Army Equipment: Management of Weapon System and Equipment Modification Program Needs Improvement

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1997-10-10.

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

                  United States General Accounting Office

GAO               Report to Congressional Committees

October 1997
                  ARMY EQUIPMENT
                  Management of
                  Weapon System and
                  Modification Program
                  Needs Improvement

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

             National Security and
             International Affairs Division


             October 10, 1997

             Congressional Committees

             The Army is continually modifying its fielded equipment to add new
             capabilities or overcome safety and operational deficiencies. This report
             discusses the Army’s management of its multibillion-dollar modification
             work order (MWO) program, under which it upgrades fielded weapon
             systems and other equipment.1 Specifically, we determined (1) the
             availability of information needed by Army headquarters and field
             personnel to effectively oversee and manage the MWO program, (2) the
             availability of spare parts needed by personnel in the field to maintain
             modified equipment, and (3) field personnel’s experiences in implementing
             the MWO program. Due to data limitations, we relied extensively on
             interviews with Army personnel at all levels and on our observations at
             field locations to obtain this information. We are addressing this report to
             you due to your oversight responsibilities for government management
             and/or readiness.

             The Army established the MWO program to enhance the capabilities of its
Background   fielded weapon systems and other equipment and correct any identified
             operational and safety problems. Modifications vary in size and
             complexity. For example, for a modification to the Bradley Fighting
             Vehicle, the Army is adding the driver’s thermal viewer to improve
             visibility during night-time and all-weather conditions, the battlefield
             combat identification system to reduce the potential for friendly fire
             casualties, and the global positioning receiver and digital compass system
             to improve navigation. In contrast to this major modification, the Army is
             adding updated seat belts to its fleet of High Mobility Multipurpose
             Wheeled Vehicles to improve safety.

             The Army is making a sizable investment to modify its fielded equipment.
             For fiscal years 1995-97, the Army received $5.1 billion for all of its
             modification programs, and the President has requested $6.7 billion for
             208 modifications to the Army’s equipment for fiscal years 1998-2003.
             About 80 percent of that amount is for modifications to helicopters and
             other aviation items and to weapons and tracked combat vehicles.
             According to Army headquarters officials, as the Army’s budget has
             declined, less funding has been available for new systems. As a result, the

              The Army manages modifications through MWOs, engineering changes, and product improvements.
             The Army’s modification of equipment in the field, in a depot, in conjunction with an overhaul, or at a
             contractor facility, are commonly referred to as MWO programs.

             Page 1                                                          GAO/NSIAD-98-14 Army Equipment

    Army will have to rely more heavily on the modification of its assets to
    correct deficiencies and enhance equipment capabilities. For example, to
    correct identified problems and add technological advances, the Army has
    approved 95 MWOs for its Apache helicopter since fielding this system in

    Management of the MWO program is shared by several Army headquarters
    organizations. Each organization has a wide range of decision-making
    responsibilities in developing and supporting weapon systems, which
    includes modifying weapon systems and equipment through the MWO
    program. The Army defined the roles and responsibilities of its
    headquarters organizations and MWO sponsors in its September 6, 1990,
    Interim Operating Instructions for Materiel Change Management, which
    superseded Army Regulation 750-10. One of the objectives cited in the
    instruction was to decentralize the management of each MWO and yet
    retain overall responsibility and oversight at the headquarters level. The
    instructions list numerous responsibilities for Army organizations;
    however, Army headquarters officials emphasized the following key duties
    for the organizations with primary responsibilities:

•   The Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations has responsibility for prioritizing
    the required modifications for technical and safety issues, justifying and
    monitoring the overall budget, and allocating the approved funding.
•   The Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics has responsibility for overall supply
    and maintenance support and for knowing the status of MWOs.
•   The Acquisition Executive has responsibility over modifications to correct
    or enhance the operations of weapon systems still being acquired.
•   The Army Materiel Command has responsibility over modifications to
    correct or enhance the operations of weapon systems that are no longer
    being acquired and for other equipment items. In addition, the Army
    Materiel Command is executive agent for the headquarters and, as such, is
    responsible for knowing the status of MWOs and for ensuring that each MWO
    is complete and conforms with Army policy and procedures before the
    modification is done.
•   Program sponsors2 for individual weapon systems and other equipment
    items are responsible for executing each MWO—acquiring the various
    components needed to modify the weapon systems and equipment, putting

     We use the term program sponsor to include project managers of major weapon systems, such as the
    Abrams tank or Blackhawk utility helicopter; weapon system managers of sustained weapon systems,
    such as the Iroquois (Huey) utility helicopter; and product centers for equipment, such as the Squad
    Automatic Weapon. There are numerous program sponsors, and each is responsible for managing
    multiple MWOs.

