oversight

DOD Embedded Computers: Better Focus on This Technology Could Benefit Billion Dollar Weapons Programs

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1990-04-19.

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

                   United States
GAO                General Accounting Office
                   Washington, D.C. 20548

                   Information      Management        and
                   Technology      Division

                   B-238826

                   April 19,199O

                   The Honorable John Conyers, Jr.
                   Chairman, Legislation and
                     National Security Subcommittee
                   Committee on Government Operations
                   House of Representatives

                   The Honorable Frank Horton
                   Ranking Minority Member, Legislation
                     and National Security Subcommittee
                   Committee on Government Operations
                   House of Representatives

                   Your May 18,1989, letter expressed concern about the Department of
                   Defense’s (DOD) management process for controlling the development
                   and acquisition of embedded computer resources-computer software,
                   hardware, and firmware,’ which are a physical part of a weapons sys-
                   tem and necessary to perform the system’s mission-and major auto-
                   mated information systems. In subsequent discussions with your offices,
                   we agreed to determine (1) how important and prevalent embedded
                   computer resources are to Defense weapons systems, how the Office of
                   the Secretary of Defense (OSD) oversees the development of embedded
                   computer resources, and how the oversight process has evolved since
                   1976; and (2) whether DOD is effectively controlling the acquisition of
                   major automated information systems. As agreed, this report addresses
                   the first objective and offers some observations on the oversight pro-
                   cess. We will report separately on the second objective. Our work for
                   this report was conducted from June 1989 through December 1989, pri-
                   marily at OSD offices in Washington, D.C., and at selected weapons sys-
                   tem program offices throughout the country. A detailed explanation of
                   our objectives, scope, and methodology is contained in appendix I.


                   Effective management oversight is imperative in the development of
Results in Brief   computer resources embedded in today’s weaponry. These resources
                   control such critical tasks as navigation, enemy detection, and weapon
                   firing on multimillion-dollar pieces of military armament. Further, while


                   ‘A special type of computer program that is classified as neither hardware nor software. Firmware
                   consists of instructions permanently stored in a special section of a computer’s memory that the com-
                   puter can read from but cannot write into. It typically controls hardware or consists of commonly
                   used computer programs.



                   Page 1                                   GAO/IMTEG90-34     DOD Embedded Computer        Technology
I%238826




DOD’S investment in mission-critical computer resources2 is substantial-
an estimated $30 billion in 1990 -this investment pales in comparison
with the cost of the weapons systems that will not work effectively
without this technology. Moreover, the prevalence and importance of
computer technology to these weapons systems has increased tremen-
dously in recent years, and performance problems due to computer soft-
ware “bugs” are becoming all too commonplace. For example, we
recently reported on software problems with the Air Force’s B-1B
bomber’s defensive avionics system-problems that the program office
estimates will cost about $1 billion to correct and will still only provide
limited performance improvements.3 Given that the dependence of
weapons systems on computer resources is expected to grow, the value
of focused management attention becomes even more acute.

OSD  has in place a process to supervise the development of weapons sys-
tems. This process permits oversight of systems’embedded computer
resources through a high-level review board supported by various com-
mittees and ad hoc working groups. The mission of these bodies is to
identify and resolve weapons system issues before allowing systems to
advance to the next stage of development. This process does not treat
embedded computer resources as a discrete area of focus. According to
OSD officials, reasons for this approach include (1) preferred concentra-
tion on the entire weapons system rather than its separate components,
(2) a lack of comfort by board and committee members with computer
resource issues, and (3) the absence of a designated OSD entity specifi-
cally responsible for overseeing systems’embedded computer resources.

DOD  is currently examining its approach to overseeing and managing the
development of computer systems. However, DOD already completed a
related study in 1982,* and its findings and recommendations on embed-
ded computer resource oversight may still be appropriate today.
According to that study, the scope of automation in weapons systems
far outstrips OSD’S committee-management approach to overseeing it. As
a result, the study called for (1) designation of a senior official to advise
weapons system review and approval authorities on computer resource

%ission-critical computer resources include embedded computer resources as well as computer
resources used for such activities as intelligence, cryptography, and command and control. Cost data
are not accumulated and available on embedded computer resources.
3Strategic Bombers: BIB Cost and Performance Remain Uncertain (GAO/NSIAD-89-55, Feb. 3,
1989).

4Final Report of the Defense ScienceBoard Task Force on Embedded Computer ResourcesAcquisition
and Management, November 1982.



Page 2                                 GAO/IMTEC90-34       DOD Embedded Computer        Technology
             matters and (2) improvement in OSD’S oversight of embedded computer
             resource development activities. Although OSD took certain actions at
             the time that address these areas, over the years these initiatives have
             silently expired and have been gradually replaced by an oversight struc-
             ture that is fundamentally the same as the one DOD reviewed and criti-
             cized in 1982. Such an approach raises the question of whether
             embedded computer resources are receiving the level of OSD oversight
             that their role in today’s weapons systems suggests they should.


             What are embedded computer resources? Although a widely used term,
Background   it is not well defined. As a result, DOD officials differ in what they con-
             sider the term to mean. For the purposes of this report, we define
             embedded computer resources to include any computer hardware, soft-
             ware, or firmware that is physically part of and necessary for a weap-
             ons system to perform its full mission. Of these resources, software is
             usually the most difficult and costly to develop and maintain.

             Embedded computer resources continue to take on more significance
             with each new, more sophisticated weapons system being developed.
             For example, the Air Force’s F-4 fighter of the early 1970s had practi-
             cally no software, while today’s F-16D fighter has over 200,000 lines of
             code.”According to a 1987 Defense task force report,6 software-intensive
             systems have mushroomed in the past 5 years, with annual mission-
             critical computer resource costs rising from $9 billion in 1985 to $30
             billion in 1990.

             Accompanying this growth in costs has been an increase in weapons sys-
             tem problems linked to embedded computer resource difficulties.
             According to the software and computer technology focal point in OSD'S
             Office of the Deputy Director for Defense Research and Engineering
             (Research and Advanced Technology), many weapons systems are
             behind schedule largely because of software problems. In addition, an
             official in OSD’S Office of the Deputy Director for Research and Engineer-
             ing (Test and Evaluation) estimated that 7 out of 10 major weapons sys-
             tems in development today are encountering software problems, and the
             rate is increasing. Similarly, the Deputy Secretary of Defense has said
             that sophisticated computer technology is a growing problem in fielding
             reliable weapons systems. Our work also confirms the importance of this

             5Defiitions of a line of code vary. Generally, a line of code is considered a single computer program
             command, de&ration, or instruction.

