GAO: Defense must trim $180 million from IT

The Defense Department should cut $180 million in information technology programs from
its fiscal 1999 budget, the General Accounting Office said in a report to Congress.


GAO wrote the report after reviewing DOD’s procurement and research, development,
test and evaluation programs, looking for ways to reduce Defense’s budget request. It
is also considering potential rescissions to appropriations in past years.


The congressional watchdog agency found ways to cut next year’s procurement and
research, development, test and evaluation requests by about $6.3 billion and to rescind
prior years’ procurement and RDT&E appropriations by $99 million, the report
said.


The proposed budget cuts were extended throughout the Defense Department.


The Air Force’s Global Positioning System took one of the biggest hits. GAO
recommended that the service’s $77.4 million request for the GPS Space Advance
Procurement program be denied because some items for 15 satellites are unnecessary.


The Air Force has decided not to buy the first three satellites scheduled for fiscal
2000, GAO said.


Among the other recommended reductions was a $47.3 million cut to the Navy’s
Cooperative Engagement Capability program, a high-speed network that exchanges and fuses
radar data from a carrier group to track and engage enemy targets.


GAO believes funding for CEC in fiscal 1999 should be denied because it is too soon to
buy more systems. Not only that, but $26 million is still available from fiscal 1998 for
1999 procurements, which would avoid a break in production, GAO said.


GAO also criticized CEC software for interoperability and technical problems, as well
as schedule delays.


A fiscal 1998 operational evaluation of CEC has been delayed until fiscal 2000 to give
software developers time to identify and solve interoperability problems.


GAO also recommended a $7.8 million cut in the Navy’s $27.4 million request for
major upgrades to the AN/SQQ-89 Surface Antisubmarine Warfare Combat System.


“The Block I and Block II upgrades, intended to improve shallow water
capabilities, will not be fully integrated into the existing combat system and will
require additional processors and displays,” GAO said. “In addition, the block
II Echo Tracker Classifier is still under development with no assurance, at this time,
that it will meet performance requirements in an operational setting.”


GAO also determined that the upgrades were unsuitable for some ships.


Army IT programs also got a tough review from GAO.


The Army wants to develop the Near Term Digital Radio, GAO said, but noted that DOD
wants to minimize the number of service-unique tactical radios.


Army officials said that NTDR plays a critical role in the Army’s effort to
digitize the battlefield and is needed to support the first digitized division until the
Joint Tactical Radio System is available.  

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