    Page 2                                                        GAO/NSIAD-98-14 Army Equipment

                   together the applicable MWO kit,3 ensuring logistical support items are
                   addressed, and managing the modification process on a day-to-day basis.
                   The MWO program sponsors for systems still being acquired are managed
                   under the Program Executive Office of the Army Acquisition Executive,
                   and the program sponsors for systems no longer being acquired are
                   managed under the commodity commands of the Army Materiel

                   In January 1997, the Army formed a process action team, including
                   representatives from the organizations with program management
                   responsibility, to study how the program could be improved. The Army
                   also hired a contractor to assist in evaluating how automated information
                   might be used to support program management. We coordinated with the
                   process action team and have provided the team with information as our
                   evaluation progressed. The process action team expects to provide its
                   recommendations to the Army by October 1997.

                   Army headquarters officials and Army Materiel Command officials no
Results in Brief   longer have the information they need to effectively oversee and manage
                   the Army’s MWO program. This occurred because the centralized database
                   to track installation and funding was discontinued; control over
                   modification installation funding was transferred from the headquarters
                   level to individual program sponsors; and the authority over configuration
                   control boards, which ensured the completeness and compliance of MWOs
                   with policy, was transferred to individual program sponsors. As a result,
                   Army headquarters and Army Materiel Command officials do not have an
                   adequate overview of the status of equipment modifications across the
                   force, funding requirements, logistical support requirements, and
                   information needed for deployment decisions. The lack of information is
                   also a problem at field units. Maintenance personnel have not always
                   known which modifications should have been made to equipment or
                   which modifications have actually been made. In addition, maintainers of
                   equipment have not always received the technical information they need
                   in a timely manner to properly maintain modified equipment.

                   Maintenance personnel in the field have had difficulty obtaining spare
                   parts to maintain modified equipment because program sponsors
                   frequently had not ordered initial spare parts when they acquired
                   modification kits. Army headquarters and Army Materiel Command

                    An MWO kit includes the major upgraded or enhanced components; installation hardware, such as
                   nuts and bolts; special tools; and technical instructions on the installation of new parts and disposal of
                   old parts.

                   Page 3                                                            GAO/NSIAD-98-14 Army Equipment

                     officials believe these problems occurred because they lost oversight and
                     control of the program and policies and procedures were not being
                     consistently applied by the individual program sponsors. Because spare
                     parts have often not been available, maintenance personnel have made
                     additional efforts to maintain modified equipment. Also, supply system
                     personnel have not always followed policies and procedures to ensure that
                     supply system records were updated to show the addition of new spare
                     parts and the deletion of replaced spare parts. As a result, the Army’s
                     budget for spare parts may not reflect accurate requirements for new
                     components to repair and maintain modified weapon systems and

                     Maintenance personnel in the field have also experienced a variety of
                     problems in implementing MWOs. For example, because multiple MWOs for
                     the same piece of equipment were not always coordinated, the costs of
                     modifications have increased, and reportable mission time could be
                     adversely affected at some units. Furthermore, maintainers have not
                     always received adequate notice of pending modifications, and as a result,
                     training schedules and the maintenance of equipment have been adversely
                     affected. Finally, we were told that various items of equipment did not
                     always work together once some modifications were made; hence,
                     improved operational capability was lost. According to Army headquarters
                     and Army Materiel Command officials, these problems also occurred
                     because of their loss of oversight and control.

                     The Army does not currently maintain centralized information to track the
Army Officials and   status of equipment modifications. Instead, it relies on the individual
Field Personnel Do   program sponsors to capture the information they need to track the
Not Have Ready       separate modifications for which they are responsible. As a result, Army
                     headquarters and Army Materiel Command officials do not have the
Access to Needed     information they need to effectively oversee this highly decentralized
MWO Information      modification program. Moreover, the information that Army headquarters
                     officials and maintenance personnel have for tracking modifications may
                     not be entirely accurate. Finally, field and depot maintenance personnel
                     do not have ready access to the information they need to determine
                     current equipment configurations, nor do they have ready access to the
                     technical information they need to maintain the equipment once it is

