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Life Cycle Logistics

GAO Report on Early Acquisition Sustainment Focus

GAO Report on Early Acquisition Sustainment Focus

Bill Kobren

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a new report of interest to the life cycle logistics and systems engineering communities on March 24, 2020 entitled “GAO-20-2 Navy Shipbuilding: Increasing Focus on Sustainment Early in the Acquisition Process Could Save Billions

According to the GAO, “about 70% of a ship’s lifecycle costs are operations and maintenance costs. Maintaining the Navy’s new ships will cost $130 billion more than planned. We investigated every class of ships the Navy recently built and found 150 examples of systemic maintenance problems. Sailors showed us things like failed engines, faulty electronics, and clogged toilets. These problems might have been prevented with some attention to future maintenance concerns when designing and building the ships” (emphasis added).

Other observations included “GAO found 150 examples of class-wide problems, such as unreliable ship systems. These problems stemmed from shipbuilding programs not identifying, evaluating, or mitigating sustainment risks during the acquisition process. GAO found that it would cost the Navy $4.2 billion to correct just the 30 percent of these problems for which the Navy had data on estimated repair costs. Sustainment requirements should influence acquisition decisions that determine the sustainability of a ship class, such as the ship's design. However, the Navy's sustainment requirements do not provide key information on how reliable and maintainable mission-critical systems should be and, therefore, cannot adequately inform acquisition decisions. GAO also found that shipbuilding programs did not consistently address sustainment risks in acquisition planning documents.”

The GAO went on to state that “we made 11 recommendations to help the Navy focus on maintenance concerns earlier. We suggested that Congress consider enhancing its oversight in this area”, including Recommendation 11 that “the Secretary of the Navy should revise SECNAVINST 5000.2 and other associated guidance to ensure Product Support Managers (PSMs) are assigned to shipbuilding program offices in time to inform early acquisition decisions, including development of the program's sustainment requirements and Life Cycle Sustainment Plans (LCSPs).”