oversight

Federal Aviation Administration's Long Range Radar System ARSR-3

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1977-11-28.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

                         DOCUMENT RESUME
04530 -   B3394620]

Federal Aviation Administration's ong Range Radar System
ARSR-3. November 28, 1977. 11 pp. + enclosure (3 pp.).
Testimony before the House Committee on Government Operations:
Government Activities and Transportation Subcommittee; by Jerou.e
H. Stolarow, Dputy Director, Procurement and Systems
Acquisition Div.
Issue Area: Federal Procurement of Goods and Services (1900).
Contact: Pr:oc.rement and Systems Acquisition Div.
Budget Functio: General Government: Other General Government
     (806).
Organizaticn Concerned: Federal Aviation Administration;
    Department of Transportation; Westinghouse Electric Corp.
Congressional Relevance: House Committee on Government
    Operations: Government ActivitieL and Transportation
    Subcommittee.

          The ederal Aviation Administration's (FAA's)
acquisition of long range radar systems, ARSR-3, involved a
 number of problems. The agency lacked a sound srategy leading
 to the award of the production contract for the system. t was
unclear whether or not a prototype system was really required to
demonstrate operational capability of the radar. The prototype
contract was prematurely suEpended ith limited results
obtained. Westinghouse submitted a proposal to build a prototype
 ARSR-3 radar that was clearly priced below its estimated costs.
The FAA permitted Westinghouse to uy into this program, in
effect limiting competition by other ualified contractors.
After accepting Westinghouse's offer to produce a prototype
radar at a loss, the FAA awarded a cost-type contract and did
not monitor the costs. As a result, Westinghouse overran the
estimated costs and did not deliver a prototype system. The FAA
did not independently develop a detailed cost estimate of the
prototype system it planned to purchase. Although the rough
estimates indicated a prototype would cost $7.8 million, the
contract was awarded to Westinghouse at $3.5 million. Eight
months after the contract .as awarded, Westinghouse notified FAA
that its cost estimate had isen about 100%. Tc minimize costs,
F;A then reduced the scope of the prototype program and
instructed Westinghouse to proceed at a reduced level of effort.
The total paid to Westinghouse for the prorotype program was
$4 4 million. The FAA stated that no major technical risks
remained and they had design drawings suitable for final
fabrication. After 35 contract modifications, Westinghouse now
has a contract to provide 27 radar units at $51 million. (SW)
          UNITED STATES GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE
                 WASHINGTON, D.C.   20548

                                     For release on delivery
                                     expected at 10:00 a.m.
                                     Monday, November 2d, 1977

                       STATEMENT OF
                      J. H. STOLAROW
                      DEPUTY DIRECTOR
        PROCUREMENT AND SYSTEMS ACQUISITION DIVISION
                        BEFORE THE
   SUBCOMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT ACTIVITIES AND TRANSPORATION
          HOUSE COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT OPERATIONS

                             ON
               FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION'S
                LONG RANGE RADAR SYSTEM ARSR-3


Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee:

    We appreciate the opportunity to appear at these hearing

to discuss the Federal Aviation Adminis'ration's acquisition

of long range radar systems, ARSR-3 which was the subject of

a General Accounting Office report dated August 25, 1976.

    In our report we were highly critical of FAA's management

of this procurement.   We think this is a good case study of

how not to buy major equipment because:

    -- FAA's acquisition strategy was uncertain - they were

      not sure how they wanted to go about acquiring the new

      radars

    -- FAA permitted Westinghouse to buy into tnis program -

      in effect limiting competition by other qualified

     contractors
    -- After accepting Westinghouse's offer to produce a

      prototype radar at a loss - FAA awarded a cost

      type contract and did not monitor the costs.     As

      a result, Westinghouse overran the estimated costs

      and did not deliver a prototype system.


    I would like to discuss, in   ome detail, the events leading

to this program and our evaluation of FAA's procurement.
    The need to improve the Nation's air traffic control system

became apparent during the mid-50's because the Nation's

airspace was overcrowded and the airports, navigate         aids

and air traffic control system had become outdated.     From

1957 through 1964, the FAA had obtained long range radar systems

from the Raytheon Company which were designated air route sur-

veillance radar (ARSR) -1 and -2 to improve control of aircraft

enroute between terminals.   Further studies of enroute air traffic

control problems resulted in the appropriation of $6 million in

1969 for the purchase of five more advanced systems to be
designated ARSR-3's.   This purchase was postponed, however, because

the Bureau of the Budget had concern over possible duplication

of the FAA system with the United States Air Force system.         A

joint FAA-U.S. Air Force group, in October 1970, reaffirmed

the need for a 112 unit long range radar system, consisting of

existing FAA units, U.S. Air Force systems and some new ARSR-3's.


                             2
        In February 1971, FAA's airways facilities service prepared

 performance specifications and a rough cost estimate, and in March

 of 1972 requested proposals for a firm-fixed-price contract

 for 29 units one being a preproduction unit to be field tested

before the remaining 28 would be produced.