                     Page 4                                        GAO/NSIAD-98-14 Army Equipment

Lack of Centralized        Individual program sponsors decide how they will track the modifications
Information Hampers        for which they are responsible. Our review showed a variety of ways that
Program Management         system modifications are tracked. As a general rule, for high-cost systems
                           such as M1 tanks, Bradley Fighting Vehicles, and helicopters, the
                           command or program sponsors established databases showing systems
                           that were modified and systems that were not. However, for high-density,
                           widely dispersed systems such as M113 armored personnel carriers,
                           trucks, and radios, program sponsors make very little or no attempt to
                           track which systems were modified.4

                           To carry out its management functions, the Army Materiel Command had
                           previously developed an integrated database to track the status of MWO
                           installation and funding. However, the Command quit using the system
                           because the Army (1) discontinued funding to maintain the portion of the
                           system used to track MWO installation and (2) canceled the remaining
                           portion of the system because it was not chosen as a Department of
                           Defense (DOD) standard system to track funding. As noted, a contractor is
                           currently studying the automated data needs of the MWO program.

                           The potential problems created by the lack of centralized information
                           readily available to Army officials to track modifications were highlighted
                           in a 1994 Army Audit Agency report.5 The report pointed out that the Army
                           Materiel Command needed up-to-date equipment configuration
                           information to satisfy requirements that pertain to readiness, safety, and
                           compliance with laws. The report also noted that without a centralized
                           information system, the Command’s current and future ability to plan for
                           the sustainment of weapon systems was weakened. Furthermore, this
                           could affect the Army’s current and future readiness position and
                           adversely affect troop survivability.

Army Headquarters          Army headquarters and Army Materiel Command officials responsible for
Officials Do Not Have      formulating the MWO program budget and for ensuring that upgraded and
Information They Need to   enhanced equipment is available to satisfy the Army’s force structure have
                           limited information about what MWO funds have been spent, what
Properly Oversee the       equipment has been modified, and what equipment still needs to be
Program                    modified. Due to the decentralized nature of the program, the Army

                            The program sponsors for the M1 Abrams tank and the Bradley Fighting Vehicle maintain separate
                           databases that show the status of the MWOs installed on equipment. For aviation systems, the MWO
                           program sponsors share a common database, maintained by a contractor, which shows the status of all
                           installed and uninstalled MWOs for each helicopter. Many other program sponsors maintain no
                           automated database on the status of their MWOs.
                            Modification Program, U.S. Army Audit Agency (CR 95-200, Nov. 15, 1994).

                           Page 5                                                       GAO/NSIAD-98-14 Army Equipment

budgets for MWOs through each program sponsor, who has discretion in
spending and transferring funds. While the data available from program
sponsors provide some information, Army headquarters officials told us
they do not have ready access to this information and that it is insufficient
to enable them to track budget expenditures.

As previously stated, not all program sponsors track the status of their
MWOs. While the information for tracked systems provides some degree of
control over the configuration, such information is not available for all
weapon systems and equipment. Moreover, headquarters officials maintain
that these individual tracking systems do not have all the information they
need to make informed decisions and are not readily accessible. The lack
of timely information on equipment configuration could have potential
adverse effects. For example, if the Army deployed a mechanized infantry
division, it would need to know the latest configuration of the division’s
tanks, Bradley Fighting Vehicles, helicopters, and trucks for mission
considerations as well as to ensure that the appropriate parts needed for
maintenance were on hand. To determine the latest configuration of this
equipment, Army officials would have to contact the respective systems’
program sponsors to determine how many tanks, Bradleys, and
helicopters of each configuration there were in the division—a
time-consuming process.

In addition, civilian aviation and Army ground maintenance personnel at
Fort Hood, Texas, and Fort Carson, Colorado, told us that the accuracy of
the databases may be suspect. For example, they said that in some
instances modified parts had been removed from aircraft such as the Huey
utility helicopter and nonmodified parts had been reinstalled. This
occurred because either the unit did so intentionally or no modified parts
were in stock when the new parts broke. As a result, the configuration of
these aircraft and ground equipment are not always accurately portrayed
in the database used by the maintenance personnel, and Army
headquarters officials would not know the current configuration for these
aircraft or ground equipment. Without the latest and most accurate
configuration information, it is difficult to ensure that deploying units have
the latest, most enhanced, and most survivable equipment. Logistics
support is also complicated because planners do not know which type of
and how many spare parts are needed to support the unit.

