Weapon System Sustainment: DOD Needs to Better Capture and Report Software Sustainment Costs
US Government Accountability Office
GAO-19-173
Feb 26, 2019
The Department of Defense (DOD) has policies and organizations to manage the sustainment of operational system software. DOD policy defines software sustainment and software maintenance activities synonymously, to comprise any activities or actions that change the software baseline, as well as modifications or upgrades that add capability or functionality.

One example of such an action is the Air Force’s modifying the security software on the B-52 bomber to better protect against attempted system penetration. The figure below defines the four categories of software sustainment actions.

DOD’s ability to track weapon system software sustainment costs is impeded by limitations in its collection of software cost data.

First, GAO found that the Office of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation’s (CAPE) Cost and Software Data Reporting system did not collect weapon system cost data from DOD software centers. Recognizing this, CAPE directed in January 2017 that cost and software data efforts on major acquisition programs should begin to be collected from government organizations, including DOD software centers.

However, CAPE acknowledges that it lacks an implementation plan to execute and monitor the requirement for these centers to submit cost and software data.
Second, GAO also found that the military departments’ operating and support cost systems have incomplete software sustainment cost data. DOD policy requires the military departments to collect and maintain actual operating and support costs, including software sustainment costs.

Without CAPE’s taking steps to prioritize obtaining complete information on operating and support costs for software sustainment, CAPE is challenged in its ability to accurately compile total program costs or provide reliable life-cycle cost estimates to DOD and Congress.


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