Defense Acquisition:

The Special Operations Forces Aircrew Training System at One Year

NSIAD-92-52: Published: Jan 31, 1992. Publicly Released: Jan 31, 1992.

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Mark E. Gebicke
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Air Force's procurement of the Special Operations Forces Aircrew Training System (ATS), focusing on: (1) system cost and performance; and (2) software verification and validation.

GAO found that: (1) to minimize risks, the Air Force used a two-phased acquisition approach, used a contract incentive to enhance contractor performance and cooperation, retained key Air Force personnel to build program continuity, and involved ATS end-users to make certain that ATS would meet their needs; (2) the Air Force estimated that ATS would cost approximately $400 million if it exercised all contract options; (3) costs have exceeded budgeted amounts since March 1991 for the first two contract options, and if the overrun continues, cost overruns could research 30 percent, raising the cost of those options to $94 million; and (4) the Air Force did not require separate independent verification and validation for ATS software, since software failure would not cause death or personnel injury, primary mission failure, or catastrophic equipment loss or damage.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD/IG is awaiting a response from the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict) to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense request for an independent assessment of the SOF ATS Program. It has asked for it and it was scheduled to be delivered to the subcommittee late in 1992. An independent assessment was conducted and found that IV&V was not required. As a result, the SOF/ATS Program was restructured and a final report on the restructured program was issued to the committee on July 8, 1993, concluding that: (1) the SOF/ATS program is executable and complies with the full funding requirements; and (2) program technical risks and cost growth risks have been minimized. DOD will close out the case.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to amend the Special Operations Forces Aircrew Training System Program contract to incorporate an independent verification and validation component as specified in DOD Standard 2167A. Those tasks would be conducted by a contractor or federal government agency that is independent of the prime contractor and not responsible for developing the product or performing the activities being evaluated.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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