oversight

Chemical Weapons: Status of the Army's M687 Binary Program

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1990-09-28.

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

                       United   States   General   Accounting   Office
                       Report to Congressional Requesters



:   September   1990
                       CHEMICAL
                       WEAPONS                                           .
                       Status of the Arrny’~,~
                       M687 Bi-na~~ prOgm
      United States

GAO   General Accounting Office
      Washington, D.C. 20648

      National Security and
      International  Affairs Division

      B-238454

      September      28,199O

      The Honorable Sam Nunn
      Chairman, Committee on Armed Services
      United States Senate

      The Honorable Daniel K. Inouye
      Chairman, Subcommittee on Defense
      Committee on Appropriations
      United States Senate

      The Honorable Les Aspin
      Chairman, Committee on Armed Services
      House of Representatives

      The Honorable John P. Murtha
      Chairman, Subcommittee on Defense
      Committee on Appropriations
      House of Representatives

      In an October 1989 report, we recommended that the House and Senate
      Committees on Appropriations deny the Army’s $47 million fiscal
      year 1990 request for 155-millimeter (mm) M687 binary chemical pro-
      jectiles because the canister supplier had been unable to meet delivery
       schedules and a new chemical production facility needed to produce the
       projectiles had not been completed.’

       Although the requested funds were appropriated, the National Defense
       Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 1990 and 1991 (P.L. 101-189)
       requires the Secretary of the Army to certify that certain conditions
       have been met before fiscal year 1990 appropriations can be obligated to
       produce 155-mm M687 binary chemical munitions. The act also requires
       us to (1) provide monthly status reports on the contractor’s progress in
       eliminating the backlog of M-20 and M-21 canister components to be pro-
       duced in the programs for fiscal years 1986, 1987, and 1988 and (2) pro-
       vide a final report, within 2 weeks after the Army issues its
       certification, containing our assessment of the canister supplier’s ability
       to eliminate the backlog of M20 and M21 component deliveries by
       October 1, 1990. As required by the act, we have been providing you
       with monthly status reports since February 1, 1990.

       ‘Defense Budget: Potential Reductions to DOD’s Fiscal Year 1990 Ammunition   Budget
       (GAO/NSIAD90-23,     Oct. 23,1989)




       Page 1                                         GAO/NSIAD-90.296     Army’s   M687 Bi   Program
                                            B-233464




                                            M557 point detonating fuze. The metal casings, produced at the Loui-
                                            siana Army Ammunition Plant, are comprised of three parts: a steel pro-
                                            jectile body, an ogive (i.e., a nose cone) with a burster (explosive), and a
                                             steel base. The two steel canisters, each fitted with a polymer liner, are
                                             hermetically sealed. One canister, installed in the front of the projectile,
                                             is filled with methylphosphonic difluoride (DF). The other, in the rear,
                                             contains isopropylamine and isopropyl alcohol (OPA). Each polymer-lined
                                             canister has a thin polymer plate and a very thin steel burst disc on one
                                             end. When the canisters are installed in the projectile, the burst discs
                                             face each other. Upon firing, these canister ends and discs are designed
                                             to rupture. The chemicals mix and react during flight to produce a
                                             lethal, nonpersistent nerve agent called “GB.” Figure 1 depicts the
                                             M687 projectile and its components.

Figure 1: M667 Binary Chemical Projectile

                                                                Burst Discs      Steel.Bodv
                                                                                                               Steel Base


 M557   Fuse




                              Og’ive                   M20 DF banister        M21 OPA Canister




                                            The Marquardt Company is the Army’s contractor for canister compo-
                                            nents. Marquardt produces M20 plastic, M20 steel, and M21 components
                                            of the M687 projectiles for the Army. The M20 canister components are
                                            shipped to the Pine Bluff Arsenal in Arkansas, and the arsenal fills them
                                            with the chemical DF. The M21 canisters are filled with OPA by Mar-
                                            quardt and shipped to the Louisiana Army Ammunition Plant, near
                                            Shreveport, Louisiana, where M687 projectiles are loaded, assembled,
                                            and packed with only M21 OPA canisters installed. The M20 DF canisters
                                            are packaged, shipped, and stored at a location remote from the projec-
                                            tile. This separation of the components ensures protection against ter-
                                            rorist activities and against a possible mixing of chemicals during
                                            manufacture, transportation, or storage. To prepare the projectile for
                                            firing entails removing the M21 OPA canister from the projectile, reas-
                                            sembling the canisters in the proper order, and installing the fuze.



