Weapons Testing:

DOD Needs to Plan and Conduct More Timely Operational Tests and Evaluation

NSIAD-90-107: Published: May 17, 1990. Publicly Released: May 17, 1990.

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GAO reviewed how the Department of Defense (DOD) could better perform operational testing and evaluation (OT&E) before starting production of weapons systems.

GAO found that: (1) DOD and the services made little progress in conducting OT&E before production because of a lack of prototypes, concurrent development and production, and the need to initiate production to obtain test articles; (2) those barriers should not preclude earlier OT&E; and (3) the military services generally did not plan early OT&E or incorporate it into acquisition programs.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD issued directives on February 23, 1991. Although this guidance considers GAO recommendations, it does not mandate early OT&E. Instead, it only mandates OT&E before the full-rate production decision.

    Recommendation: To strengthen DOD reaffirmation of the proper role of OT&E as a key internal control in the systems acquisition process made through the Defense Management Review initiatives, the Secretary of Defense should ensure that DOD acquisition and testing directives currently under revision clearly establish the need for OT&E before production start-up.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD issued directives on February 23, 1991. Although this guidance considers GAO recommendations, it does not mandate early OT&E. Instead, it only mandates OT&E before the full-rate production decision. Further, the guidance does not state when it may be appropriate for decisionmakers to rely on operational assessments.

    Recommendation: To strengthen DOD reaffirmation of the proper role of OT&E as a key internal control in the systems acquisition process made through the Defense Management Review initiatives, the Secretary of Defense should ensure that DOD acquisition and testing directives currently under revision define when OT&E must occur and when it may be appropriate for decisionmakers to rely on operational assessments in lieu of OT&E for production start-up decisions, as GAO previously recommended in a May 1989 report.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD issued directives on February 23, 1991. Although this guidance considers the recommendation, it does not mandate early OT&E. Instead, it only mandates OT&E before the full-rate production decision.

    Recommendation: To strengthen DOD reaffirmation of the proper role of OT&E as a key internal control in the systems acquisition process made through the Defense Management Review initiatives, the Secretary of Defense should ensure that DOD acquisition and testing directives currently under revision require the services to plan for and conduct earlier OT&E.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD issued directives on February 23, 1991. Although this guidance considers the recommendation, it does not mandate the use of prototypes. Instead, it only encourages using system and subsystem prototypes whenever possible.

    Recommendation: To strengthen DOD reaffirmation of the proper role of OT&E as a key internal control in the systems acquisition process made through the Defense Management Review initiatives, the Secretary of Defense should ensure that DOD acquisition and testing directives currently under revision ensure that acquisition strategies for major weapon systems require that system or subsystem prototypes be built, where practical, and that those prototypes be operationally tested before production start-up.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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