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Document: GAO Report on Ship Delivery Policy

The following is the July 13, 2017 Government Accountability Office report, Navy Shipbuilding Policy Changes Needed to Improve the Post-Delivery Process and Ship Quality.

From the report:

What GAO Found

GAO reviewed six ships valued at $6.3 billion that had completed the postdelivery period, and found they were provided to the fleet with varying degrees of incomplete work and quality problems. GAO used three quality assurance metrics, identified by Navy program offices, to evaluate the completeness of the six ships—LPD-25, LHA-6, DDG-112, Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) 3 and 4, and SSN 782—at delivery and also at the time each ship was provided to the fleet. Although the Navy resolved many of the defects by the end of the post-delivery period, as the table below shows, quality problems persisted and work was incomplete when the selected ships were turned over to the operational fleet.

Fleet officials reported varying levels of concern with the overall quality and completeness of the ships, such as with unreliable equipment or a need for more intense maintenance than expected. For CVN 78 and DDG 1000, the Navy plans to complete significantly more work and testing during the post-delivery period than the other six ships GAO reviewed. As such, these ships are at a greater risk of being provided to the fleet at the end of their post-delivery periods with incomplete construction work and unknowns about quality.

The Navy’s ship delivery policy does not facilitate a process that provides complete and quality ships to the fleet and practices do not comport with policy. The policy emphasizes that ships should be defect-free and mission-capable, but lacks clarity regarding what defects should be corrected and by when. Without a clear policy, Navy program offices define their own standards of quality and completeness, which are not always consistent. Further, because the Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) does not inspect ships at the end of the post-delivery period, it is not in a position to verify each ship’s readiness for the fleet, as required by Navy policy. The Navy has not assessed the costs and benefits of ensuring INSURV does this. Addressing these policy concerns would improve the likelihood of identifying and correcting deficiencies before fleet introduction and increase consistency in how the Navy defines quality.

The Navy does not use consistent definitions for key milestones in its reports to Congress—such as delivery or Initial Operational Capability (IOC)—and, therefore, these milestones are not as informative as they could be regarding ship quality and completeness. For example, the Navy has routinely declared IOC on new ship classes without having demonstrated that ships are able to perform mission operations—contrary to Department of Defense (DOD) guidance, which, for nearly all acquisition models, generally states that IOC should be declared only after successful operational testing that demonstrates performance.