Report bemoans lack of data standards for military tests

The Defense Department's policies for data from its test facilities produce data results that aren't comparable with one another, the inspector general says.

"DOD IG report: Acquisition: Major Range and Test Facility Base"

The Defense Department's policies for collecting and analyzing data from its major ranges and test facility bases is too varied and the facilities produce data results that aren't comparable with one another, leading to inefficiencies, the department's inspector general said early last week.

Thomas Christie, director of operational test and evaluation, requested that DOD's inspector general look into the facilities' reporting standards. The resulting report, issued Dec. 8, states that the Defense secretary's office "did not have comparable data on the funding levels needed to reduce the backlog of test assets and infrastructure and support test missions. A standard accounting system should be developed for the ranges."

Military testing facilities include 19 test and evaluation ranges, which support DOD components responsible for developing or operating materiel and weapon systems. The tests conducted at each are very different, such as missions that include testing missiles and aircraft, and others that ensure that electrical components can survive in extreme environments.

The audit's objectives were to determine the amount of money tied up in backlog on maintenance, modernization and repair of the various infrastructure at the test ranges. Analysis and control systems received particular attention.

"The ongoing military transformation requires the test and evaluation community to be prepared to test sophisticated systems that use advanced technology," the report reads. "Without the resources and funding required to sustain, maintain and modernize test and evaluation, the quality of testing will deteriorate below acceptable limits."

The report states that some of the facilities lack sufficient infrastructure to collect and analyze data on weapon systems performance, operational effectiveness, suitability and survivability. The report indicates that each of the ranges has a different way of reporting its infrastructure and asset backlogs, which prevents DOD from making a clear determination as to how the they are reported.

The inspector general recommended that the department's chief financial officer develop a single financial management and accounting system for the ranges and revise the financial management regulations to provide consistency in the types and methods of funding and classifying costs.

The director of operational test and evaluation concurred with both recommendations.

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