Battlefield Automation: Premature Acquisition of the Army's Combat Service Support Control System (Letter Report, 02/04/94, GAO/NSIAD-94-51). GAO evaluated the Army's development and acquisition strategy for the Combat Service Support Control System to determine whether it will ensure that the program is ready to begin acquisition of Common Hardware and Software computers and related equipment. Specifically, GAO focused on the rationale for program changes that the Army made to justify equipment acquisition before it had done an operational test of the system. Given that the Army's unsettled acquisition strategy could result in premature procurement of more system hardware, GAO recommends that the Army defer procurement of computers until the system software (1) completes an operational test demonstrating its military effectiveness and (2) demonstrates automated data exchange among and between system control segments. The Army should also use existing Army Tactical Command and Control System sources of equipment to meet the Combat Service Support System's operational testing equipment requirements. --------------------------- Indexing Terms ----------------------------- REPORTNUM: NSIAD-94-51 TITLE: Battlefield Automation: Premature Acquisition of the Army's Combat Service Support Control System DATE: 02/04/94 SUBJECT: Army procurement Military systems analysis Management information systems Defense communications operations Cost analysis Testing Defense capabilities Command and control systems Computer equipment management Computer software IDENTIFIER: Army Combat Service Support Control System Army Tactical Command and Control System ATCCS Army Maneuver Control System Army Modernization Plan ************************************************************************** * This file contains an ASCII representation of the text of a GAO * * report. 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We are unable to accept electronic orders * * for printed documents at this time. * ************************************************************************** Cover ================================================================ COVER Report to Congressional Committees February 1994 BATTLEFIELD AUTOMATION - PREMATURE ACQUISITION OF THE ARMY'S COMBAT SERVICE SUPPORT CONTROL SYSTEM GAO/NSIAD-94-51 Battlefield Automation Abbreviations =============================================================== ABBREV ATCCS - Army Tactical Command and Control System CHS - Common Hardware and Software CSSCS - Combat Service Support Control System DOD - Department of Defense MCS - Maneuver Control System Letter =============================================================== LETTER B-254350 February 4, 1994 The Honorable Sam Nunn Chairman, Committee on Armed Services United States Senate The Honorable Daniel K. Inouye Chairman, Subcommittee on Defense Committee on Appropriations United States Senate The Honorable Ronald V. Dellums Chairman, Committee on Armed Services House of Representatives The Honorable John P. Murtha Chairman, Subcommittee on Defense Committee on Appropriations House of Representatives We have evaluated the Army's development and acquisition strategy for the Combat Service Support Control System (CSSCS) to determine whether it will ensure that the CSSCS program is ready to initiate acquisition of Common Hardware and Software (CHS) computers and related equipment. Specifically, we focused on the rationale for program changes made by the Army to justify initiating equipment acquisitions prior to conducting an operational test of the system. BACKGROUND ------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :1 The Army Tactical Command and Control System (ATCCS) is comprised of five command and control segments, three communications segments, and one CHS segment to provide computer commonality. The ability of the ATCCS segments to automatically exchange data is critical to ATCCS's ability to satisfy requirements and demonstrate military effectiveness. The Maneuver Control System segment is the focal point for data exchange between the ATCCS segments. The CSSCS segment is to automate the collection, analysis, and dissemination of logistical, medical, financial, and personnel information to theater, force level, and combat services support commanders. When fully fielded in 2003, the Army estimates that it will have spent $408.4 million on CSSCS. The service support information furnished to ATCCS is used by commanders, along with other information, to assess a unit's readiness and evaluate its ability to deploy. Also, it will share selected information with the other four ATCCS segments. The system architecture is comprised of two computers--the transportable and the lightweight. The lightweight computer is to be used at locations with lower processing requirements. Because of the delay in development of the lightweight computer, this report focuses on the acquisition of the transportable computer. Figure 1 shows the CSSCS configurations. Figure 1: Combat Service Support Control System Equipment Configurations (See figure in printed edition.) Source: U.S. Army. (See figure in printed edition.) RESULTS IN BRIEF ------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :2 The Army had planned to initiate a $12.8 million procurement of CHS computers and related equipment for CSSCS before operational testing. The Army's strategy was to use the results of a 1-week demonstration in November 1993 to initiate low-rate initial production of CSSCS hardware. The Army completed the 1-week demonstration, but no longer plans to use the demonstration to justify CSSCS procurement. Due to delays in software development and technical testing, and the need to correct critical software