Weapon Systems Management:

DOD Has Taken Steps to Implement Product Support Managers but Needs to Evaluate Their Effects

GAO-14-326: Published: Apr 29, 2014. Publicly Released: Apr 29, 2014.

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What GAO Found

The Department of Defense (DOD) and the military services have taken steps to implement Product Support Managers (PSM) for major weapon systems, but certain aspects of the implementation process remain incomplete. The services have assigned PSMs to almost all of their major weapon systems. For example, as of February 2014, 325 of 332 PSM position requirements across DOD for major weapon systems—approximately 98 percent—were filled. While DOD and all of the services have taken some steps to develop a comprehensive career path and associated guidance to develop, train, and support future PSMs, DOD, in coordination with the military services, has not developed a plan—to include objectives, milestones, and resources—to implement and institutionalize a comprehensive PSM career path. Until DOD develops such a plan, it may not be able to ensure that the services can fill PSM positions with qualified personnel in the future. Moreover, DOD's PSM implementation guidance is not centralized and future product support personnel may be hindered in their ability to easily access and implement such guidance. Also, because the latest DOD guidance lacks detail and contains a potentially unclear provision, personnel may confuse the responsibilities of Program Managers and PSMs. Without clear, comprehensive, and centralized implementation guidance, DOD may be hindered in its ability to institutionalize the implementation of PSMs for its major weapon systems going forward. Additionally, the Army has been working for a year to clarify the roles and responsibilities of certain product support personnel, who support PSMs, for the sustainment portion of the life cycle for major weapon systems. According to officials from the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, major weapon systems program offices have raised the issue of the lack of clear roles and responsibilities of these personnel, which has prompted senior-level Army meetings to attempt to resolve the issue. However, the Army has not yet finalized guidance that clarifies roles and responsibilities, which may hinder PSMs in their ability to effectively manage and conduct their daily product support responsibilities.

DOD does not fully know how or to what extent PSMs are affecting life-cycle sustainment decisions because it has not systematically collected and evaluated information on the effects PSMs are having on their assigned weapon systems. Program evaluation guidance states that evaluations can play a key role in program planning, management, and oversight by providing feedback to managers on programs. Evaluations can show whether PSMs are conducting good practices that could be shared across the department as well as whether changes are needed to guidance or other areas to enhance the contributions of PSMs. In the absence of DOD information on the effects PSMs are having on life-cycle sustainment decisions, weapon system program offices identified several good practices and challenges associated with PSMs. For example, several PSMs told us that they had initiated analyses focused on reducing life-cycle sustainment costs for their assigned weapon systems. One challenge that Army headquarters officials noted was that PSMs do not have knowledge of how much sustainment funding their systems will receive prior to the year of execution of funds. Without greater visibility over the allocation of sustainment funding for their assigned weapon systems, these PSMs may be hindered in their ability to proactively manage and influence their system's life-cycle sustainment decisions.

Why GAO Did This Study

DOD spends billions of dollars annually to sustain weapon systems. With the prospect of tighter defense budgets, DOD has placed more attention on controlling total life-cycle costs with initiatives aimed at ensuring that weapon systems are more affordable over the long term. Section 2337 of Title 10, U.S. Code, requires that each major weapon system be supported by a PSM and lays out the responsibilities of the PSM, including developing and implementing a comprehensive product support strategy for the system. GAO was asked to review DOD's progress in implementing PSMs for major weapon systems.

This report examines (1) the steps, if any, that DOD and the military services have taken to implement PSMs for major weapon systems and (2) the extent to which DOD has evaluated the effects, if any, that PSMs are having on life-cycle sustainment decisions for their assigned systems. To conduct this review, GAO obtained information and interviewed product support personnel assigned to 12 of 332 major weapon systems that reflected varying characteristics—such as military service and system costs—and analyzed documentation from DOD and the military services.

What GAO Recommends

GAO recommends that DOD and the services develop a plan to institutionalize a career path for PSMs; issue clear, comprehensive, and centralized PSM implementation guidance; evaluate the effects PSMs have on sustainment decisions; and improve Army PSMs' visibility over sustainment funding. DOD generally agreed with the recommendations.

For more information, contact Cary Russell at (202) 512-5431 or russellc@gao.gov.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 15, 2015, DOD has determined that it needs to complete the following continuation action to implement this recommendation: The Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) and the Components are developing a Product Support Managers (PSM) career path framework to assist the Components with training and assignment of life cycle logisticians. This framework will be promulgated by the OSD Life Cycle Logistics Functional Leader (LCL FL) and added to the OSD Product Support Manager Guidebook in October 2015. As of April 22, 2015, DOD's actions on this recommendation are currently under review.

