Defense Acquisitions:

The Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle Encountered Difficulties in Design Demonstration and Faces Future Risks

GAO-06-349: Published: May 1, 2006. Publicly Released: May 1, 2006.

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Paul L. Francis
(202) 512-2811
contact@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

The Marine Corps' Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV) is the Corps' number-one priority ground system acquisition program and accounts for 25.5 percent of the Corps' total acquisition budget for fiscal years 2006 through 2011. It will replace the current amphibious assault craft and is intended to provide significant increases in mobility, lethality, and reliability. We reviewed the program under the Comptroller General's authority to examine (1) the cost, schedule, and performance of the EFV program during system development and demonstration; (2) factors that have contributed to this performance; and (3) future risks the program faces as it approaches production.

Although the EFV program had followed a knowledge-based approach early in development, its buying power has eroded during System Development and Demonstration (SDD). Since beginning this final phase of development in December 2000, cost has increased 45 percent. Unit costs have increased from $8.5 million to $12.3 million. The program schedule has grown 35 percent or 4 years, and its reliability requirement has been reduced from 70 hours of continuous operation to 43.5 hours. Program difficulties occurred in part because not enough time was allowed to demonstrate maturity of the EFV design during SDD. The SDD schedule of about 3 years proved too short to conduct all necessary planning and to incorporate the results of tests into design changes, resulting in schedule slippages. In addition, several significant technical problems surfaced, including problems with the hull electronic unit, the bow flap, and the hydraulics. Reliability also remains a challenge. Three areas of significant risk remain for demonstrating design and production maturity that have potential significant cost and schedule consequences. First, EFV plans are to enter low-rate initial production without requiring the contractor to demonstrate that the EFV's manufacturing processes are under control. Second, the EFV program will begin low-rate initial production without the knowledge that software development capabilities are sufficiently mature. Third, two key performance parameters--reliability and interoperability--are not scheduled to be demonstrated until the initial test and evaluation phase in fiscal year 2010--about 4 years after low-rate initial production has begun.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In providing comments regarding this recommendation, DOD fully concurred with GAO's recommendation. In addressing this recommendation and asserting its business case for the EFV program, DOD in its Nunn-McCurdy certification to the Congress certified that the restructured EFV program: (1)was essential to the National Security; (2) there are no alternatives to such acquisition program which will provide equal or greater military capability at less cost; (3)the new estimates of the program acquisition unit cost or procurement unit cost for such program are reasonable; and (4)the management structure for such acquisition program is adequate to manage and control program acquisition unit cost or procurement unit cost. DOD's efforts are consistent with GAO's recommendation. GAO will continue to monitor DOD's efforts to restructure the EFV program.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should ensure that the business case for EFV (including cost and expected capability), after including the above, still warrants continued investment.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In providing comments regarding this recommendation, DOD fully concurred with GAO's recommendation. To address this recommendation the EFV program office worked with Navy, Marine Corps, and the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense( Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics)to refine program strategy options, risks, and issues. The Navy commissioned a Blue Ribbon Panel to conduct a comprehensive review of the program and to assess the duration of developmental efforts to achieve program objectives. Additionally, the DOD's Cost Analysis Improvement Group reviewed the EFV program and developed an independent estimate of Research, Test, Development, and Evaluation, procurement, and military construction costs and resource requirements for the Nunn-McCurdy certification process and found the estimates to be reasonable. GAO will continue to monitor DOD's efforts to restructure the EFV program.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should ensure that adequate resources are available to cover such demonstration and provide for risks.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In providing comments regarding this recommendation, DOD fully concurred with GAO's recommendation. The EFV program did not achieve the Milestone C decision as planned due to less than predicted reliability performance during an operational assessment conducted from January to September 2006. Currently, the program is being restructured due to reliability issues with the EFV design and a Nunn-McCurdy unit cost breach. A follow-on system development and demonstration phase will be conducted and a new set of EFV prototypes will be built and tested, delaying the Milestone C decision by about four years. In addition, the EFV program office has executed a work share teaming arrangement between General Dynamics and the 309th Maintenance Wing at Hill Air Force Base, Utah for the system development and demonstration software development efforts. The EFV program office efforts are consistent with GAO's recommendation. GAO will continue to monitor DOD's efforts to restructure the EFV program.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should ensure that EFV design, production, and mature software development capabilities are demonstrated before Milestone C.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In providing comments regarding this recommendation, DOD fully concurred with GAO's recommendation. In addressing this recommendation the EFV program office has drafted an updated EFV case study for use in training managers, which is currently being staffed with DAU instructors. The updated case study will incorporate new information garnered during the Nunn-McCurdy certification efforts. The revised curriculum is expected to be included in the DAU curriculum this fall for training program managers. The EFV program office's actions are consistent with GAO's recommendations.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should draw lessons learned from EFV and apply them to the Defense Acquisition University's curriculum for instructing program executives, managers, and their staffs. Such lessons might include understanding that attaining one knowledge point does not guarantee the attainment of the next one; the importance of having a sound business case for each phase of development; the right time to hold a critical design review; and the importance of allowing sufficient time to learn from testing.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Sep 23, 2014

Sep 19, 2014

Sep 18, 2014

Sep 10, 2014

Sep 9, 2014

Sep 8, 2014

Looking for more? Browse all our products here