Page 6                                          GAO/NSIAD-98-14 Army Equipment

Depot Maintenance          Depot maintenance personnel at the Anniston Army Depot, Alabama, told
Personnel Lack             us they need current and accurate configuration data to overhaul
Information Needed for     equipment but that they do not have such data. To overhaul equipment,
                           they need to know whether any modifications or components are missing.
Overhaul of Equipment      Lack of good configuration data makes it difficult to accurately estimate
                           the costs of overhauls and to have the proper kits and repair parts on
                           hand. Officials said that, as a result, they expend additional labor for
                           physical inspections and make allowances in their cost estimates to cover
                           unanticipated problems. For example, depot personnel had to visually
                           inspect 32 National Guard trucks in the depot for overhaul because they
                           had no way of knowing whether two authorized modifications had been
                           made when the vehicles arrived. When this happens, the overhaul program
                           is delayed while depot personnel order the parts or kits. However, if MWO
                           kits are not installed at the time the modification is made to the fleet, the
                           kits are often no longer available.

Field Maintenance and      Field and support organization personnel also told us they have trouble
Support Personnel Do Not   identifying what the configuration of weapon systems and equipment
Have Timely Equipment      should be and whether modifications have been made. They told us they
                           need to know whether the configuration of weapon systems and
Configuration and Other    equipment is up-to-date and what is required on the item in order to
Technical Information      maintain it. They said that this problem is especially acute for items that
                           are transferred from other units. These officials said they had sometimes
                           spent many hours inspecting equipment to determine its current
                           configuration because determining whether modifications had been done
                           was not easy. For example, during our visit to Fort Carson, Colorado, a
                           maintenance chief said that all authorized modifications on two
                           helicopters he had received from another geographic area were supposed
                           to have been made, but in preparing them for deployment, a visual
                           inspection showed some modifications had not been made. According to
                           the chief, a contractor team had to make the necessary modifications
                           before the aircraft could be deployed.

                           No tracking information and no central list of modification changes that
                           should have been made are available for equipment with lower dollar
                           values, like trucks. According to field personnel, the only way to
                           determine the configuration of weapon systems or equipment is to do a
                           physical inventory and compare the results to similar items that are
                           already assigned to the unit.

                           Page 7                                         GAO/NSIAD-98-14 Army Equipment

                        Maintenance personnel at several locations said that an information
                        system that tracks both the completion of MWOs and any removal or
                        transfer of major components would be useful. However, they would
                        rather have this capability added to their existing maintenance information
                        system than have an entirely new information system to maintain and use.
                        We were told this tracking information will become especially critical in
                        the future as more modifications involve software revisions. Without
                        tracking all of the MWO changes, removal or transfer of major components,
                        and software revisions, the configuration data recorded in the information
                        system will be inaccurate.

                        Field and support organization personnel told us that they also need
                        up-to-date technical information to maintain equipment. The Army’s
                        interim guidance requires technical publications to be updated and
                        distributed to field locations before modifications are made. However,
                        maintenance personnel from Fort Hood, Texas, and Fort Campbell,
                        Kentucky, told us that technical manual updates are published only on a
                        yearly basis and that they do not receive updated technical publications in
                        a timely manner. If the modification and resulting configuration change
                        occur between updates, the unit may have to wait months before receiving
                        the updated technical information. This delay not only prevents
                        maintenance personnel from using the latest techniques to troubleshoot
                        equipment but it may also result in wasted effort and impede supply
                        personnel from ordering the correct repair parts.

                        A division aviation maintenance officer at Fort Campbell cited several
                        instances in which the lack of up-to-date technical manuals caused wasted
                        effort or delayed the installation of the modification. For example, in
                        July 1996, when division maintenance personnel modified the fuel
                        subsystem on the Apache attack helicopter, they did not receive revisions
                        to the supply parts manual. Subsequently, the aircraft was grounded and
                        the maintenance team wasted many hours troubleshooting because the old
                        manual did not identify the new fuel transfer valve. This new part would
                        have been identified in the revised manual. In another instance, they had
                        to delay the installation of the embedded global positioning system on the
                        Apache by 2 weeks because the Apache program office did not provide
                        changes to the maintenance test flight and operator manuals.

                        The Army sometimes loses portions of its enhanced equipment capabilities
Army Units Do Not       achieved through equipment modifications because Army units cannot
Always Have Ready       always obtain spare parts for its modified weapon systems and equipment.
Access to Spare Parts   This occurs because program sponsors do not always order initial spare

                        Page 8                                        GAO/NSIAD-98-14 Army Equipment

                             parts for the supply system when they procure MWO kits. Furthermore,
                             they do not always modify the spare parts that are at the depot and unit
                             level to the configuration of the new component. Army officials reviewing
                             the MWO program believe that these problems occurred because Army
                             regulations are not clear about whether program sponsors are supposed to
                             provide initial spare parts when they acquire the MWO kits. As a result,
                             Army units increase their efforts to keep equipment operational and ready.
                             In addition, program sponsors and supply system personnel do not always
                             follow policies and procedures to ensure that supply system records are
                             updated to show the addition of new items and the deletion of replaced
                             items. When the supply system records are inaccurate, the Army’s budget
                             may not reflect accurate requirements for new spare parts to repair and
                             maintain modified weapon systems and equipment.

