A new review of major acquisition programs managed by the Department of Homeland Security found that three systems are not meeting their planned cost or schedule goals but most program are, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO).
The three programs not meeting their DHS approved acquisition program baseline are the Homeland Advanced Recognition Technology (HART) biometric system effort, the Coast Guard’s Medium-Range Surveillance (MRS) Aircraft and the Science and Technology Directorate’s National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF), says the report, DHS Annual Assessment: Most Acquisition Programs Are Meeting Goals Even with Some Management Issues and COVID-19 Delays (GAO-22-104684).
The HART program, which is being developed by Northrop Grumman [NOC] to replace the legacy IDENT biometric identification system, continues to be in breach of both cost and schedule goals, GAO says. The approved threshold life-cycle cost estimate for HART is $3.9 billion but the current expectation is the program will cost $6.2 billion over its lifespan, it says.
As for schedule, the report says HART was supposed to achieve initial operating capability in December 2018 and full operational capability in September 2021, although neither commitment was met and updated milestones haven’t been finalized.
The report says that DHS is expected to approve a new baseline for HART as early as March 2022, as well as new requirements documents, contract modifications, increased program and contractor oversight.
The IDENT system began operating in 1994 but is strained by limits on accuracy, capacity and biometric modalities, all of which HART is addressing. IDENT is also costly to maintain.
The Coast Guard’s MRS program is comprised of 18 HC-144A aircraft, supplied by Airbus Group, and 14 C-27J, used in various missions, including search and rescue, disaster response, and drug and migrant interdiction. The current life-cycle cost estimate for the program is $17.2 billion, $2 billion higher than the approved baseline threshold, the report says.
The Coast Guard blames the cost overruns on delays associated with installing new Minotaur mission systems on the first two prototype C-27Js and in finalizing hardware design instructions for production, GAO says. The two aircraft are expected to receive the mission systems in by June 2022 and March 2023, respectively.
The NBAF is replacing the Plum Island Animal Disease Center and will be operated by the Department of Agriculture for research and development to protect against foreign animal diseases. The report says the Agriculture Department will have operational responsibility for the facility once DHS completes construction and achieves initial operational capability, which is when the NBAF is commissioned.
Plans for IOC have been delayed twice and the facility is currently expected to be commissioned in July 2022, 14 months later than planned under a modified baseline, GAO says.
GAO reviewed programs with life-cycle costs estimated to be at least $300 million.