United States Government Accountability Office Report to Congressional Committees GUIDED MISSILE August 2019 FRIGATE Navy Has Taken Steps to Reduce Acquisition Risk, but Opportunities Exist to Improve Knowledge for Decision Makers GAO-19-512 August 2019 GUIDED MISSILE FRIGATE Navy Has Taken Steps to Reduce Acquisition Risk, but Opportunities Exist to Improve Knowledge for Decision Makers Highlights of GAO-19-512, a report to congressional committees Why GAO Did This Study What GAO Found In response to the shortcomings of the The Navy undertook a conceptual design phase for the FFG(X) Guided Missile Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship program Frigate program that enabled industry to inform FFG(X) requirements, identify and evolving threats, the Navy began opportunities for cost savings, and mature different ship designs. The Navy also the FFG(X) program. With FFG(X), the streamlined the FFG(X) acquisition approach in an effort to accelerate the Navy intends to deliver a multi-mission timeline for delivering the ships to the fleet. As shown in the figure, however, the ship that will provide anti-surface, anti- Navy has requested funding for the FFG(X) lead ship even though it has yet to submarine, and air warfare capabilities. complete key cost estimation activites, such as an independent cost estimate, to DOD approved FFG(X) requirements in validate the credibility of cost expectations. Department of Defense (DOD) cost February 2019.The Navy plans for a estimators told GAO the timeline for completing the independent cost estimate is competitive contract award to support uncertain. Specifically, they stated that this estimate will not be finalized until the final FFG(X) design and construction. Navy communicates to them which FFG(X) design is expected to receive the The program is expected to cost over contract award. GAO-identified best practices call for requisite cost knowledge to $20 billion for 20 ships. be available to inform resource decisions and contract awards. The House report accompanying the National Defense Authorization Act for Timeline of FFG(X) Program Key Cost and Design Knowledge and Budgeting Activities Fiscal Year 2019 included a provision for GAO to review the FFG(X) program. This report addresses, among other things, the FFG(X) acquisition approach and contracting plans. GAO reviewed requirements, acquisition, design, and cost-related documentation. GAO interviewed Navy and other defense officials, and conducted industry site visits to each shipyard participating in FFG(X) conceptual design activities. GAO also leveraged prior GAO reports and best The Navy plans to use a fixed-price incentive contract for FFG(X) detail design practices guides. and construction. This is a notable departure from prior Navy surface combatant programs that used higher-risk cost-reimbursement contracts for lead ship What GAO Recommends construction. The Navy also plans to require that each ship has a minimum GAO recommends that the Navy guaranty of $5 million to correct shipbuilder-responsible defects identified in the provide Congress with the independent 18 months following ship delivery. However, Navy officials discounted the cost estimate for FFG(X) prior to the potential use of a warranty—another mechanism to address the correction of detail design and construction contract shipbuilder defects—stating that their use could negatively affect shipbuilding award and seek ship warranty cost cost and reduce competition for the contract award. The Navy provided no information from industry as part of the analysis to support these claims and has not demonstrated why the use of request for proposal process. While warranties is not a viable option. The Navy’s planned use of guarantees helps DOD generally concurred with GAO’s ensure the FFG(X) shipbuilder is responsible for correcting defects up to a point, recommendations, it did not agree to but guarantees generally do not provide the same level of coverage as update its request for proposal to solicit warranties. GAO found in March 2016 that the use of a guaranty did not help ship warranty pricing. GAO continues to improve cost or quality outcomes for the ships reviewed. GAO also found the use believe this is an essential element of of a warranty in commercial shipbuilding and certain Coast Guard ships improves the recommendation, as discussed in cost and quality outcomes by requiring the shipbuilders to pay to repair defects. the report. The FFG(X) request for proposal offers the Navy an opportunity to solicit pricing View GAO-19-512. For more information, for a warranty to assess the cost-effectiveness of the different mechanisms to contact Shelby S. Oakley at (202) 512-4841 or address ship defects. email@example.com. ______________________________________ United States Government Accountability Office Contents Letter 1 Background 4 Navy Expects That FFG(X) Requirements Will Provide a More Capable Small Surface Combatant, but at Increased Cost 8 Streamlined Acquisition Approach Accelerates Planned FFG(X) Schedule, but Reduces Knowledge Available for Key Program Decisions 16 The Navy Has Taken Steps to Reduce Design and Technical Risk, but Technology Integration and Testing Will be Key to Meeting Program Expectations 27 Contracting Plans for FFG(X) May Help Mitigate Some Risk, and Use of Warranties Could Potentially Further Reduce Costs 33 Conclusions 38 Recommendations for Executive Action 39 Agency Comments and Our Evaluation 39 Appendix I Comments from the Department of Defense 43 Appendix II GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments 45 Tables Table 1: Small Surface Combatant Requirements Evolution from Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) to Frigate (FF) to Guided Missile Frigate (FFG(X)) 11 Table 2: FFG(X) Acquisition Process Streamlining of Early Program Activities 19 Table 3: Examples of Existing Systems Planned for the FFG(X) Guided Missile Frigate Used by Other Navy Ship Classes 29 Figures Figure 1: Knowledge Attainment in the Shipbuilding Process 5 Figure 2: Notional Acquisition Framework for Navy Shipbuilding Programs 7 Figure 3: Key Events Contributing to FFG(X) Guided Missile Frigate Requirements Development 9 Figure 4: GAO Assessment of Average Small Surface Combatant Acquisition Cost 12 Page i GAO-19-512 Guided Missile Frigate Figure 5: Key Information for Industry Teams Participating in FFG(X) Guided Missile Frigate Conceptual Design Phase 14 Figure 6: FFG(X) Guided Missile Frigate Acquisition Schedule 17 Figure 7: Timeline of Key Cost and Design Knowledge and Budgeting for FFG(X) Guided Missile Frigate Program Detail Design and Construction 23 Figure 8: Department of Defense Fixed-Price Incentive Contract Shareline and Price Ceiling Risk 35 Page ii GAO-19-512 Guided Missile Frigate Abbreviations ACAT Acquisition category CAPE Office of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation CNO Chief of Naval Operations DOD Department of Defense EASR Enterprise Air Surveillance Radar FF Frigate program FFG(X) Guided Missile Frigate FRET Frigate Requirements Evaluation Team LCS Littoral Combat Ship nAILES New Advanced Integrated Line-of-Sight Equipment System OWLD Obligation work limiting date RFP Request for proposal TRL Technology readiness level This is a work of the U.S. government and is not subject to copyright protection in the United States. The published product may be reproduced and distributed in its entirety without further permission from GAO. However, because this work may contain copyrighted images or other material, permission from the copyright holder may be necessary if you wish to reproduce this material separately. Page iii GAO-19-512 Guided Missile Frigate Letter 441 G St. N.W. Washington, DC 20548 August 9, 2019 Congressional Committees With its new Guided Missile Frigate program, FFG(X), the Navy intends to develop and deliver a ship with enhanced ability to destroy enemy targets and avoid, withstand, or recover from damage as compared to its current active small surface combatant—the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS). 1 Following significant cost increases, schedule delays, and reduced capabilities for LCS, the Secretary of Defense directed the Navy in 2014 to explore other options for a new small surface combatant. After multiple studies focused on a ship with enhanced lethality and survivability capabilities, the Navy established its current design and construction plan for the new frigate. In February 2018, the FFG(X) program initiated a conceptual design phase to help solidify program requirements and mature competitive ship designs. The Navy is scheduled to formally begin the FFG(X) program in February 2020 and award a detail design and construction contract in July 2020 through full and open competition. The Navy’s fiscal year 2020 President’s budget request supports this contract award plan, with nearly $1.3 billion requested for the lead ship construction and over $20 billion projected to construct 20 planned frigates. 2 The House Armed Services Committee report to accompany the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 contained a provision for GAO to review the FFG(X) program. 3 This report addresses (1) the requirements development process and results for FFG(X); (2) the Navy’s efforts to streamline the FFG(X) acquisition approach; (3) any design and technical risks for the program and how the Navy plans to address them; 1 The Navy organizes its surface combatant ships into large surface combatants, including cruisers and destroyers, and small surface combatants, including frigates, LCS, mine warfare ships, and patrol craft. Frigates have been identified as typically being open- ocean, multi-role ships capable of performing surface, anti-submarine, and anti-air warfare. The term “frigate” can be applied to ships of different sizes and capability. The now retired Oliver Hazzard Perry-class frigate (FFG 7) was the last U.S. Navy frigate. 2 The $20 billion projected FFG(X) cost is in then-year dollars; we use then-year dollars throughout this report, unless otherwise specified. Then-year dollars reflect the effects of inflation, including escalation up to and during the year of the appropriation, and throughout the period during which dollars are expended from the Treasury. 3 See H.R. Rep. No. 115-676, at 17 (2018). Page 1 GAO-19-512 Guided Missile Frigate and (4) the Navy’s contracting plans for the detail design and construction award. To assess the requirements development process and results for FFG(X), we evaluated the Navy’s requirements development process beginning with the Secretary of Defense’s direction to the Navy in 2014 to review alternatives to LCS. This included reviewing the scope and methodology used by the Navy across several studies to analyze capability needs, as well as the approved requirements for LCS, the frigate (FF) program that was planned immediately prior to FFG(X), and FFG(X). As part of our requirements assessment, we interviewed relevant officials from the FFG(X) program office, Chief of Naval Operations Surface Warfare Directorate, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff to gain insight into the activities undertaken to generate and refine FFG(X) requirements. We also interviewed the prime contractors leading the five industry teams that participated in the FFG(X) conceptual design phase and visited the associated shipyards to learn about their efforts to align their ship designs with the Navy’s requirements and identify potential cost reduction initiatives associated with those designs. The prime contractors we met with at their shipyards include Austal USA in Mobile, Alabama; General Dynamics Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine; Fincantieri Marinette Marine in Marinette, Wisconsin; and Huntington Ingalls Industries, Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Mississippi. We met with Lockheed Martin— the fifth prime contractor—in Washington, D.C. Lockheed Martin teamed up with the Fincantieri Marinette Marine shipyard for its conceptual design work. To assess the program’s efforts to streamline its acquisition approach, we reviewed program documentation outlining the Navy’s acquisition approach and associated tailoring and streamlining plans for the program. This included a review of the July 2018 FFG(X) acquisition streamlining and tailoring memorandum and related acquisition decision memorandum from November 2018, as well as the acquisition strategy approved in November 2018. We also reviewed efforts to meet statutory requirements and adhere to Department of Defense (DOD) and Navy acquisition policy. This focused on DOD Instruction (DODI) 5000.02 acquisition guidance and Secretary of the Navy Instruction 5000.2 guidance—both the March 2019 Secretary of the Navy Instruction (5000.2F) and the prior Secretary of the Navy Instruction (5000.2E). We also assessed the program’s plans compared to acquisition best practices, including those discussed in GAO’s shipbuilding best practices work and the GAO Cost Estimating and Page 2 GAO-19-512 Guided Missile Frigate Assessment Guide. 