Attack Warning:

Defense Acquisition Board Should Address NORAD's Computer Deficiencies

IMTEC-89-74: Published: Sep 13, 1989. Publicly Released: Sep 13, 1989.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO evaluated the: (1) Department of Defense's (DOD) efforts to consolidate management and funding of the North American Aerospace Defense Command's (NORAD) Integrated Tactical Warning and Attack Assessment (TW/AA) system modernization programs; (2) Air Force's progress in correcting five critical program deficiencies; and (3) Air Force's implementation of recommendations to conduct a cost-benefit analysis to determine the most effective and efficient means of meeting future communications processing needs at Cheyenne Mountain, which houses the TW/AA system.

GAO found that the Air Force: (1) in compliance with a congressional mandate, consolidated five TW/AA modernization programs and requested $117.6 million for continuing the programs during fiscal year (FY) 1990; (2) expected to spend an additional $617 million through FY 1994 to complete the modernization effort; (3) identified 29 unresolved critical deficiencies in the 5 modernization programs; (4) began work to resolve critical Communications System Segment (CSS) Replacement Program problems involving uniform wiring standards, cabling congestion, and standardized message formats, but had not addressed other critical problems involving standard communication protocols or inconsistent message loading assumptions, although it recognized that the effectiveness of its other modernization programs relied on CSS effectiveness; (5) accepted CSS replacement hardware without resolving 12 unmet system specifications, and did not plan to formally test the hardware until July 1990; and (6) continued interim CSS upgrades, but did not perform a recommended cost-benefit analysis to determine the most efficient and effective means for satisfying communications processing requirements.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Board met in September 1989 and rendered its decision to allow the program to go forward on October 25, 1989.

    Recommendation: If the Defense Acquisition Board advises the Secretary of Defense that program development should continue, as proposed by the Air Force, before a sound technical approach is developed for correcting critical deficiencies, the Board should clearly justify its rationale, specifically addressing the unresolved deficiencies and the fact that the most cost-effective approach for satisfying NORAD communication needs has not been established.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Defense Acquisition Board

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Board reviewed the consolidated modernization program in September 1989, and submitted its report to the Secretary on October 25, 1989.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should not obligate FY 1990 appropriations for continued development of the consolidated modernization program until the Defense Acquisition Board completes its review and submits its report to the Secretary.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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