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ARMY AQUISITION: Decision to Buy Test Equipment Not Adequately Justified
The Army has developed automatic test equipment that was unique to specific weapon systems. This has resulted in a proliferation of system-unique automatic test equipment, which produced high operation and support costs, and inefficient use due to non-standardized operation and test program sets. The Army required standardized automatic test equipment to eliminate the problems of system-unique equipment. In 1986, the Army designated IFTE as the standardized test equipment that must now be used to support weapon systems, unless this requirement is waived. IFIE consists of three systems: a Contact Test Set, a Base Shop Test Facility, and commercial equivalent equipment. A Contact Test Set-a portable, on-system tester-is used at the unit and direct support level to diagnose failures to the unit or part of an end item that is replaceable. A Base Shop Test Facility consists of two shelters, each mounted on separate 5-ton trucks with two towable generators. One shelter houses the Base Shop Test Station, support equipment, and a work area. The second shelter is used to store the test program sets. A Base Shop Test Facility is fielded at the direct support or general support locations and is used to test faulty major components. The commercial equivalent equipment is the testing equivalent to the Base Shop Test Station at the depot level for off-system testing. The Army initiated the IFTE program in fiscal year 1982 and published a cost and operational effectiveness analysis, dated May 1985, to support the milestone II (engineering and manufacturing development) decision. That analysis concluded that IFTE was the preferred alternative to meet the Army's test, measurement, and diagnostic equipment needs. In 1985, we questioned the Army's analysis and reported that it had several shortcomings, including not considering various alternatives, using questionable assumptions, and excluding some applicable costs2.
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