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Highlights

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Defense's (DOD) Office of the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation's (DOT&E) operations and organizational structure for overseeing operational testing, focusing on: (1) DOT&E's efforts and their impact on the quality of operational testing and evaluation in DOD; and (2) the strengths and weaknesses of the current organizational framework in DOD for operational testing.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Defense 1. The Secretary of Defense should revise DOD's operational test and evaluation policies by requiring the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Technology, in those cases where affirmative full-rate production decisions are made for major systems that have yet to demonstrate their operational effectiveness or suitability, to: (1) take corrective actions to eliminate deficiencies in effectiveness or suitability; and (2) conduct follow-on test and evaluation of corrective actions until the systems are determined to be operationally effective and suitable by the DOT&E.
Closed - Implemented
DOD Instruction 5000.2R -- Operation of the Defense Acquisition System -- was updated in January 2001 and included a new section incorporating GAO's recommendation. Specifically, DOD 5000.2-R C3.6.2.3 states: DOT&E-oversight programs beyond LRIP, shall require continued DOT&E test plan approval, monitoring, and Follow-On operational Test and Evaluation (FOT&E) reporting to complete IOT&E activity; to refine IOT&E estimates; to verify correction of deficiencies; to evaluate significant changes to system design or employment; and to evaluate whether or not the system continues to meet operational needs and retain operational effectiveness in a substantially new environment, as appropriate.
Department of Defense 2. The Secretary of Defense should revise DOD's operational test and evaluation policies by requiring the DOT&E, to: (1) review and approve follow-on test and evaluation master plans and specific operational test plans for major systems before operational testing related to suitability and effectiveness issues left unresolved at the full-rate production decision; and (2) upon the completion of follow-on operational test and evaluation, report to the Congress, the Secretary of Defense, and the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Technology whether the testing was adequate and whether the results confirmed the system is operationally suitable and effective.
Closed - Implemented
DOD Instruction 5000.2R -- Operation of the Defense Acquisition System -- was updated in January 2001 and included a new section incorporating GAO's recommendation. Specifically, DOD 5000.2-R C3.6.2.3 states: DOT&E-oversight programs beyond LRIP, shall require continued DOT&E test plan approval, monitoring, and Follow-On operational Test and Evaluation (FOT&E) reporting to complete IOT&E activity; to refine IOT&E estimates; to verify correction of deficiencies; to evaluate significant changes to system design or employment; and to evaluate whether or not the system continues to meet operational needs and retain operational effectiveness in a substantially new environment, as appropriate.
Office of the Director of Operational Testing and Evaluation 3. In light of increasing operational testing oversight commitments and to accommodate oversight of follow-on operational testing and evaluation, the Director, Operational Test and Evaluation, should prioritize his office's workload to ensure sufficient attention is given to major defense acquisition programs.
Closed - Implemented
The recommendation urged DOT&E to focus its limited resources on its core mission. However, GAO did not identify specific actions that should be taken to prioritize DOT&E's workload. In response to this recommendation, DOT&E noted that ongoing management initiatives, such as the inclusion of DOT&E action officers in acquisition program integrated product/process teams, facilitate the objective of the recommendation.

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