Defense Spectrum Management:

New Procedures Could Help Reduce Interference Problems

GAO-01-604: Published: May 17, 2001. Publicly Released: May 17, 2001.

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The Department of Defense (DOD) has become increasingly aware that the use of more commercial and military electronic systems aboard ships, aircraft, and vehicles can cause unintended electromagnetic interactions among systems and harm operations. Such unintended interactions, called electromagnetic environmental effects, have already undermined mission effectiveness on many occasions. The new procurement procedures established by DOD are reasonable and could help prevent problems arising from radio frequency interference. The impact of these new procedures cannot be evaluated, however, until DOD has had a chance to apply its revised guidance to systems as they go through each acquisition decision milestone. DOD would then be able to demonstrate that the new procedures have (1) resulted in the review of relevant documents at each decision milestone to identify potential frequency problems, (2) prevented interference problems, and (3) improved the acquisition process. No DOD system had undergone the new procedures for all decision milestones at the time of GAO's review. The first of three pilot programs using the new acquisition guidance should be completed by January 2002 according to DOD officials. Consequently, GAO could not assess the programs' effectiveness.

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