GAO Report on Navy Unmanned Systems

April 8, 2022 9:15 AM

The following is the April 2022 Government Accountability Office report, Uncrewed Maritime Systems: Navy Should Improve Its Approach to Maximize Early Investments.

From the report

What GAO Found

Other nations are investing in new weapons and technologies designed to disrupt
U.S. naval advantages. Consequently, the U.S. Navy is reexamining its maritime
strategy to respond to increased competition at sea. Based on the results of its
analyses, the Navy determined that surface and undersea vehicles without crew
on board—known as uncrewed maritime systems—are necessary to meet future
threats (see figure). While the Navy’s shipbuilding plan outlines spending more
than $4 billion on uncrewed systems over the next 5 years, its plan does not
account for the full costs to develop and operate these systems.

Once conceived, the Navy must build these vehicles with the information
technology and the artificial intelligence capabilities needed to replace crews.
While the Navy has established strategic objectives for these efforts, it has not
established a management approach that orients its individual uncrewed
maritime efforts toward achieving these objectives. As such, the Navy is not
measuring its progress, such as building the robust information technology
needed to operate the vehicles. GAO has previously found that portfolio
management—a disciplined process that ensures new investments are aligned
with an organization’s strategic needs within available resources—enables
agencies to implement strategic objectives and manage investments collectively.
However, if it continues with its current approach, the Navy is less likely to
achieve its objectives. In addition, the Navy has yet to:

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  • establish criteria to evaluate prototypes and
  • develop improved schedules for prototype efforts.

With detailed planning, prototyping has the potential to further technology
development and reduce acquisition risk before the Navy makes significant
investments. Since uncrewed systems are key to the Navy’s future, optimizing
the prototyping phase of this effort is necessary to efficiently gaining information
to support future decisions.

Download the document here.

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