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    Subject Term: "Unmanned aircraft systems"

    6 publications with a total of 31 open recommendations
    Director: Rebecca Gambler
    Phone: (202) 512-8777

    5 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve its efforts to coordinate Predator B operations among supported agencies and assess the effectiveness of its Predator B and tactical aerostat programs, the Commissioner of CBP should develop and document procedures for Predator B coordination among supported agencies in all operating locations.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Customs and Border Protection
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To improve its efforts to coordinate Predator B operations among supported agencies and assess the effectiveness of its Predator B and tactical aerostat programs, the Commissioner of CBP should update and maintain guidance for recording Predator B mission information in its data collection system.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Customs and Border Protection
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To improve its efforts to coordinate Predator B operations among supported agencies and assess the effectiveness of its Predator B and tactical aerostat programs, the Commissioner of CBP should provide training to users of CBP's data collection system for Predator B missions.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Customs and Border Protection
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To improve its efforts to coordinate Predator B operations among supported agencies and assess the effectiveness of its Predator B and tactical aerostat programs, the Commissioner of CBP should record air support forms for Predator B mission requests from non-CBP law enforcement agencies in its data collection system for Predator B missions.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Customs and Border Protection
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To improve its efforts to coordinate Predator B operations among supported agencies and assess the effectiveness of its Predator B and tactical aerostat programs, the Commissioner of CBP should update Border Patrol's data collection practices to include a mechanism to distinguish and track asset assists associated with TARS from tactical aerostats.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Customs and Border Protection
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Brenda S. Farrell
    Phone: (202) 512-3604

    11 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help the Air Force in its effort to address UAS pilot shortfalls, and to help ensure that the Air Force strategies to address UAS pilot shortages are tailored to address remaining issues, such as the significant amount of pilots who are temporarily assigned to the UAS pilot career, the limited amount of cadet interest in the UAS pilot career, and the workload of UAS pilots, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to revise the Get Well Plan to address these issues.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To help the Air Force in its effort to address UAS pilot shortfalls, and to help the Air Force ensure that its strategies are having the intended effects, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to monitor the extent to which that achieving the human capital goals in its strategy helps the Air Force achieve its programmatic goals.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To help the Air Force in its effort to address UAS pilot shortfalls, and to help the Air Force ensure that it is poised to meet future needs for UAS pilots, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to explore the potential use of additional flexibilities that would enable it to increase the number of UAS pilots in its workforce.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To help the Army in its effort to address UAS unit training shortfalls, and to help the Army identify challenges that UAS pilots face in completing their training, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to collect feedback from UAS pilots in UAS units, such as by surveying, or conducting focus groups with them.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To help the Army in its effort to address UAS unit training shortfalls, and to help the Army identify challenges that UAS pilots face in completing their training, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to incorporate such feedback into the Army's strategy to address UAS training shortfalls.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To help the Army in its effort to address UAS unit training shortfalls, and to help ensure that Army Shadow units meet minimum training requirements, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to revise its strategy to address UAS training shortfalls to ensure that it is fully tailored to address training issues and address factors such as lack of adequate facilities, lack of access to airspace, and the inability to fly more than one UAS at a time.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To help the Army in its effort to address UAS unit training shortfalls, and to help the Army ensure that it is basing its decisions to select individuals for UAS pilot training on sound evidence and to help it take advantage of the key benefits associated with effective personnel selection that could include reducing training costs, improving job performance, improving retention of qualified personnel, enabling leadership development, and enhancing organizational effectiveness, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to validate that the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery is an effective predictor of UAS pilot candidate performance in UAS pilot training and job performance.