Spare Parts for Modified     Some program sponsors have not used their limited funds to order initial
Equipment Are Difficult to   spare parts for the supply system, according to Army officials responsible
Obtain                       for the management of the MWO program. Ideally, initial spare parts would
                             be provided to bridge the gap between the modification of equipment and
                             the entrance of the replenishment spare parts into the Army’s supply
                             system. Providing initial spare parts at the time of modification is needed
                             because the supply system can take 18 to 24 months or more to provide
                             replenishment spare parts, according to aviation supply representatives.

                             According to Army civilian aviation maintenance personnel at Fort Hood
                             and Army aviation and ground maintenance personnel at Fort Carson and
                             Fort Campbell, program sponsors did not always modify spare parts at
                             unit and depot locations when equipment was modified. For example, we
                             were told that the Apache attack helicopters were being modified with an
                             improved fuel subsystem, but at least four major components were not
                             available in the depot supply system. As a result, aviation maintenance
                             personnel had to take parts from five MWO kits intended for other aircraft.
                             This MWO had been ongoing for 15 months. Aviation personnel said this
                             occurred because at least some portion of the components stored at the
                             depot had not been modified to the new configuration.

                             One program sponsor told us his office was not required to buy initial
                             spare parts or modify parts located at depots when they modified
                             equipment in the field. However, the Army’s interim operating instructions
                             require program sponsors to ensure all necessary integrated logistical
                             support parts items are addressed. Furthermore, according to Army
                             Regulation 700-18, ordering initial spare parts is part of the total integrated

                             Page 9                                           GAO/NSIAD-98-14 Army Equipment

                             logistical support package for systems and end items. This regulation,
                             which does not specifically refer to modifications, requires program
                             sponsors to coordinate logistical support requirements with all agencies
                             and activities concerned with initial materiel support for weapon systems
                             and equipment. According to Army headquarters officials, both the interim
                             guidance and the regulation require program sponsors to provide initial
                             spare parts and to modify spare parts, but neither may be clear enough to
                             ensure that all program sponsors do it for modifications. In addition, Army
                             headquarters officials told us that when the Army Materiel Command used
                             configuration control boards, comprised of technical and administrative
                             representatives, to ensure the MWOs were complete and conformed with
                             Army policies and procedures, the need to buy spare parts was part of the
                             approval process. The Army Materiel Command lost this quality control
                             when the reviews were decentralized to the program sponsors.

                             Army personnel at the four locations we visited told us that they had to
                             take additional measures to support their equipment because they had
                             experienced problems obtaining spare parts. They stated that if spare
                             parts were not available, they took components from MWO kits. For
                             example, the only way to obtain spare parts for the new fuel control
                             panels—part of the Apache attack helicopter fuel crossover
                             modification—was to take them from kits that were needed to modify
                             other Apache helicopters. In addition, they had obtained parts outside the
                             normal supply system by fabricating parts locally and by buying parts
                             directly from contractors with local funds. These activities have led to
                             higher costs and reduced efficiencies at units we visited.

Management of MWO            In reviewing 73 MWO cases, we attempted to determine whether the Army
Program Contributes to       had properly phased out old spare parts and added new items to its supply
Inventory and Budget         system to support newly modified equipment. Because the Army does not
                             have an automated list of major components in MWOs, we encountered
Errors                       difficulties in trying to make this analysis and could not identify a
                             significantly large number of the major components. We compared
                             information on those major components that we could identify with the
                             Army’s budget justification report and inventory records and found many
                             irregularities. For example,

                         •   national stock numbers had not been assigned for some components;
                         •   some items with national stock numbers could not be tracked into the
                             supply system; and

                             Page 10                                       GAO/NSIAD-98-14 Army Equipment

                           •   relationship codes, which show whether old items are to be phased out of
                               the supply system, were not always assigned.

                               We were unable to measure the impact of these irregularities from our
                               relatively small sample of MWOs; however, we believe that they indicate
                               long-standing weaknesses in the Army’s management of spare parts. For
                               example, using a larger universe, we reported on similar errors in the
                               Army’s budget justification report in December 1995.6 In that report, we
                               noted that the Army’s budget justification report for spare parts contained
                               numerous errors, including errors in the relationship codes and inaccurate
                               records for items being repaired at maintenance facilities. We reported
                               that as a result of the errors, the Army lacks assurance that its budget
                               requests represent its actual funding needs for spare parts.