                                             Page3
                                      In April 1990, Marquardt completed deliveries of all M-20 plastic,
                                      M-20 steel, and M-21 components to be produced in the programs for
                                      fiscal years 1986 and 1987. However, it has not yet completed deliveries
                                      of those components for the fiscal year 1988 program. Our review dis-
                                      closed that the delivered components conform to original contract
                                      specifications.

                                      Marquardt has experienced problems in meeting the original and subse-
                                      quently revised contract delivery schedules even though, according to
                                      an Army official, the canister supplier had been operating multiple
                                      shifts. Table 2 shows the status of the deliveries for the fiscal year 1988
                                      program, as of August 31,199O.

Table 2: Percentage of Canister
Components Delivered for the Fiscal                                                                              Percent
Year 1998 Program                     Component                                                                 delivered
                                      M-20 plastlc                                                                     64.5
                                      M-20 steel                                                                       40.5
                                      M-71                                                                             780



                                      Although Marquardt has completed deliveries of the contract quantities
                                      for the programs for fiscal years 1986 and 1987 and has delivered a
                                      portion of the fiscal year 1988 program, it was generally late in com-
                                      pleting the deliveries, as shown in table 3.




                                      Page 6                               GAO/NSIAMl6-!Z96   Army’s MI%37 Binary   Program
                    B-226464




                    In addition, the Army might not be able to use the new facility after it is
                    completed because of difficulties in obtaining a sufficient supply of one
                    of the ingredients, the chemical thionyl chloride, which is needed during
                    the chemical production process, If the chemical cannot be obtained, the
                    Army will not be able to use the new plant.


                    In implementing the June 1, 1990, agreement between the United States
Chemical Weapons    and the Soviet Union to halt the production of chemical weapons, the
Production Is       Secretary of Defense has decided to stop producing M687 projectiles
Scheduled to Stop   either at the end of the fiscal year 1989 contract or when the agreement
                    goes into effect, whichever comes first. The Department of Defense esti-
                    mates that the agreement will go into effect in February or March 1991.

                    Also, the Secretary of Defense has determined that the Army’s fiscal
                    year 1991 budget request of $74.3 million for M687 projectiles is no
                    longer required. The Department of Defense would like to reprogram the
                    $47 million fiscal year 1990 appropriation for other purposes. For
                    example, it would like to use a portion of the funds to place the binary
                    munitions production lines on a standby status for possible future use.


                    To make our assessment, we interviewed program and other officials at
Scopeand            the U.S. Army Armament Munitions and Chemical Command, Rock
Methodology         Island, Illinois; the Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland; the Corps of
                    Engineers at Pine Bluff Arsenal, Arkansas; and the Marquardt Company
                    in Van Nuys, California. We observed the production lines at the Mar-
                    quardt Company, analyzed its production capacities, and toured and
                    determined the status of the new chemical production facility at Pine
                    Bluff Arsenal. We obtained and analyzed data and verified it to source
                    documents on scheduled and actual deliveries of M20 plastic, M20 steel,
                    and M21 components and obtained program cost data. We also obtained
                    and reviewed documents to determine whether the delivered compo-
                    nents conformed to contract specifications. We conducted our review
                    from December 1989 to August 1990 in accordance with generally
                    accepted government auditing standards.


                     As requested, we did not obtain agency comments on this report. How-
                     ever, we discussed the results of our work with Office of the Secretary
                     of Defense and Army officials and have included their comments where
                     appropriate.



