The Pentagon Inspector General (IG) said last week that it plans to begin an audit of how the program for the Lockheed Martin [LMT] F-35 has maintained a real-time inventory in the Defense Property Accountability System (DPAS) of F-35s, aircraft parts in the global spares pool, support equipment/special tooling/special test equipment, and internal use software.

“The objective of this audit is to perform test procedures of the reporting of Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) F-35 assets in the Defense Property Accountability System and determine the progress made by the JSF Joint Program Office [JPO] to remediate material weaknesses and conditions identified by the DoD Agency Wide Financial Statement audit,” the DoD IG said on Sept. 21.

“We will perform test procedures as part of the DoD Agency-Wide Financial Statements audit,” per the Pentagon IG. “We will use the results of these procedures to inform DoD leadership and Congress of conditions effecting the use, accounting, and reporting of JSF assets. We will also use the results to report on the progress made by DoD to transfer the management, planning, and execution of sustainment activities to the Secretary of the Air Force and the Secretary of the Navy in accordance with the National Defense Authorization Act [NDAA] for FY 2022.”

Section 142 of the fiscal 2022 NDAA mandates that DoD transfer sustainment of the F-35 from the JPO to the Department of the Air Force and the Department of the Navy no later than Oct. 1, 2027.

In May, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said that DPAS is inadequate for the real-time inventory of F-35 property at 671 government and contractor sites (Defense Daily, May 6).

In 2019, the Pentagon IG found that the F-35 program was unable to track F-35 parts adequately, as the program had not chosen an Accountable Property System of Record (ASPR) required by DoD Instruction 5000.64 until October 2017.

In fiscal year 2020, however, the F-35 program designated DPAS as the offiical F-35 ASPR.

GAO’s May report said that “because of the absence of a direct interface with the prime contractors-managed inventory tracking systems, DPAS currently is not able to capture changes to JSF property records resulting from the movement or the use of the assets.”

“Additionally, DPAS is missing some of the data elements required by DoD policy, and lacks some necessary controls, as identified by external auditors,” the study said.

The Pentagon IG in 2019 found a “material weakness” in the F-35 program, as DoD did not report some F-35 assets in financial statements under four categories: aircraft, the global spares pool, support equipment/special tooling/special test equipment, and internal use software.

The GAO said that last November the F-35 JPO “entered into DPAS the JSF assets’ property records containing these data elements [on asset description, location, and quantity], creating DoD’s first official record of JSF assets in the history of the program.”

“However, since the inventory count was first performed, the status of the data elements for many of these assets may have changed because of either the movement of an asset to another location, use of the asset to repair aircraft currently owned by program participants, or the disposal of the asset because of damage,” the report said. “Because DPAS does not currently interface with prime contractors’ systems and capture real-time changes to JSF assets’ data elements that may have occurred since the inventory was first performed, many of the JSF assets’ property records in DPAS do not reflect current, accurate information. To update these changes in DPAS, the F-35 JPO will need to recapture the current status of over half of the JSF assets, such as panel assemblies, valves, and other consumable parts, that were inventoried during fiscal years 2019 through 2021.”

The F-35 JPO told GAO that it is working on a short-term workaround for asset verification by revising property records in DPAS each quarter, if needed, “with more recent data captured from several different data sources, such as Contract Data Requirements Lists, the Procurement Integrated Enterprise Environment, and the [F-35] Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS).”

In the long-term, “F-35 JPO officials stated that they are in discussions with the prime contractors to develop an interface between DPAS and contractor-managed inventory tracking systems that will allow DPAS to be updated with changes to its property records in real time,” the report said. “However, as of the end of November 2021, this interface was in the planning phase and is expected to take at least 2 to 4 years to become fully operational. Until then, only the contractor-managed logistics system will capture these changes.”