The Army's Battery Computer System

MASAD-81-18: Published: Mar 6, 1981. Publicly Released: Mar 18, 1981.

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GAO was asked to evaluate test results of the Army's Battery Computer System (BCS) to determine whether the test results were valid and to ascertain whether congressional direction has been followed. BCS, designed to reduce mission response time and improve artillery weapon effectiveness, could satisfy a longstanding requirement for battery autonomous operations. In evaluating the BCS test results, laboratory tests being conducted were observed and briefings regarding the test results were attended.

Operational tests conducted on BCS in 1979 showed that it did not meet many of the operational requirements and did not provide an improved capability over existing equipment. Recent tests, limited to tests of software and built-in test equipment, demonstrated that many of the deficiencies have been or can be corrected. However, these tests were of the laboratory type and did not demonstrate the operational effectiveness and suitability or the reliability of BCS. GAO expressed concern that tests that can demonstrate the operational effectiveness and suitability of the system are not scheduled to be conducted until just prior to the scheduled third-year production continuation decision. This decision involves the production of 217 systems at a cost of about $47 million. It does not appear that there will be adequate time to evaluate the operational test results before the production decision. Congress directed that, before obligation of the fiscal year 1981 appropriation for BCS, the Secretary of Defense must certify that deficiencies identified in the 1979 development/operational tests have been corrected and successfully tested and that the test results demonstrate that the system meets all contract specifications for performance and reliability. The Secretary of Defense has been unable to certify that the deficiencies have been corrected, but he has authorized the Army to proceed with the 1981 appropriation for BCS. GAO believes that there has not been sufficient testing to provide an estimate of the operational effectiveness and suitability of BCS.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should delay the third-year production continuation decision to provide sufficient time to evaluate the 1982 test results and allow time for any retesting that may be necessary. There should be no further production approval if the operational tests do not justify producing more units.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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