             ‘Report of the Defense Science Board Task Force on Military Software, September 1987.



             Page 3                                  GAO/IMTEG9034        DOD Embedded Computer        Technology
                    B238826




                    technology. For example, schedule delays and cost overruns on the Air
                    Force’s C-17A cargo aircraft and the Navy’s V-22 aircraft can be linked
                    to embedded computer resource problems. Additional information on
                    embedded computers is contained in appendix II.


                    Over the last decade, OSD oversight of embedded computers has been
Evolution of        accomplished through various committees, groups, and councils-an
Embedded Computer   approach that has met with some internal criticism. Beginning in 1976,
System Oversight    the Management Steering Committee for Embedded Computer Resources
                    was established to, among other things, advise the Defense System
                    Acquisition Review Council7 on specific major system embedded com-
                    puter resource issues. In 1982, a Defense task force examined whether
                    this committee served a useful role and whether another approach to
                    embedded computer oversight and policy guidance was warranted. In
                    short, the task force found that (1) senior DOD management was clearly
                    not comfortable in addressing computer resource issues, particularly
                    software; (2) OSD had outgrown its committee management approach to
                    addressing these issues; and (3) embedded computer resource manage-
                    ment oversight was not at a high enough organizational level to signal
                    management concern and provide control. It recommended that (1) a
                    senior official be designated to advise weapons systems review and
                    approval authorities on computer resource matters and (2) improve-
                    ments occur in OSD'S oversight of embedded computer resources.8

                    In 1983 the Management Steering Committee for Embedded Computer
                    Resources was replaced by the Defense Computer Resources Board. Also
                    at this time, a senior Defense official for mission-critical computer
                    resources was designated. Shortly thereafter, this official established
                    the Computer Resources Council to temporarily oversee mission-critical
                    computer resources until the board could establish formal procedures.
                    Neither of these two review bodies currently exists, but it is not clear
                    when they discontinued operation since they were never formally
                    abolished.

                    OSD'S current approach to overseeing embedded computer resources
                    began in 1987. Under this approach, the Defense Acquisition Board and
                    its committees and working groups are responsible for reviewing major
                    weapons systems and deciding whether they are ready to proceed to the

                    7This council was the predecessor to the Defense Acquisition Board.

                    8Final Report of the Defense ScienceBoard Task Force on Embedded Computer ResourcesAcquisition
                    Management, November 1982.



                    Page 4                                 GAOj’IMTEG90-34     DOD Embedded Computer   Technology
     ,

                     B-238826




                     next stage of development. While this review process allows for focused
                     attention on the system’s embedded computer resources, our case stud-
                     ies of three weapons systems and interviews with OSD oversight officials
                     show that these resources are not typically a discrete area of focus at
                     any level in the review process. This lack of focus is caused by (1) a
                     preoccupation with the weapons system as a whole and its ability to
                     satisfy overall mission requirements, (2) a lack of comfort by senior OSD
                     officials with computer resource issues, and (3) an absence of any one
                     OSD entity responsible for embedded computer resource issues.

                     More detailed information concerning the history of OSD'S oversight pro-
                     cess for embedded computer resources and its current approach is con-
                     tained in appendix II.


                     OSD'S process for overseeing embedded computer resources may change
Future Changes       in the near future as a result of several Defense initiatives currently
Possible in OSD      underway. Specifically, on October 4,1989, the Deputy Secretary of
Oversight of         Defense announced a plan to establish an executive-level group to
                     review and make recommendations on the procedures used for oversee-
Embedded Computers   ing software development, which is clearly DOD'S most significant and
                     problem-plagued computer resource. The Deputy Secretary also
                     announced that, in the interim, the Major Automated Information Sys-
                     tem Review Committee (MAERC), which has previously existed as a sepa-
                     rate review body for major automated information systems, will become
                     a Defense Acquisition Board committee. At this point it is not clear if
                     MAISRC'S review authority will be expanded beyond information systems
                     to include embedded computer resources. Further, it is unclear if
                     MAERC'S organizational placement under the Defense Acquisition Board
                     will be a permanent move. Also not clear is whether the Defense Acqui-
                     sition Board will assume responsibility for directing major automated
                     information system acquisitions, as proposed by the Secretary of
                     Defense in the 1989 Defense Management Report to the President, or
                     whether MAISRC will continue to be solely responsible for this direction.

                     Another initiative that could affect OSD'S embedded computer resources
                     oversight process is a revision of DOD Directive 5000.29, Management of
                     Computer Resources in Major Defense Systems. The current draft
                     directs the Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition) to appoint a senior
                     DOD official for mission-critical computer resources to advise the Under
                     Secretary and the Defense Acquisition Board on acquisition of these
                     resources for weapons systems. This senior DOD official would be respon-
                     sible for oversight of weapons systems’ embedded computer resources.


                     Page 5                       GAO/lMTJSG90-34   DOD Embedded Computer   Technology
                                                                                                 I




               B238826




               Coordination of this draft is on hold pending revis ion of a related direc-
               tive, and the offic ial responsible for 5000.29 was uncertain when it will
               be made final.

               Last, a software working group under the Defense Acquisition Board’s
               Science and Technology Committee is developing a D O D Software Master
               Plan. The plan provides specific actions for D O D to follow over the next 5
               years to address a variety of goals . Among the many items called for in
               the plan are (1) designation of an office in OSD and each D O D component
               with primary responsibility for identify ing, managing, integrating, and
               implementing software acquis ition and (2) increases in D O D management
               awareness and v is ibility of software and its impact on s y s tems. How-
               ever, the plan is currently only in its preliminary s tages and is being
               c irculated for public comment.


               The use of computer resources in D O D weaponry grew dramatically in
Observations   the 1980s; this trend is expected to continue. Compounding this s itua-
               tion is the fac t that defective software is being linked to weapons s y s -
               tem cost, schedule, and performance problems. How successful D O D will
               be in avoiding such problems in the future as it incorporates more and
               more computer technology in its weapons s y s tems will depend, in part,
               on how well it supervises the development of the embedded computer
               resources upon which the weapons s y s tems rely so heavily .

