Army's Decision To Begin Production of the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle Was Premature

NSIAD-84-136: Published: Jun 12, 1984. Publicly Released: Jun 12, 1984.

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Henry W. Connor
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GAO reviewed the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) program, which was developed to replace a portion of the vehicles used by the Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps, to determine whether test results reasonably supported the production decision.

GAO found that the Army's decision to award a full-scale production contract was premature in view of reliability problems disclosed in the operational tests and that additional operational testing should have been performed before large sums of production dollars were committed. The HMMWV did display improved performance capabilities in certain areas and did well in some aspects of reliability in its development tests. However, in operational testing, HMMWV fell short of achieving reliability requirements due to many hardware malfunctions. These failures rendered the vehicle incapable of continuing its mission without repair. Army officials attributed the low reliability results to excessive vehicle speeds by the drivers rather than to inherent serious defects in the vehicles. However, no evidence existed to support this contention. Program officials also cited as a reason for the low reliability scores the fact that less skilled mechanics were used than are generally used in development testing. GAO also found that the lack of design stability for the vehicles did not justify the use of a multiyear contract, and neither the testing nor test evaluation had been completed when contract approval was granted. In addition, if the Government now elects to modify or terminate the contract, the long-term commitments may render such action more difficult and expensive. Finally, GAO found that the Army may incur added expense to correct deficiencies identified in follow-on tests.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to conduct the follow-on operational testing in an environment that closely simulates actual field operating conditions and that does not impose speed constraints that would invalidate such testing.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Department of Defense did not agree that the design was not stable.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should emphasize to all Department of Defense procurement agencies the need to be certain of an item's design stability before entering into multiyear production contracts.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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