                               Field maintenance personnel cited numerous problems in modifying their
Field Maintenance              weapon systems and equipment. For example, they stated that (1) the
Personnel Experience           completion of multiple MWOs on the same piece of equipment is not always
Problems in                    coordinated, or not all equipment is modified at the same time; (2) they do
                               not always receive adequate notice of MWOs; and (3) modified equipment
Implementing the               does not always work together with other equipment once the
MWO Program                    modification takes place. As a result, they believe some units are losing
                               equipment capability or experiencing reduced reportable mission time, the
                               cost to install MWOs is increasing, and the training of unit personnel may be
                               adversely affected. Army headquarters and Army Materiel Command
                               officials believe these problems are also occurring because of their loss of
                               oversight and control over the program and the inconsistent
                               implementation of policies and procedures by program sponsors,
                               especially in negotiating fielding plans with the affected organizations.

Difficulties Encountered       Maintenance personnel told us that the completion of multiple MWOs on
by Unit Maintenance            the same equipment is not always coordinated. For example, the National
Personnel                      Guard is testing a program to place some of its equipment in long-term
                               preservation storage. Equipment in long-term storage testing at the Camp
                               Shelby, Mississippi, mobilization and equipment training site has been
                               taken out of storage several times so modifications can be made. As a
                               result, the program was disrupted, and additional labor hours were
                               expended, according to a National Guard official. The lack of coordination
                               in the future could have even greater cost implications because the Guard

                               Army Inventory: Budget Requests for Spare and Repair Parts Are Not Reliable (GAO/NSIAD-96-3,
                               Dec. 29, 1995).

                               Page 11                                                     GAO/NSIAD-98-14 Army Equipment

is planning to place 25 percent of its equipment in preserved storage and if
it implements recommendations we are making in another report,7 the
Guard would put an even larger percentage in storage.

In another example, an aviation maintenance chief told us that two
labor-intensive modifications were planned for consecutive years on each
of 33 Blackhawk utility aircraft belonging to two units at Fort Carson. He
said that making both modifications concurrently made more sense. Since
a modification causes an aircraft to be grounded, the additional downtime
to install each modification consecutively would adversely affect the
reportable mission time for each unit.

Maintenance personnel also noted that inefficiencies had resulted when
not all modifications were done at the same time. For example, when the
Army upgraded the armament fire control system on the M1 tank at the
Camp Shelby mobilization and training site, a contractor team installed
new software cards in the fire control system and 2 months later, a team
from the Anniston Army Depot made needed mechanical adjustments to
the same tanks. According to Army officials, both functions could have
been done at the same time, thereby reducing the time the unit was
without its equipment.

The direct support maintenance chiefs and general support maintenance
personnel at Fort Hood and Fort Carson told us they did not always
receive adequate notice of modifications. This situation disrupted their
ability to meet training schedules that were set up 12 months in advance
and interfered with their ability to maintain their equipment.

After some modifications are done, some equipment does not always work
together properly, according to aviation maintenance personnel at Fort
Hood. For example, although civilian aviation personnel at Fort Hood
modified the Blackhawk utility helicopters to work with night vision
goggles, they could not get replacement radios from a different program
sponsor that were compatible with the night vision goggle system, and
night operational capability was lost.

Army headquarters and Army Materiel Command officials believed these
problems had occurred because of their loss of oversight and control over
the program and the inconsistent implementation of policies and
procedures by program sponsors. The Army’s Interim Operating

 Army National Guard: Sharing Unit Training Equipment Would Help Avoid Maintenance Costs
(GAO/NSIAD-97-206, Sept. 29, 1997).

Page 12                                                    GAO/NSIAD-98-14 Army Equipment

              Instructions for Materiel Change Management requires individual program
              sponsors to prepare a fielding plan for each modification. The fielding plan
              calls for coordination and adequate notice when a modification is to be

              The highly decentralized nature of the MWO program underscores the need
Conclusions   for Army headquarters officials to have ready access to program data and
              information and adequate management controls to ensure that program
              implementation complies with policies and procedures. Even though the
              database they used was discontinued in part because it was not accepted
              as a standard DOD system, Army headquarters officials told us that the
              unavailability of information on the status of MWOs, the status of funding,
              and the configuration of weapon systems and equipment has made it
              difficult for managers at all levels to effectively carry out their respective
              responsibilities and make informed decisions on such things as funding,
              deployment, and logistical support of weapon systems and equipment.

