Navy Acquisition:

SUBACS Problems May Adversely Affect Navy Attack Submarine Programs

NSIAD-86-12: Published: Nov 4, 1985. Publicly Released: Nov 4, 1985.

Additional Materials:


John Landicho
(202) 275-6504


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

GAO reviewed the Navy's three-phase Submarine Advanced Combat System (SUBACS) program which was designed to provide nuclear attack submarines with new and upgraded sonar, combat control systems, and advanced data processing capabilities. The review was conducted to determine: (1) the cost, schedule, and performance risks associated with implementing the SUBACS program; and (2) its impact on attack submarine programs.

GAO found that: (1) the total program is expected to cost $853 million more than originally anticipated for research, development, testing, and evaluation; (2) an estimated $146.2 million cost overrun is expected in the basic contract due primarily to increased software and system development, additional test and integration requirements, and subcontractor and vendor production problems; (3) to absorb these increased costs, the Navy will delay several portions of the development program; (4) it will be difficult to meet program schedules because of the class of submarine scheduled to be equipped; (5) severe technical problems have been encountered which have reduced the anticipated data processing speed by about one-sixth; (6) the Navy has accelerated ship delivery schedules which will allow shipbuilders to claim award fees; and (7) the Navy's program management has not emphasized or effectively used program management control procedures. To address these problems, the Navy and its contractor have revised the program several times and the program is no longer being implemented as presented to the Defense Systems Acquisition Review Counsel (DSARC). GAO found that, under the latest plan: (1) SUBACS failed to perform as effectively as originally intended; (2) additional funds will be required; (3) the delivery of the first two submarines may be delayed; and (4) submarines scheduled for authorization in fiscal years 1986 through 1992 could incur increased costs and potential delivery delays.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In March 1986, a DSARC program review was held and a Secretary of Defense memo was issued in May 1986.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should, through the DSARC program review process, evaluate the Navy's justification for adopting Replan III from among alternative acquisition strategies to ensure that the best course of action is taken for providing SSN-668 class submarines with the needed near- and long-term combat system performance while minimizing the adverse effects on SUBACS and submarine construction costs, schedules, and contracts.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: A DSARC program review was held in March 1986.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should, through the DSARC program review process, condition his approval of the program on the Navy's establishment of a plan for management control, including specific criteria, reporting requirements, and periodic reviews of the program adopted to assess the progress in reaching SUBACS program objectives.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: FY 1986 funds were released prior to the March 1986 DSARC program review.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should, through the DSARC program review process, before releasing fiscal year (FY) 1986 program funds, require the Navy to provide key program documentation and budget quality cost estimates, and base the future release of funds on demonstrated program progress.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Aug 20, 2020

Aug 14, 2020

Aug 6, 2020

Jul 30, 2020

Jul 27, 2020

Jul 23, 2020

Jul 22, 2020

Jul 20, 2020

Jul 16, 2020

Looking for more? Browse all our products here