        This approach was changed in May 1972 when FAA decided to

procure a prototype ARSR-3 under a cost-type contract.       The FAA
contracting officer believed the proposed inew radar entailed

considerable technical risk and should be viewed as a develop-

mental effort, even though proven subsystems were to be used.

If in fact there was considerable technical risk involved,

this method of procurement (a cost-type contract for a prototype)

was certainly appropriate.       We noted, however, that FAA engineering
personnel did not agree with the degree of risk involved.

    During the period of May through No;-mber 1972, negotiations
were conducted with four technically qualified contractors who

had submitted proposals ranging from $4.5 to $7.1 million

(3ee chart 1).     During the negotiations,   t became clear that
Westinghouse was proposing a price for the prototype that was

less than its estimated costs - that is - a loss contract.

It not only cut its initial estimated price in half, but stated

it would "absorb" $250,000 in costs.      This fact was called
to the attention of the Secretary of Transportation on December 27,

1972.    (See Chart 3)


                           -3-
In January 1973 a prototype program was initiated by an

awara of a $3.5 million cost-plus-incentive fee contract
to Westinghouse Electric Corporation.

    In August 1973, about 8 months after the contract was

awarded, Westinghouse notified FAA that its cost estimate had

risen about 100 percent.     To minimize cost, FAA then reduced
the scope of the prototype program and instructed Westinghouse

to proceed at a reduced level of effort to obtain design

reports and conduct tests of some experimental component

assemblies.     System tests, hardware fabrication, onsite
installation and operational tests     ere all dleted from the
contract requirements.     Of 69 tests areas that were originally
contemplated, 11 subsystems tests were performed and some

limited component tests were completed.

    In February 1974, the FAA recommended to the Department of

Transportation abandonment of the prototype program and

requested that it be permitted to proceed with the procurement

of 26 production ARSR-3's.    FAA stated that no major technical
risks remained and they had design drawings suitable for

final fabrication.    In April 1974 the prototype program was
formally discontinued.    The total paid to Westinghouse was
$4.4 million.    Four months later, the FAA issued a request for

technical proposals as the first part of a two-step procurement

for production radars.    The second step, in March 1975, was
for bids on a formally advertised contract.    Three contractors


                              - 4-
submitted acceptable technical proposals (Texas Instruments,

Bendix Corporation and Westinghouse) under the first step

and subsequently submitted bids. Westinghouse was the

low bidder and, in June of 1975, was        wa:ded a contract to
deliver   nd install 16 production systems.      Currently, after
35 contract modifications, the price is estimated at about

$51 million for 27 radar units (See Chart 2).

    Installation, checkout, field testing and reliability/

maintainability demonstrations for the first ARSR-3 radar were

originally scheduled for completion in       uly 1977, but have
been delayed until January 1978.     The first unit was supposed
to go into service in January 1978 but now is expected to

go into service in February 1978.
              *      *       *   *      *




    GAO found a number of things that were wrong in the way

FAA went about acquiring the long range radar system.

UNCLEAR NEED FOR PROTOTYPE

     First, the agency lacked a sound strategy leading to

the award of the production contract for the system.

Initially, it was unclear whether there was a need for a
prototype radar.   But because of the contracting officer's
concern over the technical risks involved, FAA contracted

for a single prototype which was never completed.




                          -5-
      All major ARSR-3 subsystems had been previously used by

 the military and others.    But a primary purpose of the
 prototype program was to fabricate and test an operating

ARSR-3 because the subsystems had never been combined into

an operative system.     Thus, integrated system testing was
to have been a critical phase of the prototype program.

     But the prototype contract was prematurely suspended
with limited results obtained.    Thus, there was no assurance
that FAA would obtain satisfactory equipment with a succeeding

production contract, although FAA did state the major concerns

were resolved in the prototype's completed design drawings.

     There was a difference of opinion among FAA personnel
as to the technological risks involved in this program and

it was not clear whether or not a prototype syste         was
                                                      m
really required to demonstrate operational capability.          The
contracir's proposals were based upon de,-                ecifications
prepared by FAA and the contractors were     -   , red to produce
the prototype based on    hese specifications.    The use of
detailed specifications on a prototype, however, appears

inconsistent with the objectives of a developmental effort.

     Several Transportation officials appeared to favor
continuing prototype development.     One official stated that
the documentation did not show an adequate level of

additional information had been acquired during the prototype

design to support truly competitive procurement.      Another

                               - 6-
 official cited the attractiveness of continuing the
                                                      prototype
 contract and issuing a two-step competitive contract
                                                       upon
 its completion because of the availability of a prototype

 for evaluation.

         We believe that it was, and still is unclear whether
or not a prototype system was really required to
                                                 demonstrate
operational capability of the radar.      Further, in view of
the technical risks that may have been involved which
                                                       FAA
contends were resolved in the Prototype drawings
                                                 but not
operationally, it is questionable whether a production

contract should have     een awarded.
     We are not technically competent to judge whether
                                                       or
not this was, in fact, a high risk program requiring

development of a prototype.      What we, in effect, are criti-
cizing, is that FAA never made a clear determination
                                                     of
that risk, and then did not design an acquisition
                                                  program
consistent with the risk involved.