deficiencies, the Army twice postponed CSSCS operational testing. This rescheduling caused the Army to change its acquisition strategy in name only, from a full-rate production decision to a low-rate initial production decision for the same number of CSSCS computers as previously planned. However, initiation of low-rate initial production was not justified because the purposes served by such production were not in evidence. Specifically, there is no need to establish a production line since one already exists, and the Army already has more than a sufficient number of computers to complete CSSCS operational testing. In addition, there is no formal urgent requirement for the system. CSSCS operational testing is now scheduled for July 1994 to support full-rate production approval in fiscal year 1995. The Army's CSSCS acquisition strategy would have continued an approach that has resulted in prematurely buying hardware that becomes outmoded while the Army waits for software to be developed. In addition, the Army could employ some of the equipment from other ATCCS programs to meet CSSCS equipment requirements for operational testing and initial fielding. The CSSCS acquisition strategy to initiate low-rate initial production was in conflict with Army and congressional guidance to take time to develop weapon systems right the first time. It also ignored congressional guidance to test the ATCCS segments as an integrated system of systems. The Senate and House reports on the fiscal year 1994 Department of Defense (DOD) appropriation denied funding for this acquisition. The Army's most recent proposal is to spend $4 million for computers for testing and to conduct operational testing before seeking full-rate production approval. However, changes to the acquisition strategy have yet to be finalized. DELAYS CAUSE CHANGES TO CSSCS DEVELOPMENT AND ACQUISITION STRATEGY ------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :3 The 1992 CSSCS program strategy included conducting an operational test in May 1993, along with the Maneuver Control System operational test. The software version used during the May test was to be corrected, enhanced, and retested before fielding in 1994. Equipment acquisition was to have begun after successful completion of the operational testing and favorable review by the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Also, the program was dependent on the Maneuver Control System version-11 software, especially its communications, interoperability, and mapping software modules. Delays in the maneuver program and CSSCS software development problems led to a January 1993 decision to delay CSSCS operational testing from May to September 1993. An Army test readiness review in April 1993 concluded that delays in conducting technical tests and the need to correct critical software deficiencies would require further slippage in operational testing. This testing will begin in July and last through September 1994. In response, the Army then scheduled a 6-week limited user test to begin in September and last to November 1993, which was subsequently reduced to a 1-week demonstration due to limited testing funds. The Army plans to demonstrate automated interoperability between ATCCS control segments during the 1994 operational testing. However, no automated exchange of data was planned for the November 1993 demonstration. These delays have resulted in planned enhancements being deferred until after operational testing. The deferred planned enhancements include (1) replacing the transportable computer's adaptable program interface unit with the smaller and lighter tactical communications interface module and (2) improving mapping and other software capabilities. As a result, the software must be enhanced before it can be fielded. The Army requested $12.8 million for fiscal year 1994 to buy 108 computers, initiating the full-rate production of CSSCS. However, as a result of delays in the operational testing required to support the full-rate production decision, the Army changed its acquisition strategy. Prior to the congressional committees' recent denial of fiscal year 1994 funding and the conferees' denial of authorization, the Army planned to buy the same 108 computers under a low-rate initial production contract. In effect, under this strategy, the Army would have bought the initial full-rate production quantities of these computers as planned, despite the inadequacies of the 1-week demonstration, the inability to complete timely operational testing, and without regard for capable equipment already available for test purposes. THE ARMY'S BASIS FOR CSSCS ACQUISITION WAS FLAWED ------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :4 The Army cited the need to equip the remaining units of III Corps (two divisions, a separate brigade, and round out units) and provide equipment for Army-wide training as reasons for its low-rate initial production strategy. However, this acquisition strategy ignores the purposes served by low-rate initial production, including (1) establishing a production line and (2) acquiring equipment for operational testing. There is no need to establish a production line because the CSSCS program acquires its equipment through the already existing CHS contract that enables the Army to order equipment as needed. In other words, a production line is already established. As for acquiring equipment for operational testing, the Army has already purchased enough equipment for the CSSCS operational test. Also, there is no urgent requirement for CSSCS. In the past, other systems have been justified for low-rate initial production on the basis of an urgent need. However, the Army has not established a CSSCS program requirement based on an