GAO Faults DOD for Lax Oversight of F-35 Spare Components

The Pentagon lacks oversight of doubtless tens of millions of spare elements for the F-35, a brand new Authorities Accountability Workplace report states—which means the F-35 Joint Program Workplace has not been capable of evaluation losses value tens of tens of millions of {dollars} lately. 

“DOD’s lack of accountability over the F-35 international spares pool impacts its capacity to resolve the fabric weak spot associated to the F-35 program,” the report concluded. 

The report marks one more downside for the fighter jet’s sustainment enterprise, which continues to concern Pentagon officers, lawmakers, and acquisition consultants over the F-35’s excessive working prices, its balking Autonomic Info Logistics System, and a continual shortages of some spare elements. 

Air Drive Secretary Frank Kendall stated this week that it was a “severe mistake” to permit Lockheed Martin, the prime contractor, to personal the technical baseline of the plane, thus controlling this system’s life cycle and creating “a perpetual monopoly” on sustainment, modifications, and upgrades. 

Now GAO’s report faults the Protection Division for ceding to Lockheed oversight for spare elements at subcontractor services. “The F-35 Joint Program Workplace doesn’t observe or enter these spare elements into an accountable property system of file that may allow it to seize and retailer real-time modifications to property data,” the report states. “Presently, the prime contractors keep this info.” 

Uniquely, the F-35’s international spares pool doesn’t belong to the Air Drive, Navy, Marine Corps, and overseas accomplice. As an alternative, the F-35 companions purchase entry to the spares pool. At situation for GAO is whether or not the spare elements at non-prime contractor services are thought-about government-furnished property (GFP), which ensures the elements are entered right into a Pentagon system that enables it to have oversight and details about the prices, areas, and portions of spare elements within the international spares pool. 

Solely one of many F-35’s two prime contractors—the report doesn’t specify whether or not that’s Lockheed Martin, chargeable for the plane, or Pratt & Whitney, which makes the engines—considers such elements government-furnished, so they don’t seem to be entered into the Pentagon’s system. In line with the report, the contractor and companies throughout the Protection Division have been debating the purpose since 2015. 

Precisely what number of elements are at situation is likewise unclear. GAO report famous that the F-35 Joint Program Workplace nonetheless doesn’t have a full accounting of the price, complete amount, and areas of spare elements within the international spares pool. 

GAO investigators assert that one of many two primes noticed greater than 1 million elements misplaced, broken, or destroyed, a lack of at the least $85 million. The report stated the F-35 JPO had adjudicated accountability and legal responsibility for simply 60,000 of these elements, or lower than 2 %. What’s extra, GAO stated this system workplace was totally depending on the contractors to report precisely, with no again up means to confirm losses. 

“For instance, losses that haven’t been reported to the F-35 JPO embody 34 actuator doorways and 14 batteries with complete prices of over $3.2 million and $2.1 million, respectively, that have been misplaced within the fourth quarter of calendar yr 2019,” the report famous. 

GAO additionally faulted this system workplace for failing to remain present on extra, out of date, or unserviceable spares. Some 19,000 such elements have been nonetheless awaiting directions as of final October, based on the report. 

GAO supplied 4 suggestions to deal with its considerations. It stated the Pentagon ought to: 

  • Take steps to make sure that all spare elements are categorized appropriately and accountable to the federal government 
  • Evaluate current insurance policies for asset accountability and make clear when elements are thought-about government-furnished property 
  • Develop a course of for contractors to report losses on spare elements not thought-about GFP till the federal government can agree on a contract modification to make these elements GFP 
  • Develop procedures to supply well timed directions for extra, out of date, or unserviceable elements 

The Pentagon agreed with all 4 the suggestions, the report famous.