Submarine Combat System:

BSY-2 Development Risks Must Be Addressed and Production Schedule Reassessed

IMTEC-91-30: Published: Aug 22, 1991. Publicly Released: Sep 6, 1991.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO identified technical risks in the Navy's SSN-21 Seawolf attack submarine's AN/BSY-2 (BSY-2) automated combat system, focusing on: (1) software and hardware development, design, testing, and integration; and (2) the use of independent verification and validation.

GAO found that: (1) the BSY-2 combat system will largely dictate SSN-21 effectiveness, costing $1.4 billion for development and production of the first three systems and involving over 3 million lines of software code; (2) development, integration, and testing of the combat system within the original 4-year development schedule will be difficult, since over 2 million lines of code will be written in relatively new Ada programming language; (3) a 1-year delay in completing the Critical Design Review further compressed the already tight development schedule; (4) the Navy based system development and production decisions on incomplete test and evaluation results; (5) late government-witnessed testing has left the Navy with limited time and flexibility to identify specific problems and bring them to the attention of the contractor for resolution without affecting system delivery; (6) the Navy did not ensure that major software component retesting was adequate to verify that other portions of such components were not adversely affected by software changes; (7) the contractor is experiencing problems in meeting start-up requirements in using a new standard Navy signal processor and preliminary estimates indicate that processing capacity may be inadequate; and (8) the Navy recently developed and implemented an independent verification and validation plan that meets federal guidance.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The end of the Cold War and the nation's budget crisis caused Congress to take a hard look at major weapon systems acquisitions. Congress intends to only fund three combat systems.

    Matter: The House and Senate Appropriations and Armed Services Committees should not fund any additional systems beyond the first three until the Secretary of Defense certifies that the initial BSY-2 is sufficiently developed and tested and can provide assurance that the system will satisfy mission requirements.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Department of Defense (DOD) contends that it constantly monitors the risk areas to ensure that BSY-2 will meet program baseline. DOD believes that GAO-identified areas are overstated and that DOD has taken the action it considers warranted.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Navy to: (1) determine the impact of the risks GAO identified on the performance, cost, and current delivery schedule for the combat system; (2) adjust its current development approach, as warranted; and (3) report the results of the assessment and planned actions to mitigate these risks to the House and Senate Armed Services and Appropriations Committees.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD contends that the software test plan and software development plan provide central guidance for unit testing, unit test cases, and unit test procedures.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Navy to ensure that central guidance on unit-testing is developed and issued for use by all BSY-2 programmers and software engineers.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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