urgent need. The ATCCS program already has an excess number of computers and related equipment for development purposes. If the Army continues with its current strategy, the number of excess computers is likely to increase. For example, the Maneuver Control System's operational test was scheduled for May 1993. However, the failure to develop maneuver control version-11 software has delayed this program's operational test to late 1995 and resulted in excess developmental computers. The Maneuver Control System has 251 computers, and most of them are not needed for developmental purposes. This common hardware can be used to meet CSSCS requirements. The Maneuver Control System project manager has made 139 systems available for other ATCCS programs. Also, changes in the ATCCS fire support segment should make the 211 computers currently on hand available for other ATCCS users. The Army has determined that the ATCCS fire support segment needs a more capable reduced instruction set computer, which it plans to evaluate during the fire support segment's operational test, beginning in July 1994. Technical testing, which showed that the fire support software uses 100 percent of computer capacity when it should be at 50 percent, appears to support the need for the reduced instruction set computer. After completing the 1994 test, the Army will then begin procuring these computers to replace the current CHS models it has already acquired. Other ATCCS users could then field these CHS computers rather than buying more. CSSCS DEMONSTRATION IS NOT A BASIS FOR PRODUCTION ------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :5 The Army downscoped the 1993 testing from a full operational test to a 1-week demonstration of the system's capabilities. This demonstration may be useful in determining the system's readiness for operational testing and subsequent full-rate production approval. However, use of the 1-week demonstration as the basis for initiating low-rate initial production would have resulted in substantially increasing program risks because the software used in the demonstration must be enhanced before it can be fielded; the demonstration was limited,the critical requirement to automatically exchange data among and between ATCCS control segments was not demonstrated; and the equipment configuration demonstrated did not include the planned replacement for the transportable computer's communications interface device--the Tactical Communications Interface Module. PREMATURE ACQUISITIONS HAVE BEEN WASTEFUL ------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :6 The Army's CSSCS acquisition strategy of prematurely acquiring equipment continues an ATCCS strategy that has resulted in wasted equipment acquisitions and costly upgrades. For example, the Army prematurely spent $155 million on Maneuver Control System equipment that it decided, in 1990,\1 no longer met user requirements. The Army also prematurely invested $126 million in militarized equipment that was withdrawn from units and excessed. Another $29 million of nondevelopmental equipment was not deployed because light divisions refused to accept it due to its bulky size and excessive weight. This equipment was subsequently placed in a warehouse until the Army could find another use for it. The 12- to 18-month cycle in computer technology changeovers means that the Army must upgrade or scrap computers it bought prematurely because the software was not ready. In 1988, the Army bought 970 early model CHS computers at a cost of $37.6 million before completing software development for ATCCS programs. Subsequently, software development problems delayed the introduction of these computers to the field. In the interim, advances in computer technology have occurred, allowing the Army to buy four newer generations of CHS computers, all of which have increased capabilities that enable the hardware to run ATCCS software more efficiently than earlier models. Also, the Army chose to upgrade computers it did not need at substantial extra costs to the ATCCS program. For example, we found that the CHS equipment upgrades resulted in the Army spending over $16.6 million to upgrade 861 CHS computers. Some of these computers have been upgraded twice. For example, some early model computers were upgraded in 1990 and again in 1993 to the current CHS model. The original unit cost was $18,418 and the upgrades cost $45,714, for a total unit cost of $64,132. The current CHS model is estimated to cost $37,316, or $26,816 less per unit than the cost to acquire and upgrade the early model. To support these early model computers, the Army prematurely acquired expensive peripheral equipment that its units no longer want. For example, the Army has decided to replace the CHS computer's communications interface device (the adaptable programmable interface unit) with the tactical communications interface module as soon as the required software is completed. The adaptable unit weighs 50 pounds, while the tactical module is an internal computer card. Software development problems delayed implementing and fielding of the old communications device, while acquisitions continued. This wasteful approach resulted in the Army acquiring 597 adaptable units at a cost of $6.3 million. The Army is now trying to find a use for this equipment. Active and National Guard units do not want the adaptable units because of their bulky size and excessive weight. If the Army had developed workable and fieldable software packages before buying significant quantities of CHS equipment and peripherals, it could have fielded the most modern hardware and avoided the cost of upgrading older CHS computers and replacing related peripherals. -------------------- \1 Battlefield Automation: