Test and Evaluation:

Little Progress in Consolidating DOD Major Test Range Capabilities

NSIAD-93-64: Published: Apr 12, 1993. Publicly Released: May 12, 1993.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO evaluated the Department of Defense's (DOD) progress in consolidating similar test and evaluation capabilities at fewer locations to reduce the cost of its test ranges.

GAO found that: (1) DOD expects to reduce test and evaluation spending by $729 million through streamlining efforts and other management actions; (2) minor interservice consolidations are occurring in three of the nine test areas for land vehicles, nuclear weapons' effects, and gun munitions testing; (3) although the test and evaluation reliance process has resulted in minimal savings and few consolidations, the process has begun to overcome barriers to cross-service cooperation; (4) DOD has not aggressively pursued the consolidation of existing capabilities; (5) DOD established a policy to focus on future test investments at key locations and allowed other sites to atrophy for lack of funding and eventually cease operations; (6) the reliance process fostered policy decisions that allowed the services to retain their existing test capabilities and funding authority; (7) the reliance study methodology did not adequately address future test requirements, uniform measures of capacity and use, and cost-benefit analyses; (8) DOD did not have sufficient data available to determine whether it could consolidate test and evaluation capabilities; and (9) DOD expects to develop 5-year master plans for each reliance area that could improve the study methodology and result in more significant cost savings.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Since the issuance of the report, the Senate Appropriations Committee has pressed DOD for reductions of the test and evaluation infrastructure by requiring DOD to come up with a long-term consolidation plan. In July 1995, Congress reduced funding for the test and evaluation infrastructure by $31.9 million.

    Matter: If DOD does not take appropriate and timely actions to eliminate duplication of existing test capabilities, Congress should consider reducing test and evaluation funding to compel DOD to realize significant savings through consolidations.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD does not plan to increase oversight of lead service efforts to realize the consolidation of test capabilities. Instead, a Board of Directors and a Board of Operating Directors have been established to evaluate investment programs to increase interoperability. Again, DOD is focusing on investments at optimum locations as opposed to aggressively pursuing the interservice consolidation of existing facilities.

    Recommendation: To strengthen the Reliance process for consolidating existing test capabilities, the Secretary of Defense should increase oversight of lead service efforts to realize the consolidation of test capabilities.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD does not plan to provide a lead service in each reliance area with funding authority to serve as a single agent to help eliminate existing duplication of test capabilities. Instead, a Board of Directors, composed of the vice chiefs of the services, has been chartered to manage the resources of the services as a pool. Although these boards are a step in the right direction, apparently they will only coordinate test and evaluation investment programs to increase interoperability, rather than focus on reducing duplication through consolidations.

    Recommendation: To strengthen the Reliance process for consolidating existing test capabilities, the Secretary of Defense should provide a lead service in each Reliance area, with funding authority to serve as a single agent to help eliminate existing duplication of test capabilities.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD still proposes to focus investments at a reduced number of core test and evaluation locations, as opposed to aggressively consolidating test capabilities. Time frames for individual consolidations are being established as specific issues at each location are addressed.

    Recommendation: To strengthen the Reliance process for consolidating existing test capabilities, the Secretary of Defense should establish interim time frames for planned consolidations to provide a means to gauge progress by the Reliance process.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD does not agree that any fundamental weaknesses exist in its Reliance process study methodology for consolidating test and evaluation facilities.

    Recommendation: To strengthen the Reliance process for consolidating existing test capabilities, the Secretary of Defense should ensure that plans to correct fundamental weaknesses in the study methodology are carried out. These plans should require that: (1) future test requirements be clearly identified and validated; (2) uniform capacity and use data be developed; and (3) cost-benefit analyses be conducted that justify savings available from consolidating existing test capabilities.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  5. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD disagreed with the basic premise of the report, namely, that the objective of the reliance program was to realize immediate consolidations and savings. Instead, DOD stated that the objective was to improve the test and evaluation capabilities within DOD by focusing investments at optimum locations. As opposed to reaffirming the initial reliance objective of aggressively pursuing the interservice consolidation of existing facilities, DOD still proposes to focus future investments at a reduced number of core test and evaluation locations. In GAO's view, DOD has steadfastly maintained the status quo and, therefore, its planned actions will not result in major test facility consolidations in the near term.

    Recommendation: To strengthen the Reliance process for consolidating existing test capabilities, the Secretary of Defense should reaffirm the initial Reliance objective of aggressively pursuing the interservice consolidation of existing facilities.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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