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Report | Oct. 8, 2015

Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command and Overall Navy Needs to Improve Management of Waiver and Deferral Requests



Our objective for this audit was to evaluate the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) process to justify, review, and approve requests for waivers of criteria to certify readiness for operational testing and deferrals of operational testing requirements. We also summarized the results of our evaluation of the Navy’s management of waivers and deferrals from operational test requirements for the nine Navy acquisition programs reviewed. This report is the third in a series of reports that will evaluate the Navy’s management of its waivers and deferrals for acquisition programs.


The Navy Multiband Terminal (NMT) program manager did not request waivers when the program did not meet the certification criteria needed to enter initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E). Additionally, the program managers for the NMT, Tactical Mobile, Digital Modular Radio, and Computer Network Defense programs held operational test readiness review (OTRR) briefings that did not fully document that they had met the certification criteria for entering IOT&E.

These conditions occurred because Navy policy on requesting waivers was unclear. In addition, in May 2009, SPAWAR canceled their policy on waivers and deferrals.

As a result, the NMT program completed IOT&E with deficiencies that diminished the system’s ability to perform its primary communication mission. Additionally, the incomplete OTRR briefings hindered the program executive officer from fully considering the readiness of programs for IOT&E.

Overall, Navy program managers and system sponsors did not fully implement Navy policies for requesting waivers and deferrals before certifying program readiness for IOT&E to support the final production decision. Of nine Navy acquisition programs that entered final production between April 2012 and April 2014, program managers on: four did not request waivers when not meeting all IOT&E certification requirements; five had OTRR briefings not fully documenting how they met certification criteria; and one did not request deferrals from testing that planned to demonstrate system requirements during IOT&E. These conditions occurred because Navy policy was unclear on when program managers had to request waivers and deferrals. Additionally, Navy system sponsors for one program did not obtain an agreement from the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) that the deferral would not unacceptably affect military use before independently granting the deferral. This occurred because Navy policy did not require notifying JCS on deferrals. As a result, six of nine programs reviewed completed IOT&E with unresolved deficiencies that negatively impacted primary missions.


We recommend the Commander, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, update Command policy to include implementing the planned revision of Secretary of the Navy Instruction 5000.2E, “Department of the Navy Implementation and Operation of the Defense Acquisition System and the Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System.”  We are not making additional recommendations on the Navy’s management of waivers and deferrals. We made these recommendations in two earlier reports, as discussed in Finding B, and the Navy has ongoing corrective actions.

Management Comments and Our Response

The Deputy Department of the Navy Test and Evaluation Executive, responding for the Commander, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, agreed, stating that SPAWAR plans to distribute an updated Command policy that will clarify guidance requiring SPAWAR programs to follow the OTRR waiver process, as documented in SECNAVINST 5000.2E. The Deputy stated the updated Command policy is expected to be released by November 2015. The Deputy addressed the specifics of the recommendation, and no further comments are required.

This report is a result of Project No. D2015-D000AE-0157.000.