Thursday, August 21, 2008

GAO: DEFENSE ACQUISITIONS: Department of Defense Needs Framework for Balancing Investments in Tactical Radios

Highlights of GAO-08-877, a report to the Subcommittee on Air and Land Forces, Committee on Armed Services, House of Representatives

The Department of Defense (DOD) has spent an estimated $12 billion on the development and production of tactical radios over the last 5 years—about as much as was spent producing Virginia Class submarines ($10.8 billion) in the same period. Survivability and lethality in warfare are increasingly dependent on superior information and communication capabilities. DOD is counting on the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) to deliver the breakthroughs in this area. At the same time as it is developing JTRS, DOD wants to ensure that current forces are equipped with sufficient legacy radios. To address Subcommittee concerns regarding DOD's approach to meeting current and future radio needs, GAO examined this subject. In response, this report addresses (1) how planned investments in key tactical radio systems changed over the last 5 years, (2) why these changes occurred, and (3) the challenges ahead.

To assess these topics, GAO’s work included reviewing 2003 through 2007 budget requests, legacy radio procurements, and the status of the JTRS program; and interviewing officials from DOD organizations.

What GAO Recommends
GAO recommends that the Secretary of Defense develop a comprehensive investment strategy for tactical radios and take actions to improve oversight of their acquisition. In commenting on a draft of this report DOD agreed with these recommendations.

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