Army Tactical Command and Control System Development Problems (GAO/NSIAD-91-172, July 31, 1991). CSSCS DEVELOPMENT WAS NOT FOLLOWING ARMY GUIDANCE ------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :7 The CSSCS program does not follow the acquisition approach defined in the Army's recently published plan to modernize its forces, which emphasizes the need to take more time to develop systems properly. The Army plan recognizes the impact of the reduced threat and budgetary pressures. The January 1993 Army Modernization Plan, which outlines the Army's modernization course to achieve land force dominance, states, "With a less urgent threat, and the fiscal constraints imposed on the defense department, DOD has revised its acquisition approach: today we can take more time to develop and evaluate new technologies before making decisions on weapons/systems production. The effect of this new approach serves to reduce concurrence in development programs and retain existing equipment for longer periods." CONGRESSIONAL GUIDANCE WAS NOT BEING FOLLOWED ------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :8 The Army's strategy to initiate low-rate initial production for CSSCS does not follow congressional acquisition guidance, which states that the services should take time to develop weapon systems right the first time. For example, in its report on the fiscal year 1991 National Defense Authorization Bill, the Senate Committee on Armed Services provided guidance for the development and acquisition of systems, which stated that as a result of the diminished threat from Eastern European nations, there is a reduced urgency to procure systems prior to successfully testing the equipment. The Committee wanted the services to develop a system right the first time rather than commit to a troubled system. For example, the Committee stated that, ". . .the development, testing and production of weapons systems have overlapped, only to spend large amounts of money to make weapons work right after they are in the field." The Committee also stated that "DOD does not have to rush to buy a weapon in order to meet an arbitrary fielding deadline. The Pentagon can now afford to take the time to get it right the first time before becoming deeply committed to troubled weapons systems." In addition, the conference report for the fiscal year 1991 DOD appropriation expressed concern over the Army's approach for developing, testing, and deploying ATCCS as an integrated system. Congressional conferees directed that each segment's test and evaluation plan be revised to include interoperability testing at development and operational testing milestones. FISCAL YEAR 1994 CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET ACTION IMPACTS CSSCS PROCUREMENT ------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :9 The House and Senate Appropriations Committees denied DOD's 1994 request for $12.8 million in procurement funds to buy 108 CSSCS computers. At the Army's request, the committee conferees increased the fiscal year 1994 CSSCS research, development, test, and evaluation appropriation by $4 million, to $24.5 million. The Army plans to use these funds to buy 29 computers for CSSCS operational testing, which is to begin in July 1994. However, we have noted above that the Army already has a sufficient number of computers to conduct CSSCS operational testing. RECOMMENDATIONS ----------------------------------------------------------- Letter :10 Given that the Army's unsettled CSSCS acquisition strategy could result in the premature procurement of additional CSSCS hardware, we recommend that the Secretary of Defense direct the Secretary of the Army to defer procurement of CSSCS computers until the system software that is to be fielded successfully (1) completes an operational test that demonstrates its military effectiveness and (2) demonstrates automated data exchange among and between the ATCCS control segments and use existing ATCCS sources of CSSCS equipment to meet CSSCS operational testing equipment requirements. AGENCY COMMENTS AND OUR EVALUATION ----------------------------------------------------------- Letter :11 DOD essentially agreed with our report and believes that actions taken by DOD and the Army have addressed the report's issues. Thus, DOD believes that additional direction to the Army on the report's issues is not warranted. Specifically, they stated that reviews by DOD's and the Army's management will change the CSSCS acquisition strategy to include (1) completing an operational test that measures operational effectiveness and suitability to include the ability to automatically exchange data between and among the ATCCS segments and (2) delaying procurement of computers until sufficient operational testing has been completed. While DOD's and the Army's plans are in concert with our recommendations, the Army has not implemented them yet, and therefore, we believe that our recommendations still warrant action to ensure that (1) system software is fully developed and operationally tested, (2) the system's military effectiveness and the ability to automatically exchange data between and among ATCCS segments is successfully demonstrated, and (3) no premature equipment acquisitions occur. We will continue to monitor actions to implement this. DOD's comments and our response are included in appendix I. SCOPE AND METHODOLOGY ----------------------------------------------------------- Letter :12 We examined the Army's development and acquisition efforts to determine whether they will ensure that the CSSCS program is ready to initiate acquisition of CHS computers and related equipment. We discussed this information with officials at the following offices: Program Executive