               DOD'S   1982 tas k force findings concerning the need for greater oversight
               of embedded computer resources may s till be appropriate today. OSD'S
               oversight approach in this area has remained fundamentally unchanged
               over the las t decade-at a time when the importance and prevalence of
               embedded computers has soared and when weapons s y s tem develop-
               ment problems have time and again been traced to embedded computer
               problems. The scope of automation in today’s weapons s y s tems far out-
               s trips OSD'S committee-management approach to oversee it.

               DOD  is currently examining its process for developing and using com-
               puter resources, and changes may be forthcoming in OSD'S approach to
               overseeing the embedded computer area. G iven the extremely high costs
               of weapons s y s tems that are critically dependent on embedded com-
               puters, the need for increased management attention to this important
               technology becomes even more acute. Accordingly , D O D needs to explore
               better ways to ensure that embedded computer resources, particularly
               software, receive focused management attention throughout all phases
               of weapons s y s tem development.


               Page 6                        GAO/IMTJZG90-34   DOD Embedded   Computer   Technology
B-238826




As requested by the Chairman’s office, we did not obtain official agency
comments on a draft of this report. However, we did discuss its contents
with OSD and service officials, and have incorporated their comments
where appropriate. Our work was performed in accordance with gener-
ally accepted government auditing standards, between June and Decem-
ber 1989.

As arranged with your offices, unless you publicly announce its contents
earlier, we plan no further distribution of this report until 30 days from
the date of this letter. At that time, we will send copies to the Chairmen,
Senate and House Committees on Appropriations; the Secretaries of
Defense, Air Force, Army, and Navy; and to other interested parties. We
will also make copies available to others upon request. This report was
prepared under the direction of Samuel W . Bowlin, Director, Defense
and Security Information Systems, who can be reached at (202) 275-
4649. Other major contributors are listed in appendix III.




Ralph V. Carlone
Assistant Comptroller General




Page 7
Contents


Letter                                                                                                 1

Appendix I                                                                                        10
Objectives, Scope and
Methodology
Appendix II                                                                                       13
DOD Embedded            Embedded Computer Resources-An Ill-Defined Term                           13
                                                                                                  14
                        Embedded Computer Resources Are Critical to the
Computer Resources          Performance of Today’s Weapons Systems
and OSD Oversight of    Embedded Computer Resources Have Been a Recent                            18
                            Cause of Weapons System Development Problems
Them                    OSD’s Oversight of Embedded Computer Resources-An                         19
                            Historical Perspective
                        Current Approach for OSD Oversight of Embedded                            21
                            Computer Resources-A Detailed Description

Appendix III                                                                                      26
Major Contributors to
This Report




                        Abbreviations

                        DOD      Department of Defense
                        GAO      General Accounting Office
                        IMTEC    Information Management and Technology Division
                        MAISRC   Major Automated Information System Review Committee
                        OSD      Office of the Secretary of Defense


                        Page 8                    GAO/MTEG90-34   DOD Embedded Computer   Technology
Page 9   GAO/IMTEG99-94   DOD Embedded Computer   Technology
Objectives, Scopeand Methodology


               On May 18,1989, the Chairman and Ranking Minority Member, Legisla-
               tion and National Security Subcommittee, House Committee on Govern-
               ment Operations, requested that we review OSD'S process for supervising
               and controlling embedded computer resources and automated informa-
               tion systems. On the basis of this request and subsequent discussions
               with the requesters’ offices, we agreed to determine and separately
               report on (1) how important and prevalent embedded computer
               resources are to Defense weapons systems, how OSD oversees the devel-
               opment of embedded computer resources, and how the oversight process
               has evolved since 1976; and (2) how effectively OSD oversees the devel-
               opment and acquisition of automated information systems. This report
               addresses the first set of questions and offers some observations on the
               oversight process. We will report separately on the second question.

               In developing information on the importance and prevalence of embed-
               ded computer resources, we interviewed knowledgeable OSD and service
               program officials and reviewed recent publications and reports on the
               subject. We also examined nine weapons system programs to determine
               the amount of computer resources being incorporated in each, the cost
               to develop these resources as compared with the cost to develop the
               entire weapons system, and the extent to which the weapons system
               relied on its embedded computer resources. Our criterion for system
               selection was to choose the three most expensive programs in each ser-
               vice that were subject to Defense Acquisition Board oversight. The nine
               weapons systems are:


               1. Advanced Tactical Fighter Aircraft
Air Force
               2. C-17A Cargo Aircraft

              3. B-1B Bomber Aircraft


               1. LHX Light Helicopter

               2. Forward-Area Air Defense System Line-of-Sight Forward Heavy
               Armored Track Vehicle

               3. Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System




               Page 10                      GAO/IMTEG90-34   DOD Embedded Computer   Technology
       Appendix I
       Objectives, !3cope and Methodology




       1. SSN-21 Class Submarine
Navy
       2. V-22 Advanced Vertical Lift Aircraft

       3. Trident II (D-5) Missile

       To determine how OSD oversees embedded computer resources, we
       reviewed relevant DOD directives and instructions as well as DOD studies
       and related documentation addressing the subject. We also interviewed
       0s~ officials identified for us as either players in the oversight process
       or persons knowledgeable about it. Additionally, we chose one of the
       three above-cited weapons system programs in each service as case
       illustrations of the oversight process. These three are (1) Air Force’s C-
       17A program, (2) Army’s Forward-Area Air Defense System Line-of-
       Sight Forward Heavy program, and (3) Navy’s Trident II program. Our
       criterion for selecting the three was to pick one from each service that
       had at least reached the full-scale development decision milestone. In
       reviewing the three, we interviewed OSD action officers responsible for
       the day-to-day monitoring of each, as well as service program manage-
       ment officials. We also analyzed available documentation illustrating
       oversight events and direction.

       To document how the oversight process has evolved since 1976, we
       reviewed past DOD directives and instructions and OSD memoranda, as
       well as reports and studies addressing the subject. Additionally, we
       interviewed 0s~ officials identified for us as knowledgeable about the
       evolution.