                     Page 7                              GAO/NSIALW@296   Army’s   M687 Binmy   Program
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           We are sending copies of the report to the Secretaries of Defense and the
           Army; the Director, Office of Management and Budget; and other inter-
           ested parties. Copies will also be made available to others on request.

           Please contact me at (202) 275-4141 if you or your staff have any ques-
           tions concerning this report. Other GAO staff members who made major
           contributions to this report are Henry L. Hinton, Associate Director,
           Army Issues; Raymond Dunham, Assistant Director, Army Issues; and
           Antanas Sabaliauskas, Evaluator-in-Charge, Chicago Regional Office.




           Richard Davis
           Director, Army Issues




(393391)   Page 8                             GAO/NSW90.296   Army’s MB87 Bit   F-rogmn~
                                            B-296464




Table 3: Contract Schedules and Actual Deliveries of Projectile Components as of August 31, 1990
                                                    Contract schedules’                           Actual deliveries
                                                                         Complete                                                        Complete
Fiscal year                                      Start deliveries        deliveries          Start deliveries                            deliveries
M20 plastic
1986                                                    Mar. 1988         Apr. 1989                 July 1988                             May 1989
1987                                                     Apr. 1989               Nov. 1989                       May 1989                 Dee 1989
1988                                                     Nov. 1989               July 1990                       Dee 1989                              b
M20 steel
1986                                                     Mar. 1988             Apr 1989                          Ott 1988          ~--__ May 1989
1987                                                     Apr. 1989             Nov.
                                                                        .~~~ ___     1989                        May 1989                Mar. 19%
1988                                                     Nov 1989               July 1990                        Mar 1990                              b
M21
1986                                                     Apr 1988                May 1989                        Feb 1989                 Ott 1989
1987                                                     May 1989                Dee 1989                        Ott 1989                 Apr 19%
1988                                                     Dec. 1989               Aua. 1990                       Am 1990                               b

                                            ‘The or!gtnal October 1967 contract schedules were rewed I” December 1966 The schedule dates
                                            shown in the table are the rewsed schedules except for the start dates for the fiscal year 1966 program,
                                            whach reflect origmal contract schedules

                                            bMarquardt has not yet completed dellvetles


                                            According to an Army official, Marquardt expects to complete deliveries
                                            of the components to be produced in the fiscal year 1988 program by the
                                            end of November 1990. On the basis of deliveries through August 31,
                                            1990, and considering Marquardt’s current production rates and produc-
                                            tion capacity, we believe that Marquardt will not be able to complete the
                                            fiscal year 1988 program before January 1991.


                                            The Army’s production schedule for filling M20 DF canisters at the Pine
The New Chemical                            Bluff Arsenal requires completing and operating a new facility for pro-
Production Plant Has                        ducing a chemical called “methylphosphonic dichloride” (DC), which is
Not &en Proven Out                          used to produce DF. In January 1988, the Army awarded a contract for a
                                            new DCproduction facility at the Pine Bluff Arsenal. According to the
                                            Army, $45.1 million has been appropriated for the design, construction,
                                            and prove-out of this facility.

                                            The Army originally anticipated that the DCproduction facility would be
                                            completed in October 1989 and that full-scale production would start in
                                            January 1990. However, completion slipped to the end of August 1990,
                                            and prove-out and acceptance of the new chemical plant are now sched-
                                            uled for the end of October 1990.



                                             Page6
                                              B226464




                                              The Congress has appropriated a total of $224.2 million for procuring a
                                              classified quantity of 155-mm M687 binary projectiles. Table 1 shows
                                              the amounts that have been appropriated for fiscal years 1986 through
                                              1990 and what portion of each appropriation had been obligated and
                                              disbursed as of July 31, 1990.

