DR. PATRICIA SANDERS
TEST, SYSTEMS ENGINEERING AND EVALUATION
SUBCOMMITTEE ON ACQUISITION AND TECHNOLOGY
SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE
MARCH 24, 1998
Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of the subcommittee, I appreciate the opportunity to discuss with you RDT&E Management Reform, particularly as it relates to test and evaluation (T&E) centers and I appreciate the support this Committee has given the test and evaluation community.
In order for the Department of Defense (DoD) to support its T&E functions - including research, weapon system development, survivability enhancements, production and modification testing, depot maintenance testing, operational training and exercises, aging and surveillance testing, foreign military sales, and commercial use - it creates, operates, and maintains some of the most complex, technically sophisticated, and largest facilities in the world. Costs approach $1 billion for a single facility to test aircraft engines. Land area requirements take nearly two million acres for a single open-air test range. With its complex avionics, an F-22 flight test sortie will consume all of the available frequency spectrum to support telemetry requirements. In spite of the large areas and complex technologies involved, the facilities of the Major Range and Test Facility Base (MRTFB) provide T&E services at a cost that averages about four percent of total program development costs.
The Major Range and Test Facilities Base includes T&E facilities at the locations indicated on the map at Attachment 1. They encompass 21,000 square miles of land, 243,000 square miles of water surface, and 221,000 square miles of air space—indispensable and irreplaceable resources. The MRTFB facilities represent a capital investment of close to $30 billion and employ close to 48,000 military, government civilian, and contractor personnel. These facilities are supported by a current annual institutional funding of approximately $1.2 billion and customer reimbursements of about $1.5 billion. The Department invests about $500 million each year in their recapitalization and modernization.
While the MRTFB facilities are owned and operated by the Services and Defense Agencies, it is my responsibility, on behalf of the Under Secretary (Acquisition and Technology) under DoD Directive 3200.11 to:
As we strive to accomplish the T&E mission and contribute to modernization for future readiness, we face a dual-faceted challenge. On one hand we are working within the diminished modernization budget, including less resources for test as well as less investment dollars for enhancing T&E capabilities. On the other hand, the Department’s strategy increasingly relies on the fielding of fewer, but more capable systems - systems which are inherently more sophisticated and complex - with greater technical challenges to manage and which stress our current test capabilities.
Consistent with, but not proportional to, overall reductions in the Department, we have reduced numbers of facilities, institutional funding levels, and personnel numbers. And I will discuss these. But these steps are not objectives in themselves. Our metrics need to be in terms of reductions in cost and time to test programs and in reductions in cost to own and operate our T&E infrastructure. We have reduced institutional funding for the MRTFB by 27 percent since FY 1990, but since some increased costs have been passed on to our customers, the weapons systems program managers, this reduction may be meaningless. And reducing the numbers of the government T&E workforce is not helpful if processes are not put in place to enable testing with fewer personnel. Otherwise we merely shift the workload to a contractor workforce with no guarantee that costs will be reduced. So when I think of T&E infrastructure, I like to think in terms of Facilities, People, and Processes. And I would like to address each of these briefly in turn.
It is somewhat of a myth that the T&E workload has substantially diminished. Workload has dropped only by about 11 percent since FY 90, but the composition of that workload has changed. As can be seen in the chart at Attachment 2, less of the work is directly related to new acquisition programs, but increasingly testing is done for quality assurance, maintenance, and surveillance of existing and aging systems. Nevertheless, we do have excess infrastructure including many duplicative facilities once built to meet the unique requirements of specific weapons system programs. Four rounds of Base Realignment and Closures (BRAC) have led to a significant number of closures, consolidations and realignments, and others are scheduled to be completed by fiscal year 2001. A graphic indicating the locations of the major closures is at Attachment 3. While we are committed to retaining our critical land, sea, and air space, we have not achieved the last of necessary reductions in test facilities—particularly, the elimination of old, high-maintenance, and inefficient facilities and their associated costs. While retaining critical capabilities for the future, we simply cannot afford to spread our limited resources too thinly.
Meanwhile we do need to enhance the productivity of our assets. For example, four years ago the Air Force Developmental Test Center set the goal of achieving the same utilization rate for their test aircraft as the operational forces have. They were able to achieve this increased level of output in about a year and the real payoff came when they resized the test fleet to match the higher utilization. Because they now need fewer aircraft to fly the same number of sorties, they have been able to cut the fleet size in half while still flying the same number of test hours. With these actions, they were able to realize some very significant savings in maintenance manpower, with a direct reduction in infrastructure support costs. Overall we have reduced support aircraft in the Navy and Air Force by 40 to 50 percent.
It often takes investment, however, to enhance productivity. Most of our test facilities were built in the early stages of the Cold War. More than two thirds of the infrastructure is over thirty years old—with the average age being well over forty years as can be seen in Attachment 5. During the last twenty years, DoD’s investment rate for the T&E facilities had been less than one third of the rate of investment in private industry and an order of magnitude below the investment rate for high technology industries (Attachment 6). At the same time, T&E investment funding is down by 33 percent since FY 1990 (Attachment 7) and I am not optimistic for future increases.