4 We also interviewed relevant officials from the Navy and Office of the Secretary of Defense about their efforts to develop and support the FFG(X) acquisition approach. This included DOD and Navy officials from the Office of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE); the FFG(X) program; Naval Sea Systems Command; and the Program Executive Office for Integrated Warfare Systems. To assess any design and technical risks for the program and how the Navy plans to address them, we reviewed program documentation including the acquisition strategy and systems engineering plan—both approved in November 2018—to understand the Navy’s plans to mitigate technical risk. This involved assessing factors like technology maturity, systems engineering and integration plans, ship designs, and any risks identified by DOD or industry. As part of this analysis, we interviewed officials from the Navy and organizations under the Office of the Secretary of Defense. This included officials from the offices of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Systems Engineering; Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Development, Test, and Evaluation; Director, Operational Test and Evaluation; Navy’s Commander Operational Test and Evaluation Force; Naval Operations Test and Evaluation Directorate; and Office of Naval Research. We also used the aforementioned interviews and site visits with industry to learn about their design and facility plans if selected by the Navy for the detail design and construction contract award. 5 To assess the FFG(X) contracting plans, we reviewed the program’s acquisition strategy and March 2019 draft request for proposal for the detail design and construction award. We also interviewed Navy officials from the FFG(X) program office and Naval Sea Systems Command to discuss different elements of contracting plans and the basis for the Navy’s decisions supporting contracting plans. We also assessed the program’s plans against the results of our prior work related to contract types used for Navy shipbuilding and the use of warranties and guarantees in contracts. 4 GAO, Best Practices: High Levels of Knowledge at Key Points Differentiate Commercial Shipbuilding from Navy Shipbuilding, GAO-09-322 (Washington, D.C.: May 13, 2009); and GAO Cost Estimating and Assessment Guide: Best Practices for Developing and Managing Capital Program Costs, GAO-09-3SP (Washington, D.C.: March 2009). 5 The Lockheed Martin industry team for FFG(X) conducted conceptual design activities, but, according to a Lockheed Martin representative, the company is not planning to submit a proposal for the detail design and construction contract award competition based on its LCS-based ship design. Page 3 GAO-19-512 Guided Missile Frigate We conducted this performance audit from August 2018 to August 2019 in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for our findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe that the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. In the early 2000s, the Navy conceived of a new small surface combatant Background concept known as LCS. This ship was intended to offer the Navy an affordable, flexible platform that would be able to swap out surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, or mine countermeasure mission packages to provide for one of those mission needs. As we found in multiple reports, the Navy’s vision for LCS evolved significantly over time in response to diminished capability expectations and significant cost and schedule growth. 6 In 2014, the Secretary of Defense directed the Navy to evaluate alternatives to LCS, citing survivability and lethality concerns. This represented the beginning of the Navy’s pursuit of a solution to address LCS shortcomings and the evolving threat environment acknowledged by the department. The Navy initially envisioned quickly fielding a frigate—referred to as the FF program—based on a minor modified LCS design. The ship was expected to provide a more lethal and survivable multi-mission ship capable of simultaneous surface and anti-submarine warfare, with a planned contract award for the lead ship in 2018. In 2016, we found that the Navy’s planned upgrades for FF did not significantly improve certain survivability areas and lacked capabilities that were prioritized by fleet operators, such as the ship’s range of travel without refueling. 7 Then, in April 2017 we found the Navy’s aggressive FF acquisition schedule increased risk to the government because it included a commitment to 6 GAO, Littoral Combat Ship and Frigate: Delaying Planned Frigate Acquisition Would Enable Better-Informed Decisions, GAO-17-323 (Washington, D.C.: Apr. 18, 2017); Littoral Combat Ship and Frigate: Congress Faced with Critical Acquisition Decisions, GAO-17-262T (Washington, D.C.: Dec. 1, 2016); and Navy Shipbuilding: Significant Investments in the Littoral Combat Ship Continue Amid Substantial Unknowns about Capabilities, Use, and Cost, GAO-13-530, (Washington, D.C.: July 22, 2013). 7 GAO, Littoral Combat Ship: Need to Address Fundamental Weaknesses in LCS and Frigate Acquisition Strategies, GAO-16-356 (Washington, D.C.: June 9, 2016). Page 4 GAO-19-512 Guided Missile Frigate buy ships in advance of adequate knowledge. 8 In May 2017, the Navy announced it was revising its frigate plans and began pursuing FFG(X). Shipbuilding Best In 2009, we identified commercial shipbuilding best practices that could Practices be adapted for use by the Navy. 9 We found that successful shipbuilding programs have sound business cases built on attaining critical levels of knowledge at key points in the shipbuilding process before significant investments are made, as shown in figure 1. Figure 1: Knowledge Attainment in the Shipbuilding Process Regardless of the differences between Navy and commercial shipbuilding, knowledge attainment is crucial to success. Executable business cases use realistic cost and schedule targets to meet performance and quality expectations by balancing inherent uncertainties in acquisition programs. A solid business case provides for the resources necessary to mitigate challenges, such as immature technologies and design requirements. The greater the potential for challenges to occur, the more time and money should be factored into the business case to address them. The Navy has previously agreed, in principle, that 8 GAO-17-323. 9 GAO-09-322. Page 5 GAO-19-512 Guided Missile Frigate knowledge should be attained prior to key milestones to better ensure ships are built to established cost, schedule, quality, and performance standards. 10 Navy Shipbuilding In general, the Department of Defense (DOD) acquires new weapon Acquisition Framework systems, such as Navy surface combatants, through a management process known as the Defense Acquisition System. Under this system, programs typically complete a series of milestone reviews and other key decision points that authorize entry into a new acquisition phase. To execute shipbuilding acquisition programs, the Navy uses the acquisition processes included in the DOD Instruction 5000 series, as well as acquisition instructions established by the Secretary of the Navy. 11 The Navy’s guidance supports a seven-gate review process intended to ensure that requirements align with acquisition plans, and to improve collaboration among stakeholders. Figure 2 provides an overview of the notional framework for Navy shipbuilding acquisition programs described by the DOD and Navy guidance. 10 GAO, Navy Shipbuilding: Past Performance Provides Valuable Lessons for Future Investments, GAO-18-238SP (Washington, D.C.: June 6, 2018). 11 DOD Instruction (DODI) 5000.02, Operation of the Defense Acquisition System (Jan. 7, 2015), serves as the overall DOD acquisition guidance for weapon system programs. Secretary of the Navy Instruction 5000.2F, Defense Acquisition System and Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System Implementation (Mar. 26, 2019), establishes a seven-gate review process specific to Department of the Navy weapon system programs. Page 6 GAO-19-512 Guided Missile Frigate Figure 2: Notional Acquisition Framework for Navy Shipbuilding Programs This acquisition framework includes decision reviews and milestones at key junctures in the acquisition cycle. The Milestone Decision Authority is the individual responsible for determining what events and documentation requirements will apply to an acquisition program, as well as providing approval for a program to proceed to the next acquisition phase. The acquisition framework and Milestone Decision Authority’s purpose is to support careful assessment of a program’s readiness to proceed to the next stage of acquisition activities. The gates and milestones that will be included in an acquisition program’s schedule can be customized based on its circumstances and needs. We have previously found that shipbuilding programs typically have different decision points than other DOD weapon systems. 12 For example, Milestone B for ship programs usually occurs after development of ship specifications and system diagrams is well under way and is typically 12 GAO-09-322. Page 7 GAO-19-512 Guided Missile Frigate aligned with the decision to authorize the start of detail design. While Milestone C generally represents the decision to start production for weapon systems, several of the Navy’s more recent shipbuilding programs either do not include a Milestone C review or changed the sequencing of the review to occur after delivery of the lead ship. Programs can receive approval to tailor the requirements for information that must be developed to support this process and to have the decision- making authority delegated to other individuals for acquisition decisions and approvals. The Navy expects that its current plans for FFG(X) will result in a small Navy Expects That surface combatant with considerable capability improvements compared FFG(X) to LCS. To achieve this increased capability, the Navy is committing to construct a larger, more expensive ship than LCS. To help refine FFG(X) Requirements Will requirements and identify opportunities for cost savings, the Navy used a Provide a More conceptual design phase, in which it awarded $75 million in contracts to industry. Capable Small Surface Combatant, but at Increased Cost FFG(X) Requirements The Navy’s FFG(X) requirements represent the department’s recognition Reflect Limitations of LCS of its need for a more capable small surface combatant and the limitations of LCS. For LCS and its mission packages, the Navy has devoted nearly and Evolution in Capability $28 billion (constant fiscal year 2018 dollars) to develop and buy a ship Needs that has fallen far short of demonstrating it can meet the minimum level of capability defined at the beginning of the program. Specifically, LCS was designed with reduced survivability requirements as compared to other surface combatants. Over time the Navy lowered several survivability and lethality requirements further and removed some design features— making the ships less survivable in their expected threat environments and less lethal than initially planned. As shown in figure 3, the Navy arrived at its FFG(X) plans after spending several years developing and evaluating a variety of inputs to address problems with LCS and emerging capability needs. Page 8 GAO-19-512 Guided Missile Frigate Figure 3: Key Events Contributing to FFG(X) Guided Missile Frigate Requirements Development The Small Surface Combatant Task Force study report maintained the Navy’s need for 52 small surface combatants, which was revalidated in the Navy’s 2016 Force Structure Assessment. In recognition of LCS’s shortcomings, the Navy significantly reduced the total number of LCS, and began planning for the new frigate based on minor modifications to an LCS design—referred to as FF—to fulfill the 52-ship need. Page 9 GAO-19-512 Guided Missile Frigate While the FF program was developing its acquisition plans and moving toward a contract award for the lead ship scheduled for 2018, the maritime operating environments continued to rapidly evolve, becoming increasingly complex and contested. In recognition of this, the Chief of Naval Operations directed the Navy to conduct another study, increasing air defense and survivability beyond the FF baseline. In response, the Navy convened a Frigate Requirements Evaluation Team from January to June 2017. The purpose of this team was to build upon FF requirements by analyzing options for air defense and vulnerability upgrades to help determine top-level mission requirements that would yield a more capable frigate. The results of this review led the Navy to cancel its FF acquisition plans and focus on meeting increased requirements through a new FFG(X) Guided Missile Frigate program. Both the FF and FFG(X) requirements reflect the 2015 Small Surface Combatant Task Force report findings that identified a need for increased capabilities for small surface combatants to address evolving threats. As we reported in June 2016, an FF based on a minor modified LCS only partially fulfilled the small surface combatant capabilities that the task force identified as most valued by the fleet. 