       We performed our work from June 1989 through December 1989, pri-
       marily at 0s~ offices in Washington, D.C. The principal 06~ offices
       included the Office of the Deputy Director for Defense Research and
       Engineering (Research and Advanced Technology), the Office of the
       Deputy Director for Defense Research and Engineering (Test and Evalu-
       ation), the Office of the Deputy Director for Defense Research and Engi-
       neering (Tactical Warfare Programs), the Office of the Deputy Director
       for Defense Research and Engineering (Strategic and Theater Nuclear
       Forces), the Office of the Director for Program Integration, the Office of
       the Director for Operational Test and Evaluation, and the Office of the
       Assistant Secretary of Defense (Command, Control, Communications,
       and Intelligence). Other DOD organizations included service program
       offices for each of our nine weapons system programs located at various
       sites throughout the country, and the Defense Logistics Agency’s
       Defense Technology Analysis Office in Alexandria, Virginia.


       Page 11                              GAO/IMTEG9034   DOD Embedded Computer   Technology
Appendix I
Objectives, Scope and Methodology




As requested by the Chairman’s office, we did not obtain official agency
comments on a draft of this report. However, we discussed its content
with OSD and service officials, and have incorporated their comments
where appropriate. Our work was performed in accordance with gener-
ally accepted government auditing standards.




Page 12                             GAO-   DOD Embedded Computer   Technology
A&en&   II

DOD Embedded Computer Resourcesand OSD
Oversight of Them

                     This appendix provides background information on computer resources
                     embedded in Defense weapons systems, including how DOD defines and
                     views these resources, how important and prevalent the resources are,
                     and how OSD’S oversight of them has progressed since 1976.


                     Embedded computer resources are nebulously defined in DOD. A 1987
Ernbedded Computer   Defense Science Board’ report broadly describes them as software sys-
Resources-An         tems that are functionally unique and embedded in larger systems. Simi-
Ill-Defined Term     larly, Defense Directive 5000.29, Management of Computer Resources in
                     Major Defense Systems, defines embedded as “. . . adjective modifier;
                     integral to, from the design, procurement, and operations point of view. .
                     . .” A 1982 Defense Science Board report? more specifically defines
                     embedded computer resources as

                     computers incorporated     as an integral part of, dedicated to, or required for the
                     direct support of, or for the upgrading or modification     of, major or less-than-major
                     systems. Thus this term refers not only to those computing devices buried deeply
                     within subsystems as radars, radios, missiles and the like but more generally to com-
                     puters which are used to perform a portion of a larger task such as fire-control,
                     automatic testing, navigation, and threat warning. The key discriminator         is whether
                     the application is computation    alone or whether computation is merely a subtask to
                     be performed as a part of a larger activity. . . . They perform specialized and dedi-
                     cated tasks and are not, in general, available to support the general computational
                     or data processing needs of the organization and hence are subject to a more special-
                     ized selection process than classical Automated Data Processing Equipment.

                     Officials in OSD oversight roles and in service program offices varied in
                     how they viewed embedded computer resources. For example, an offi-
                     cial in the Office of the Deputy Director for Defense Research and Engi-
                     neering (Research and Advanced Technology) said that embedded
                     computer resources are those computers that are integral to or part of a
                     weapons system, as identified in the Warner Amendment3 In contrast,
                     an official from the Office of the Deputy Director for Defense Research
                     and Engineering (Test and Evaluation) stated that embedded computer

                     *Report of the Defense Science Board Task Force on Military Software, September 1987.
                     %inal Report of the Defense Science Board Task Force on Embedded Computer ResourcesAcquisition
                     and Management, November 1982.
                     3Federal agencies’acquisition of general-purpose computer equipment is governed by the Brooks Act
                     (40 U.S.C. 759), which gives oversight authority for such acquisitions to the General Services Admin-
                     istration. The Warner Amendment (10 U.S.C. 2315) exempts from the Brooks Act computer systems
                     that are (1) intelligence- and cryptologic-related, (2) command and control of military forces-related,
                     (3) integral to a weapons system, or (4) critical to fulfilling military or intelligence missions and that
                     are not used for routine administrative and business applications.



                     Page 13                                   GAO/lMTEC90-34        DOD Embedded Computer         Technology
                         Appendix Jl
                         DOD Embedded Computer       Resources and
                         OSD Oversight of Them




                         resources include all mission-critical systems (i.e., all categories of sys-
                         tems covered by the Warner Amendment). Other descriptions offered
                         include a computer system that cannot be separated from the weapon
                         without the weapon experiencing a serious decline in effectiveness, and
                         a computer system that is integral to a weapons system. Additionally,
                         officials with several of the major weapons system programs we sur-
                         veyed told us that they consider embedded computer resources to be
                         those that are critical to fulfilling the mission of their weapons systems.
                         However, these officials differed as to whether this includes computer
                         resources used for ground-based training and support equipment.
                         According to an official for one program, the determining factor should
                         be whether the computer resources in question are managed or budgeted
                         for by the program office. If they are, then they are considered embed-
                         ded in the weapons system.


                         Embedded computer resources are playing a larger and more significant
Embedded Computer        role in the functioning of weapons systems. In fact, in the not-too-distant
Resources Are Critical   fu t ure, it is conceivable that virtually every subsystem in all major
to the Performance of    weapons systems will be computer-controlled. According to a Defense
                         Marketing Service estimate, the year 1990 will see 250,000 computers
Today’s Weapons          installed in military systems, compared with 10,000 in 1980. One illus-
Systems                  tration of weapons systems’ growing reliance on embedded computers is
                         the F-16A fighter aircraft, which had about 125,000 lines of code and 50
                         processors. In contrast, one of its offspring, the F-16C, has an estimated
                         230,000 lines of code and 300 processors.4 Another illustration is the C-
                         5A cargo aircraft, which requires 25,000 lines of code, while its succes-
                         sor, the C-17A, requires an estimated 700,000 lines of code.

                         DOD’S   budgetary investment in mission-critical computer resources,
                         which includes embedded computer resources, is also growing. Accord-
                         ing to a 1987 Defense Science Board report, software-intensive systems
                         have grown exponentially since 1985, with software costs rising from $9
                         billion annually to an expected $30 billion by 1990. While significant in
                         and of itself, these figures pale in comparison to the literally hundreds
                         of billions of dollars being invested in the Defense weapons systems that
                         so heavily depend on embedded computer resources. To illustrate, the
                         program cost for the Army’s Light Helicopter, its next generation scout
                         and attack helicopter, is estimated to be about $40 billion. However,



                         4A processor is the part of a computer that interprets and executes instructions.