Office for Command and Control Systems, Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. ATCCS program offices Fort Belvoir and Fort Lee, Virginia, and Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. Office of the Secretary of Defense for Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence; Office of the Director of Information Systems for Command, Control, Communications, and Computers; Office of the Director, Operational Test and Evaluation; Office of the Deputy Director, Defense Research and Engineering (Test and Evaluation); and Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army; Washington, D.C. Army Materiel Systems Analysis Activity, Aberdeen, Maryland. Operational Evaluation Command, Alexandria, Virginia. Test and Experimentation Command, Fort Hood, Texas. Combined Arms Command, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. CSSCS software development contractor office, Carson, California. System integration contractor office, Fort Washington, Pennsylvania. We performed our review from October 1992 to December 1993 in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. This report has been revised to reflect recent program events, congressional actions, agency comments on the draft report, and Army proposals for changing the program's schedule and acquisition strategy. --------------------------------------------------------- Letter :12.1 We are sending copies of this report to the Director, Office of Management and Budget; the Secretary of Defense; the Secretary of the Army; and other interested parties. Copies will be made available to others on request. Please contact me at (202) 512-4841 if you or your staff have any questions concerning this report. Major contributors to this report were William L. Wright, Assistant Director, Paul A. Puchalik, Evaluator in Charge, and Robert G. Perasso, Evaluator. Louis J. Rodrigues Director, Systems Development and Production Issues (See figure in printed edition.)Appendix I COMMENTS FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE ============================================================== Letter (See figure in printed edition.) (See figure in printed edition.) (See figure in printed edition.) (See figure in printed edition.) (See figure in printed edition.) (See figure in printed edition.) (See figure in printed edition.) (See figure in printed edition.) (See figure in printed edition.) (See figure in printed edition.) The following are GAO's comments on the Department of Defense's (DOD) letter dated October 7, 1993. GAO COMMENTS ----------------------------------------------------------- Letter :13 1. The positive actions taken by the DOD and the Army to change the Combat Service Support Control System (CSSCS) program's acquisition strategy are a step in the right direction. We will continue to monitor the program to ensure that (1) system software is fully developed and operationally tested, (2) the system's military effectiveness and the automated exchange of data among and between Army Tactical Command and Control System (ATCCS) segments is successfully demonstrated, and (3) no premature equipment acquisitions occur. 2. The automated exchange of data between and among ATCCS segments was not demonstrated during the limited user test. The Army plans to demonstrate this capability during the 1994 ATCCS testing. 3. DOD's accountability listing provides the location of Maneuver Control System (MCS) Common Hardware and Software (CHS) computers, but it fails to identify how the 139 computers assigned to the test unit at Fort Hood are being used for developmental purposes. No MCS software development is occurring at Fort Hood. According to an Army official, MCS operational testing is not scheduled until June 1995, and MCS does not plan to seek a Milestone III decision to procure and field CHS hardware until September 1995. We agree that these computers should be used to support the development and testing of all ATCCS programs. This role should be expanded to enable mature ATCCS programs that have passed operational testing to field this excess MCS equipment before it becomes outmoded. 4. The recently announced delay in operational testing from July to September 1994 and the subsequent review and approval processes will result in CSSCS procurement deliveries not starting until the last quarter of fiscal year 1995. DOD's response states the Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System's fielding schedule could allow its current computers to be available in the last quarter of fiscal year 1995. This is the same time frame that the production CSSCS computers would be fielded. Thus, the field artillery system's computers would be available to support CSSCS fielding requirements. 5. It is true that the Army gained valuable experience from using the militarized and nondevelopmental equipment. However, its repeated premature equipment acquisitions illustrate what happens when equipment is bought before the software works correctly and the system demonstrates military effectiveness. For example, had the Army followed prudent acquisition strategy, it would have avoided having to (1) warehouse about one-third of the militarized systems it prematurely purchased and never fielded and (2) find a use for 597 adaptable programmable interface units that Active and National Guard units do not want. 6. The Army's recent decision not to acquire more equipment for CSSCS until operational testing is successful and the system demonstrates its military effectiveness does indicate that a valuable lesson was learned. It should be noted, however, that until we raised the issue during our audit, the Army's CSSCS acquisition strategy could have resulted in further premature acquisitions.