13 In particular, FF requirements supported a multi-mission ship with some of the fleet’s highest priority mission capabilities, such as surface and anti-submarine warfare, but did not provide air warfare capability. For FFG(X), the Navy maintained the FF requirements and added local air defense as a capability. 14 Table 1 outlines the requirements evolution that the Navy undertook to support a more lethal and capable small surface combatant. 13 GAO-16-356. 14 In general, air warfare is the capability to protect a ship against aircraft and anti-ship cruise missiles, and local air defense is the capability to provide air warfare protection of escorted, closely stationed ships. Page 10 GAO-19-512 Guided Missile Frigate Table 1: Small Surface Combatant Requirements Evolution from Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) to Frigate (FF) to Guided Missile Frigate (FFG(X)) Proposed change from LCS to FF Proposed change from FF to FFG(X) Significance of overall change Switch from single mission to Additional multi-mission capability by Ship will be multi-mission capable, allowing for multi-mission capability (both adding air warfare and electronic engagement of different threats at all times. In surface warfare and anti- warfare/information operations missions. contrast, LCS is single-mission capable, with submarine warfare). May also augment anti-submarine warfare capability at any given time dependent on which a capability. single mission package is available for use. Improve air warfare systems for Provide local air defense capability Reduces susceptibility to attacks from air-based self-defense with an improved air- through addition of improved air-search threats (e.g., aircraft, missiles), and increases air search radar and defensive radar and vertical launch system. warfare capability, with ability for FFG(X) to provide countermeasures. air defense for other ship classes. Vertical launch system provides flexibility for future weapons systems. Decrease in unrefueled range Increase unrefueled range to 4,000-6,000 Increases range consistent with fleet operator from 3,500 nautical miles to a nautical miles. priorities in the 2015 Small Surface Combatant Task minimum range of 3,000 nautical Force study; reduces demands for the limited number miles. of refueling platforms. Reduce sustained speed from 40+ Reduce sustained speed to 26-28 knots Navy officials determined that the high speed of LCS knots for LCS to 32 knots. based on mission need and cost was not essential to FFG(X) mission performance, considerations. which allowed for additional weapons and sensors. Add armor to vital spaces and Further reduce vulnerability via additional Reduces vulnerability, resulting in a ship with magazines. Improve shock- armoring and shock hardening, and survivability standards similar to current Navy hardening. separation of critical systems within the destroyers. ship design. Add over-the-horizon missile Provisions for 8-16 over-the-horizon Increases lethality by providing the ability to strike system for long range, anti-surface missiles. surface targets further from the ship. missile capability. Upgrade electronic warfare Further upgrade electronic warfare Reduces susceptibility and increases capacity for capabilities by improving capabilities via Surface Electronic Warfare electronic warfare mission via early detection, signals defensive alert capabilities. Improvement Program system, signature analysis, threat warning, and protection from anti-ship reduction, and spectral system for signals missiles. intelligence. Increase crew from 98 personnel Increase crew to a range of 165-200, Moves from “minimally manned” crewing concept of on LCS to 130 on FF. depending on ship design selected. LCS to more traditional crewing; adds endurance and self-sufficiency, including enabling a robust onboard engineering department to facilitate a high operational availability and ship-level maintenance. Navy- acknowledged byproduct of additional crew is increased life cycle costs. Source: GAO analysis of Navy documentation. | GAO-19-512 Note: LCS includes mine countermeasures capability that was not planned for either of the frigate programs. a Depending on the final configuration of the FFG(X) design the Navy selects, the ship may have both a variable depth sonar–a moveable sonar towed from a ship—and a low-band hull array—a fixed sonar fitted to the bow of a ship. The Navy’s preferred requirement is for both, but having only one of these types of sonar meets the minimum requirement. Page 11 GAO-19-512 Guided Missile Frigate Requirements Drive To achieve the increased capability expectations for FFG(X), the Navy Higher FFG(X) Cost than committed to acquiring a larger, more expensive ship than LCS or the previously planned FF. Figure 4 provides average shipbuilding cost for Previous Small Surface estimates for the three different ships, with costs shown in same-year Combatants dollars for comparison. Figure 4: GAO Assessment of Average Small Surface Combatant Acquisition Cost Note: FF and FFG(X) average costs are rounded to the nearest $5 million and are based on estimated costs derived from analysis of Navy budget requests. For FFG(X), the average is based on the first nine ships, as the budget request data did not provide sufficient funding detail for the 11 additional ships planned for the program. FF average cost is based on the ships listed in the fiscal year 2017 President’s budget request. LCS average cost does not include the costs of the ship’s mission packages. Navy officials stated that the total average cost for the anti-submarine warfare and surface warfare mission packages on LCS is $85 million per ship in constant year 2018 dollars. Although the FFG(X) requirements have been finalized, the Navy plans to make final cost and capability tradeoffs through the process of evaluating proposed designs before selecting which one will be built. Page 12 GAO-19-512 Guided Missile Frigate The Navy Used In an effort to focus on the relationship between requirements and cost, Conceptual Design Phase the Navy undertook a conceptual design phase for FFG(X), which enabled industry to inform requirements and identify opportunities for cost to Better Understand Ship savings. In February 2018, the Navy competitively-awarded FFG(X) Requirements and conceptual design contracts valued at nearly $15 million each to five Associated Costs industry teams. These 16-month contracts were intended to enable industry to mature parent ship designs—designs for FFG(X) that are based on ships have been built and demonstrated at sea—and help refine technical and operational program requirements. The purpose of the conceptual design phase has parallels with the purpose of pre-contractual negotiations in commercial shipbuilding. As we previously have reported, these pre-contractual practices minimize ship buyer risk prior to awarding construction contracts by developing the ship concept and specifications based on negotiations between the ship buyer and the shipyard. The practices include specifying the expected performance and the major equipment on the ship. As part of these activities, commercial shipbuilders and ship buyers analyze one or more ship concepts to identify areas of potential risk and either mitigate these risks or remove the risky elements from the ship before signing a contract. 15 Figure 5 provides an overview of the industry teams and shipyards participating in the FFG(X) conceptual design. 15 GAO-09-322. Page 13 GAO-19-512 Guided Missile Frigate Figure 5: Key Information for Industry Teams Participating in FFG(X) Guided Missile Frigate Conceptual Design Phase Note: Ingalls Shipbuilding elected to not publicly disclose its parent design for FFG(X) based on the impending full and open competition for detail design and construction. Each industry team performed ship development, ship design, workforce planning, and shipyard improvement planning, among other activities, in support of FFG(X) requirements refinement and cost reduction efforts. Industry teams updated the Navy regularly on their design progress and technical approach to fulfill requirements through monthly technical exchange meetings and two design review meetings. Navy officials stated that these meetings were intended to provide information to support the program’s Preliminary Design Review in May 2019 and mitigate risk prior to the Navy’s release of its request for proposal in June 2019 for the FFG(X) detail design and construction competition. Our prior work on shipbuilding best practices emphasizes the importance of having a full understanding of the effort needed to design and construct a ship before awarding a contract for ship construction in order to reduce cost and schedule risk. Navy and industry officials stated that the Page 14 GAO-19-512 Guided Missile Frigate conceptual design phase facilitated dialogue and information sharing that helped ensure FFG(X) requirements were more fully understood by industry and the government. Specifically, industry officials noted that communication and activities during conceptual design improved their understanding of the impetus for specific Navy requirements, allowing industry the opportunity to get clarification on the intent of some requirements, propose less costly alternatives, and get government feedback on the proposed alternatives. It also improved their understanding of the linkages between FFG(X)’s approved capability requirements and system specifications. In particular, industry officials told us that one-on-one opportunities with the Navy aided knowledge sharing and provided them with a means to ask questions without concern that disclosing such information could jeopardize their competitive position. They emphasized that in other cases where the request for proposals process is their primary means for communicating with the Navy (as opposed to having a conceptual design phase), submitting questions about requirements or system specifications can be challenging because those inquiries are available to the public. As a consequence, contractors may opt to infer more about the intent of requirements to avoid compromising their competitive interests. The conceptual design phase included a formal cost savings effort, with the Navy seeking proposals internally and from industry participants to reduce cost through requirement and system specification refinement. To support this effort, Navy officials stated they established a Frigate Affordability Board to review potential cost reduction measures submitted by both contractors and government that responded directly to Navy requirements and specifications. Navy officials said the Board—co- chaired by the Program Executive Office for Unmanned and Small Combatants and the Naval Sea System Command’s Naval Systems Engineering Directorate, as well as the Chief of Naval Operations’ Surface Warfare Directorate—assessed the potential cost and capability trade-offs of these proposed changes to requirements, and accepted or declined them. Before going to the Board, relevant Navy subject matter experts reviewed the technical and requirements implications of cost reduction measures. The program office subsequently worked with Navy engineering and requirements officials to balance cost with capabilities. If the program office, Navy engineers, and requirements officials could not reach agreement on the appropriate cost and capability mix, then their different positions were presented to the Board. For cost reduction initiatives submitted by industry, the Navy provided feedback on the Board’s decision, and incorporated fully or partially Page 15 GAO-19-512 Guided Missile Frigate accepted cost reduction initiatives into the FFG(X) system specifications. Navy officials said they informed all industry teams of any changes to the specifications on a monthly basis. Navy officials also stated that industry submitted about 350 cost reduction ideas, with roughly 60 percent partially or fully accepted by the Navy. They estimated $86 million in savings per ship (constant year 2018 dollars) based on changes made in response to the cost reduction measures submitted by industry or government-initiated cost savings measures influenced by engagement with industry. 