Table 1: Funds Appropriated, Obligated,
and Disbursed for 155-mm M667 Binary          Dollars in milhons
Projectiles                                   Fiscal year                                        Appropriated’        Obligated        Disbursed
                                              1986                                                          $20 1
                                                                                                                  -..      $20 1            $20 1
                                              1987                                                           52 3           52 3             45.1
                                              1988                                                           59.3           58 5             41.6
                                              1989                                            -___       ___.45.5           44 7b             166
                                              1990                                                           47 0              0                0
                                              Total                                                       6224.2         $175.6            $123.4
                                              aThe appropriated   amounts shown do not Include the amounts provided for chemical munltlons produc-
                                              t1on facllltles.
                                              bThe Louisiana Army Ammunltlon Plant has produced metal casings, and Marquardt IS under contract to
                                              produce M20 and M21 components


                                              Section 171 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal
                                              Years 1990 and 1991 restricts the obligation of fiscal year 1990 funds
                                              for 155-mm binary chemical munitions until 2 weeks after the Secretary
                                              of the Army certifies that the following conditions have been met:

                                          . Marquardt has demonstrated monthly delivery rates of M20 plastic,
                                            M20 steel, and M21 components sufficient to eliminate the production
                                            backlog of those components for fiscal year 1986, 1987, and 1988 pro-
                                            grams before October 1, 1990.
                                          l The delivered components conform to original contract specifications.
                                          l Marquardt has sustained those monthly delivery rates for the compo-
                                            nents for at least 3 consecutive months.
                                          . The new chemical production lines at the Pine Bluff Arsenal have been
                                            proven out and formally accepted by the Army.


                                               The Army recognized, at the end of June 1990, that Marquardt could not
Production Backlog                             complete deliveries by October 1, 1990, of the undelivered M20 and
Has Not Been                                   M21 canister components to be produced for the fiscal year 1988 pro-
Eliminated                                     gram. We agree with the Army’s assessment, because Marquardt does
                                               not have the capacity to deliver the components at the required rates.




                                               Page 4                                           GAO/NSIALMl-296      Army’s M687 Binary    Pmgmm
                   B-226464




                   We are sending you our final report because the Army recognizes that
                   the canister supplier cannot eliminate the backlog of deliveries by
                   October 1, 1990, and therefore cannot issue the required certification. In
                   addition, the certification process is a moot issue because the Secretary
                   of Defense has decided that the fiscal year 1990 appropriations will not
                   be used to procure M687 binary chemical projectiles.


                   Although the canister supplier-the    Marquardt Company, Van Nuys,
Results in Brief   California-has    completed deliveries of the canister components to be
                   produced in the binary chemical munitions programs for fiscal
                   years 1986 and 1987, it has not met the scheduled delivery of compo-
                   nents for the fiscal year 1988 program. Marquardt cannot eliminate the
                   fiscal year 1988 program backlog by October 1, 1990, because it does not
                   have the production capacity to do so. According to an Army official,
                   Marquardt expects to complete the fiscal year 1988 program by the end
                   of November 1990; however, on the basis of the contractor’s current
                   production rates, we estimate that it will not be completed before
                   January 1991.

                   Also, the Army originally anticipated that a new chemical production
                   facility needed to produce chemicals for M687 projectiles would be com-
                   pleted in October 1989 and that full-scale production would start in Jan-
                   uary 1990. However, completion slipped to the end of August 1990, and
                   prove-out and acceptance of the new chemical production facility are
                   now scheduled for the end of October 1990.2 Nevertheless, the Army
                   might not be able to use the new facility after it is completed because of
                   difficulties in obtaining a sufficient supply of a chemical needed during
                   the chemical production process.

                   In any case, the fiscal year 1989 program is expected to be the Army’s
                   last procurement program for M687 projectiles because on June 1, 1990,
                   the United States and the Soviet Union agreed to halt the production of
                   chemical weapons.


                   The 155-mm M687 binary projectile was developed to be used with the
Background         Army’s most common fire support system, the 155-mm howitzer. The
                   projectile consists of metal casings, M20 and M21 canisters, and the


                   2“Prove-out”   is an Army term used to describe the process of demonstrating   a plant’s production
                   capability.




                   Page 2                                            GAO/NSIAD96-295       Army’s M687 Binary      Program