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Highlights

The Future Combat System (FCS) is central to Army transformation efforts, comprising 14 integrated weapon systems and an advanced information network. In previous work, GAO found that the elements of a sound business case--firm requirements, mature technologies, a knowledge-based acquisition strategy, a realistic cost estimate, and sufficient funding--were not present. As a result, FCS is considered high risk and in need of special oversight and review. Congress has mandated that the Department of Defense (DOD) decide in early 2009 whether FCS should continue. GAO is required to review the program annually. In this report, GAO analyzes FCS development, including its requirements definition; status of critical technologies, software development, and complementary programs; soundness of its acquisition strategy related to design, production and spin-out of capabilities to current forces; and reasonableness of costs and sufficiency of funding.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Defense 1. The Secretary of Defense should establish criteria now that it will use to evaluate the FCS program as part of its go/no-go decision following its preliminary design review. At a minimum, these criteria should include a definition of acceptable technology maturity consistent with DOD policy for a program half way through system development and demonstration.
Closed - Not Implemented
In response to our draft report, the Department of Defense concurred with our recommendations but did not specify the criteria it plans to use as it evaluates the progress made in the Future Combat System program at the congressionally mandated milestone review, now scheduled for 2009. After a Defense Acquisition Board review of the FCS in July 2008, an acquisition decision memorandum was issued with criteria for the milestone review. That included criteria for technology maturity but that criteria was the same as that expected of a new program rather than a program half way through system development and demonstration.
Department of Defense 2. The Secretary of Defense should establish criteria now that it will use to evaluate the FCS program as part of its go/no-go decision following its preliminary design review. At a minimum, these criteria should include determination which FCS technologies will be scored against those criteria.
Closed - Not Implemented
In response to our draft report, the Department of Defense concurred with our recommendations but did not specify the criteria it plans to use as it evaluates the progress made in the Future Combat System program at the congressionally mandated milestone review, now scheduled for 2009. After a Defense Acquisition Board review of the FCS in July 2008, an acquisition decision memorandum was issued with criteria for the milestone review. However, the criteria did not include a determination of which FCS technologies that would be scored against the criteria.
Department of Defense 3. The Secretary of Defense should establish criteria now that it will use to evaluate the FCS program as part of its go/no-go decision following its preliminary design review. At a minimum, these criteria should include use of an independent assessment to score the FCS technologies.
Closed - Implemented
In response to our draft report, the Department of Defense concurred with our recommendations but did not specify the criteria it plans to use as it evaluates the progress made in the Future Combat System program at the congressionally mandated milestone review, now scheduled for 2009. After a Defense Acquisition Board review of the FCS in July 2008, an acquisition decision memorandum was issued with criteria for the milestone review, including one on the maturity of critical technologies. In a subsequent discussion with DOD officials, they indicated that an independent review team would provide an independent assessment of the technologies.
Department of Defense 4. The Secretary of Defense should establish criteria now that it will use to evaluate the FCS program as part of its go/no-go decision following its preliminary design review. At a minimum, these criteria should include a definition of acceptable software maturity consistent with DOD policy for a program half way through system development and demonstration.
Closed - Not Implemented
In response to our draft report, the Department of Defense concurred with our recommendations but did not specify the criteria it plans to use as it evaluates the progress made in the Future Combat System program at the congressionally mandated milestone review, now scheduled for 2009. After a Defense Acquisition Board review of the FCS in July 2008, an acquisition decision memorandum was issued with criteria for the milestone review. However, those criteria did not include anything specific on the maturity of FCS software.
Department of Defense 5. The Secretary of Defense should establish criteria now that it will use to evaluate the FCS program as part of its go/no-go decision following its preliminary design review. At a minimum, these criteria should include an independent assessment to score FCS software.
Closed - Not Implemented
In response to our draft report, the Department of Defense concurred with our recommendations but did not specify the criteria it plans to use as it evaluates the progress made in the Future Combat System program at the congressionally mandated milestone review, now scheduled for 2009. After a Defense Acquisition Board review of the FCS in July 2008, an acquisition decision memorandum was issued with criteria for the milestone review. However, those criteria did not include reference to an independent assessment of FCS software.
Department of Defense 6. The Secretary of Defense should establish criteria now that it will use to evaluate the FCS program as part of its go/no-go decision following its preliminary design review. At a minimum, these criteria should include the likely performance and availability of key complementary systems.
Closed - Implemented
In response to our draft report, the Department of Defense concurred with our recommendations but did not specify the criteria it plans to use as it evaluates the progress made in the Future Combat System program at the congressionally mandated milestone review, now scheduled for 2009. After a Defense Acquisition Board review of the FCS in July 2008, an acquisition decision memorandum was issued with criteria for the milestone review. One of those called for the design, build, and test schedules of the FCS platforms and networks to be aligned and executable.
