March 11, 2015 —
We inspected the F-35 Lightning II Program (F-35 Program) at Lockheed Martin, Fort Worth, Texas, for conformity to the contractually required Aerospace Standard (AS)9100, “Quality Management Systems – Requirements for Aviation, Space and Defense Organizations.” We also evaluated corrective actions taken in response to nonconformities, findings, and recommendations identified in DoD Inspector General (IG) Report No. DODIG-2013-140, “Quality Assurance Assessment of the F-35 Lightning II Program,” September 30, 2013, to determine whether the actions taken were appropriate.
The F-35 Program generally conformed to requirements and showed improvement in quality management system performance since our previous evaluation; however, challenges still remain, as evidenced by 57 nonconformities to the AS9100 standard and 4 opportunities for improvement. The Joint Program Office (JPO) did not:
A. ensure the program made sufficient progress toward full compliance with Public Law 108-136, “National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2004,” Section 802, “Quality control in procurement of aviation Critical Safety Items (CSIs) and related services,” and the Joint Service CSI Instruction (SECNAVINST 4140.2), “Management of Aviation Critical Safety Items,”
B. ensure that all system level requirements and capabilities were realized and verified,
C. create an independent quality assurance organization, establish its roles and responsibilities, and ensure it was adequately staffed to perform effective oversight for the F-35 Program,
D. ensure that Lockheed Martin was taking necessary steps to reduce the assembly defect rate in order to meet the full rate production goals,
F. ensure that Lockheed Martin’s software quality management processes were performed sufficiently to prevent software defects, and G. ensure that Lockheed Martin flows down all contractual requirements to its subcontractors, evaluates deliverables for contract compliance, and allows minor nonconformances to be approved only by the proper authority.
In addition, the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) did not:
E. escalate unresolved Corrective Action Requests (CARs) to the next higher level as appropriate and required by its policy, for effective resolution.
We recommend that the Joint Program Office:
A.1. ensure that the F-35 CSI Program is compliant with Public Law 108-136, Section 802, “Quality control in procurement of aviation CSIs and related services,” and the Joint Service CSI Instruction, “Management of Aviation Critical Safety Items”;
A.2. conduct periodic CSI Program evaluations of Lockheed Martin and its suppliers to ensure compliance with public law and the Joint Service CSI Instruction;
B.1. clearly define contractual criteria for the acceptance of all future and fielded aircraft to ensure that aircraft capabilities are verified;
B.2 ensure that all 21 system-level requirements that may not be met, in addition to the risks associated with the failure to meet these requirements, are documented, tracked, and mitigated using the established risk management process;
C. realign the quality assurance organization to report directly to the Program Executive Officer, define the organization’s roles and responsibilities, and staff the organization appropriately;
D.1. ensure that Lockheed Martin implements quality improvement initiatives to reduce the assembly defect rate to meet full rate production goals;
D.2. coordinate with DCMA to implement an effective root cause analysis and corrective action process in order to reduce assembly defect rate;
F. work with Lockheed Martin to ensure software quality management systems are improved; metrics should be reported on a periodic basis (for example, monthly) to evaluate process improvement; and
G.1. ensure that all minor nonconformances are evaluated and approved only by DCMA.
We recommend that the DCMA:
E.1. review all unresolved CARs and escalate those that meet the criteria established in DCMA policies and instructions,
E.2. assess all CARs that were not properly elevated and assess any impact on the product, and
G.2. ensure that Lockheed Martin flows down the appropriate technical requirements to its subcontractors and receives and evaluates contract deliverables within the required time frames.
Management Comments and Our Response
On January 20, 2015, JPO and DCMA provided comments on our findings and recommendations. The Joint Program Office agreed with six recommendations and partially agreed with three recommendations.
JPO partially agreed with the recommendation to track 21 system-level requirements, which it acknowledged will not be met. However, JPO does not consider the 21 system-level requirements as risks and did not agree to track them in its formal risk management process. We disagree with this approach because a final determination of performance has not been made and failure to track the risks in the formal risk management process prevents an identification of the plans necessary for closure.
JPO partially agreed with the recommendation to work with DCMA to implement an effective root cause analysis and corrective action process to reduce assembly defects to meet full-rate production goals. However, JPO stated that no additional changes to corrective action processes were necessary. We disagree with JPO’s response because additional quality initiatives are required to meet full?rate production goals and DCMA’s involvement is necessary to ensure objectives are met. Our recommendation was for JPO to take actions to identify and correct the cause of the program’s inability to reduce defect rates to support full-rate production.
JPO also partially agreed with our recommendation to ensure all minor nonconformances are evaluated and approved only by DCMA. The actions that JPO is planning to meet the intent of the recommendation.
DCMA agreed with all three of our recommendations. The actions that DCMA is planning to take meet the intent of the recommendations.
This report is a result of Project No. D2014-DT0TAD-0004.