              The program sponsors have been inconsistent in providing initial spare
              parts, ensuring that spare parts are added to the supply system, and
              keeping technical information updated for the field maintainers.
              Furthermore, program sponsors have not always adequately coordinated
              the completion of MWOs with other sponsors and with the field
              maintainers. The Army guidance on these processes is not clear, and the
              headquarters’ ability to ensure that existing policies and procedures were
              complied with was diminished when the responsibilities of configuration
              control boards were transferred to program sponsors. As a result, field
              maintainers have experienced difficulty in obtaining spare parts and
              current technical information and have experienced inefficiencies in
              getting their weapon systems and equipment modified.

              Program sponsors have varying amounts of information on their MWOs,
              ranging from none to fairly complete, and do not have ready access to
              information needed to coordinate with other program sponsors. Those
              program sponsors without a database are limited in managing their own
              programs. Field maintainers do not have easy access to information on
              MWOs that should have been installed or scheduled for future installation.
              At the unit level, the lack of information has manifested itself in various
              inefficiencies related to the coordination and scheduling of the installation
              of MWOs and has sometimes prevented units from knowing the
              configuration of their equipment. It is important that these modifications

              Page 13                                         GAO/NSIAD-98-14 Army Equipment

                      be done as efficiently as possible to minimize the reportable mission time
                      the equipment is unavailable to units.

                      The Army’s creation of a process action team to develop revised policies
                      and procedures and its hiring of a contractor to examine automated
                      information needs are steps toward correcting the weaknesses noted in
                      this report. Improved management of this program would provide more
                      assurance that improved capabilities are effectively and efficiently
                      integrated into the Army’s equipment in the most expeditious manner.

                      In considering the upcoming results of the MWO process action team, we
Recommendations       recommend that the Secretary of the Army

                  •   direct actions necessary to provide managers at all levels ready access to
                      the information they need to oversee, manage, and implement the MWO
                      program and to ensure compliance with Army policies and procedures;
                  •   clarify regulations to ensure that program sponsors and supply system
                      personnel provide proper logistical support for modified equipment,
                      including (1) ordering appropriate initial spare parts when MWO kits are
                      ordered, (2) updating technical information and providing it to units when
                      MWO kits are installed, and (3) properly phasing out old spare parts and
                      adding new items to its supply system; and
                  •   establish an effective mechanism for program sponsors to coordinate and
                      schedule their MWOs, among themselves and their customers, to reduce the
                      amount of manpower and to minimize the reportable mission time
                      required to complete the MWOs.

                      In written comments on a draft of this report, DOD concurred with our
Agency Comments       findings and our recommendations (see app. I), acknowledging that
                      improvements to the weapon system and equipment modification program
                      were needed. Regarding our first recommendation, DOD agreed that
                      managers at all levels need ready access to information to oversee,
                      manage, and ensure compliance with Army policies and procedures. It
                      noted that the process action team is developing a recommendation for an
                      MWO integrated management information system that would obtain
                      information from already established databases. DOD believes that such a
                      system would provide a cost-efficient, nonlabor-intensive management
                      tool to assist managers in tracking all facets of MWOs. Approval of a
                      proposal for a new study effort to design and develop this system is

                      Page 14                                       GAO/NSIAD-98-14 Army Equipment

              DOD also agreed with our recommendation that the Secretary of the Army
              clarify regulations to ensure that program sponsors and supply system
              personnel provide proper logistical support for modified equipment. DOD
              stated that Army Regulation 750-10 is being totally revised to clearly define
              roles and responsibilities, thereby making it a joint acquisition and
              logistics regulation that can be used by both communities. The revised
              regulation will adopt a modified materiel release process that would
              address the logistical support issues raised in our recommendation as well
              as other areas of concern identified by the process action team.

              Finally, DOD agreed with our recommendation that the Secretary of the
              Army establish an effective mechanism for program sponsors to
              coordinate and schedule their MWOs, among themselves and their
              customers. DOD stated that the revised Army Regulation 750-10 will
              address the issue of coordination between program sponsors and ensure
              that MWOs are completed at all units at one location at the same time where

              We believe that these actions, if properly implemented, will help to further
              improve the effectiveness and efficiency of this program.

