Embedded Computer Systems:

Software Development Problems Delay the Army's Fire Direction Data Manager

IMTEC-92-32: Published: May 11, 1992. Publicly Released: Jun 11, 1992.

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David O. Nellemann
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO evaluated the Army's development of the Multiple Launch Rocket System's Fire Detection Data Manager (FDDM), focusing on: (1) the types and causes of software development problems; and (2) Army efforts to address such problems.

GAO found that: (1) the Army's FDDM development effort has encountered a number of software problems that must be corrected before the system can be deployed; (2) the prime contractor's costs have tripled from about $8 million to about $24.5 million, primarily due to added requirements, and the Army has spent another $25 million on contracts for such services as engineering assistance and independent verification and validation; (3) the FDDM deployment schedule has slipped several times and, as of April 1992, FDDM was still undergoing development and testing and FDDM deployment had been delayed from January 1993 to June 1993; (4) FDDM software development problems occurred primarily because the Army did not adequately define initial requirements for the system or promptly enforce Department of Defense standards for software development; (5) the contractor did not develop or use a detailed software development plan as a guide to develop the software and the contractor's initial communications testing was inadequate, causing software development delays because of problems that were not detected until later in the development process; (6) although the Army is still developing and testing FDDM software, it plans to integrate FDDM into the Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System (AFATDS); (7) the Army expects to deploy FDDM in 1993, start the integration in 1994, and complete integration in 1997 although it has not yet begun developing a detailed strategy for accomplishing this transition; and (8) FDDM integration is needed to determine how much FDDM software will be compatible with AFATDS and how much new software will have to be written.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Army concurred with the recommendation and developed a transition plan for FDDM-AFATDS. Specifically, the Army tracked FDDM software for AFATDS use and established a management structure for moving from FDDM to AFATDS. FDDM is currently being integrated into FATDS pacckage 11 and is ultimately planned to be integrated into AFATDS version 3.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should ensure that the Field Artillery Tactical Data System (FATDS) project office develop a detailed strategy for incorporating FDDM into AFATDS. In developing its strategy, the Army should assess the impact of any further software development delays on FDDM usefulness, considering its limited life cycle. The strategy should at a minimum: (1) provide direction for determining how much, if any, of the FDDM software can be used in AFATDS; (2) establish clear lines of authority and accountability between the FDDM and FATDS offices for making decisions and resolving problems; and (3) provide specific milestones for actions to accomplish the transition.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army


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