Observations Regarding the Ammunition Production Base

PLRD-83-38: Published: Feb 1, 1983. Publicly Released: Feb 1, 1983.

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GAO reviewed the Army's modernization and expansion program for the ammunition production base to determine the status of the program, identify production base deficiencies, and evaluate the effectiveness of ongoing and planned actions to overcome the problems.

In March 1982, DOD issued new program guidance, for fiscal years 1984 to 1988, which is intended to reverse years of limited funding and management neglect. However, GAO identified serious problems concerning the ammunition production base which seem to have resulted from implementation of DOD program guidance or from budgetary constraints. GAO found that, although the U.S. production base has a tremendous capability and can generally produce the planned peacetime procurements of ammunition, it lacks the capacity to produce a large part of the projected mobilization requirements for many newer, more sophisticated ammunition items. There does not appear to be any near-term solution to this problem. Although consideration has been given to using alternative explosives, the Army contends that the use of alternatives would degrade the effectiveness of the ammunition. Moreover, some existing facilities could not be fully used, if needed in wartime, because of significant imbalances in capacities for various components required for end-item assembly. These shortfalls and imbalances affect numerous items the Army considers critical. GAO stated that the Army may not be able to quickly start up some modernized ammunition facilities in layaway because electronic process control system components were not designed for layaway, documentation and startup procedures have not been developed, and the equipment has not been adequately maintained.

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