16 In an effort to accelerate the time between FFG(X) acquisition planning Streamlined and the fielding of ships, the Navy streamlined the program’s acquisition Acquisition Approach approach and leveraged knowledge obtained from industry during the conceptual design phase. While the program may benefit from the Accelerates Planned streamlining efforts, the acquisition approach for FFG(X) required the FFG(X) Schedule, but Navy to submit its budget request for lead ship construction before the program had a comprehensive understanding of the potential ship Reduces Knowledge designs and cost. Recent Navy policy changes have created some Available for Key uncertainty for Navy cost estimation activities by altering roles and responsibilities within the Navy for completing component cost positions Program Decisions and independent cost assessments. Navy Streamlined FFG(X) As permitted by DOD and Navy policy, the Navy has streamlined the Program Acquisition FFG(X) acquisition approach to move from planning to ship delivery and fielding quicker than in a more traditional acquisition program. 17 The Approach in an Effort to accelerated schedule reflects the Navy’s desire to field a minimum of 52 Accelerate Fielding of small surface combatants, which the Navy’s long-range shipbuilding plan Ships states will be achieved by fiscal year 2034. Navy officials stated that the significant amount of knowledge that already existed to inform the program’s early activities and the use of parent designs helped enable the streamlined approach for FFG(X). For example, Navy officials cited 16 Navy officials stated the FFG(X) program office developed a notional frigate design to analyze requirements feasibility, provide a starting point for trade studies, and support cost estimating efforts. This included estimates for cost savings associated with requirements changes. The program office used data received from industry during the conceptual design phase to calibrate models and verify cost savings estimates. Navy officials noted that not all changes based on cost savings measures were applicable to the specific FFG(X) designs developed by the five conceptual design industry teams. We did not assess the reliability of this cost savings estimate. 17 DODI 5000.02 and Secretary of the Navy Instruction 5000.2F. Page 16 GAO-19-512 Guided Missile Frigate previous efforts by the Small Surface Combatant Task Force and the Frigate Requirements Evaluation Team to determine appropriate ship requirements, as well as activities performed in support of the FF frigate acquisition plan that immediately preceded the shift to FFG(X). The Navy also leveraged industry input received from a request for information in 2017 to understand cost drivers and the potential shipbuilders’ abilities to meet top level FFG(X) requirements and incorporate Navy-defined equipment into ship designs. Figure 6 provides a high-level schedule of key activities for the program. Figure 6: FFG(X) Guided Missile Frigate Acquisition Schedule Note: All dates beyond the July 2020 contract award are Navy estimates and may be adjusted depending on the FFG(X) design the Navy selects for contract award. Ship delivery is when the Navy takes custody of a new construction ship from the shipbuilder. At that point, a variety of tests, trials, and construction remains to be completed in what is called a post-delivery period. OWLD generally concludes the post-delivery period and is when full financial responsibility for maintaining and operating a ship is transferred from the acquisition command to the operational fleet. Gates are Navy review points for acquisition programs outlined in the Secretary of the Navy Instruction 5000.2F. To support its decision to pursue an accelerated acquisition schedule, the Navy used the previously discussed conceptual design phase as well as its decisions to limit FFG(X) to parent ship designs and minimize technology development. Navy officials noted the use of parent designs is allowing the program to proceed at a much faster pace from early assessment of capability options to detail design and construction contract award. They added that the parent designs provided a higher- fidelity design baseline from which the conceptual design industry teams incorporated Navy systems and other requirements. Use of parent designs is consistent with our best practices work in shipbuilding, which Page 17 GAO-19-512 Guided Missile Frigate has found that commercial shipbuilders use previous ship designs to the extent possible. 18 Doing so can reduce technical, schedule, and cost risk in building a ship as compared to a “clean sheet” new ship design. FFG(X) program officials noted the latter approach can take up to 9 years to complete an analysis of alternatives and move through the acquisition process to construction contract award. Navy officials said the program also used opportunities available as an Acquisition Category (ACAT) 1B program to shorten the approval timeline for specific acquisition requirements. 19 For an ACAT 1B program, the head of the DOD component is generally the Milestone Decision Authority but, as appropriate, may delegate approval authorities to lower level offices under its jurisdiction. In the case of FFG(X), the Assistant Secretary for the Navy for Research, Development, and Acquisition serving as the Milestone Decision Authority delegated specific approval authorities to the Program Executive Office for Unmanned and Small Combatants. These approval authorities applied to the program’s life cycle sustainment plan, independent logistics assessment, program protection plan, and a compliance schedule addressing environmental considerations. The Navy also took advantage of opportunities to alter or waive some significant early acquisition activities. For example, the Milestone Decision Authority waived the formal Analysis of Alternatives and Affordability Analysis, decided not to conduct a Milestone A review, and deferred the full “Should-Cost” Analysis to later in the acquisition process. 20 Table 2 defines the purpose of these DOD acquisition program elements and provides an overview of the Navy’s actions related to them. 18 GAO-09-322. 19 See DODI 5000.02; Secretary of the Navy Instruction 5000.2F. For ACAT 1D programs, the Defense Acquisition Executive— the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment—is generally the Milestone Decision Authority. For programs designated as ACATs 1C and 1B, the head of the DOD component (e.g. Navy, Army, or Air Force) is generally the Milestone Decision Authority. 20 In general, a “should-cost” analysis is intended to develop an estimated cost that is based on bottoms-up assessments of what programs should cost, if reasonable efficiency and productivity enhancing efforts are undertaken. These cost targets are intended to be used as a basis for contract negotiations and contract incentives, as well as to track contractor and program management performance. Page 18 GAO-19-512 Guided Missile Frigate Table 2: FFG(X) Acquisition Process Streamlining of Early Program Activities Acquisition Defined purpose in Department of element Defense acquisition guidance FFG(X) acquisition approach to fulfill requirement and rationale Analysis of Assess potential materiel solutions to satisfy Requirement waived. The Navy predetermined that it would pursue a Alternatives validated capability requirements and ship-based solution to provide desired capabilities as opposed to a support a decision on the most cost potential range of materiel solutions to meet capability needs. Navy and effective solution. Office of the Secretary of Defense officials stated that the Navy used studies from the 2015 Small Surface Combatant Task Force and the 2017 Frigate Requirements Evaluation Team (FRET), a requirements gap analysis of the former FF frigate requirements, and independent Navy force structure assessments to address the intent of the Analysis of Alternatives. Navy officials confirmed this approach was accepted by the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Staff. Office of the Secretary of Defense officials said FFG(X) requirements are being further evaluated and analyzed within the ongoing Future Surface Combatant Force Structure Analysis of Alternatives. Navy officials noted that the study will likely support increasing FFG(X) quantities beyond the 20 planned ships. Affordability Develop affordability constraints for Requirement waived. The Navy cites cost development activities for the Analysis procurement unit cost and sustainment FFG(X) capability development document and component cost estimate costs; conduct Navy portfolio affordability plans for the Gate 5 review as replacements for a more typical analysis that demonstrates the ability of the affordability analysis. Navy’s estimated budgets to fund the new program over its planned life cycle. Should-Cost Proactively target cost reduction and drive Requirement deviates from the guidance for should-cost targets to be Analysis productivity improvement into programs. completed to support the detail design and construction request for proposal release. The Navy established initial, limited should-cost figures as part of acquisition strategy for average follow-on ship costs to support the program through the detail design and construction request for proposal release. The acquisition strategy states the should-cost targets will be established after component cost position completion. This includes more complete targets that account for research, development, test and evaluation; procurement; and sustainment prior to incorporation into the program baseline. Milestone A Evaluate product options and approve the Milestone not conducted and all associated documentation preferred solution, as well as authorize entry requirements for the milestone waived. The Navy stated the FFG(X) into the technology development phase. program will enter the defense acquisition system at Milestone B because the program is not developing critical technologies and the ships will be based on a proven parent design. Source: GAO analysis of DOD and Navy documentation. | GAO-19-512 As the first major milestone for many major acquisition programs, Milestone A is a review by the Milestone Decision Authority of key program documents that support the materiel solution and risk reduction. We have previously found that DOD officials place a high value on the information developed for some of these documents, including the Analysis of Alternatives, Affordability Analysis, and Should-Cost Page 19 GAO-19-512 Guided Missile Frigate Analysis. 21 The Navy’s decision to not conduct a Milestone A review also eliminated a formal opportunity to bring the broad set of FFG(X) stakeholders within the Navy and the Office of the Secretary of Defense together at a relatively early stage to assess the program’s acquisition strategy and affordability and feasibility, as well as technical, cost, and schedule risks. Further, it reduced the FFG(X) acquisition approach to a single milestone decision point—Milestone B—for the broader group of DOD stakeholders to evaluate program progress and readiness to proceed to the detail design and construction contract award planned in July 2020. In the absence of Milestone A, the Navy’s Gate 3 review for FFG(X) provided an opportunity to communicate the program’s progress toward developing requirements and acquisition expectations, albeit to a more limited audience than typically would participate in a Milestone A. In particular, the Navy used Gate 3 to discuss top-level requirements changes and receive capability development document approval from the Chief of Naval Operations. It also included cost discussion related to FFG(X) affordability within the overall Navy shipbuilding portfolio. The gate’s participants included officials from the Navy and the Office of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE) within the Office of the Secretary of Defense. The Navy’s Gate 4 conducted in February 2019 focused on a review of the FFG(X) system specification before the draft detail design and construction request for proposal release. Gate 4 documentation for FFG(X) indicates that participants were limited to stakeholders from the office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Ships; Naval Sea Systems Command Cost and Design Directorates; Program Executive Office for Unmanned and Small Combatants; the FFG(X) program office; and the Chief of Naval Operations Surface Warfare Directorate. This excludes a