These investments must be made to:
At the same time that our investments in T&E are declining, maintenance costs are increasing and productivity is decreasing due to age and outdated technology. For example, the Propulsion Wind Tunnel facility at Arnold Engineering Development Center—an absolutely essential asset both for DoD and the nation as a whole--faces declining availability and maintainability in several areas. Two old and inefficient electric induction motors driving the 16 foot transonic and supersonic tunnels’ compressors are an Achilles heel of the facility’s operations. These motors were designed almost 50 years ago, are not environmentally friendly, and halt tunnel operations whenever they fail. A $65 million sustainment program is anticipated over the next seven years to correct this and other deficiencies but will reduce operating costs due to greater efficiencies, fewer subsystem failures, and reduced run time. The positive impact: Reducing the time spent in wind tunnel testing by half can decrease the cost of a development program by a third.
The impact of inadequate investment in test capabilities is reflected directly in our ability to affordably modernize the forces. The effect on acquisition programs is seen in several ways:
On the other hand, with properly focused investment in test facilities, we are achieving some significant successes through recently fielded systems that have increased both the effectiveness of our testing and its efficiency. Examples of this are the Common Airborne Instrumentation System (CAIS) now flying on the F-18E/F and destined for the F-22 and Joint Strike Fighter and the Smart Munitions Test Suite—a mobile system critical to missile defense testing using automation and sensor fusion techniques to acquire and track submunitions
The benefits to be gained from innovative, modern T&E capabilities are manifold. The Naval Air Weapons Center at Patuxent River used the Air Combat Environmental T&E Facility to reduce flight test hours and cost by a third in testing equipment on board the EA-6B aircraft. The Aerial Cable Test facility at White Sands Missile Range was used for 662 individual tests and saved projects over $20M in the first year of operation by reducing missile firings and in-flight testing. At Eglin AFB, use of ground simulation led to a 35% reduction in cost and a 300% increase in data capture during flight test of the APG-63 radar.
All of the test capability improvements I mentioned - airborne instrumentation, munitions test suites, target control, installed system test facilities, aerial cable and simulation - were made possible by our Central Test and Evaluation Investment Program (CTEIP) which this Committee has strongly supported over the past several years. While the test capability investment budgets of the Services have declined dramatically in recent years, we, with your help, have maintained the CTEIP funding at a constant level in purchasing power. Over fifty CTEIP projects have been completed since 1990 with more than forty capabilities currently in development. Over thirty-two Acquisition Category (ACAT) I and II programs will use CTEIP development capabilities from current projects alone.
My objectives for CTEIP investments are to:
The second aspect of our T&E infrastructure is people. Our T&E professional workforce is both our greatest asset and our largest cost driver. It is clear that the bulk of our money is spent on manpower—at least 70 percent and perhaps as high as 85 percent in some areas. Fundamentally, manpower is the high leverage point—if a reinvention idea does not reduce required manpower, it will not have significant impact. So facilities—moved, closed, or consolidated—generally are not a high payoff area unless the closing or moving also saves manpower. Institutional manpower will have dropped more than 25% from FY90-98 with further reductions programmed. But to have a meaningful reduction we need to take the necessary steps to perform the T&E mission with less manpower—if you plan to have half as many carpenters, you have to give them power tools, not hand saws!
An example of steps that can be taken to perform the mission with less manpower is increased—but credible—use of modeling and simulation, including those in high fidelity systems integration and hardware in the loop ground test facilities. If we look at a work breakdown by facility and manloading—considering a spectrum from digital modeling and simulation to open air range testing—we find that open air testing accounts for only about 30 percent of the work we do—but it also accounts for over 60 percent of our manpower. Since manpower is a high-leverage commodity, this highlights a real potential for reducing the cost of doing business. We can pursue two strategies: We need to either dramatically reduce the manpower costs associated with open-air testing, or we need to reduce the amount of open-air testing. We have chosen to emphasize the latter option because we not only reduce the cost, we also get better results. Greater use of digital modeling, and simulation techniques in ground test environments, is a path to reducing open air test costs. (Attachment 8)
As we draw down our T&E workforce, we must also pay attention to the composition of that workforce. We need to be able to achieve and maintain the appropriate skill mix with adequate personnel development programs to meet projected needs. We would like to work with you to improve our ability to hire, reward, and retain capable employees and to improve our programs for professional development of the workforce.
The third facet of infrastructure is processes—and I believe process change has substantial potential for reducing the cost of T&E and the time to test, as well as being the key to effect meaningful infrastructure reductions. This is where we capitalize on the Revolution in Business Affairs and focus on providing more efficient and affordable testing through better business practices. We have seen numerous individual success stories at T&E centers in business process reengineering, for example:
Specific areas where process changes are being and must be made include:
In summary, it is compelling for DoD to sustain its ability to adequately test while reducing both the costs and time associated with that vital test mission. In order to achieve that goal we will need to reduce old, inefficient facilities, lower manpower associated costs, improve our test and business processes, and focus our investments both to meet the testing needs of emerging technologies and complex weapons systems and to enhance productivity.
I appreciate your continuing assistance as well as this opportunity of appearing before the committee and shall be happy to answer any questions you may have.