Defense Acquisitions:

Department of Defense Needs a Unified Strategy for Balancing Investments in Tactical Wheeled Vehicles

GAO-09-968R: Published: Sep 28, 2009. Publicly Released: Sep 28, 2009.

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Ground-based military operations generally make use of two broad categories of vehicles: combat vehicles designed for a specific fighting function and tactical vehicles designed primarily for use by forces in the field in connection with or in support of tactical operations. Combat vehicles generally move on tracks versus wheels and include the Abrams tank, Bradley Fighting vehicle, and the Paladin self-propelled howitzer. Tactical vehicles generally move on wheels and include the High Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV), the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle, and families of trucks and trailers. For fiscal years 2009 and 2010, the Department of Defense (DOD) has requested an estimated $16 billion for the procurement of those tactical wheeled vehicles described in this report, including an estimated $6 billion for MRAP variants. In June 2007, Congress requested that we assess (1) the extent to which DOD had developed an overall tactical wheeled vehicle (TWV) investment strategy that considers timing, affordability, and sustainability; (2) the extent that the programs in the strategy fill identified gaps or provide duplicative capabilities; (3) the current status of selected tactical wheeled vehicle systems that are a part of this strategy; and (4) whether DOD is pursuing a knowledge-based acquisition1 approach as a part of this strategy. On the basis of discussions with your staff, we initially focused on gathering and analyzing data related to the MRAP program. We provided the members of your staffs with a series of briefings between September 2007 and March 2008, and summarized the results of our MRAP work in a July 2008 report. Shortly thereafter, and on the basis of additional discussions with your staffs, we resumed the work related to our overall assessment of tactical wheeled vehicles and provided an interim briefing on the results of our work on April 30, 2009. For our assessment of the current status of selected tactical wheeled vehicle systems, we included the following systems: MRAP; MRAP-All Terrain Vehicle (M-ATV) variant; HMMWV Expanded Capability Vehicle (ECV) variant; HMMWV ECV2 variant; Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV); Armored Security Vehicle (ASV); Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV); and, Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck (HEMTT).

DOD does not have a unified TWV strategy that considers timing, affordability, and sustainability. The advent of improvised explosive devices/roadside bombs has had a significant effect on designing for survivability and the services are incrementally adapting their TWV capabilities in light of technology and funding limits. One unified strategy would help to coordinate efforts. While we did not identify any unfilled program gaps, the introduction of MRAP, M-ATV, and eventually the JLTV creates a potential risk of unplanned overlap in capabilities; a risk that needs to be managed. A critical contribution to the management of the risk will likely be the JLTV Analysis of Alternatives. The purpose of the analysis is to assess alternatives for capitalizing the fleets of Light Tactical Vehicles operated by the services. The Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics provided guidance for the analysis in January 2009. The guidance stated that the analysis will compare the performance of JLTV alternatives against each of the legacy Light Tactical Vehicles, including the HMMWV, Up-Armored HMMWV, ECV2, and MRAP. Many TWV systems are in production and have remained stable. JLTV is early in its development and will require close oversight to ensure requirements, technologies, and resources are well understood before making significant commitments of time and money. MRAP and M-ATV are being procured exclusively with supplemental funding. Over 16,000 MRAPs were procured in fiscal years 2007 and 2008 for an estimated $20.9 billion. In addition, at least 5,244 M-ATVs will be procured in fiscal years 2009 and 2010 for an estimated $6 billion. The Army and Marine Corps spend billions annually on TWV procurement; the Air Force, Navy, and Special Operations Command spend considerably less. Generally, the acquisition programs we reviewed are effectively using knowledge-based acquisition practices.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In conjunction with follow-up of 2011 Potential Duplication in Government Programs report (GAO-11-318SP) and annual monitoring of TWV report recommendations, TWV engagement team has contacted officials within the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics. Officials have provided periodic assurances that work on a department-wide TWV strategy is underway. While the publication of a department-wide TWV investment strategy, per se, has not yet occurred, DOD is addressing issues raised in our various TWV products, including Joint Light Tactical Vehicle requirements, the scope and cost of recapitalizing High Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicles, and the operation and support costs for the Services' placement of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles in their respective force structures. According to a DOD official, strategic TWV decisions will culminate in program reviews as DOD prepares its fiscal year 2014 budget request. The budget request will reflect consideration of available resources.