number of key stakeholders that Navy guidance calls on to attend and certify gate reviews, such as the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Financial Management and Comptroller) and the testing community. As a result, the Navy would not have received insight from several key stakeholders during the Gate 4 review for acquisition activities, such as the program life cycle cost estimate development and release of the draft request for proposal. These activities are generally 21 GAO, Acquisition Reform: DOD Should Streamline Its Decision-Making Process for Weapon Systems to Reduce Inefficiencies, GAO-15-192 (Washington, D.C.: Feb. 24, 2015). Page 20 GAO-19-512 Guided Missile Frigate relevant to this gate review, as Navy guidance notes program affordability as a focus and the Navy’s streamlining documentation indicates that the gate was focused on reviewing the FFG(X) system specification before releasing the draft request for proposal. Navy officials noted that stakeholders have regularly received insight into FFG(X) activities through other prior program reviews and will have additional opportunities to review program costs and sustainment plans leading up to Milestone B. We also found that some key stakeholders did not provide formal approval for the initial FFG(X) life cycle sustainment plan that was approved in March 2019. Specifically, only FFG(X) program officials and the Program Executive Officer for Unmanned and Small Combatants— the delegated approval authority—signed the plan. However, as stated in DOD guidance, representatives from the relevant sustainment command and the Program Executive Office for Integrated Warfare Systems are key stakeholders that should provide their signed concurrence when approving the life cycle sustainment plan. The FFG(X) life cycle sustainment plan is a key document outlining the Navy’s plans to address the program’s sustainment needs and costs, as typically around 70 percent of a weapon system program’s total cost is in the sustainment phase after procurement. Navy officials stated that the plan has been reviewed by the independent logistics assessment team members that are evaluating the FFG(X) program’s integrated product support activities, and noted that the Program Executive Office for Integrated Warfare Systems has separate life cycle sustainment plans for government furnished equipment systems included in the FFG(X) design. Navy officials also said that FFG(X) sustainment plans would be reviewed by stakeholders as part of Gate 5 and the Milestone B independent logistics assessment. Budget Request for The FFG(X) acquisition approach required the Navy to submit its nearly FFG(X) Lead Ship $1.3 billion budget request for lead ship construction before the program had established a comprehensive understanding of the potential ship Preceded the Completion designs and estimated cost for the program. Our shipbuilding and of Key Cost Estimation acquisition best practices call for resource decisions to be timed to align Activities That Should with the availability of requisite cost, schedule, and technical knowledge Inform Funding Decisions in order to inform key program decisions. 22 Navy officials stated that they 22 GAO, Best Practices: Capturing Design and Manufacturing Knowledge Early Improves Acquisition Outcomes, GAO-02-701 (Washington, D.C.: July 15, 2002); and GAO-18-238SP. Page 21 GAO-19-512 Guided Missile Frigate had sufficient knowledge to inform key program decisions based on cost estimation and conceptual design efforts that had previously been completed. Navy officials said this included development of an FFG(X) cost estimate by November 2018 to support a realistic budget request for the lead ship. However, at the time of the Navy’s fiscal year 2020 budget request to fund detail design and the lead ship, the Navy had not completed its component cost position, which will formalize the life cycle cost expectations for FFG(X). Further, CAPE had not completed the independent cost estimate for the program. The GAO Cost Estimating and Assessment Guide says that comparing the component cost position with an independent cost estimate to validate methodologies produce similar results reinforces the credibility of a cost estimate. 23 In addition to key cost estimating best practices that had not been completed, the Navy had not received final design review information from the industry teams participating in the conceptual design phase before requesting lead ship funds from Congress. Figure 7 reflects the budget request timeline for the FFG(X) detail design and lead ship contract award, as well as notable cost and design-related program activities that were planned to be completed after the request. 23 GAO-09-3SP. Page 22 GAO-19-512 Guided Missile Frigate Figure 7: Timeline of Key Cost and Design Knowledge and Budgeting for FFG(X) Guided Missile Frigate Program Detail Design and Construction The considerable cost growth that we have previously reported is common to many shipbuilding programs, as well as challenges in deviating from shipbuilding plans once a program has begun procuring ships, emphasize the importance of having a strong understanding of Page 23 GAO-19-512 Guided Missile Frigate program expectations to back the initial procurement decision for FFG(X). 24 Given the timing of the Navy’s budget request for lead ship funding, Congress faces a decision on whether to authorize funding for FFG(X) detail design and lead ship based on a budget request that was not informed by key cost and design information. If Congress authorizes and appropriates FFG(X) funding as the Navy requested in March 2019, it will be critical that the Navy demonstrate the program’s acquisition program baseline reflects the results of the component cost position and independent cost estimate before awarding the detail design and construction contract. Doing so before the contract award will help ensure a more reliable acquisition program baseline upon which future costs and variances are measured and funding decisions are made. Further, it will help mitigate remaining risk that stems from the Navy not being able to account for the actual FFG(X) design and associated estimated cost for ship construction until after the planned July 2020 contract award. Specifically, as currently planned, the Navy’s budget requests for fiscal years 2020 and 2021—which are intended to fund the first 3 ships—will be made before the Navy has agreed to contract pricing for FFG(X). Navy officials stated that they have completed a robust program life cycle cost estimate. They noted that the estimate was informed by Navy modeling of a notional ship design that leveraged data received from industry during conceptual design and reflected ship design elements needed to meet program requirements Navy officials also said that, as of May 2019, some additional work remains for the cost estimate to account for training and military construction considerations, as well as address any needed changes related to the final industry design reviews for the conceptual design phase. They also said that the program life cycle cost estimate informed the Gate 4 review in February 2019, and an updated version of the estimate will provide a basis for the Navy’s efforts to establish the component cost position in October 2019. As of the issuance of this report, we have requested the program life cycle cost estimate from the Navy, including the estimate’s criteria and underlying assumptions, but have not yet received this information. 24 GAO-18-238SP. Page 24 GAO-19-512 Guided Missile Frigate Recent Navy Changes in Recent policy changes by the Navy related to cost analysis and Cost Estimation Policy and estimation have created some uncertainty for Navy cost estimation activities going forward. Specifically, a March 2019 Secretary of the Navy the FFG(X) Program instruction for acquisition program cost analysis shifts the Naval Center Schedule Create for Cost Analysis’s role and responsibilities for Navy cost estimation to the Uncertainty for Remaining Navy’s systems commands. 25 Previously, the Naval Center for Cost Cost Estimation Activities Analysis—organizationally residing completely outside of the systems command structure—would provide an independent cost assessment of the program life cycle cost estimate. The Naval Center for Cost Analysis and the acquisition program, in coordination with the relevant systems command, would discuss and adjudicate any differences between the program life cycle cost estimate and the independent cost assessment to produce the Navy’s component cost position. This independent cost assessment by the Naval Center for Cost Analysis was an important verification of the program office estimates, which were often found to be too optimistic, prior to the Navy finalizing its component cost position. The Navy’s recent changes for cost estimation and analysis may pose a risk of overly optimistic estimates carrying forward in programs. Navy officials stated that they believe Naval Sea Systems Command cost estimators can provide an independent cost estimate, as they are intended to provide technical support to acquisition programs independent of programmatic authority and report to a separate chain of command. However, as stated by the Naval Sea Systems Command, the collective mission of its organizations is to build, buy, and maintain the Navy’s ships. Based on this, we believe, as do CAPE officials with whom we spoke, that shifting independent cost assessment activities to the systems commands diminishes the Navy’s ability to independently verify a program life cycle cost estimate. As a result, the program life cycle cost estimate essentially will become the component cost position based on the lack of additional cost estimation input, such as what the Naval Center for Cost Analysis previously provided. Furthermore, CAPE officials stated that having a systems command execute cost analysis responsibilities for an acquisition program within the same system command effectively eliminates the Navy’s capacity to perform independent cost estimates for its programs based on their shared overarching mission. This position is consistent with the GAO Cost Estimating and Assessment Guide, which states that an 25 Secretary of the Navy Instruction 7110.12, Acquisition Program Cost Analysis (Mar. 28, 2019). Page 25 GAO-19-512 Guided Missile Frigate independent cost estimate should be conducted by an organization independent of the acquisition chain of command. 26 The Director of CAPE is required to conduct or approve independent cost estimates and cost analyses for all major defense acquisition programs. As noted by CAPE officials, CAPE has previously delegated certain cost estimation responsibilities to the Naval Center for Cost Analysis. With the recent Navy policy changes, CAPE may no longer choose to delegate independent cost estimation activities to Navy cost estimators. 27 For FFG(X), CAPE intends to complete an independent cost estimate to verify the Navy’s component cost position. These plans include site visits and data collection from the shipyards participating in the conceptual design contracts. CAPE confirmed that the final independent cost estimate will reflect the content of the winning proposal, indicating that any FFG(X) proposals that the Navy receives from contractors not involved in the conceptual design phase will be evaluated to ensure the independent cost estimate accounts for those cost and design plans. CAPE officials also stated that their timeline for finalizing the independent cost estimate for FFG(X) is tied to when the Navy decides on the winning proposal for detail design and construction and communicates this information to CAPE. Specifically, CAPE’s final independent cost estimate will reflect only the winning FFG(X) design, so completion of the estimate will occur after the Navy informs CAPE about the FFG(X) design for which it intends to pursue a contract award. CAPE officials said that because the Navy’s decision may not be made in advance of the planned February 2020 Milestone B review for FFG(X), CAPE would likely just 26 GAO-09-3SP. 27 Pursuant to 10 U.S.C. § 2334, the Director of CAPE is required to conduct or approve independent cost estimates and cost analyses for all major defense acquisition programs in advance of any decision to grant milestone approval pursuant to 10 U.S.C. § 2366b, which addresses certification requirements before Milestone B approval. See 10 U.S.C. § 2334(a)(6); 10 U.S.C. § 2336b(a). CAPE may decide to delegate certain independent cost estimation responsibilities to a military service cost agency. See DODI 5000.73, Cost Analysis Guidance and Procedures (June 9, 2015). Page 26 GAO-19-512 Guided Missile Frigate provide input to support the milestone and complete the independent cost estimate after that review. 