Department of Defense 7. The Secretary of Defense should establish criteria now that it will use to evaluate the FCS program as part of its go/no-go decision following its preliminary design review. At a minimum, these criteria should include an assessment of how likely the FCS system-of-systems--deemed reasonable from the progress in technology, software, and design--is to provide the capabilities the Army will need to perform its roles in joint force operations (Such an assessment should include sensitivity analyses in areas of the most uncertainty).
Closed - Implemented
In April 2009, the SECDEF made a decision to cancel the vehicle component of the FCS program. (The entire acquisition program was subsequently cancelled.) The SECDEF concluded that there were significant unanswered questions concerning the FCS vehicle design strategy and expressed concern that the vehicles did not reflect the lessons of counterinsurgency and close-quarters combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. He added that because the FCS vehicles were estimated to cost over $87 billion, he needed more confidence in the program strategy, requirements and maturity of the the technologies before proceeding further. In making this "no-go" decision, the SECDEF found that the FCS would not be able to provide the capabilities the Army will need and he did not have confidence in its acquisition strategy, requirements, and technology maturity.
Department of Defense 8. The Secretary of Defense should establish criteria now that it will use to evaluate the FCS program as part of its go/no-go decision following its preliminary design review. At a minimum, these criteria should include a definition of acceptable levels of technology, design, and production maturity to be demonstrated at the critical design review and the production decision.
Closed - Not Implemented
In response to our draft report, the Department of Defense concurred with our recommendations but did not specify the criteria it plans to use as it evaluates the progress made in the Future Combat System program at the congressionally mandated milestone review, now scheduled for 2009. After a Defense Acquisition Board review of the FCS in July 2008, an acquisition decision memorandum was issued with criteria for the milestone review. However, that memorandum did not include any discussion of acceptable levels of technology, design, and production maturity to be demonstrated at critical design review and the production decision.
Department of Defense 9. The Secretary of Defense should establish criteria now that it will use to evaluate the FCS program as part of its go/no-go decision following its preliminary design review. At a minimum, these criteria should include an assessment of how well the FCS acquisition strategy and test plan will be able to demonstrate those levels of maturity.
Closed - Implemented
In April 2009, the SECDEF made a decision to cancel the vehicle component of the FCS program. (The entire acquisition program was subsequently cancelled.) The SECDEF concluded that there were significant unanswered questions concerning the FCS vehicle design strategy and expressed concern that the vehicles did not reflect the lessons of counterinsurgency and close-quarters combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. He added that because the FCS vehicles were estimated to cost over $87 billion, he needed more confidence in the program strategy, requirements and maturity of the the technologies before proceeding further. In making this "no-go" decision, the SECDEF found that the FCS would not be able to provide the capabilities the Army will need and he did not have confidence in its acquisition strategy, requirements, and technology maturity.
Department of Defense 10. The Secretary of Defense should establish criteria now that it will use to evaluate the FCS program as part of its go/no-go decision following its preliminary design review. At a minimum, these criteria should include a determination of likely costs to develop, produce, and support the FCS that is informed by an independent cost estimate and supported by an acceptable confidence level.
Closed - Implemented
In response to our draft report, the Department of Defense concurred with our recommendations but did not specify the criteria it plans to use as it evaluates the progress made in the Future Combat System program at the congressionally mandated milestone review, now scheduled for 2009. After a Defense Acquisition Board review of the FCS in July 2008, an acquisition decision memorandum was issued with criteria for the milestone review. Although not referenced in the memorandum, a subsequent discussion with a key DOD official indicated that DOD was planning for an independent cost estimate to be conducted.
Department of Defense 11. The Secretary of Defense should establish criteria now that it will use to evaluate the FCS program as part of its go/no-go decision following its preliminary design review. At a minimum, these criteria should include a determination that the budget levels the Army is likely to receive will be sufficient to develop, produce, and support the FCS at expected levels of cost.
Closed - Implemented
In response to our draft report, the Department of Defense concurred with our recommendations but did not specify the criteria it plans to use as it evaluates the progress made in the Future Combat System program at the congressionally mandated milestone review, now scheduled for 2009. After a Defense Acquisition Board review of the FCS in July 2008, an acquisition decision memorandum was issued with criteria for the milestone review. Although not referenced in the memorandum, a subsequent discussion with a key DOD official indicated that DOD was planning for an affordability assessment to be conducted.
Department of Defense 12. The Secretary of Defense should analyze alternative courses of action DOD can take to provide the Army with sufficient capabilities, should the FCS be judged as unlikely to deliver needed capabilities in reasonable time frames and within expected funding levels.
Closed - Implemented
In response to our draft report, the Department of Defense concurred with our recommendation, stating that the 2009 Defense Acquisition Board review would be informed by ongoing analyses of alternatives that include current force and network alternatives. However, it is not yet clear whether DOD will conduct the 2009 FCS milestone review in a formal sense. Nevertheless, the Secretary of Defense's decision to terminate manned ground vehicle development was at least a partial "no-go" decision on the current FCS program. Also, the Secretary's decision to proceed with several followon programs to FCS was, in effect, a consideration of alternatives to the current FCS program of record.

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