Evaluation of Army's Mobile Subscriber Equipment Program

NSIAD-85-117: Published: Jul 16, 1985. Publicly Released: Aug 15, 1985.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Army's effort to acquire mobile subscriber equipment (MSE) for tactical communications, its cost and timetable, and the issue of system readiness for full-scale production.

GAO noted that: (1) the Army expects to save considerable time and money over traditional procurement methods, which involve a lengthy development and test phase, by acquiring the system "off-the-shelf" and keeping production at a steady pace; and (2) although the benefits may be large, the procurement strategy presents technical and program risks because the system will not be subject to test and evaluation before full-scale production. GAO found that: (1) Army officials believe sufficient precautions have been taken to justify full-scale production; (2) the Army believes lower initial production of MSE will increase program costs and hurt operational readiness; and (3) the additional costs claimed by the Army for low-rate production are minimal considering the total MSE procurement cost and the fact that untested system modifications have changed the nondevelopmental nature of the program.

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