Army Acquisition:

More Testing Needed to Solve Heavy Equipment Transporter System Problems

NSIAD-93-228: Published: Jul 16, 1993. Publicly Released: Aug 2, 1993.

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Thomas J. Schulz
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Army's acquisition of a new Heavy Equipment Transporter System (HETS), focusing on whether the: (1) Army adequately justified the expanded HETS mission and increased HETS quantity requirement; (2) new HETS has demonstrated a capability to meet its mission requirements; and (3) Army's HETS acquisition complied with the Department of Defense's (DOD) fly-before-buy policy.

GAO found that: (1) the Army has cited improved operational effectiveness and substantial cost savings to support its decision to expand the HETS mission; (2) the HETS tractor and semitrailer have not met their contractual reliability and maintainability requirements during Army production quality testing; (3) the Army believes that most tractor problems are associated with the contractor's assembly practices or quality problems with individual subcontractors; (4) the Army has not adequately justified a reduced production quality test that relieves the contractors of the cost to correct any system failure that might occur after 8,000 miles; (5) HETS has not adequately demonstrated its capability to accomplish its mission or its suitability for fielding because the mission profile run in the operational test was less rigorous than required; and (6) as of March 31, 1993, HETS has been involved in 14 safety incidents during testing attributable to the semitrailer's tendency to veer into other lanes.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD did not agree. The Army has completed the 8,000-mile PQT extension rather than the recommended contractually required 20,000-mile test. The Army does not plan to perform a new operational test. DOD concluded that the original operational test has been conducted in full compliance with DOD test policies and had adequately demonstrated system performance.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should require the Army to perform a new: (1) production quality test at the contractually required mileage; and (2) operational test of the new HETS using the current HETS mission profile.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: As a result of the extended PQT, the Army concluded that HETS had met all its intended mission, reliability, and maintainability requirements. Therefore, the Army granted first article test approval to the HETS tractor on January 18, 1994, and to the HETS trailer on February 15, 1994.

    Recommendation: To minimize the Army's funding commitment before the Army is sure the new HETS can accomplish its intended mission, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Army to stop conditionally accepting HETS tractors and semitrailers once the currently authorized limit is met--535 tractors and 290 semitrailers--until HETS shows that it can meet its intended mission and reliability and maintainability requirements.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: All system safety review board recommendations to reduce the hazard of the identified safety issues have been fully implemented either through configuration changes designed to lessen the swing-out or through procedural changes to the operations manual. The operator's manual requires compliance regardless of whether HETS is operated on public or installation roads.

    Recommendation: In view of the highway safety issue, the Secretary of the Army should require compliance with the system's safety review board's conditions regardless of whether the new HETS is operated on public roads or roads located on military installations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army


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