              We interviewed officials and reviewed program records at the Army
Scope and     Materiel Command, Alexandria, Virginia; the Army Aviation and Troop
Methodology   Command, St. Louis, Missouri; and the Army Tank-Automotive and
              Armament Command, Warren, Michigan, to identify how the MWO program
              works and to identify any problems. We also interviewed officials and
              reviewed records at the U.S Army Materiel Command; the Assistant
              Secretary of the Army for Research, Development and Acquisition; the
              Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics; and the Deputy Chief of Staff for
              Operations at Army headquarters to determine their role in the
              modification program and what information they need to manage funding,
              resource allocations, deployment decisions, and supportability.

              We also interviewed Directorate of Logistics personnel and general and
              direct support personnel, reviewed records, and made on-site observations
              at Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Campbell, Kentucky; and Fort Carson, Colorado,
              to determine whether they were having any difficulties with the
              completion, scheduling, or supply support obtained for MWOs. In addition,
              we interviewed civilian and contractor personnel that provided regional
              aviation maintenance support at Fort Hood and Fort Campbell and
              reviewed records to determine whether they were experiencing similar

              Page 15                                        GAO/NSIAD-98-14 Army Equipment

problems. Furthermore, we interviewed officials at Anniston Army Depot,
Alabama, and Camp Shelby, Mississippi, to determine how the MWO
programs affect maintenance and overhaul programs.

To evaluate how well the Army integrates its MWO program with the supply
support system, we judgmentally selected 73 recent MWOs for aviation
systems; weapons and tracked combat vehicle systems; and small arms.
The Army does not have a complete list of MWOs, MWO kits, or the major
components in the kits. It has automated data only on MWOs for high-dollar
weapon systems. For the MWOs selected, we attempted to manually identify
the major components in the kits, enter them into a database, and compare
them to the Army’s automated inventory (April-June 1997 master data
record) and budget justification (Sept. 1996 budget stratification report)

We were not able to quantify the problems with the supply system
identified in this report because (1) we could not identify a significantly
large universe of new replacement items and match them with the related
item being phased out of the system and (2) for the items identified, we
could not consistently trace them into the automated inventory and budget
justification records. Furthermore, we could not determine the extent of
some of the problems identified through our field visits because some of
the newer MWOs in our sample have not been operational long enough for
their parts to fail.

We have used the automated budget justification records and automated
inventory databases in prior evaluations and reported that they contain
significant errors regarding the relationship codes between secondary
inventory items being added to the system and the replaced items.8 These
databases are, however, the only available information on inventory and
budget justifications for Army secondary items.

We performed our review between January 1996 and August 1997 in
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.

We are sending copies of this report to the Secretaries of Defense and the
Army; the Director, Office of Management and Budget; and other
interested parties.

 Defense Inventory: Shortages Are Recurring, but Not a Problem (GAO/NSIAD-95-137, Aug. 7,
1995) and Army Inventory (GAO/NSIAD-96-3 Dec. 29, 1995).

Page 16                                                     GAO/NSIAD-98-14 Army Equipment

Please contact me on (202) 512-5140 if you have any questions concerning
this report. Major contributors to this report are listed in appendix II.

Mark E. Gebicke
Director, Military Operations
  and Capabilities Issues

Page 17                                      GAO/NSIAD-98-14 Army Equipment

List of Congressional Committees

The Honorable Fred Thompson
The Honorable John Glenn
Ranking Minority Member
Committee on Governmental Affairs
United States Senate

The Honorable James M. Inhofe
The Honorable Charles Robb
Ranking Minority Member
Subcommittee on Readiness
Committee on Armed Services
United States Senate

The Honorable Steve Horn
The Honorable Carolyn B. Maloney
Ranking Minority Member
Subcommittee on Government Management,
  Information, and Technology
Committee on Government Reform
  and Oversight
House of Representatives

The Honorable Herbert H. Bateman
The Honorable Norman Sisisky
Ranking Minority Member
Subcommittee on Readiness
Committee on National Security
House of Representatives

Page 18                                  GAO/NSIAD-98-14 Army Equipment
Page 19   GAO/NSIAD-98-14 Army Equipment
Appendix I

Comments From the Department of Defense

             Page 20          GAO/NSIAD-98-14 Army Equipment
Appendix I
Comments From the Department of Defense

Page 21                                   GAO/NSIAD-98-14 Army Equipment
Appendix I
Comments From the Department of Defense

Page 22                                   GAO/NSIAD-98-14 Army Equipment
Appendix II

Major Contributors to This Report

                        Carol Schuster
National Security and   Nancy Ragsdale
International Affairs
Division, Washington,
                        Gary Billen
Kansas City Field       Mark Amo
Office                  Leonard Hill
                        Robert Sommer
                        Robert Spence

(703182)                Page 23          GAO/NSIAD-98-14 Army Equipment
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