Ship Self Defense:

Program Priorities Are Questionable

NSIAD-97-195R: Published: Aug 15, 1997. Publicly Released: Aug 15, 1997.

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As part of GAO's review of the Navy's Ship Self-Defense Program, GAO: (1) reviewed annual Ship Self-Defense and Antiair Warfare Defense program progress reports to Congress; (2) analyzed the Navy's plans for improving ship self-defense capabilities; (3) determined the extent to which scheduled improvements on various ship classes are meeting indicated priorities; and (4) sought information on the Navy's costs for implementing the program.

GAO noted that: (1) GAO's preliminary findings indicate that Congress may be relying upon inaccurate information when evaluating the Ship Self-Defense Program's progress and when it formulates future financial investments in shipboard antiair warfare defense capabilities; (2) GAO found that the status of the Ship Self-Defense Program is difficult to determine from the various plans, reports, and financial documents GAO examined; (3) scheduled improvements do not appear to follow program priorities; (4) because Navy officials were unable to provide complete information on the program's implementation costs, GAO was unable to analyze the costs and benefits of this program; (5) the Program Executive Office for Theater Air Defense, by reporting inaccurate information and providing inadequate financial data, may not be exercising the oversight necessary to accomplish established program objectives and priorities; (6) Navy officials explained that the inconsistencies GAO identified in program information and financial data were the direct result of budget instability; (7) according to these officials, it has been difficult to execute and correctly document this program because its budget has been constantly changing; (8) although GAO agrees that frequent changes in program funding can create instability in program plans, this condition does not justify presenting inaccurate and inconsistent program and financial data to Congress; and (9) therefore, GAO requested the Secretary of Defense's response to questions concerning: (a) why the Program Executive Office has not developed a comprehensive ship self-defense plan that could be used to guide, monitor, and report progress in relation to specific program objectives and priorities; (b) why the decision was made to install the Ship Self-Defense Mark I/Quick Reaction Combat Capability on two aircraft carriers rather than the Tarawa class amphibious assault ships, when the carriers are scheduled to be retired soon after the installation or will not be used in combatant roles; and (c) how current naval threat priorities relate to decisions on which ships will receive the Ship Self-Defense System Mark I/Quick Reaction Combat Capability.

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