Battlefield Automation:

Acquisition Issues Facing the Army Battle Command, Brigade and Below Program

NSIAD-98-140: Published: Jun 30, 1998. Publicly Released: Jun 30, 1998.

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Louis J. Rodrigues
(202) 512-4841
contact@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Army's acquisition plans for the Force XXI Battle Command, Brigade and Below (FBCB2) program, focusing on the: (1) program's significance to the Army's battlefield digitization goal; (2) Army's derivation of cost estimates; and (3) feasibility of the Army's fielding schedule.

GAO noted that: (1) on the basis of the Army's estimate of FBCB2 research, development, test and evaluation costs, the program has been classified as a category II acquisition--one that does not require systematic oversight by the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Technology; (2) GAO believes that because of the FBCB2's significance, cost, and schedule risk, the FBCB2 should be classified as a category I acquisition and receive a higher level of oversight; (3) although FBCB2 is critical to the Army's digitization plan--the system ties the upper level command and control systems to the digital battlefield--FBCB2 is the only major system in the Army's Battle Command System that has not been designated category I; (4) the system's potential to provide thousands of soldiers with the ability to send and receive clear and consistent battlefield information in almost real time demonstrates the system's significance as a linchpin of the digital battlefield; (5) this significance is confirmed by the Army's own designation of FBCB2 as one of the highest priority command and control systems and the Army's plan to equip a division with a FBCB2 capability by the end of fiscal year (FY) 2000; (6) GAO's analysis indicates that there are additional research, development, test, and evaluation costs that, when included, increase the dollar significance of this program to a category I acquisition level; (7) the FBCB2 program faces a significant schedule risk in meeting the FY 2000 mandate for fielding the first digitized division; (8) however, despite this acknowledged schedule risk, the Army is moving ahead with its highly compressed schedule with no apparent risk management strategy specifically addressing alternatives and the implications of not fielding an adequately developed system by the end of FY 2000; (9) because the FBCB2 program has only recently entered engineering and manufacturing development, no operational evaluations are yet available for analysis; (10) however, the 1997 Task Force XXI Advanced Warfighting Experiment employed a prototype FBCB2; (11) two independent organizations, the Army's Operational Test and Evaluation Command and the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Operational Test and Evaluation Office, assessed FBCB2 results and found a number of problems; (12) these included poor message completion, limitations related to the experimental hardware and software, a lack of adequate digital connectivity, immaturity of the Applique--the Army's name for FBCB2 computer--and the Tactical Internet, and inadequate training; and (13) Army officials currently assess the program's technical risk as medium.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: At an August 1999 Defense Acquisition Executive review of the FBCB2 program, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Technology designated the FBCB2 program an acquisition category I-D program.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Technology to consider GAO's analysis of the FBCB2 program and make a determination of whether it should be appropriately characterized as an acquisition category I-D on the basis of its significance to the Army's battlefield digitization goal, the costs GAO discusses in this report, schedule risk, the new Army cost estimate expected to be available by the end of this fiscal year, and the benefits of prudent oversight.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: As a part of the August 1999 Defense Acquisition Executive review of the FBCB2 program, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Technology is providing guidance to Army acquisition executives through an Acquisition Decision Memorandum.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Technology to analyze, regardless of eventual category designation, the risks and likely immediate benefits associated with equipping a division with a FBCB2 capability by the end of FY 2000 and provide guidance to Army acquisition executives on managing those risks.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Sep 22, 2016

Sep 21, 2016

Sep 19, 2016

Sep 12, 2016

Sep 8, 2016

Sep 7, 2016

Sep 6, 2016

Aug 25, 2016

Looking for more? Browse all our products here