Effective Use of Systems Analysis in the Navy's Decisionmaking Process

PSAD-77-90: Published: Mar 14, 1977. Publicly Released: Mar 14, 1977.

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Systems analysis can play an important role in the decisionmaking process by providing objective and timely information. The proper role for systems analysis is not to dictate decisions, but to clarify issues and their possible consequences. GAO studied eight aircraft, two airborne sensor programs, and certain aspects of ship programs as they related to the aircraft systems reviewed. The objective was to assess the quality and usefulness of information available to the decisionmaker.

Systems analysis could have provided Department of Defense decisionmakers with early answers to judgmental questions in the two modification programs and in the Sea Control Ship Program. However, the questions were still unanswered after a full-scale development decision in the second case and after system deployment in the first. There is a lack of information on the capabilities of various alternative systems in a combined force with other weapons systems. Some combined force studies had serious flaws which created an environment of debate over the merits of the study rather than an atmosphere of evaluation for decisionmaking. When program initiation is being considered in systems analysis, information is needed to determine that: (1) the military requirements properly relate to the mission, the threat to be countered, and the overall effectiveness of forces; (2) alternative systems have been considered; (3) mission performance requirements are adequately defined; and (4) practical trade-offs among performance risks, cost, and schedule have been considered.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Navy should issue instructions requiring a master plan for systems analysis which would provide timely information at Defense Systems Acquisition Review Council decision points. Applying such instructions to individual weapon system programs should: (1) define the authority, responsibility, and timing for systems analysis to provide information for the decisionmaking process; and (2) provide a planning and management tool which, along with the existing testing master plan, would help managers make objective decisions.

    Agency Affected:


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