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Government watchdog warns of cost and technical risk for next-gen combat vehicle effort

The Government Accountability Office is warning the Army its approach to cost estimates and technical development for its Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle program is risky and should be amended, according to an August 6 report.

The Army has already struggled to get the OMFV program, intended to replace the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, off the ground, canceling its previous solicitation to compete after receiving just one bid from General Dynamics Land Systems last fall.

And GAO, in its report, is concerned that its new attempt to get after delivering an OMFV comes with risk because the program documentation “does not clearly communicate the uncertainty associated with projected costs” and limits the program’s “ability to gather the knowledge to effectively mitigate risk associated with system design maturity.”

For one, the Army has come up with a singular cost estimate for the life-cycle of the program rather than a range of potential costs that takes uncertainty into account, according to the report.

The OMFV program cost estimate, the report notes, is roughly $46 billion in fiscal 2019 dollars.

“Our past work has determined that a point estimate alone is insufficient for managers to make informed decisions about the cost of a program,” the GAO writes. “For informed decisions, the cost estimate must reflect a degree of uncertainty, typically achieved through an uncertainty analysis, so that level of confidence can be given about the estimate.”

For example, the OMFV program will be optionally manned, “which adds complexity and unknowns to the design as no vehicle like this currently exists in the Army’s ground vehicle fleet,” the GAO said. “But the uncertainty surrounding this complex design is not reflected in the point estimate.”

And because of this “decision makers are left making choices without a clear understanding of the impact on costs and may not be able to accurately budget for the program,” the report states.

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