Evaluation of Defense Attempts To Manage Battlefield Intelligence Data

LCD-81-23: Published: Feb 24, 1981. Publicly Released: Feb 24, 1981.

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The Battlefield Exploitation and Target Acquisition (BETA) project was initiated as a joint service experiment to develop a test bed for automated collection, analysis, correlation, and dissemination of tactical intelligence data. The experiment was estimated to cost $98 million through completion in fiscal year 1984. However, in June 1980 congressional committees redirected the project after learning of the BETA development schedule slippage, inordinate cost increases, reduced capabilities, and poor performance during testing. GAO reviewed the present status of the BETA project.

GAO concluded that: (1) the BETA project capabilities were not sufficiently developed and tested to provide a baseline for early fielding of an operational system and considerable corrective action is needed to achieve this goal; (2) the data are not processed within required response times to provide sufficient technical information for the engineering development effort; (3) pressure from the Department of Defense management to test BETA in a European demonstration contributed significantly to project development problems such as cost growth and reduced performance requirements; (4) prior to congressional direction to form a joint service project, the Air Force was the only service committed to using the BETA design and software to facilitate the early fielding of an operational correlation system; and (5) the Army, which requires functions in addition to those provided by BETA, planned further test bed experiments while it continued analyzing its correlation system requirements. The Navy and Marine Corps foresee very limited application of present BETA technology to their projects.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should include in the BETA project plan an orderly, well planned, software development process with progress based on attainment of performance goals, instead of a time schedule. This process should start with a 6 to 8 month "find and fix" phase to (1) correct major software discrepancies; and (2) attempt bringing the current test bed up to specified performance levels. After this phase is successfully completed, as evidenced by testing, service experimentation with the test bed should continue to identify and develop service-unique or advanced capabilities, which can be added during engineering development by future software/hardware upgrades.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should include in the BETA project plan an acquisition strategy that will maximize use of BETA software in the engineering development model of the joint correlation system to the extent technically feasible. Essentially, this system will require the contractor to provide computer hardware which meets military specifications and is compatible with BETA software.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should include in the BETA project plan a Marine Corps analysis comparing its correlation system requirements with planned BETA capabilities.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should include in the BETA project plan a plan that defines how BETA can be used to satisfy the requirements of the Marine Corps correlation system.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  5. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should include in the BETA project plan a Navy definition of a technical approach integrating the BETA ground target designations into shipboard command and control systems.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  6. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should include in the BETA project plan a firm Army commitment to utilize the BETA system architecture to fulfill a portion of its tactical fusion requirements so that the joint project can make maximum use of existing software and common hardware.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  7. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should include in the BETA project plan an overall schedule for system engineering development and early fielding, as well as corresponding funding requirements. Further, this acquisition should be managed by a single project office, responsible for accommodating both Army and Air Force requirements and for maintaining system configuration control.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  8. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should include in the BETA project plan the principal objective of future BETA efforts should be to support the early fielding of a joint service tactical echelon correlation system to meet Army and Air Force operational requirements for the 1980's.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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