance to the services on managing and standardizing support equipment or coordinating its development. Most support equipment research and development is geared to meeting program schedules and performance requirements for one type of aircraft. Currently, data systems contain inaccurate or outdated information on the description, reliability, capability, and application of items already in military inventories. Some data sources do not include large quantities of support equipment available in Air Force and Navy inventories; others include a wide range of equipment items, but do not list all their characteristics. Thus, no single source gives decisionmakers all the information needed to decide whether inventories already have similar equipment. Service officials believe that the large volume of items recommended by contractors at one time, insufficient staff to review them, and the complexity of the review and approval process all contribute to hasty reviews. According to service officials, the greatest drawback to more standardization is the procurement regulation requirement that procurements be competitive whenever possible. Because the services use performance standards instead of design specifications, subsequent procurements may contain items having different subsystems and components than the original.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should evaluate the support equipment acquisition practices used in the airline industry and determine the extent to which the practices instituted to limit support equipment items and costs and to increase standardization could be used by DOD.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should impose tight controls when new items enter the supply system so that their assigned names are recognized by all potential users when screening available data systems and manuals.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should require the services to assess, during aircraft design, whether support equipment needs can be satisfied: (1) by using the existing supply system without redesigning the aircraft; (2) by altering the design to accommodate an existing piece of equipment; or (3) if new equipment is justified, by evaluating whether it could be used for other aircraft.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should evaluate the capabilities of the various support equipment data systems to determine which systems can most promptly provide the cost complete, up-to-date, accurate, and readily accessible information.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should monitor the services' planned use of standard support equipment items to ensure that they have participated in the equipment's design and development stages.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should develop a general planning strategy for support equipment that not only identifies acquisition problems and areas for increased management attention but also takes advantage of opportunities to promote standardization and reduce the number of different support equipment items.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should require the services to systematically examine what it takes to service an aircraft on the ground and what avionics systems need testing. Once this has been determined, standard equipment could be used or designed to service and test the variety of aircraft currently in the inventory.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  8. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should establish a focal point in the Office of the Secretary of Defense to guide and direct the services in carrying out the policy and detailed plans.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  9. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should require that the services implement a system of incentives to make standardization desirable to both contractors and the Government.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  10. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should require that Air Force and Navy top management oversee the adequacy of the review process and take an active part in the approval or denial of contractor-recommended items.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  11. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct support equipment managers to coordinate with weapon program managers and field activities to provide and get feedback to enhance standardization.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  12. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should require the services to use design specifications and multiyear procurements, if authorized by law. The Secretary should provide instructions for the services to use negotiated procurements when competitive means to increase standardization cannot be applied.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  13. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should reinforce the services' cataloging and standardization organizations' role in approving new equipment by requiring their input before such equipment enters the system.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  14. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should require the services to coordinate their research and development efforts so that they do not duplicate support equipment items performing similar functions, particularly for aircraft common to both services.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  15. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should establish an activity to coordinate the efforts of item and system managers, equipment specialists, design engineers, uses, and any other group participating in support equipment acquisition. The activity should maintain management visibility over support equipment and assess whether more standard equipment should be developed.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  16. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should decide whether the time constraint imposed for unusually complex items, such as avionics testing equipment, is appropriate. If not, devise different strategies to ensure that complex equipment can be carefully reviewed and delivered when needed.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  17. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should clearly define the review roles and responsibilities of essential organizations and eliminate those activities which provide little or no substantive assistance in deciding the adequacy of recommended items.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  18. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should develop specific methodology to guide reviewers through the review process so that they can decide realistically whether items are necessary. The methodology should include the requirement to screen existing inventories and justify why existing assets are unacceptable.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  19. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the services to include all necessary support equipment items in their data systems. The systems should include data on item descriptions, sizes, shapes, reliabilities, capabilities, and applications. The systems should also designate preferred items that the Government wants contractors to use when they design new equipment.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  20. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should vigorously pursue a policy for support equipment standardization.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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