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To help the Army in its effort to address UAS unit training shortfalls, and to help the Army ensure that it is basing its decisions to select individuals for UAS pilot training on sound evidence and to help it take advantage of the key benefits associated with effective personnel selection that could include reducing training costs, improving job performance, improving retention of qualified personnel, enabling leadership development, and enhancing organizational effectiveness, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to assess existing research that has been performed that identifies UAS pilot competencies.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To help the Army in its effort to address UAS unit training shortfalls, and to help the Army ensure that it is basing its decisions to select individuals for UAS pilot training on sound evidence and to help it take advantage of the key benefits associated with effective personnel selection that could include reducing training costs, improving job performance, improving retention of qualified personnel, enabling leadership development, and enhancing organizational effectiveness, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to incorporate relevant findings from such research into the Army's approach for selecting UAS pilot candidates, as appropriate.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To help address personnel shortages and meet mission needs cost effectively, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, through the Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel & Readiness) should direct the Air Force and the Army to evaluate the workforce mix and the use of federal civilians for UAS pilot positions.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To help address personnel shortages and meet mission needs cost effectively, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, through the Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel & Readiness) should direct the Air Force and the Army to conduct cost analyses consistent with DOD guidance to inform their workforce decisions and ensure cost effectiveness of the UAS pilot workforce mix.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Cristina Chaplain
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order to improve DOD's procurement of SATCOM, to address DOD's fragmented procurement of commercial SATCOM, to better position DOD to identify needs, manage and acquire commercial SATCOM, and to address the incomplete data on commercial SATCOM spending and demand, the Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Joint Chiefs, U.S. Strategic Command, combatant commands, military services, and DISA, should enforce current policy requiring DISA to acquire all commercial SATCOM for DOD.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD has reiterated, but not yet enforced, its policy requiring the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) to procure all commercial satellite communications (SATCOM). DOD published Instruction 8420.02, titled DOD Satellite Communications (SATCOM), in September 2016. This instruction prescribes the actions DOD component heads should follow in requesting commercial SATCOM capability through DISA, as required by the 2013 Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Instruction (CJCSI) 6250.01E, "Satellite Communications". It also outlines methods by which DISA can obtain and the DOD Chief Information Officer can analyze data that could inform commercial SATCOM resource usage, allocation, and requirements. While establishing a new policy to emphasize and assign SATCOM procurement responsibilities is a step in the right direction, policy requiring that DISA acquire all commercial SATCOM for DOD already existed at the time of GAO's report. Further, DOD Commercial Satellite Communications (COMSATCOM) users may still be out of compliance with the CJCSI, according to an October 2016 U.S. Strategic Command report on COMSATCOM usage which states that "DoD COMSATCOM users should compete their services through DISA, as outlined in CJCSI 6250.01E, as soon as practicable."
    Recommendation: In order to improve DOD's procurement of SATCOM, to better leverage DOD's buying power and help DOD understand its military and commercial SATCOM spending, and enable DOD to reform its commercial SATCOM acquisition and management processes, the Secretary of Defense, in conjunction with the Air Force and DISA, should complement the pathfinder efforts by conducting an assessment of whether further centralization of military and commercial SATCOM procurement, such as the identification of a single focal point within DOD to decide how to meet the overall demand or a central procurement knowledge focal point, could further save money and improve performance.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: Although we reported in 2016 that the Joint Requirements Oversight Council approved a commercial satellite communications "Centralized Management Concept of Operations, which intends to implement a three-phased approach to centralize management of military and commercial wideband SATCOM," we have yet to obtain a copy of the Concept of Operations and assess the extent to which DOD conducted an assessment of whether further centralization of commercial and military procurement of satellite communications would save money and improve performance.
