GAO Assessment of DOD's Very High Speed Integrated Circuits (VHSIC) Technology Program

NSIAD-85-37: Published: May 8, 1985. Publicly Released: May 8, 1985.

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GAO reviewed the Department of Defense's (DOD) Very High Speed Integrated Circuits (VHSIC) program aimed at developing and demonstrating two generations of advanced data and signal processing technology for defense systems.

Although technical progress has been made, contractors have encountered significant delays and other problems in developing, demonstrating, and verifying the first generation VHSIC technology. GAO noted that: (1) emphasis on the completion and independent testing of first generation technology could increase the early utilization of VHSIC technology without further program extension; (2) cost increases resulted from expansion of the program's scope beyond its original mandate; (3) DOD proposed to improve, with direct subsidies, the contractors' manufacturing efficiency in producing, assembling, and testing VHSIC chips; and (4) increased emphasis on efforts to fulfill the VHSIC program's original mandate to develop, demonstrate, and verify technology would minimize system developers' uncertainties about using VHSIC technology.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: In light of DOD nonconcurrence and congressional action to increase, rather than reduce, overall VHSIC program funding for fiscal year (FY) 1986, this particular recommendation should not be pursued. However, a follow-up audit will be conducted in 1988 to determine, among other things, the use of the funding in question.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should not approve the additional $62.2 million planned for VHSIC technology insertion subsidies.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD stated that it has fully verified that first generation VHSIC chips are robust, reliable, and meet all applicable military specifications and standards. The proposed follow-up audit will address whether first generation VHSIC technology has been fully developed, demonstrated, and verified.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should complete the development, demonstration, and verification of first generation VHSIC technology.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD proposed a new policy requiring the use of VHSIC in all major systems, both new designs and major upgrades. However, because of negative comments, that policy was not adopted. The planned follow-up audit will address the availability of alternatives to that policy.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should issue the proposed policy directive on when and how system developers should consider the use of VHSIC technology.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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