                         Page 14                                  GAO/lMTEG9O34        DOD Embedded Computer   Technology
               Appendix II
               DOD Embedded Computer       Resources and
               OSD Oversight of Them




               only about 4 percent of this cost is estimated at this time to relate to
               embedded computer resources.5

               To better gauge the importance and prevalence of embedded computer
               resources in today’s weapons systems, we surveyed the three largest
               weapons system programs in each of the three services (i.e., nine weap-
               ons systems) that are under the purview of the Defense Acquisition
               Board. The nine systems are the Air Force’s Advanced Tactical Fighter,
               C-17A cargo transport, and the Bl-B bomber; the Army’s LHX Light
               Helicopter, Forward-Area Air Defense System Line-of-Sight Forward
               Heavy armored tracked vehicle, and Single Channel Ground and Air-
               borne Radio System; and the Navy’s SSN-21 class submarine, V-22
               advanced vertical lift aircraft, and Trident II (D-5) missile. In sum, we
               found that data on the cost and size are not routinely collected and
               available because the work breakdown structure and cost accounting for
               weapons system projects is not structured this way. As a result, some
               program offices could not provide all the cost and size data requested.
               Our specific findings on the nine systems follow.


.r Force   l The Advanced Tactical Fighter, which is to become the Air Force’s pri-
             mary air superiority fighter, will require an estimated 4.5 to 6 million
             lines of code. Additionally, the projected development cost for just the
             aircraft’s avionics embedded computer resources is about $1 billion6 or
             about 13 percent of the total weapons system’s development cost.
             According to the program office software manager, this aircraft could
             not perform its mission without its embedded computer resources.
           . The C-17A is expected to have 93 separate processors and approxi-
             mately 700,000 lines of code, making it the most computerized cargo
             transport aircraft ever developed. The development cost of these
             embedded computer resources is estimated at $225 million, or about 5
             percent of the total weapons system’s development cost. According to
             program officials, the C-17A is highly dependent on its embedded com-
             puter resources to perform its mission.
           . The B-1B is estimated to have 1.3 million lines of flight software code;
             the development cost of the bomber’s embedded computer resources is
             about $726 million, or approximately 19 percent of the total weapons

               5According to the deputy program manager, the helicopter is in the early stages of development,
               making the full extent of embedded computer resources’use uncertain at this time. The 4 percent
               accounts for the two largest uses of computer technology on the aircraft. Although additional uses
               are likely, their size and cost were not yet known.

               ‘Cost estimates for other embedded computers were not available.



               Page 16                                GAO/IMTEG9o-34       DOD Embedded Computer       Technology
                                                                                ,

    Appendix II
    DOD Embedded Computer   Resources and
    OSD Oversight of Them




    system’s development cost. According to the program office, critical
    B-1B functions such as radar, navigation, and weapon delivery, cannot
    satisfy mission requirements without the embedded computer resources.
    As a result, the program office described the bomber as highly depen-
    dent on these resources.


. The LHX helicopter program, which is in the early stages of develop-
  ment, is estimated so far to require 950,000 lines of software code for
  the embedded computer resources controlling navigation and fire con-
  trol-the two largest uses of computer technology on the helicopter.
  Additionally, the deputy program manager stated that more embedded
  computer resources will likely be required, but the aircraft’s design is
  not far enough along to know their size and cost. The early cost estimate
  to develop the two largest embedded computer resources is $115 million,
  or about 3 percent of the estimated cost to develop the entire aircraft.
  The deputy program manager stated that the aircraft is highly depen-
  dent on embedded computer resources for navigation and weapons fire
  control.
l The armored track vehicle for forward-area, line-of-sight, air defense,
  although using embedded computer resources, is a nondevelopment
  item. It was developed with private funds for another purpose and later
  sold to the Army. Thus, while it relies on the execution of about 425,000
  lines of code to perform its mission, there are no development costs asso-
  ciated with this code. According to the deputy program manager, with-
  out the system’s embedded computer resources to identify, set priorities,
  and fire at targets, the system would be useless.
l The single channel radio system is not a complex weapons platform with
  large, sophisticated embedded computer resources like the other eight
  systems we examined. As stated by the deputy program manager, it is a
  radio system with five microprocessors, like those found in a commer-
  cial videocassette recorder. Further, these embedded computer
  resources are bought off-the-shelf, so there is no development cost. The
  estimated number of lines of code in each radio system is 15,000; accord-
  ing to the deputy program manager, the radios are totally dependent on
  their embedded computer resources to function as intended.




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           Appendix II
           DOD Ehbedded Computer      Ibsourcea   and
           OSD Oversight of Them




       . The SSN-21 submarine relies on embedded computer resources to per-
Navy     form a large number of on-board functions. For example, the subma-
         rine’s AN/BSY-2 combat system7 has approximately 200 separate
         processors; according to the program office’s ship acquisition manager,
         the Enhanced Modular Signal Processor within the AN/BSY-2 is by far
         the most costly and important of these processors-having an estimated
         193,000 lines of code.s The development cost of the Enhanced Modular
         Signal Processor is about $450 million, which is about 13 percent of the
         submarine’s development cost. However, the program manager for the
         Enhanced Modular Signal Processor stated that this processor is used in
         16 different weapons system programs. Thus, allocating its cost among
         all 16 programs reduces its portion of the SSN-21’s development cost to
         less than 1 percent. Regardless, the SSN-21 acquisition program mana-
         ger stated that the submarine is highly reliant on embedded computer
         resources to meet its mission requirements.
       . The V-22 is a tilt rotor, vertical takeoff and landing aircraft for joint
         service application. Although the program was recently cancelled, it was
         to use approximately 50 microprocessors and 700,000 lines of code. The
         program office could not provide the cost to develop these embedded
         computer resources because developing these data would be difficult
         enough that the contractor would charge for it. However, the deputy
         program manager stated that the V-22 could not fly without its embed-
         ded computer resources.
       l Although each of the Trident II missile’s five subsystems rely on com-
         puter technology, the program manager stated that the navigation and
         fire control subsystems are the two principal areas using embedded com-
         puter resources. According to the program office, these resources entail
         about 1.1 million lines of software code, and the cost to develop them is
         approximately $280 million, or roughly 9 percent of the missile’s devel-
         opment cost. Further, the program manager stated that without the mis-
         sile’s embedded computer resources, there would not be a Trident II
         missile.