28 The Navy’s decision to pursue a parent ship design for FFG(X) was The Navy Has Taken intended to reduce design uncertainty for the program. The Navy’s Steps to Reduce planned use of existing technologies for the ship’s mission and combat systems also supports reduced technical risk, though further maturation Design and Technical of some key systems and successful integration and testing will be critical Risk, but Technology to demonstrate the ship provides required capability within cost and schedule expectations. Integration and Testing Will be Key to Meeting Program Expectations Use of a Parent Ship Adopting a parent design requirement for FFG(X) provided the conceptual Design Was Intended to design industry teams with a proven baseline ship design. This enabled them to focus on incorporating modifications to meet the Navy’s specific Increase Design Certainty FFG(X) requirements rather than designing a new ship. The Navy did not set any limitations on the extent contractors could modify or deviate from the parent design. However, Navy officials stated they actively reviewed parent design modifications through contract deliverables, technical exchange meetings, and design reviews with industry teams. The design reviews included an interim report in October 2018 and a final report in May 2019 from each industry team on their design progress. FFG(X) program officials noted that the design maturity reviews provided sufficient information to support the Navy’s decision that the designs were mature enough to release the request for proposals for the detail design and construction contract award. In addition, some industry officials told us that the conceptual design work on parent designs enabled them to 28 In major defense acquisition programs and major subprograms, the independent cost estimate is a statutory requirement at Milestone A and Milestone B. See 10 U.S.C. §§ 2334(a)(6), 2366a, and 2366b. DODI 5000.02 directs MDAs to tailor program strategies and oversight, including program information, acquisition phase content, the timing and scope of decision reviews and decision levels, based on the specifics of the product being acquired. To this end, 10 U.S.C. § 2366b allows the MDA to waive any of the Milestone B certification and determination requirements—including the independent cost estimate— before Milestone B if the MDA determines that, but for such a waiver, DOD would be unable to meet critical national security objectives. Page 27 GAO-19-512 Guided Missile Frigate develop more mature and refined designs than typical for this stage of the shipbuilding acquisition process. They also noted that continuing work in response to the pending competition should move at least some design elements closer to a detail design-level of maturity, and may provide the Navy with greater confidence in the contract proposals it receives from industry. Technology Re-Use The FFG(X) program’s design concept requires the use of many existing, Should Reduce Some more mature combat and mission systems to reduce technical risk. As stated in the approved acquisition strategy for FFG(X), the program has a Risk, but Integration and requirement for all integrated systems to have achieved maturity of a Testing Remain to technology readiness level (TRL) 6 or higher. 29 TRL 6 is defined by GAO Demonstrate Critical as the capability to produce a prototype system in a production-relevant Systems environment. 30 Program officials confirmed that, as of May 2019, many but not all FFG(X) integrated systems were at TRL 6 or higher. For selected key systems planned for FFG(X), Navy officials stated they will have achieved TRL 7 or higher by the planned July 2020 detail design and construction contract award. Doing so would be consistent with our acquisition best practices, which include maturing new key ship technologies into actual system prototypes and demonstrating them in a realistic environment—achieving a TRL 7—before the award of the contract for lead ship design and construction. This practice helps reduce the likelihood of costly design changes later. 31 Technology Re-Use Many of the systems planned for FFG(X) have been demonstrated and are in use on other Navy ship classes, which helps the program fulfill capability needs while avoiding developmental risks. Table 3 provides an overview of some of the key existing systems planned for the ship. 29 FFG(X) program officials defined an integrated system as a system that has combined different functions together in order to work as one entity. The concept of the integrated system is used in systems engineering, systems analysis, and operations research. An integrated system can be broken down—not necessarily uniquely—into a finite number of parts called subsystems. 30 GAO, Technology Readiness Assessment Guide: Best Practices for Evaluating the Readiness of Technology for Use in Acquisition Programs and Projects—Exposure Draft, GAO-16-410G (Washington, D.C.: August 2016). 31 GAO-09-322. Page 28 GAO-19-512 Guided Missile Frigate Table 3: Examples of Existing Systems Planned for the FFG(X) Guided Missile Frigate Used by Other Navy Ship Classes Existing system Description of system Other Navy ship classes using system Mk 41 Vertical Launch Missile launching system CG 47 Cruiser, DDG 51 Destroyer System Mk 110 57-Millimeter Gun Gun system based on a 57-millimeter gun; fires up to Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) 220 rounds per minute, with a 9-mile range Mk 53 Decoy Launching Ship defense system using decoys to defeat anti- CG 47, CVN 68 Aircraft Carrier, DDG 51, LHA 6 System ship missiles Amphibious Assault Ship, LPD 17 Amphibious Transport Dock RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Ship self-defense system employing short-range CVN 68, LCS, LHA 6, LPD 17 Missile missiles designed to destroy anti-ship cruise missiles or air and surface threats Surface Electronic Warfare Provides for early detection, signal analysis, threat CG 47, CVN 68, DDG 51, LHA 6, LPD 17 Improvement Program, warning and protection from anti-ship missiles Block 2 Source: GAO analysis of Navy documentation. | GAO-19-512 Developmental Systems In addition to the systems that have been utilized by other Navy ships, the FFG(X) program plans to incorporate some systems that are still in development, such as the Enterprise Air Surveillance Radar (EASR) and a new version of the Aegis Weapon System. • Navy officials stated that EASR—a complex radar system expected to provide long-range detection and engagement of advanced threats— is critical to FFG(X)’s air and surface warfare missions. It is a scaled down version of the Navy’s Air and Missile Defense Radar that is in production and scheduled for initial integration with the Aegis combat system on a DDG 51 Flight III destroyer in fiscal year 2020. In early 2019, the Navy began testing a full-scale, single-face EASR array engineering developmental model—the full system planned for FFG(X) will have three array faces—at a land-based test site to further demonstrate its functionality. 32 The Navy expects to complete land-based testing of the EASR engineering development model by February 2020. The Navy also plans to integrate a rotating version of EASR and a fixed-face version on other ship classes prior to integrating the radar on the lead FFG(X). The Navy’s results from 32 An engineering development model—which can be viewed as an advanced prototype of a system—is acquired during the engineering and manufacturing development phase of the DOD acquisition process and is built from approved critical design review drawings. It may be used for developmental and operational testing to demonstrate maturing performance during the latter stages of development and to finalize proposed production specifications and drawings. Page 29 GAO-19-512 Guided Missile Frigate planned EASR developmental testing at the land-based site will be integral to achieving a TRL 7 and reducing risk prior to the start of FFG(X) detail design. • The Navy is developing a new version of the Aegis Weapon System— FFG(X)’s combat management system—to coordinate radar and weapons system interactions from threat detection to target strike. For example, the system will support the ship’s ability to employ the Naval Strike Missile for over-the-horizon offensive capability as well as a 32- cell vertical launch system to employ missiles for air defense. The Aegis Weapon System for FFG(X) will leverage the Aegis common source software that supports the combat systems found on the Navy’s DDG 51-class destroyers and CG 47-class cruisers. 33 Navy officials noted that they anticipate at least 70 percent of the Aegis Weapon System software for FFG(X) will be common to the Aegis software used for DDG 51 Flight III ships. Rigorous testing of the Aegis Weapon System with EASR will be critical for FFG(X), as the radar and combat management system must work in concert for the ship to detect, track, and assess possible targets. Given the radar and software commonalities, the risk level for both of these FFG(X) systems should be reduced once the DDG 51 Flight III radar and Aegis system baseline, upon which the FFG(X) integrated system is based, have been demonstrated through testing on a ship beginning in 2022. Specific to the Aegis Weapon System for FFG(X), software development is expected to run from fiscal year 2022 to late fiscal year 2024. The system’s integration and testing with EASR is scheduled to occur through fiscal year 2024. Integration and Testing While the Navy is planning to use many already mature systems on FFG(X), integration and testing of those systems will be critical to demonstrate systems fit and work together as intended on the ship. The Navy completed a technology readiness assessment in spring 2019 to identify potential technical risks, and concluded that FFG(X) does not have any critical technology elements. DOD generally defines a critical technology element as one that may pose major technological risk during 33 Aegis is the current combat system used by the majority of U.S. Navy surface combatants. The system enables a ship to detect, track, and engage multiple air and surface threats simultaneously. The Aegis Weapon System for FFG(X)—a variant of Aegis baseline 10 planned for DDG 51 Flight III ships—will be limited to air and surface warfare functions and will not include Aegis’s ballistic missile defense capability. Page 30 GAO-19-512 Guided Missile Frigate development. 34 Navy officials who completed the assessment stated that they reviewed about 150 systems as part of their activities and found none composed of new or novel technologies for which the Navy has insufficient knowledge to demonstrate maturity. The assessment noted one technology—the New Advanced Integrated Line-of-Sight Equipment System (nAILES) multi-coupler for antennas—as a watch item. The Navy would like to utilize nAILES for FFG(X), but according to Navy officials, it is not considered a critical technology because the Navy has identified alternative, proven technologies that will be used to meet the ship’s needs if nAILES is not available for use. The findings of the technology readiness assessment are consistent with the FFG(X) program’s decision to use existing systems that do not require technological innovation to deliver desired capability. However, the findings do not necessarily equate to the program having no technology risk for planned systems. For example, the Aegis Weapon System for FFG(X) did not qualify under the parameters of the technology readiness assessment as a critical technology element. Still, as already discussed, the Aegis Weapon System will carry technical risk for several years until the Navy completes development and demonstrates the system works as intended for FFG(X). The Next Generation Surface Search Radar is another system that is relatively mature—FFG(X) program officials confirmed in May 2019 it is nearing a TRL 6—but requires further development to reduce risk. The FFG(X) test and evaluation master plan and independent technical risk assessment are significant documents yet to be completed that will help to further define risks and plans to address them. The test and evaluation master plan serves to outline the program’s integrated test program and master schedule of major test events or phases. Navy officials expect the test plan to be approved in December 2019 to support the Milestone B decision. They noted that the plan may need to be updated once the FFG(X) design is selected based on the additional information that will be available to inform test planning. The independent technical risk assessment is intended to categorize risks that cover a broad range of factors, including