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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
             
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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.