Mobile Subscriber Equipment Testing Issues and Army Improvement Plan

NSIAD-89-165BR: Published: Jul 6, 1989. Publicly Released: Aug 8, 1989.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO monitored the Army's operational test and evaluation of mobile subscriber equipment, a tactical area communications system, focusing on: (1) plans to correct performance problems the test identified; (2) the Army's financial recourse for uncorrected problems; and (3) the Army Operational Test and Evaluation Agency's (OTEA) qualifications, methods, and independence for conducting the tests.

GAO found that OTEA: (1) concluded that, although the system did not attain the desired grade of service, the overall system was operationally effective and suitable and performed better than the current communications system; (2) reached its conclusions by applying military judgment to test findings based on system performance against the system it was replacing; (3) planned to conduct follow-up evaluations to ensure that planned corrective actions resolved performance problems; (4) evaluation personnel specialized in tactical communications, operations research and analysis, physics, and electronic engineering; (5) ensured adequate independence by establishing document, data, and quality control procedures, restricting contractor, user, and program office participation in testing, and reporting test results directly to an Army undersecretary; and (6) followed its test design plan, which complied with an agency master plan for test design. GAO also found that the Army: (1) developed a plan to correct performance problems involving physical configuration, software limitations, complicated procedures and tools, limited logistical support, and inadequate basic training, and the contractor agreed to implement the plan at no additional cost; and (2) had contract authority to withhold or reduce payments if the revised system did not meet its requirements.

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