technology maturity, integration needs, and testing. If these factors are not sufficiently accounted for, a program is likely to have difficulty meeting cost, schedule, and performance objectives. An official from the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense 34 DOD, Department of Defense Technology Readiness Assessment (TRA) Guidance (April 2011). Page 31 GAO-19-512 Guided Missile Frigate for Research and Engineering who is participating in the technical assessment for FFG(X) stated they plan to complete their work to identify any risks in March or April 2020. The official added that at this early stage of their activities, the potential for integration risks associated with the FFG(X) combat system is an area of interest because of the extensive number of existing systems that will need to be integrated into the new ship design. Navy test officials as well as DOD systems engineering and test officials noted potential advantages and risks related to FFG(X) program’s plans for using existing technologies. Similar to what we previously discussed about the use of a parent design, the officials stated that the use of existing systems can increase understanding of the ship and its systems, which may help the FFG(X) program achieve its planned accelerated timeline between development and delivery. However, systems engineering and test officials also indicated that, regardless of maturity, challenges typically arise when DOD takes systems from other platforms and attempts to integrate and use them in new ways on a new platform. They cautioned that programs like FFG(X) that plan to use a lot of government-furnished equipment or non-developmental systems often underestimate the amount of integration challenges they will face. The officials told us this may occur because of overconfidence that the maturity of systems demonstrated through use on other platforms eliminates most technical risk, whereas experience confirms that it is always challenging to get systems to fit and work together as intended on a new platform. Officials from the office of the Director, Operational Test and Evaluation said that the parent design approach for FFG(X) may enable the Navy to reduce some developmental testing activities; however, operational testing expectations would largely be unaffected because there will still be substantial integration to be completed and tested in order to demonstrate mission capabilities. Page 32 GAO-19-512 Guided Missile Frigate The draft FFG(X) request for proposal indicates that the Navy plans to Contracting Plans for use a fixed-price incentive contract to help control ship costs and special FFG(X) May Help performance incentive fees. 35 In addition, the Navy plans to use guarantees with limited liability for the shipbuilder to correct defects after Mitigate Some Risk, ship deliveries. Our prior work has found that using comprehensive ship and Use of warrantees instead of guarantees could reduce the Navy’s financial responsibility for correcting defects. Warranties Could Potentially Further Reduce Costs Use of Fixed-Price After completion of a full and open competition for FFG(X) detail design Incentive Contract and construction, the Navy plans to use a fixed-price incentive contract in combination with additional special performance incentive fees to procure Provides Benefits, but the lead and follow-on ships. As we have previously reported, full and Planned Contract open competition allows all responsible sources—or prospective Structure Results in the contractors that meet certain criteria—to submit proposals for a contract. Navy Absorbing More Cost The use of competition in contracting is a critical tool for achieving the Risk best possible return on investment for taxpayers. Competitively awarded contracts can save the taxpayer money, improve contractor performance, and promote accountability for results. 36 The fixed-price incentive contracting approach for FFG(X) is intended to incentivize the contractor to control costs and meet performance requirements. This contracting strategy represents a significant departure from previous surface combatant programs in which the Navy negotiated cost-reimbursement contracts for construction of the lead ship. Under cost-reimbursement contracts, the Navy assumes the cost risk because the shipbuilder is 35 There are two types of fixed-price incentive contracts: fixed-price incentive (firm target) and fixed-price incentive (successive target). Fixed-price incentive (firm target) contracts are commonly used in Navy shipbuilding programs. In contrast, fixed-price incentive (successive target) contracts are rarely used in Navy shipbuilding programs. These contracts are used in situations involving procurement of the first or second production quantity of a newly developed item when cost or pricing information available at the time may not be adequate for the establishment of an fixed-price incentive (firm target) contract but when that information is expected at a point relatively early in performance of the contract. Our analysis did not include any fixed-price incentive (successive target) contracts. For purposes of this report, when we refer to fixed-price incentive contracts, we mean fixed-price incentive (firm target) contracts under the larger umbrella of fixed-price incentive type contracts. 36 GAO, Federal Contracting: Opportunities Exist to Increase Competition and Assess Reasons When Only One Offer Is Received, GAO-10-833 (Washington, D.C.: July 26, 2010). Page 33 GAO-19-512 Guided Missile Frigate reimbursed for its allowable incurred costs to the extent prescribed in the contract, regardless of whether the work is performed to the exact level desired by the Navy. For example, our prior work found that the Navy’s decisions to accept the first two LCS in incomplete, deficient conditions complied with federal acceptance provisions, largely due to the cost- reimbursement type contracts in place to construct these ships. 37 Fixed-price incentive contracts provide an incentive for the shipbuilder to control costs in order to maximize profit. Fixed-price incentive contracts generally include a profit adjustment formula referred to as a shareline, as well as a price ceiling, target cost, and target profit. The structure of the shareline establishes how cost overruns or underruns in relation to a target cost are shared between the government and shipbuilder. For example, the 70/30 shareline that the Navy is planning for FFG(X) lead ship overruns means that the government pays 70 percent of cost and the shipbuilder pays 30 percent when the cost exceeds the target cost up to the price ceiling. Generally, the shareline functions to decrease the shipbuilder’s profit as actual costs exceed the target cost. The price ceiling is generally the maximum the government will pay under the contract and is typically negotiated as a percentage of the target cost. 38 The target cost generally informs the shareline and price ceiling. Given the unknowns associated with design and construction, the Navy plans to account for these unresolved risks by assuming responsibility for cost growth above DOD recommended guidance. As we reported in March 2017, when the Navy assumes a greater share of cost overruns above the target cost, accepts a higher price ceiling, or both, the fixed- price incentive elements may not provide sufficient motivation for the shipbuilders to control costs. 39 Figure 8 depicts the how risk changes as the Navy departs from a 50/50 shareline for cost overruns and a ceiling price of 120 percent. 37 GAO, Littoral Combat Ship: Navy Complied with Regulations in Accepting Two Lead Ships, but Quality Problems Persisted after Delivery, GAO-14-827 (Washington, D.C.: Sept. 25, 2014). 38 The government may pay for adjustments under other contract clauses that are unrelated to the contract price ceiling. See FAR § 16.403-1(a). 39 GAO, Navy Shipbuilding: Need to Document Rationale for the Use of Fixed-Price Incentive Contracts and Study Effectiveness of Added Incentives, GAO-17-211 (Washington, D.C.: Mar. 1, 2017). Page 34 GAO-19-512 Guided Missile Frigate Figure 8: Department of Defense Fixed-Price Incentive Contract Shareline and Price Ceiling Risk As we previously noted, for the FFG(X) lead ship the Navy is planning to have a shareline of 70/30 for target cost overruns. The Navy also plans to have a 60/40 target cost overrun shareline for the second ship, and a 50/50 overrun shareline for the remaining seven ships included in the detail design and construction contract award. Based on this plan, the first two FFG(X) ships will depart from DOD’s guidance recommending a 50/50 point of departure for negotiations between the government and shipbuilder for cost overruns up to the price ceiling. This results in more cost risk to the government for two ships in the detail design and construction contract. The Navy’s planned price ceiling for the 10 ships included in the contract award may deviate from DOD’s guidance recommending a ceiling price set at 120 percent of target cost as a point of departure for fixed price incentive contracts. 40 Specifically, Navy officials stated that the maximum ceiling price could be as high as 125 percent for all of the ships. However, Navy officials stated that the request for proposal will provide incentive for industry to propose the minimum price ceiling that sufficiently accounts for the proposal’s level of risk, meaning that industry may propose price ceilings below 125 percent. The Navy also plans to include options for a special performance incentive fee for each of the FFG(X) ships, which will be established for the final request for proposal. These incentives have the potential to increase shipbuilder profitability. 40 GAO-17-211. Page 35 GAO-19-512 Guided Missile Frigate FFG(X) Plan for Guaranty As outlined in the FFG(X) draft detail design and construction request for Use Is More Robust than proposal and confirmed by program officials, each frigate will have a guaranty period that commences at ship delivery and is expected to end Recent Shipbuilding 18 months after delivery. Navy officials stated the guaranty is intended to Programs, but Use of formalize a period of responsibility during which the shipbuilder must Warranties Could Provide correct defects, with the cost to the government and the contractor based More Value to the on the contract terms (cost shareline and price ceiling) associated with Government the ship. During the guaranty period, the shipbuilder would be required to correct all defects for which it is responsible, with proposals required to include a minimum limitation of liability of $5 million per ship. Once the total cost to correct identified defects reaches $5 million, the government would pay the full cost to correct any additional guaranty period defects. The $5 million minimum limitation of liability planned for FFG(X) has a higher dollar value and covers a longer period of time than other recent shipbuilding programs. For example, we previously found that for the Navy’s LPD 25 amphibious transport dock construction, the contract initially included a $1 million limitation of liability. 41 Navy officials stated that the final request for proposal also will include a provision allowing industry to propose a higher liability limit, up to and including no limitation of liability. Navy officials said that any additional liability amount proposed beyond the $5 million guaranty will be assessed as part of the technical evaluation criteria used to select the winning FFG(X) design. We found in March 2016 that the use of a guaranty did not help improve cost or quality outcomes for the Navy and Coast Guard ships we reviewed. We also found that commercial ship buyers and Coast Guard officials stated that warranties foster quality performance because the shipbuilder’s profit erodes as it spends money to correct deficiencies after delivery, during the warranty period. 42 We further reported that the Coast Guard has improved cost and quality by requiring the shipbuilder to pay to repair defects by following Federal Acquisition Regulation warranty provisions. For example, the Coast Guard paid up front for the Fast Response Cutter warranty. The cost of the warranty amounted to 41 percent of the total defect correction costs. Although this ship does not have the size and advanced systems planned for FFG(X), it serves to demonstrate the potential value to the government presented by the use 41 GAO, Navy and Coast Guard Shipbuilding: Navy Should Reconsider Approach to Warranties for Correcting Construction Defects, GAO-16-71 (Washington, D.C.: Mar. 3, 2016). 