Effectiveness of U.S. Forces Can Be Increased Through Improved Weapon System Design

PSAD-81-17: Published: Jan 29, 1981. Publicly Released: Jan 29, 1981.

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A review was undertaken in an effort to identify changes which are needed in the acquisition process to minimize problems with future weapon systems.

Many of today's weapon systems cannot be adequately operated, maintained, or supported because the Department of Defense (DOD) does not pay enough attention to logistic support, human factors, and quality assurance during the design phase of the acquisition process. These problems deter the systems' effectiveness to defend the country in case of war. It was found that DOD has made changes to direct more attention to these three factors, but GAO believes that several additional actions need to be taken if these considerations are to receive adequate emphasis in the design of military systems and equipment.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Matter: Congress should direct more attention during its deliberations on the DOD budget to such matters as logistic support, human factors, and quality assurance considerations in the design and development of weapon systems.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should ensure that all major systems are subjected to adequate testing and examination from a human factors stand-point, throughout the acquisition process, particularly in the developmental stages.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should provide for improved testing and evaluation of the supportability of systems before they are deployed.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should produce comprehensive guidance as to how designs should be evaluated for quality assurance.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should strengthen the quality assurance work force so as to permit their active involvement in the design phase of the acquisition process.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  5. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should develop common methodologies and data sources for use by system designers in forecasting skill levels of military personnel 5 to 10 years in the future.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  6. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should ensure that the quality history files on contractor are fully established and that the cross-service product quality deficiency reporting requirement is fully implemented.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  7. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should establish logistic support research and study programs to develop improved quantitative methods for assessing (1) the adequacy of logistic support plans, resources, and support-related parameters and (2) the benefits of design changes in the acquisition process to improve the supportability of a system.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  8. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should provide detailed guidance to ensure that critical program documents (for example, MENS, request for proposals, and contracts) contain the language needed to obtain systems which are designed to be supportable.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  9. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should modify human factor specifications, standards, and handbooks used in system design so that they adequately address human limitations, such as skill levels, proficiency, availability, environmental stress, and fatigue, which can result in human-induced system failures.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  10. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should develop new or modify current data reporting procedures to provide the information needed for performing LSAs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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