           7An advanced combat system designed to detect, classify, track, and launch weapons at enemy sub-
           surface, surface, and land targets.
           *The AN/EC%-2 combat system has an estimated 3.6 million lines of code.




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                           Appendix II
                           DOD Embedded Computer       Resources and
                           OSD Oversight of Them




                           The potential exis ts for embedded computer resources to cause serious
Embedded Computer          weapons s y s tem problems, not only in terms of cost overruns and sched-
ResourcesHave   Been   a   ule delay s , but, more importantly , in terms of performance degradation.
Recent Cause of            According to an offic ial in the O ffice of the Deputy Direc tor for Defense
                           Research and Engineering (Test and Evaluation), weapons s y s tems are
W eapons Sy s tem          encountering major performance defic ienc ies primarily due to software
Development Problems       problems. In fac t, this offic ial s tated that 7 out of 10 weapons s y s tems
                           under the purview of the Defense Acquisition Board are encountering
                           software problems and this rate is increasing. The Air Force’s Bl-B
                           bomber aircraft is a case in point. W e recently reported9 that this s y s -
                           tem’s computer-based defensive avionic9O cannot meet its requirements
                           without a major redesign. Although program office offic ials believe that
                           software revis ions costing an estimated $1 billion may allow limited per-
                           formance improvements, a s ignificant drop-off in s y s tem capability nev-
                           ertheless exis ts and cannot be corrected without a major redesign. W e
                           also recently reported about other weapons s y s tem problems which are
                           linked to software development, inc luding schedule delay s in the Air
                           Force’s C-17AI and the Navy’s V-22 aircraft.12

                           The impact that embedded computer resource problems can have on
                           weapons s y s tems’cost, schedule, and performance objec tives appears to
                           be well recognized in DOD. In fac t, the Commander, Air Force Systems
                           Command, has been quoted as characteriz ing software as the Achilles ’
                           heel of weapons development. Additionally , an offic ial in the O ffice of
                           the Deputy Direc tor for Defense Research and Engineering (Research
                           and Advanced Technology) s tated that many weapons s y s tems being
                           developed are behind schedule, and more often than not the blame is on
                           software. Similarly , the Deputy Secretary of Defense has been quoted as
                           saying that sophis ticated software in weapons s y s tems is a growing
                           problem in bringing reliable weapons s y s tems to the field. The Direc tor
                           of the O ffice of Operational Test and Evaluation s tated that assessing
                           software-intensive weapons s y s tems is the bigges t challenge over the
                           next 10 years and that not enough attention is being paid to this issue.



                           gStrategic Bombers: BlB Cost and Performance Remain Uncertain (GAO/NSIAD89-65,          Feb. 3,       .
                           1989).
                           loThe radar warning receiver and processorfunction that initiates defensive action by receiving and
                           identifying threat system s ignals.
                           llMilitary Alrliftz C-17 FacesSchedule, Cost, and Performance Challenges (GAO/NSIAD-89-195,
                           Aug. 18,1989).
                           %efense Acquisition Programs: Status of Selected Systems (GAO/W&ID-90-30,        Dec. 14,1989).



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       I




                            Appendix II
                            DOD Embedded Computer      Resources and
                            OSD Oversight of Them




                            Over the last decade, OSD’S approach to overseeing embedded computer
OSD’s Oversight of          resources has experienced little fundamental change. Basically, OSD has
Ernbedded Computer          relied on various committees to examine these computer resources, for-
Resources-An                mulate policies, and raise any pertinent issues to the OSD decision-mak-
                            ing body responsible for reviewing the computers’ host weapons system.
Historical Perspective      A chronological description of the oversight committees and their m is-
                            sions follows.


Management Steering         In April 1976, the Management Steering Committee for Embedded Com-
                            puter Resources was established to oversee the management of com-
Committee for Embedded      puter resources in major weapons, communications, command and
Computer Resources          control, and intelligence systems. The steering committee was chartered
(1976-1983)                 to (1) develop and oversee implementation of acquisition and manage-
                            ment policies for major system embedded computer resources, (2) advise
                            the Defense System Acquisition Review Council13on general policy mat-
                            ters and on specific major system embedded computer resource issues,
                            and (3) incorporate embedded computer resource considerations into the
                            established major system acquisition process. The steering committee’s
                            decision-making power was vested in an executive board, chaired by the
                            Assistant Secretary of Defense (Installations and Logistics). This com-
                            m ittee was replaced in 1983 by the Defense Computer Resources Board.


Defense Computer            In March 1983, the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engi-
                            neering, as the Defense Acquisition Executive, delegated to the Deputy
Resources Board (1.983-?)   Under Secretary of Defense (Research and Advanced Technology) the
                            role of senior official for m ission-critical computer resources. The Under
                            Secretary also identified the Defense Computer Resources Board as the
                            successor to the Management Steering Committee for Embedded Com-
                            puter Resources.

                            In August 1984, the Defense Computer Resources Board was formally
                            chartered to oversee Warner Amendment-exempt computer resources.
                            The charter did not specify any role for this board in advising the
                            Defense Systems Acquisition Review Council on computer resource mat-
                            ters. Officials from the Office of the Deputy Director, Defense Research
                            and Engineering (Research and Advanced Technology) and the Office of
                            the Director for Program Integration confirmed that the board did not
                            advise the Defense Systems Acquisition Review Council. The first offi-
                            cial also stated that this board, although no longer in existence, was

                            13This council was the predecessor to the Defense Acquisition Board.



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                            Appendix II
                            DOD Embedded Computer      Resources and
                            OSD Oversight of Them




                            never formally abolished. We were unable to find any information or
                            evidence describing actions this board took in response to its charter.


Computer Resources          Also during August 1984, the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense
                            (Research and Advanced Technology) established the Computer
Council (1.984-?)           Resources Council to oversee mission-critical computer resources until
                            the Defense Computer Resources Board established formal procedures
                            for oversight. This council also did not have a specified role in support-
                            ing the Defense Systems Acquisition Review Council.

