Chemical and Biological Defense: DOD Needs Consistent Policies and Clear Processes to Address the Survivability of Weapon Systems Against Chemical and Biological Threats

GAO-06-592 Published: Apr 28, 2006. Publicly Released: Apr 28, 2006.
Jump To:
Skip to Highlights
Highlights

The possibility that an adversary may use chemical or biological weapons against U.S. forces makes it important for a weapon system to be able to survive such attacks. In the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2005, Congress mandated that the Department of Defense submit a plan to address weapon system chemical and biological survivability by February 28, 2005. This plan was to include developing a centralized database with information about the effects of chemical and biological agents on materials used in weapon systems. DOD did not submit its plan as mandated. GAO was asked to evaluate (1) the extent to which DOD addresses weapon system chemical and biological survivability during the acquisition process, and (2) DOD's internal controls for maintaining a comprehensive database that includes chemical and biological survivability research and test data for weapon system design and development.

Skip to Recommendations

Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Defense To better ensure the incorporation of chemical and biological survivability into weapon systems, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics to either modify current DOD policy or develop guidance to ensure that chemical and biological survivability is consistently addressed in the weapon system acquisition process. This policy or guidance should establish a clear process for program offices to follow regarding the extent to which chemical and biological system survivability should be considered and tested.
Closed – Implemented
DOD completed and released two sets of policies that address GAO's recommendation. First, on May 9, 2006, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics issued policy that included how chemical and biological survivability should be addressed by the Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System sponsor (a Military Department or other DOD agency). Second DOD issues an instruction (DODI 3150.09) on September 17, 2008 that established the process for program offices to follow regarding the extent to which chemical and biological system survivability should be considered and tested. These actions address the intent of GAO's recommendation.
Department of Defense To better ensure the incorporation of chemical and biological survivability into weapon systems, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics to either modify current DOD policy or develop guidance to ensure that chemical and biological survivability is consistently addressed in the weapon system acquisition process. This policy or guidance should require consistent, DOD-wide documentation of decisions regarding how weapon system chemical and biological survivability is considered and tested.
Closed – Implemented
DOD issued policy on May 9, 2006 by the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics and included reporting and documenting responsibilities for the sponsor, material developer and Joint Staff gatekeeper to ensure that chemical and biological survivability is properly addressed for mission critical systems, including the development of quantitative and measurable performance attributes with thresholds and objectives to include annual reporting of decisions. DOD further issued an instruction (DODI 3150.09) on September 17, 2008 that describes the DOD processes and associated documentation requirements for decisions on weapon system chemical and biological survivability as part of the Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System, the Defense Acquisition System, the Missile Defense Agency System Engineering Plan, or the National Security Space Acquisition Policy. These actions address the intent of GAO's recommendation.
Department of Defense To better ensure the incorporation of chemical and biological survivability into weapon systems, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics to either modify current DOD policy or develop guidance to ensure that chemical and biological survivability is consistently addressed in the weapon system acquisition process. This policy or guidance should establish an oversight process within DOD and the services for monitoring weapon system program office decisions.
Closed – Implemented
DOD released policy on May 9, 2006 by the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics that included an oversight process with roles and responsibilities for the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological matters,the milestone decision authority, and weapon system sponsors. DOD subsequently issued an instruction (3150.09) in September 2008 that established the chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) Survivability Oversight Group to review and monitor the execution of the DOD CBRN Survivability Policy. This action addresses the intent of GAO's recommendation.
Department of Defense To better ensure the incorporation of chemical and biological survivability into weapon systems, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics to modify current DOD policy to ensure that DOD's database of chemical and biological scientific and technical information is comprehensive. This modified policy should state which chemical and biological survivability information belongs in the body of scientific and technical information that is required to be submitted to DTIC.
Closed – Implemented
DOD issued an instruction (3150.09) in September 2008 stipulating that materiel developers ensure chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) survivability test data are provided to sponsors, and Defense Technical Information Center, for subsequent inclusion in the CBRN material effects databases. This action addresses the intent of GAO's recommendation.
Department of Defense To better ensure the incorporation of chemical and biological survivability into weapon systems, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics to modify current DOD policy to ensure that DOD's database of chemical and biological scientific and technical information is comprehensive. This modified policy should clarify responsibilities and establish a specific process for the submission of chemical and biological scientific and technical information to DTIC.
Closed – Implemented
DOD recognized the need for a chemical and biological material effects database and initiated the development of such a database by forming and hosting an executive steering committee which met for the first time in March 2006. According to DOD, the Chemical and Biological Material Effects Database has been fully functional since March 2008; and Government and contractor personnel will continually evaluate the Database to provide additional test data and to enhance data quality. Further, DOD issued an instruction (3150.09) in September 2008 that states responsibilities of each organization and entity in submitting chemical and biological scientific and technical information to the Defense Technical Information Center. These actions address the intent of GAO's recommendation.
Department of Defense To better ensure the incorporation of chemical and biological survivability into weapon systems, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics to modify current DOD policy to ensure that DOD's database of chemical and biological scientific and technical information is comprehensive. This modified policy should designate which DOD office or organization is responsible for exercising oversight to ensure that this information is submitted to DTIC.
Closed – Implemented
DOD recognized the need for a chemical and biological material effects database and initiated the development of such a database by forming and hosting an executive steering committee which met for the first time in March 2006. According to DOD, the Chemical and Biological Material Effects Database has been fully functional since March 2008; and Government and contractor personnel will continually evaluate the Database to provide additional test data and to enhance data quality. Further, DOD issued an instruction (3150.09) in September 2008 that states responsibilities of each organization and entity in submitting chemical and biological scientific and technical information to the Defense Technical Information Center. These actions address the intent of GAO's recommendation.

Full Report