Navy Tactical Computer Development--Limited Competition and Questionable Future Software Savings

MASAD-81-28: Published: May 15, 1981. Publicly Released: May 15, 1981.

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GAO was requested to report on the Navy's program for development of new tactical computers. Concern was expressed as to whether the Navy obtained maximum competition and provided for the early phase-in of the new Department of Defense (DOD) standard computer programming language called Ada. The objectives of the review were to determine: (1) why the Navy did not get more than two manufacturers to make offers on the AN/UYK-43 and AN/UYK-44 development; (2) if and how well the Navy can implement Ada; and (3) what the Navy needs to do in the future to enhance competition and Ada effectiveness.

Competition for the AN/UYK-43 and AN/UYK-44 computers was limited. GAO believes that the Navy made a concerted effort to get companies to make offers on the computers the Navy specified, as evidenced by continued industry participation in various project stages. However, limited competition resulted for a number of reasons. Many U.S. computer manufacturers prefer more latitude to determine how to meet a customer's needs than the Navy allowed in its proposals. The Navy will be able to convert to Ada and plans to use Ada for new weapon systems programs and major upgrades. However, the consensus of the industry representatives is that the Navy will not be able to obtain anticipated Ada software economies because the instruction set architectures specified are not suited to Ada. The Navy defined these specified architectures to obtain further benefits from software expenditures. The current Navy computers are becoming inadequate. Increased requirements for new weapons system applications necessitate new computers to maintain a high level fleet capability. The Navy has begun to develop a concept for replacement of the computers. Their objectives are increased competition and faster technology infusion.

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 the Navy should employ a concept which states Navy needs with minimum technological constraint and evaluates companies' attempts to prove their ability to provide needed equipment which is viable and cost-beneficial, when planning for the follow-on generation of computers to replace the AN/UYK-43 and AN/UYK-44.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy

  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 the Navy should convert to Ada on a program-by-program basis in present systems whenever conversion becomes cost beneficial versus maintaining the existing software base and adopting Ada for new programs and major upgrades only.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy

 

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