    Recommendation: To improve DOD's ability to plan for and manage the development, production, and sustainment of TWV across the department, the Secretary of Defense should develop a comprehensive and unified strategy and implementation plan for making sound investment decisions for tactical wheeled vehicles that balance protection, payload, and performance needs with available resources, especially for Light Tactical Vehicles.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In conjunction with follow-up of 2011 Potential Duplication in Government Programs report (GAO-11-318SP) and annual monitoring of TWV report recommendations, TWV engagement team has contacted officials within the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics. Officials have provided periodic assurances that work on a department-wide TWV strategy is underway. While the publication of a department-wide TWV investment strategy, per se, has not yet occurred, DOD is addressing issues raised in our various TWV products, including Joint Light Tactical Vehicle requirements, the scope and cost of recapitalizing High Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicles, and the operation and support costs for the Services' placement of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles in their respective force structures. According to a DOD official, strategic TWV decisions will culminate in program reviews as DOD prepares its fiscal year 2014 budget request. The budget request will reflect the funding, time, and technologies that will be required to acquire, improve, and sustain these systems.

    Recommendation: To improve DOD's ability to plan for and manage the development, production, and sustainment of TWV across the department, the Secretary of Defense should develop a comprehensive and unified strategy and implementation plan for making sound investment decisions for tactical wheeled vehicles that estimates the funding, time, and technologies that will be required to acquire, improve, and sustain these systems.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In conjunction with follow-up of 2011 Potential Duplication in Government Programs report (GAO-11-318SP) and annual monitoring of TWV report recommendations, TWV engagement team has contacted officials within the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics. Officials have provided periodic assurances that work on a department-wide TWV strategy is underway. While the publication of a department-wide TWV investment strategy, per se, has not yet occurred, DOD is addressing issues raised in our various TWV products, including Joint Light Tactical Vehicle requirements, the scope and cost of recapitalizing High Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicles, and the operation and support costs for the Services' placement of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles in their respective force structures. By addressing these issues, DOD will prioritize the capabilities and requirements of similar vehicles needed in the near and long term. According to a DOD official, strategic TWV decisions will culminate in program reviews as DOD prepares its fiscal year 2014 budget request.

    Recommendation: To improve DOD's ability to plan for and manage the development, production, and sustainment of TWV across the department, the Secretary of Defense should develop a comprehensive and unified strategy and implementation plan for making sound investment decisions for tactical wheeled vehicles that assesses and prioritizes the capabilities and requirements of similar vehicles needed in the near and long term.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: In conjunction with follow-up of 2011 Potential Duplication in Government Programs report (GAO-11-318SP) and annual monitoring of TWV report recommendations, TWV engagement team has contacted officials within the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics. Officials have provided periodic assurances that work on a department-wide TWV strategy is underway. While the publication of a department-wide TWV investment strategy, per se, has not yet occurred, DOD is addressing issues raised in our various TWV products, including Joint Light Tactical Vehicle requirements, the scope and cost of recapitalizing High Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicles, and the operation and support costs for the Services' placement of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles in their respective force structures. According to a DOD official, strategic TWV decisions will culminate in program reviews as DOD prepares its fiscal year 2014 budget request. While the budget request will reflect consideration of available resources, it will not identify contingencies in case there are development problems, delays with key systems, or funding constraints.

    Recommendation: To improve DOD's ability to plan for and manage the development, production, and sustainment of TWV across the department, the Secretary of Defense should develop a comprehensive and unified strategy and implementation plan for making sound investment decisions for tactical wheeled vehicles that identifies contingencies in case there are development problems, delays with key systems, or funding constraints.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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