    Director: Brenda S. Farrell
    Phone: (202) 512-3604

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To provide greater visibility over the extent to which Army UAS units have completed required training to leaders responsible for deployment decisions, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to require unit status reports to include information on the readiness levels of UAS pilots in UAS units.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that Army UAS pilots receive the highest caliber of training to prepare them to successfully accomplish UAS missions, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to take additional steps to mitigate potential risks posed by its waiver of course prerequisites for less experienced UAS pilots attending the course to become instructors, such as by providing additional preparation for current and future instructors who do not meet one or more course prerequisites to enhance their ability to successfully provide training.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To increase opportunities to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of UAS pilot training across DOD, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to address how the services should coordinate with one another in the strategy on UAS pilot training that the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness is current drafting.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Brenda S. Farrell
    Phone: (202) 512-3604

    7 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to update crew ratios for RPA units to help ensure that the Air Force establishes a more-accurate understanding of the required number of RPA pilots needed in its units.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2015, Air Force officials stated that, in February 2015, the Air Force completed the first phase of a three-phase personnel requirements study designed to update the UAS unit crew ratio, which is a measure the Air Force uses to determine the personnel needs for Air Force aviation units. The Air Force expects to report results of this study by spring 2016, but Air Force officials stated that the preliminary results of the study indicate that the Air Force may be able to update UAS unit crew ratios and increase the required number of pilots in UAS units. Air Force officials stated that Air Force leadership is reviewing the results of the first phase of the study, but that they expect the Air Force to update the UAS unit crew ratio by summer 2015.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to establish a minimum crew ratio in Air Force policy below which RPA units cannot operate without running unacceptable levels of risk to accomplishing the mission and ensuring safety.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In September 2014, the Air Force reported that the three-phase personnel requirements study would also address our recommendation to establish a minimum crew ratio for UAS units. The Air Force discusses the components of a minimum crew ratio in the Air Combat Command's (ACC) Steady State Concept of Operations, which the Air Force published prior to our 2014 review. However, this minimum crew ratio is not in Air Force policy and Air Force officials stated that the Air Force is not enforcing this minimum crew ratio due to shortages of Air Force UAS pilots. In a December 2014 memo to the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, the ACC?s commanding general also made this point when he stated that Air Force units are staffed below the minimum crew ratio. As of May 2015, the Air Force had not established a minimum crew ratio in Air Force policy since our review.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to develop a recruiting and retention strategy that is a tailored to the specific needs and challenges of RPA pilots to help ensure that the Air Force can meet and retain required staffing levels to meet its mission.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: Previously, Air Force cadets who were preparing to join the Air Force and applying for undergraduate flying training volunteered for any of the four careers, including the manned-aircraft pilot career, the UAS pilot career, or two other aviation-related careers. According to Air Force officials, nearly all of the cadets applied for the manned-aircraft pilot career and few applied for any of the other careers. In fiscal year 2014, the Air Force began requiring these cadets to volunteer to serve in any of the four careers. This new process allows the Air Force to assign these cadets to any of the four careers based on a number of factors including the cadet?s performance and Air Force needs. An Air Force headquarters official confirmed that in fiscal year 2014, the Air Force met 123 of their 129 UAS pilot accessions goal, or the Air Force?s goal for the number of cadets who graduate from Air Force officer schools and agree to serve as UAS pilots. Regarding retention of UAS pilots, in January 2015, the Air Force increased the Assignment Incentive Pay for UAS pilots who are reaching the end of their 6 year service commitment to $1500/month. An Air Force official stated that this increase currently applies to 4 pilots. However, the Air Force does not have a recruiting and retention strategy that is tailored to UAS pilots. Air Force senior leadership and headquarters officials stated that the Air Force is in the process of developing other strategies to recruit and retain UAS pilots.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to evaluate the viability of using alternative personnel populations including enlisted or civilian personnel as RPA pilots to identify whether such populations could help the Air Force meet and sustain required RPA pilot staffing levels.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In April 2014, we reported that Headquarters Air Force officials stated that they have, at times, considered the use of enlisted or civilian personnel but have not initiated formal efforts to evaluate whether using such populations would negatively affect the ability of the Air Force to carry out its missions. Air Force officials stated that in fall 2014, the Air Force Chief of Staff requested that headquarters staff evaluate the potential of using enlisted personnel as UAS pilots. As of March 2015, Air Force officials were not able to provide any details about the assessment they were conducting but confirmed plans to report to the Air Force Chief of Staff by spring 2015.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to incorporate feedback from RPA pilots by using existing mechanisms or by collecting direct feedback from RPA pilots.