Army Automatic Diagnostics

Observations on Army Test Program Sets Gao ID: NSIAD-87-84 February 24, 1987

GAO surveyed the Army's management of test program sets (TPS), which it uses in conjunction with its computer-controlled automatic test equipment to detect failures within weapons systems components. TPS consist of: (1) a software test program; (2) test accessories such as interface connection devices, load card assemblies, cables, power supplies, and cooling devices; (3) documentation that includes technical manuals and engineering data; and (4) integrated logistics support of the test accessories.

GAO found that the Army has experienced problems in developing, acquiring, and fielding TPS. As of September 1986, each of the six major subordinate commands had submitted plans to establish TPS centers, but only one met all the criteria for effective implementation. The Army's TPS policy also provides for the preparation of a management plan for each weapon system requiring TPS, and approval of the plan prior to full-scale engineering development of the system. GAO noted that, although the management plan could provide the basic guidance and framework to aid project managers in developing TPS, it cannot by itself resolve many TPS problems without coordination and cooperation between the system manager and the TPS manager. GAO found that the Army does not yet have a basis for determining costs to develop, operate, and maintain TPS over a life cycle, which could affect decisions concerning their development.

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