Status of Efforts to Initiate an Amphibious Combat Vehicle Program

GAO-14-359R: Published: Apr 10, 2014. Publicly Released: Apr 10, 2014.

Additional Materials:


Michael J. Sullivan


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(202) 512-4800

What GAO Found

The Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV) effort has not yet reached Milestone A—the decision point in DOD’s acquisition process that generally authorizes assessment of potential technologies for an eventual acquisition program. At this point, Marine Corps officials are weighing the cost and technological feasibility of their required capabilities. In November 2011, the Marines Corps began an Analysis of Alternatives (AOA)—a key first step in the acquisition process intended to assess alternative weapon system solutions for addressing a validated need—to identify an affordable alternative to the canceled Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle. Following completion of that study in mid-2012, the Marine Corps Commandant directed the program to perform a second study to assess the feasibility and affordability of a variant capable of higher water speed. This second analysis has been completed, but no formal decisions have been made regarding whether to commence an acquisition program or what path it will take, if initiated. Program officials suggest that development of a high water speed technology may prove unaffordable at this time.

It is too early to determine whether the ACV acquisition will follow acquisition best practices. An Initial Capabilities Document (ICD) that provides the performance requirements of a new amphibious vehicle has been approved. Both an ICD and an AOA are required documents for this stage of a potential acquisition program. AOAs can vary in quality, which can affect how they help position a program for success. While many factors can affect cost and schedule outcomes, we have found that programs that had a limited assessment of alternatives tended to have poorer outcomes than those that had more robust AOAs. At this point, it is too early to assess the ACV AOA.  Once decisions are made for the ACV program on whether to move toward program initiation with the existing AOA, revise or supplement it, or replace it entirely, we will assess the relevant completed AOA.

Why GAO Did This Study

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 mandated GAO to review and report annually to the congressional defense committees on the ACV program until 2018. This is the first of the mandated GAO reports. It discusses (1) the current status of the ACV acquisition effort, and (2) the extent to which the ACV acquisition approach is consistent with acquisition best practices. To conduct this work, GAO spoke with program officials, reviewed program documents, risks analyses and mitigation plans, cost and schedule benchmarks, related program materials, and past GAO work on acquisition best practices.

What GAO Recommends

GAO did not make recommendations in this report.

For more information, contact Michael J. Sullivan at 202-512-4841 or

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