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In response to a DODIG request for information about this recommendation, the Air Force reported that it uses standardized feedback mechanisms across all units through the Air Force Unit Climate Assessment and other similar surveys. It also reported that "consideration should be given to assess whether this is appropriate to collect feedback from RPA pilots and at the appropriate levels desired and, if so, the Air Force will analyze and incorporate feedback from a validated survey and feedback process." However, as of July 2015, the Air Force has not incorporated feedback from RPA pilots by using existing mechanisms or by collecting direct feedback from RPA pilots.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to analyze the effects of being deployed-on-station to determine whether there are resulting negative effects on the quality of life of RPA pilots and take responsive actions as appropriate.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In response to a DODIG request for information about this recommendation, the Air Force reported that it has ample data showing the effects of RPA pilots being deployed-on-station over the last nine years. It went on to report that it had identified the stressors related to being deployed-on-stations and that these stressors likely could be addressed with personnel solutions to increase the number of personnel in RPA units. DODIG considers this recommendation to be closed. However, as of July 2015, the Air Force has not fully analyzed whether being deployed-on-station has negative effects on quality of life that are not attributable to the stressors that are related to low unit-staffing levels that we discussed above such as rotating shifts and long assignments.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to include the career field effect of being an RPA pilot into the Air Force Personnel Center's (AFPC) analysis to determine whether and how being an RPA pilot is related to promotions and determine whether the factors AFPC identified in its analysis of Line of the Air Force officers are also related to RPA pilot promotions.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In response to a DODIG request for information about this recommendation, the Air Force reported that it continued to track and analyze the promotion rates of RPA pilots and that the RPA career field is a subsection of the Line of the Air Force. The Air Force stated that, therefore, factors related to promotions identified in analysis is of the Line of the Air Force are directly related to RPA pilot promotions. Unfortunately, as of July 2015, AFPC has not included the career field effect of being an RPA pilot into its analysis of the factors that are related to promotions to determine whether and how being an RPA pilot is related to promotions. In addition, the Air Force may not take further action because DODIG closed this recommendation according to a DODIG recommendation follow up report dated July 2015.
    Director: Sullivan, Michael J
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the department's implementation of an open systems approach for UAS and other weapon acquisition programs, as well as its visibility of open systems implementation and program office expertise, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics to define appropriate metrics to track programs' implementation of an open systems approach.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to an official from DOD's Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Systems Engineering, the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) is developing detailed metrics to track the extent to which programs employ a modular open systems architecture (MOSA) against the objectives identified in the Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act. Once completed, we believe this action will satisfy the intent of our recommendation. Currently, OSD continues to assess whether or not a program under review is implementing MOSA and the effectiveness of that implementation, as part of its acquisition oversight process.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of the Air Force, Army, and Navy to require their acquisition programs to include open systems metrics developed by the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics in their systems engineering plans, track progress in meeting these metrics, and report their progress to the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics at key acquisition milestones.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As directed by the fiscal year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) is developing metrics and procedures on how programs will report on their implementation of a modular open systems approach to acquisition oversight beginning in October 2017. OSD officials stated that, prior to Milestones A and B, the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Systems Engineering is working with the service representatives to ensure the proper wording of the modular open systems certification and to ensure that the programs have a proper understanding of what the certification entails. OSD officials also stated that, during 2017, DOD is determining additional needs and applications for the use of a modular open systems approach.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of the Air Force, Army, and Navy to assess their respective service-level and program office capabilities relating to an open systems approach and work with the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Systems Engineering to develop short-term and long-term strategies to address any capability gaps identified. Strategies could include the Navy's cross-cutting approach where a team of a few technical experts within the Naval Air Systems Command could be available to work with program offices, as necessary, to help develop open systems plans.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD includes modular open systems architecture (MOSA) expertise as a competency related to design considerations for its current engineering workforce. According to an official from DOD's Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Systems Engineering, DOD will assess the extent to which MOSA expertise exists in the engineering workforce during its next competency and proficiency assessment, which is scheduled to occur sometime in fiscal year 2018. OSD officials noted that, in the near term, DOD is developing guidance and Defense Acquisition University (DAU) courses to increase the expertise and knowledge base of the acquisition workforce. A DAU official noted that DAU's curriculum addresses both open systems approaches and intellectual property, and that its course on open systems approaches is scheduled for a complete revision in fiscal year 2018.