                            In February 1986, the Deputy Secretary of Defense directed that policy
                            responsibility for general-purpose, mission-critical computer resources
                            be moved under the IvIAISRC,‘~ but that the Under Secretary for Defense
                            Research and Engineering continue to oversee computer resources
                            embedded in weapons systems. The Deputy Secretary did not comment
                            on the role of the Computer Resources Council. According to officials in
                            the Office of the Deputy Director, Defense Research and Engineering
                            (Research and Advanced Technology), although the Computer
                            Resources Council no longer exists, it was never formally abolished.


Defense Acquisition Board   In February 1987, the Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition) was
                            designated to serve as the Defense Acquisition Executive, the principal
(1987-Present)              staff assistant and adviser to the Secretary of Defense on all matters
                            relating to the acquisition system. In September 1987, the Defense
                            Acquisition Board was established as the primary forum to resolve
                            issues, provide and obtain guidance, and make recommendations to the
                            Defense Acquisition Executive. Ten acquisition committees were also
                            established to support the board by raising and resolving issues, making
                            recommendations on weapons system milestones, and developing acqui-
                            sition policy. The committee charters authorized the committee
                            chairpersons to establish ad hoc working groups to address specific
                            issues or weapons systems. Recently, MAISRC was made the Board’s elev-
                            enth committee.

                            Three of the eleven committees address specific weapons systems and
                            account for almost all of the board’s activity. These are the Conven-
                            tional Systems Committee; the Command, Control, Communications, and
                            Intelligence Systems Committee; and the Strategic Systems Committee.

                            “MAJSRC is responsible for review and approval of major automated information systems. It was
                            created in the late 1970s; in 1989 it was moved under the Defense Acquisition Board as a commitke.



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                       Appendix JI
                       DOD Embedded Computer       Resources and
                       OSD Oversight of Them




                       The remaining eight committees address functional areas, such as sci-
                       ence and technology, test and evaluation, and production and logistics.
                       Although there is no specific committee for embedded computer
                       resources, the process does not preclude any of the committees from
                       addressing it.


                       Embedded computer resource oversight can occur as part of the Defense
Current Approach for   Acquisition Board’s review process for major weapons system96 at
OSD Oversight of       either the board, committee, or working group level. However, embed-
Embedded Computer      ded computer resources are not a discrete area of focus. Instead, the
                       reviews concentrate on whether a weapons system as a whole is ready
Resources - A          to proceed into the more advanced stages of development or production.
Detailed Description   Such an approach raises the question of whether embedded computer
                       resources are being recognized for what they are-a very risky element
                       of weapons system development that can largely determine whether the
                       weapon system succeeds or fails.

                       Responsibility for embedded computer resource oversight does not
                       reside with one organization. Rather, it is shared by various OSD organi-
                       zations, most of which are under the Under Secretary of Defense (Acqui-
                       sition). These organizations participate in the Defense Acquisition Board
                       review process as members of the board16or its committees and working
                       groups. For example, the Deputy Director for Defense Research and
                       Engineering (Test and Evaluation) is responsible for overseeing a weap-
                       ons system’s developmental testing, including testing associated with
                       the development of the system’s embedded computer resources. Action
                       officers within this organization perform the day-to-day analysis and
                       monitoring of testing, including that associated with the program’s
                       embedded computer resources, and prepare position papers for the Dep-
                       uty Director, who is a member of each of the three principal committees,
                       and for the Director for Defense Research and Engineering, who is a
                       member of the board.




                       15A major weapons system is one that is expected to cost $200 million for research, development,
                       test, and evaluation, or a total of $1 billion for procurement.

                       ‘%urrent membership includes the Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition) as chairperson; the Vice
                       Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff as vice chairperson; the Director, Defense Research and Engineering;
                       the Acquisition Executives from the Army, Navy, and Air Force; the Assistant Secretary of Defense
                       (Program Analysis and Evaluation); the Comptroller, Department of Defense; the Director, Opera-
                       tional Test and Evaluation; and the chairperson of the cognizant committee.



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Appendix II
DOD Embedded Computer   Resources and
OSD Oversight of Them




While the Defense Acquisition Board process allows for issues, including
embedded computer resource issues, to be raised at any level, it encour-
ages resolution of issues at the lowest level possible. Issues that cannot
be resolved are forwarded to the next level for consideration. An official
in the Office of the Deputy Director, Defense Research and Engineering
(Strategic and Theater Nuclear Forces) told us that the Defense Acquisi-
tion Board has consistently held that the board should not be burdened
with issues that can be resolved at lower levels. According to this offi-
cial, “the best board meeting is one that just ratifies committee
positions.”

Embedded computer resource issues are not a discrete area of focus at
any of the levels. According to an official in the Office of the Director
for Program Integration who regularly attends Defense Acquisition
Board meetings, such issues are not generally discussed by the board
because members tend to focus on matters with which they are comfort-
able. On the basis of this official’s recollection of the over 200 board and
its predecessor meetings attended over the last 11 years, embedded com-
puter resource issues have been addressed only once. Office of the
Director for Program Integration statistics show that the most frequent
issues addressed by the board are, in order of frequency, (1) acquisition
strategy, (2) affordability, (3) cost growth and control, (4) test results,
(5) military requirements, (6) joint service disputes, (7) threshold
breach, (8) inefficient production rate, and (9) alternative program
tradeoffs. Other OSD officials also told us that senior DOD management
tends to focus on issues with which they are familiar and comfortable,
and embedded computer resource issues do not fit into this category. For
example, an official in the Office of the Deputy Director for Defense
Research and Engineering (Research and Advanced Technology) stated
that lack of knowledge about computer technology has led oversight
officials to not question embedded computer resources when reviewing
weapons systems.

