Major defense information systems not meeting initial cost, schedule estimates, GAO says

Planned cost and schedule estimates for most of 18 Defense Department major automated information system programs changed from their original baselines, according to a new report.
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Planned cost and schedule estimates for several of the Defense Department’s major automated information systems have changed from their original baselines, according to a new report.

The Government Accountability Office said that of the 18 programs it measured, 11 saw increases in their cost estimates and five saw decreases. And none of the programs was ahead of schedule — programs were either in-line with their initial schedule, or slipping, the GAO said.

GAO sought to evaluate the department’s IT acquisition investments that are designated MAIS programs, eventually selecting 18 of the 35 that were unclassified and had an initial acquisition program baseline to measure against.

The watchdog also reviewed five of those programs in-depth to see how they were applying “leading practices for managing requirements, risks, and for conducting systems testing and integration.”


More dollars devoted — and unexpected dollars saved

The Base Information Transport Infrastructure Wired (BITI Wired) program, designed to upgrade the Air Force’s enterprise network, experienced the biggest decrease in a cost estimate, of about $1.47 million.

According to the GAO, “The decrease was due to more accurate cost estimates being provided by vendors. Specifically, initial estimates included large risk factors because, at the time, the government could not provide vendors a definitive list of items. As a result, vendors’ earlier estimates reflected the potential for risks in their estimates.”

The program is expected to reach full deployment in September 2017, the GAO wrote.

The biggest increase seen in a cost estimate, of 469 percent or $1.63 billion, was for the Common Aviation Command and Control System Increment 1 (CAC2S Inc 1), according to the report. The program also saw a huge slippage in their full deployment date of 13 years, nine months.


The program “is expected to provide an integrated and coordinated modernization effort for the equipment of the Marine Air Command and Control System,” according to the GAO, and as of last year in March phase 1 was in operations and sustainment, and phase 2 was in production and deployment.

The GAO recommended specific improvements to three of the 18 MAIS programs, and the Defense Department agreed with the recommendations.

Samantha Ehlinger

Written by Samantha Ehlinger

Samantha Ehlinger is a technology reporter for FedScoop. Her work has appeared in the Houston Chronicle, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and several McClatchy papers, including Miami Herald and The State. She was a part of a McClatchy investigative team for the “Irradiated” project on nuclear worker conditions, which won a McClatchy President’s Award. She is a graduate of Texas Christian University. Contact Samantha via email at, or follow her on Twitter at @samehlinger. Subscribe to the Daily Scoop for stories like this in your inbox every morning by signing up here:

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