    Recommendation: To ensure the development of a sufficient cadre of qualified, trained personnel to meet future requirements for PSM, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (USD[AT&L])--in coordination with the Defense Acquisition University and the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force--to develop and implement a plan with objectives, milestones, and resources to implement and institutionalize a comprehensive career path and associated guidance to develop, train, and support future PSMs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 3, 2015, the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Logistics and Materiel Readiness) stated that in November 2014, the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), in conjunction with Component representatives, updated the Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology and Logistics) Workforce Position Category Description (PCD) for Product Support Managers (PSM) that incorporates the roles, responsibilities, and qualifications of the PSM position. It provides direction to the Component career managers on the civilian and military career fields or qualification designations that are eligible to be assigned as PSMs. The PCD was promulgated by the OSD Life Cycle Logistics Functional Leader (LCL FL) as required by DOD Instruction 5000.66. As of April 22, 2015, DOD's actions on this recommendation are currently under review.

    Recommendation: To better enable the military services to implement and institutionalize the roles and responsibilities of the PSM, the Secretary of Defense should direct the (USD[AT&L])--in coordination with the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force--to issue clear, comprehensive, centralized guidance regarding the roles and responsibilities of PSMs and the officials that assign them.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 3, 2015, the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Logistics and Materiel Readiness) stated that the Army published Army Regulation 700-127 "Integrated Product Support," on October 7, 2014, and the companion Army Pamphlet (DA PAM) 700-127, "Integrated Product Support Procedures," on October 8, 2014. Together, these documents clearly identify the reporting relationships of the Product Support Managers (PSM) and supporting staff, as well as PSM selection criteria, rating official for the product support manager, and organizing constructs. Source: http://www.apd.army.mil/pdffiles/r700_127.pdf. As of April 22, 2015, DOD's actions on this recommendation are currently under review.

    Recommendation: To better enable Army PSMs to fulfill their product support responsibilities, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army--in coordination with the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology (ASA[ALT]) and the Commander of Army Materiel Command (AMC)--to clearly define Army-wide roles and responsibilities for the sustainment portion of the life cycle of major weapon systems, to include the reporting relationships of AMC support personnel assigned to Army weapon system program offices, by issuing new, or revising existing, Army guidance.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 3, 2015, the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Logistics and Materiel Readiness) stated that the Department's oversight of life-cycle sustainment includes approval of Life-cycle Sustainment Plans (LCSP), supportability assessments of program's status in achieving sustainment Key Performance Parameters/Key System Attributes, and review of operating and support (O&S) costs. The Department implemented an independent logistics assessment (ILA) process for all weapon system major defense acquisition programs per Public Law 112-81 and DOD policy. The ILA results are included in a program's LCSP and supportability assessments. This oversight provides a confidence level that the program's support is being properly planned and managed to minimize O&S costs. Additionally, the Department uses the annual Product Support Managers (PSM) Award nominations as a qualitative barometer of effectiveness of PSM involvement in individual programs. Award criteria include: weapon system or equipment materiel readiness; meeting other warfighter-defined requirements; product support process innovation impacting reliability, maintainability, and cost reduction; and developing, implementing, and executing effective and affordable product support arrangements. By assessing the nominees, DOD has insight into how PSMs are being integrated into programs, where policy is effective, and what changes should be considered for the future. As of April 22, 2015, DOD's actions on this recommendation are currently under review.

    Recommendation: To help inform departmental and congressional oversight of the status of the PSM implementation and the influence, if any, that PSMs have in life-cycle sustainment decisions for major weapon systems, the Secretary of Defense should direct the (USD[AT&L])--in conjunction with the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force--to systematically collect and evaluate information on the effects, if any, that PSMs are having on life-cycle sustainment decisions for their assigned major weapon systems.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  5. Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 3, 2015, the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Logistics and Materiel Readiness) stated that the Army is pursuing a Standardized Integrated Command Post System (SICPS) initiative that will provide greater visibility to the Product Support Manager (PSM) prior to the year of execution. The initiative is being worked between the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology [ASA(ALT)] and the Headquarters, Army Materiel Command (HQAMC). In the interim, the Army has added specific language to the draft fiscal year (FY) 2015 Army Operations & Maintenance, Army (OMA) Funding Letter. The purpose of the funding letter is to give specific guidance on the use of OMA dollars for the SICPS initiative. The funding letter was published on February 28, 2014, and re-released on January 23, 2015. The SICPS initiative began in FY 2015 and is scheduled to complete in FY 2019. As of April 22, 2015, DOD's actions on this recommendation are currently under review.

    Recommendation: To better enable Army PSMs to fulfill their daily product support responsibilities, including planning and proactively managing sustainment efforts for their assigned weapon systems, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army--in coordination with the (ASA[ALT]) and the Commander of the AMC--to review the current process for requesting and distributing sustainment funding for major weapon systems and to take necessary actions to ensure that PSMs have greater visibility of the amount of sustainment funds their weapon systems will receive including prior to the year of execution of funds, to the extent possible.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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