42 GAO-16-71. Page 36 GAO-19-512 Guided Missile Frigate of warranties. The Coast Guard also used a fixed-price incentive contract with a warranty on its Offshore Patrol Cutter—a ship of comparable size to FFG(X). The first Offshore Patrol Cutter has a 2-year warranty, and follow-on ships will have 1-year warranties. The Coast Guard pays a set amount for these warranties, and in return, the shipbuilder must fix all applicable defects identified within the agreed-upon time period regardless of cost. Rather than using guarantees for the FFG(X) contract to provide for the correction of defects, the Navy could help control costs to the government through the use of warranties. 43 Under warranties, the government generally receives a contractual right for the correction of all defects for which the shipbuilder is responsible at the shipbuilder’s expense. 44 The use of warranties is typically not mandatory, but federal and defense acquisition regulations instruct contracting officers to consider various factors when deciding whether a warranty is appropriate for an acquisition. The regulations also instruct contracting officers to use a warranty when it is practicable and cost-effective to do so. 45 We previously found that, unlike a warranty, the Navy almost exclusively paid for defects that were the shipbuilder’s responsibility under a guaranty because of the contract type and terms in contracts that we reviewed. Such conditions limit the incentive to discover every deficiency during the guaranty period, and may negatively affect quality improvements over time. The Navy’s FFG(X) plans suggest that the Navy may be prematurely discounting warrantees as a mechanism to improve ship quality and decrease cost to the government. Navy officials told us that mandating 43 In January 2018, the Navy issued shipbuilding contract guidance to contracting officers in support of effective implementation and application of shipbuilding warranty and guaranty provisions. 44 See Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Subpart 46.7. 45 See FAR § 46.703; Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement § 246.708. For shipbuilding contracts, Navy acquisition regulations expressly state that “contracts for new construction shipbuilding, for which funds are expended from the Shipbuilding and Conversion, Navy account, shall require, as a condition of the contract, that the work performed under the contract is covered by a warranty for a period of at least 1 year.” However, the regulations allow a Navy contracting officer to waive the requirement and limit the liability of the work performed if they determine that a limited liability is in the best interest of the Government. For FFG(X), the Navy plans to limit liability to $5 million per ship as part of its guaranty. See Navy and Marine Corps Acquisition Regulation Supplement § 5246.703. Page 37 GAO-19-512 Guided Missile Frigate that industry propose a warranty could result in additional costs to the government because the initial cost of the ship could be raised substantially to include the cost of the warranty. Additionally, Navy officials said a requirement for warranty pricing could serve to limit industry participation in the FFG(X) competition if offerors are unwilling to accept the risk associated with a warranty and unable to provide reasonable pricing. The Navy provided no analysis to support these claims and confirm a clear understanding of whether a warranty could provide greater value than the $5 million guaranty the Navy is proposing for FFG(X). As part of the competitive proposal process for FFG(X) detail design and construction, the Navy could maintain its plans to require a guaranty but also seek ship warranty pricing. The full and open competition for the FFG(X) contract award may increase the potential for receiving warranty pricing that provides a cost-effective alternative to the Navy’s guaranty plans. By limiting the request for proposal to guarantees, the Navy misses an opportunity to obtain information on what comprehensive warranty coverage against defects would cost, and use it to evaluate whether warranties could further reduce risk for the FFG(X) program. As the Navy approaches the Milestone B review for FFG(X), it is critical Conclusions that funding and other major programmatic decisions are fully informed by the knowledge necessary to support them. This is especially important to help ensure that the FFG(X) program does not face some of the same cost, schedule, and performance shortfalls that have been faced by the LCS program. The Navy’s fiscal year 2020 budget request to authorize and appropriate funding for the lead frigate was developed and submitted without the benefit of key cost and design information, such as the independent cost estimate and the final results from conceptual design. As a result, it is necessary that the Navy provide Congress with a clear understanding of FFG(X) cost expectations, including CAPE’s independent cost estimate, prior to awarding the detail design and construction contract. This will help ensure that the FFG(X) program is grounded in cost and design expectations that reflect the specific aspects of the ship that the Navy selects for construction. With the start of the planned $20 billion FFG(X) procurement approaching, the Navy has limited time left to position the government to obtain the best deal possible to fix any deficiencies discovered upon delivery of the first 10 ships. The Navy’s guaranty plan for FFG(X) offers some improvements compared to recent shipbuilding programs, but does Page 38 GAO-19-512 Guided Missile Frigate not offer the degree of coverage that could potentially be provided by a warranty. The competitive qualities of the FFG(X) acquisition approach present an opportunity for the Navy to, at a minimum, obtain warranty pricing from industry so that the program may use that input to evaluate whether a warranty would be a cost-effective means of reducing the government’s cost risk. We are making two recommendations to the Secretary of the Navy: Recommendations for Executive Action • Ensure that the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, and Acquisition provides to Congress the finalized independent cost estimate prior to award of the detail design and construction contract and demonstrates that the estimate is consistent with the fiscal year 2020 budget request for the lead ship. (Recommendation 1) • Ensure that the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, and Acquisition directs the FFG(X) program office to request pricing for warranties for the lead ship and the nine follow-on ship options planned for FFG(X) as part of the detail design and construction request for proposals. (Recommendation 2) We provided a draft of this report to DOD for comment. DOD provided Agency Comments written comments, which have been reproduced in appendix I. In and Our Evaluation responding to the draft report, DOD concurred and described the actions it planned to take to address our two recommendations. In response to the second recommendation to request pricing for warranties for the lead ship and the nine follow-on ship options planned for FFG(X) as part of the detail design and construction request for proposals, DOD acknowledged that the Navy will receive guaranty rather than warranty pricing, but stated that the solicitation allows industry to propose a higher limitation of liability amount, up to an unlimited limitation of liability, in its guaranty pricing for FFG(X). While this could allow for a better value to the government than has been typical for recent shipbuilding programs, permitting higher limitation of liability guaranty pricing but not requesting warranty pricing from offerors means the Navy will not have complete information on whether a warranty could be more cost-effective than a guaranty. Our prior work found that the use of Federal Acquisition Regulation warranty provisions improved shipbuilding program cost and quality outcomes. As a result, we maintain our belief that the FFG(X) program office should implement this recommendation by Page 39 GAO-19-512 Guided Missile Frigate seeking warranty pricing as part of the detail design and construction request for proposals. The full and open competition for the FFG(X) contract award may increase the potential for receiving warranty pricing that provides a cost-effective alternative to the Navy’s guaranty plans. DOD stated that modifying the solicitation to incorporate a warranty pricing component would cause an unacceptable delay to the FFG(X) program, but did not provide an analysis to support this assertion or specify the extent of delay associated with adding a warranty pricing request. The current FFG(X) schedule has roughly 10 months between the request for proposals deadline and the contract award, and the program originally had been planning for the solicitation period to end in December 2019 before moving the deadline to September 2019 shortly before its release. We recognize the substantial effort the proposal development and review process requires, but we continue to believe that the government would benefit from adding a request for warranty pricing to the detail design and construction solicitation. While DOD stated that the Navy will support the recommendation after award by requesting pricing for an unlimited warranty before exercising the first ship option, doing so would eliminate any potential warranty pricing advantages that would occur as a result of the competitive conditions that currently exist for the current detail design and construction contract. In addition to DOD’s written response to the report, DOD officials and industry representatives associated with the FFG(X) conceptual design activities provided separate technical comments, which we incorporated as appropriate. We are sending copies of this report to the appropriate congressional committees, the Secretary of Defense, and the Secretary of the Navy. This report will also be available at no charge on GAO’s website at http://www.gao.gov. Page 40 GAO-19-512 Guided Missile Frigate If you or your staff members have any questions regarding this report, please contact me at (202) 512-4841 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Contact points for our Offices of Congressional Relations and Public Affairs may be found on the last page of this report. GAO staff who made key contributions to the report are listed in appendix II. Shelby S. Oakley Director, Contracting and National Security Acquisitions Page 41 GAO-19-512 Guided Missile Frigate List of Committees The Honorable James M. Inhofe Chairman The Honorable Jack Reed Ranking Member Committee on Armed Services United States Senate The Honorable Richard C. Shelby Chairman The Honorable Dick Durbin Ranking Member Subcommittee on Defense Committee on Appropriation United States Senate The Honorable Adam Smith Chairman The Honorable Mac Thornberry Ranking Member Committee on Armed Services House of Representatives The Honorable Peter J. Visclosky Chairman The Honorable Ken Calvert Ranking Member Subcommittee on Defense Committee on Appropriations House of Representatives Page 42 GAO-19-512 Guided Missile Frigate Appendix I: Comments from the Department Appendix I: Comments from the Department of Defense of Defense Page 43 GAO-19-512 Guided Missile Frigate Appendix I: Comments from the Department of Defense Page 44 GAO-19-512 Guided Missile Frigate Appendix II: GAO Contact and Staff Appendix II: GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments Acknowledgments Shelby S. Oakley, (202) 512-4841 or email@example.com. GAO Contact In addition to the contact named above, the following staff members Staff made key contributions to this report: Diana Moldafsky (Assistant Acknowledgments Director), Lori Fields, Kurt Gurka, Stephanie Gustafson, Chad Johnson, Jennifer Leotta, Sean Merrill, Miranda Riemer, Jillena Roberts, Hai Tran, and Alyssa Weir. (102974) Page 45 GAO-19-512 Guided Missile Fri The Government Accountability Office, the audit, evaluation, and investigative GAO’s Mission arm of Congress, exists to support Congress in meeting its constitutional responsibilities and to help improve the performance and accountability of the federal government for the American people. GAO examines the use of public funds; evaluates federal programs and policies; and provides analyses, recommendations, and other assistance to help Congress make informed oversight, policy, and funding decisions. GAO’s commitment to good government is reflected in its core values of accountability, integrity, and reliability. 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Guided Missile Frigate: Navy Has Taken Steps to Reduce Acquisition Risk, but Opportunities Exist to Improve Knowledge for Decision Makers
Published by the Government Accountability Office on 2019-08-09.
Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)