Production of Some Major Weapon Systems Began With Only Limited Operational Test and Evaluation Results

NSIAD-85-68: Published: Jun 19, 1985. Publicly Released: Jun 19, 1985.

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GAO reviewed selected major weapon system programs and the performance of operational test and evaluation (OT&E) to determine: (1) whether the Department of Defense (DOD) obtains sufficient OT&E results before production begins on weapon systems that are concurrently developed and produced; and (2) the adequacy of OT&E information contained in annual DOD Congressional Data Sheets.

GAO found that planned OT&E for concurrently developed and produced weapon systems is not performed before beginning production start-up. GAO believes that OT&E results are needed to provide early identification of problems and to help prevent costly retrofits and performance shortcomings. GAO also found that test results omitted or misrepresented in congressional data sheets do not adequately demonstrate weapon system performance capabilities and create misleading impressions of those capabilities. One reason for this may be that the military services' instructions on preparing the data sheets do not contain specific guidance on the type of information that should be included in these documents.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD revised its test and evaluation policy on March 12, 1986. The new policy does not ensure that OT&E results will be available before production start-up. GAO is in the process of preparing a summary report for agency comment which will reemphasize the importance of this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense, in an effort to improve the quality of information to decisionmakers in the acquisition of major weapon systems, should ensure through the Director, OT&E, that test results critical to assessing mission performance are available before production start-up.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD revised its test and evaluation policy on March 12, 1986. The new policy does not ensure that OT&E results will be available before production start-up. GAO is in the process of preparing a summary report for agency comment which will reemphasize the importance of this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should require the Director, OT&E, to provide its views to the Senate and House Committees on Appropriations and Armed Services on the impact of not performing OT&E critical to assessing mission performance before production begins. This is particularly important when planned OT&E is not accomplished.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: As a result of this recommendation, the Director, OT&E, is attempting to enforce current instructions on preparing Data Sheets by refusing to approve the Bi-Monthly Contract Award Reports unless the Data Sheets contain complete and accurate OT&E results. However, DOD did not expand its implementing instructions to improve the reporting of OT&E results.

    Recommendation: To improve the reporting of OT&E results to Congress, the Secretary of Defense should direct the military departments to expand their implementing instructions on preparing congressional data sheets to include a more complete and accurate portrayal of OT&E results on major weapon programs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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