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Report | Sept. 14, 2015

Naval Sea Systems Command Needs to Improve Management of Waiver and Deferral Requests



Our overall objective was to evaluate the Navy’s management of waivers and deferrals from operational test requirements for systems. The audit objective evaluated the process for justifying, reviewing, and approving waiver and deferral requests for the Identity Dominance System (IDS) and the Standard Missile 6 (SM-6) at Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA).


NAVSEA program managers and system sponsors within the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) did not fully implement Navy and Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) policy on requesting waivers and deferrals and certifying program readiness for Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) on the IDS and SM-6 programs. Specifically, program managers did not:
  • request waivers when the IDS program did not meet two IOT&E certification criteria; and deferrals from testing 23 requirements, and
  • communicate timely with the JCS and obtain concurrence on three testing deferrals to demonstrate primary system requirements for the SM-6.

These conditions occurred because Navy policy did not clearly state that program managers must request waivers whenever their program does not meet all criteria required before starting IOT&E, and request deferrals whenever system requirements testing is delayed. In addition, Navy policy did not require system sponsors to notify JCS when testing deferrals impact meeting primary system requirements. Further, the NAVSEA policy on waivers and deferrals was outdated and did not reference relevant Navy policy.

As a result, the IDS entered and completed IOT&E with unresolved deficiencies and reduced mission effectiveness. The IDS deficiencies slowed the system’s ability to match fingerprints against terrorists and other persons of interest on watch lists. Additionally, the SM-6 completed IOT&E without demonstrating primary system requirements for increased missile range, launch availability, and interoperability. At final production decision, the program managers had purchased 32 IDS tactical kits and 16 support kits valued at $1.1 million and 41 SM-6 missiles valued at $148.3 million. While CNO staff stated the systems improved existing capability, the systems had not demonstrated that they could fully perform their assigned missions.


We recommend the Vice Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, revise the JCS guidance to require sponsors of Acquisition Category I programs, or programs of interest to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to notify the JCS when deferrals will delay demonstrating primary system requirements beyond the scheduled date for initial operational capability.

We recommend the Secretary of the Navy revise Navy policy, after the Vice Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff revises the JCS guidance.

We recommend the Commander, Naval Sea Systems Command revise NAVSEA policy incorporating updated Navy policy on managing waivers and deferrals from operational test requirements.

Management Comments and Our Response

We added Recommendation 1 to the Vice Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and renumbered the remaining recommendations in response to comments received on the draft report from the Deputy Department of the Navy Test and Evaluation Executive.

The Deputy Department of the Navy Test and Evaluation Executive, responding for the Secretary of the Navy disagreed with Recommendation 2. We revised this recommendation and, therefore, request that the Deputy provide comments on the revised recommendation. The Deputy, responding for the Commander, NAVSEA, agreed with Recommendation 3, and no further comments are required.

This report is a result of Project No. D2015-D000AE-0081.000.