Weapon Systems:

Shortfalls in Automatic Fault Diagnostics

NSIAD-87-98: Published: Apr 24, 1987. Publicly Released: Apr 24, 1987.

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GAO reviewed the Army's problems with automatic diagnostic equipment, actions the Army is taking to overcome its problems, and improvements needed to minimize such problems in future weapons acquisitions.

GAO found that: (1) while performance of automatic diagnostic equipment varied, neither internal nor external diagnostic equipment performed as expected during operational tests; (2) the Army had not completed some operational testing; (3) in some cases, the Army spent substantial sums to improve diagnostic software or other system aspects; (4) diagnostic equipment contractors have generally emphasized system performance, at the expense of maintainability; (5) the Army does not provide specific contractual diagnostic requirements or guidelines for making trade-offs between internal and external diagnostic equipment; (6) diagnostics testing was limited and lagged behind system testing; and (7) the Army adopted a standard to provide uniform procedures and methods for establishing a testability program.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Army initiated a policy on April 1, 1986, which specifies this intention. No further action is contemplated. GAO has no basis for objecting to the Army's actions.

    Recommendation: Regarding ongoing standard automatic test equipment programs, the Secretary of the Army should direct the U.S. Army Materiel Command to base decisions to convert existing weapons to IFTE on a case-by-case, cost and effectiveness analysis.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Department of Defense (DOD) agreed and the Army is doing this through an expanded modular design.

    Recommendation: Regarding ongoing standard automatic test equipment programs, the Secretary of the Army should direct the U.S. Army Materiel Command to ensure that standard diagnostic equipment, such as the Intermediate Forward Test Equipment (IFTE), is designed to meet user needs and remains technically advanced as long as it is being used.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Army established a working group to address this subject. It concluded that use of incentives or penalties cannot be assessed until the methods of verification of the diagnostics and specification have been established. This action addresses this recommendation, but is a long-term solution. Therefore, GAO believes that this recommendation should be closed.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should direct the U.S. Army Materiel Command to develop and evaluate the use of contract incentives and penalties, where possible, to encourage contractors to meet these requirements.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Army has published the Testability Implementation Handbook for implementation of MIL-STD-2165. Also, revised AR750-43 requires design for testability be a TMDE and supported end item consideration through full scale development.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should direct the U.S. Army Materiel Command to establish plans for and monitor the development of diagnostics to ensure that diagnostics development and testing appropriately parallel system development and testing.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: AMC has recommended four candidate systems for application of model diagnostic requirements. Also, system project officials are now provided with model statements-of-work and the implementation handbook (MIL-STD-2165). AMC determined how to implement the program based on resource, schedule, and optimum strategy.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should direct the U.S. Army Materiel Command (AMC) to provide development contractors, where possible, with specific automatic diagnostic requirements, along with guidance for making trade-offs between internal and external diagnostics equipment.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Army has decided that CTS will be the suitcase tester of choice for Army systems. While there is a requirement for both testers, STE family testers (except for STE-ICE) are gradually being phased out. Dollar savings were not determined.

    Recommendation: Regarding ongoing standard automatic test equipment programs, the Secretary of the Army should direct the U.S. Army Materiel Command to assess Contact Test Set (CTS) and Standard Test Equipment-Expandable (STE) capabilities to determine the costs and benefits of supporting one standard tester.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

 

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