Embedded computer resource issues may be addressed and resolved at
committee or working group levels, and thus never require the board’s
attention. However, statistics are not maintained on the types of issues
addressed at these two levels. Available records documenting committee
and working group deliberations focus on unresolved issues upon which
the next level should focus. Although our review of these records for
three of the nine weapons systems we surveyed showed little evidence
of embedded computer resources being addressed, issues concerning
these systems’ computers still could have been addressed and resolved.
Officials in weapons system program offices and in OSD oversight offices


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                            Appendix II
                            DOD Embedded Computer       Resources and
                            OSD Oversight of Them




                            that we interviewed stated that embedded computer resource issues are
                            not typically raised at the committee and working group levels. Accord-
                            ing to these officials, OSD takes a holistic approach to overseeing weap-
                            ons systems. That is, OSD is concerned about the weapons system as a
                            whole and whether the total system is meeting overall reliability, availa-
                            bility, and maintainability requirements. If the integrated weapons sys-
                            tem is meeting requirements, they said, there is no reason to focus on a
                            specific subsystem or its embedded computer resources.


Case Studies Illustrating   To illustrate how OSD’S process for overseeing embedded computer
                            resources has worked, we selected three weapons systems for case stud-
the Oversight Process       ies. The three systems are the C-17A, Trident II (D-5) missile, and For-
                            ward-Area Air Defense System Line-of-Sight Forward Heavy Armored
                            Track Vehicle. Our findings are summarized below.


C-l 7A Airlifter            OSD oversight of the C-17A occurs through the Defense Acquisition
                            Board, the Conventional Systems Committee, and the C-17A working
                            group. However, the system’s embedded computer resources do not
                            appear to be an area of focus. According to the working group chairman,
                            the group generally meets quarterly to receive briefings from the Air
                            Force, and the committee meets once a year. The working group chair-
                            man told us that since the C-17A is a Defense Enterprise Program,17
                            OSD’S role is to “not get too involved.” The chairman also told us that the
                            oversight OSD does perform is not technically oriented, focusing more on
                            such issues as cost, logistics, and functionality. Further, the chairman
                            said that OSD seldom identifies a problem.

                            According to the chairman, the working group designated two software
                            development areas-the mission computer and the electronic flight con-
                            trol system, which are critical to the performance of the C-17A’s mis-
                            sion-as being potentially difficult, and the working group has received
                            briefings from the Air Force on software development schedules. The
                            results of recent briefings on these areas were forwarded in a program
                            status report to the chairman of the Conventional Systems Committee.
                            The committee in turn notified the Defense Acquisition Board prior to
                            the last board review meeting that considerable schedule risk remained
                            in the mission computer software. According to the working group
                            chairman, although software development schedule concerns were
                            raised in this instance, computer resources issues are not addressed at

                            17A congressional initiative to streamline the acquisition process. (See 10 USC. 2436.)



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                           DOD Embedded Computer   Resources and
                           OSD Oversight of Them




                           every working group meeting. The chairman also stated that weapons
                           system computer resources is a growing concern that perhaps a separate
                           oversight group should address.

                           C-17A program officials stated that OSD’S oversight should focus on
                           overall compliance with policy guidance. They stated that OSD cannot get
                           involved deeply enough in overseeing embedded computer resources
                           because it has too few people and too little time. As a result, they con-
                           cluded that OSD should limit its oversight to determining whether devel-
                           opment and acquisition of the weapons system as a whole should
                           proceed.


Trident II (D-5) Missile   OSD  oversight of the Trident II occurs through the Defense Acquisition
                           Board, the Strategic Systems Committee, and the Trident II working
                           group. However, the missile’s embedded computer resources do not
                           appear to be an area of focus. According to the Trident program mana-
                           ger, the missile’s embedded computer resources have not been discussed
                           at any board meetings. Additionally, an official in the Office of the Dep-
                           uty Director for Defense Research and Engineering (Strategic and Thea-
                           ter Nuclear Forces) responsible for the day-to-day oversight of missile
                           programs told us that the working group has met once in the last 18
                           months, and this meeting focused on missile test failures, which are not
                           considered computer resource-related. However, another official in this
                           office stated that the office has overseen the development of the pro-
                           gram continually, and has briefed board officials on the program prior
                           to milestone reviews. We reviewed the briefing provided for the last
                           milestone review and found no mention of embedded computer
                           resources. According to the official, OSD oversight is, by necessity, “man-
                           agement by exception,” and the Trident II’s embedded computer
                           resources have not been a problem and thus have not been specifically
                           addressed.

                           According to program officials, the only attention OSD has paid to the
                           missile’s embedded computer resources occurred when the Office of the
                           Deputy Director, Defense Research and Engineering (Test and Evalua-
                           tion) was briefed on the Trident II’s software development plan. The
                           officials stated that OSD was interested in whether the program office
                           had a coherent plan to address testing and quality assurance and
                           whether resources were adequate. No documentation of this meeting
                           was available, and no OSD direction resulted from it.




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                           DOD Embedded Computer   Resources and
                           OSD Oversight of Them




Forward-Area Air Defense   ~SD  oversight of the Forward-Area Air Defense System Line-of-Sight
System Line-of-Sight       Forward Heavy armored tracked vehicle occurs through the Defense
                           Acquisition Board and the Conventional Systems Committee. However,
Forward
-    a--w-eHeavy Armored   the system’s embedded computer resources have not been an area of
Track Vehicle              focus. We reviewed documentation for the last briefing to the committee
                           as well as correspondence from the committee to the board and found no
                           mention of embedded computer resource issues. According to an official
                           in the Office of the Deputy Director for Defense Research and Engineer-
                           ing (Tactical Warfare Programs), even though documentation does not
                           show that such issues were addressed, they could have been raised at
                           any point during the briefing.

                           According to program officials, OSD’S limited involvement in the program
                           stems from the fact that the system is a non-development item, devel-
                           oped with private funds for another purpose and later sold to the Army.
                           These officials stated that OSD’S Office of the Director for Operational
                           Test and Evaluation has reviewed the program’s Test andEvaluation
                           Master Plan, and has described the annex for software test and evalua-
                           tion as the best one the office has seen.




                           Page 26                           GAO/IMTEG9O34   DOD Embedded Computer   Technology
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                                                                                           L
Appendix III

Major Contributors to This Report


                       James R. Watts, Associate Director
Information            John B. Stephenson, Assistant Director
Management and         Randolph C. Hite, Evaluator-in-Charge
                       Cheryl A. Dottermusch, Computer Scientist
Technology Division,
Washington, D.C.




(510451)               Page 26                    GAO/IMTECM       DOD Embedded   Compubr      Tedmology