BUY-IN

     The FAA, in our opinion, also permitted a buy-in
                                                      by the
contractor. While it may be acceptable commercial

business strategy to invest in or buy into a program
in anticipation of future business, it is incumbent
                                                    upon
the Government to assure that this practice is
                                               not used
to unfairly eliminate other potential contractors.



                           -7-
      In this particular case Westinghouse submitted a

proposal to build a prototype ARSR-3 radar that was clearly

priced below its estimated costs.   The FAA, however, aware
of this fact, awarded a cost-type contract, let the costs

continue to rise, and then let Westinghouse off the hook

after paying $4.4 millicn.   It is probable that this
initial contract also put Westinghouse into a favored

position for bidding on the production radars because it

was able to do much in the way of the initial design and
engineering work.

     While we cannot speculate at what price another contractor -
in a competitive environment - would have been able to produce
acceptable radars for FAA, the series of events leading to

this procurement, precluded serious consideration of the other

contractors.

LACK OF DETAILED COST ESTIMATE TO
ADEQUATELY EVALUATE CONTRACTORS PROPOSALS

     FAA did not independently develop a detailed cost estimate
of the prototype system it planned to purchase.   It had a
rough estimate made up previously by FAA's airways facilities

engineers but it did not have a detailed estimate for    he
prototype procurement.   Lack of such an estimate limited FAA's
capability to evaluate the reasonableness of the price proposals

it received from the contractors.



                          - 8 -
     Although the rough estimates indicated a prototype would

cost $7.8 million, the FAA negotiated with four qualified

contractors in an effort to reduce their bids which ranged

from $5   to $7.1 million (See Chart 1). The negotiations
were conducted over several months (May-November 1972)

and the contractors reduced their bids several times.

     Finally, the contract was awarded to Westinghouse
at $3.5 million.

     The Defense Contract Audit Agency examined the
proposals and pointed out that Westinghouse's normal pricing

policy was not to exclude some of the factors tha. they did

exclude in preparing this proposal.   The Audit Agency pointed
to the possibility that the voluntary cost reductions might

not materialize.

NEED FOR INFORMATION
ON COST TO COMPLETE

     Cost-type contracts are appropriate in many cases for
developmental projects.   But in administering any cost-type
contract, it is essential that the agency maintain a close

check over estimated cost to complete the work, especially

on a contract where the contractor's initial estimate was

reduced by 50 percent and it was proposing to absorb a loss.

     Periodic updates of estimated costs to complete the
contract are needed to provide early visibility of potential


                          - 9 -
cost growth so that remedial action may be initiated.      This
close check was not accomplished on the prototype contract

and as a result, about 8 months after contract award, the
contractor surprised FAA officials with its estimate that the

estimated cost had risen about 100 percent.

     FAA received monthly actual and budgeted cost data and

required notification from the contractor, under a limitation

of costs clause, of significant cost increases.    But
Westinghouse was reluctant to submit periodic estimates of
the cost to complete the prototype contract since it was

not required to do so.

     FAA people said that the agency really had no prior

advance notice of this condition.    They said also that
during this period they pressed several times for cost to

complete estimates but there was no contractual requirement

that such estimates be made.
               *      *          *   *      *


     Mr. Chairman, in summary, we believe this case, at best,

indicates a lack of concern on FAA's part for good procurement

pLactices.   It is difficult to say how much additional costs

were incurred by the elimination of any effective competiticn.

Most important, however is, that at this date, no radar systems

have been delivered for operational testing and the Government

is not yet assured of obtaining an acceptable product.


                          -   10 -
      In its final comments on our report dated November
                                                          19,
1976, the Department of Transportation disagreed
                                                  with our
conclusions. They did not agree that any additional
                                                       costs
were incurred, that they permitted a buy-in,
                                              or that there
is any question about obtaining acceptable systems
                                                    from
Westinghouse.    Our analysis of their comments, however,
reveals no new information or rationale which
                                               would lead
us to change our conclusions.

     Mr. Chairman, this concludes my prepared statement.
I will be happy to answer any questions you
                                            may have.




                         -11-
-oC~
   iS                ;
                f~~~~~N

      LU___




   I-rn~~~~~~


LAJ~~*L
            z0.~~~~%
~~r~                     t      9 o                  t
=~1~1y                   r                               PA-




                Act
              04                           t
                                           L,,

       311

 ~~p    h     QE   a~~~~~~~at   if         WL:S
                                           ai

                         P1~~~~~~~~
            I~~i   L~~               kll   L~~~UCQ
    ~~~~                 ~~~~~al




        LU~~~~~~~~L

                  Ft                                                LLI~~I~LJ
                        :1                                j~        C-: a
                                   LL~    ;ยท .I LI
i~Lm 1%1


                  LIJ            LIU U1
    2      ,0-0              o
                                                     LL        -s