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Defense Acquisitions: Status of the Safety, Performance, and Reliability of the Expeditionary Fire Support System

GAO-09-189R Published: Nov 18, 2008. Publicly Released: Nov 18, 2008.
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The Expeditionary Fire Support System (EFSS)--which consists of two kinds of motorized vehicles, a 120-mm mortar, an ammunition trailer, and fire direction equipment--is being developed to meet the United States Marine Corps' need for a weapon system that can be carried inside the MV-22 Osprey to support assault operations. The Marine Corps Operational Test and Evaluation Activity (MCOTEA), the independent test agency for the Marines, conducted initial operational testing and evaluation of the EFSS from May to July 2007, and reported in September 2007, among other things, that it experienced several safety, performance, reliability, and mechanical problems. We briefed Congress on these and other issues related to the EFSS in September 2007. Subsequently, at congressional request, the Marine Corps delayed full-rate production of the EFSS until after GAO reported on the system. In December 2007, we issued our report, which described the system's safety, performance, reliability, and mechanical problems. MCOTEA retested the system in February and March 2008, focusing on determining whether the problems identified in 2007 were resolved. It reported its analysis of the test results in May 2008. In October 2008, Congress asked us to provide Congress with a brief assessment of the Marine Corps' conclusions regarding whether the concerns we reported have been addressed. To do so, we reviewed MCOTEA's May 2008 Independent Evaluation Report from the EFSS' Follow-on Operational Test and Evaluation as well as documentation of the system's insensitive munition certification, and compared the results with the concerns we reported in 2007. We also reviewed documentation of EFSS' full-rate production decision. We interviewed EFSS program officials, a Marine Corps Combat Development Command official, and the MCOTEA official who oversaw EFSS testing to obtain their perspectives regarding whether and how the previously reported concerns were addressed. We conducted this performance audit from October 2008 through November 2008 in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.

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Audit reportsDefense capabilitiesDevelopmental testingInternal controlsMilitary procurementMilitary systems analysisMission critical systemsMunitionsOperational testingReporting requirementsSafety regulationSafety standardsSchedule slippagesSystem vulnerabilitiesSystems analysisSystems designSystems evaluationSystems testingTestingWeapons systems