Military Personnel:

Navy Actions Needed to Optimize Ship Crew Size and Reduce Total Ownership Costs

GAO-03-520: Published: Jun 9, 2003. Publicly Released: Jun 9, 2003.

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The cost of a ship's crew is the single largest incurred over the ship's life cycle. One way to lower personnel costs, and thus the cost of ownership, is to use people only when it is cost-effective--a determination made with a systems engineering approach called human systems integration. GAO was asked to evaluate the Navy's progress in optimizing the crew size in four ships being developed and acquired: the DD(X) destroyer, T-AKE cargo ship, JCC(X) command ship, and LHA(R) amphibious assault ship. GAO assessed (1) the Navy's use of human systems integration principles and goals for reducing crew size, and (2) the factors that may impede the Navy's use of those principles.

The Navy's use of human systems integration principles and crew size reduction goals varied significantly for the four ships GAO reviewed. Only the DD(X) destroyer program emphasized human systems integration early in the acquisition process and established an aggressive goal to reduce crew size. The Navy's goal is to cut personnel on the DD(X) by about 70 percent from that of the previous destroyer class--a reduction GAO estimated could eventually save about $18 billion over the life of a 32-ship class. The goal was included in key program documents to which program managers are held accountable. Although the Navy did not set specific crew reduction goals for the T-AKE cargo ship, it made some use of human systems integration principles and expects to require a somewhat smaller crew than similar legacy ships. The two other ships--the recently cancelled JCC(X) command ship and the LHA(R) amphibious assault ship--did not establish human systems integration plans early in the acquisition programs, and did not establish ambitious crew size reduction goals. Unless the Navy more consistently applies human systems integration early in the acquisition process and establishes meaningful goals for crew size reduction, the Navy may miss opportunities to lower total ownership costs for new ships, which are determined by decisions made early in the acquisition process. For example, the Navy has not clearly defined the human systems integration certification standards for new ships. Several factors may impede the Navy's consistent application of human systems integration principles and its use of innovations to optimize crew size: (1) DOD acquisition policies and discretionary Navy guidance that allow program managers latitude in optimizing crew size and using human systems integration, (2) funding challenges that encourage the use of legacy systems to save near-term costs and discourage research and investment in labor-saving technology that could reduce long-term costs, (3) unclear Navy organizational authority to require human systems integration's use in acquisition programs, and (4) the Navy's lack of cultural acceptance of new concepts to optimize crew size and its layers of personnel policies that require consensus from numerous stakeholders to revise.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: We recommended that the Secretary of the Navy require the Naval Sea Systems Command to clarify the Human Systems Integration Directorate's role in and process for certifying that ships and systems delivered to the fleet optimize ship crewing. DOD concurred with our recommendation. The Navy has assigned HSI Warranted Technical and Certification Authority for ships to Directorate. The Directorate has developed HSI criteria and top-level human performance metrics in order to exercise its technical authority and perform certification functions. Additional responsibilities include certifying in writing that new acquisition programs have carried out effective HSI activities; providing technical assistance to program managers and ship designers; providing HSI tools, processes, methods and data; monitoring implementation efforts across the command; and coordinating command HSI policy.

    Recommendation: To strengthen the Naval Sea Systems Command's role in promoting the use of human systems integration for new ship systems, the Secretary of the Navy should require the command to clarify the Human Systems Integration Directorate's role in and process for certifying that ships and systems delivered to the fleet optimize ship crewing.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: We recommended that the Secretary of the Navy develop and implement mandatory policies on human systems integration requirements, standards, and milestones. Specifically, for each new system the Navy plans to acquire, the Secretary of the Navy should require that human systems integration assessments be updated prior to all subsequent milestones. DOD concurred with our recommendation. Navy policies now call for human systems integration assessments updates prior to all acquisition milestones. Navy policy notes that program managers and sponsors throughout all phases of the acquisition process will address human systems integration requirements and assessments and to enhance system design and warfighting capabilities, reduce life cycle ownership costs, and optimize total system performance.

    Recommendation: To ensure that the nation's multibillion-dollar investment in Navy ships maximizes military capability and sailor performance at the lowest feasible total ownership cost, the Secretary of the Navy should develop and implement mandatory policies on human systems integration requirements, standards, and milestones. Specifically, for each new system the Navy plans to acquire, the Secretary of the Navy should require that human systems integration assessments be updated prior to all subsequent milestones.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD concurred with our recommendation and the Navy modified the instruction governing system requirements and acquisitions to state that program sponsors should assume a default consideration for supportability and manpower Key Performance Parameters (KPPs) and that initial capabilities documents shall address all eight human systems integration domains. The Navy has been establishing manpower KPPs for new ships such as Maritime Prepositioning Force (Future) and the littoral combat ship.

    Recommendation: To ensure that the nation's multibillion-dollar investment in Navy ships maximizes military capability and sailor performance at the lowest feasible total ownership cost, the Secretary of the Navy should develop and implement mandatory policies on human systems integration requirements, standards, and milestones. Specifically, for each new system the Navy plans to acquire, the Secretary of the Navy should require that human systems integration analyses, including trade-off studies of design alternatives, be used to establish an optimized crew size goal that will become a key performance parameter in the program's requirements document.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD concurred with our recommendation and the Navy developed a new program called SEAPRINT (Systems Engineering, Acquisition and PeRsonnel INTegration). SEAPRINT provides the mechanism whereby programs perform human systems integration (HSI) as concepts for the programs are developed and alternatives are evaluated. The Navy developed formal policy documentation in its instruction for system requirements and acquisitions that mandates human systems integration be addressed in a specific plan before the acquisition's earliest milestone, in the initial capabilities document and the capabilities development document, that assessments performed as part of concept exploration and development and be updated prior to all subsequent milestones.

    Recommendation: To ensure that the nation's multibillion-dollar investment in Navy ships maximizes military capability and sailor performance at the lowest feasible total ownership cost, the Secretary of the Navy should develop and implement mandatory policies on human systems integration requirements, standards, and milestones. Specifically, for each new system the Navy plans to acquire, the Secretary of the Navy should require that a human systems integration assessment be performed as concepts for the system are developed and alternative concepts are evaluated.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: To facilitate the review of possibly outdated policies and procedures as new labor-saving innovations are identified through human systems integration efforts, we recommended that the Secretary of the Navy should require that the Naval Sea Systems Command's Human Systems Integration Directorate establish a process to evaluate or revise existing policies and procedures that may impede innovation in all new ship acquisitions. DOD concurred with our recommendation. The Navy has formally established a process to examine and facilitate the adoption of labor-saving technologies and best practices across Navy systems. It developed a new human systems integration clearinghouse (the HSI Clearinghouse for Issues and Policy), implemented a pilot study using the clearinghouse, and involved stakeholders from across the Navy.

    Recommendation: To facilitate the review of possibly outdated policies and procedures as new labor-saving innovations are identified through human systems integration efforts, the Secretary of the Navy should require that the Naval Sea Systems Command's Human Systems Integration Directorate establish a process to evaluate or revise existing policies and procedures that may impede innovation in all new ship acquisitions.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy

 

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