Evaluation of Defense Attempts To Manage Battlefield Intelligence Data

Gao ID: LCD-81-23 February 24, 1981

The Battlefield Exploitation and Target Acquisition (BETA) project was initiated as a joint service experiment to develop a test bed for automated collection, analysis, correlation, and dissemination of tactical intelligence data. The experiment was estimated to cost $98 million through completion in fiscal year 1984. However, in June 1980 congressional committees redirected the project after learning of the BETA development schedule slippage, inordinate cost increases, reduced capabilities, and poor performance during testing. GAO reviewed the present status of the BETA project.

GAO concluded that: (1) the BETA project capabilities were not sufficiently developed and tested to provide a baseline for early fielding of an operational system and considerable corrective action is needed to achieve this goal; (2) the data are not processed within required response times to provide sufficient technical information for the engineering development effort; (3) pressure from the Department of Defense management to test BETA in a European demonstration contributed significantly to project development problems such as cost growth and reduced performance requirements; (4) prior to congressional direction to form a joint service project, the Air Force was the only service committed to using the BETA design and software to facilitate the early fielding of an operational correlation system; and (5) the Army, which requires functions in addition to those provided by BETA, planned further test bed experiments while it continued analyzing its correlation system requirements. The Navy and Marine Corps foresee very limited application of present BETA technology to their projects.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

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