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Future Combat Systems (FCS) Resources

Future Combat Systems (FCS) is the centerpiece of a comprehensive vision to bring the Army into the 21st century. The transformation rests on a series of lighter, more deployable vehicles and weapons, coupled with an overarching network to seamlessly integrate each system and provide timely intelligence.  FCS has been plagued by inadequate planning and a reliance on immature technologies. These deficiencies have led to significant cost increases and schedule slips, which, in turn, have jeopardized the long-term viability of the program. The employment of a lead systems integrator (LSI) to manage the program has further compromised the Army's control of the FCS concept, reducing accountability and the ability to independently evaluate the program. Due to a number of system flaws in the FCS program, tens if not hundreds of billions in tax dollars and our future national security are at risk. 

Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Reports

Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports

Government Accountability Office (GAO) Reports

Other Reports

Relevant News Articles


Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Reports


CBO Study – The Long-Term Implications of Current Defense Plans: Detailed Update for Fiscal Year 2007, April 2007. http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/80xx/doc8018/04-20-Defense.pdf  A more technical study of all major defense plans, including FCS. Contains graph and charts, which track current spending and investments, as well as projected and alternative expenditures. Explores FCS primarily in pages 13-15 of pdf file.

CBO Study – The Army's Future Combat Systems: Program and Alternatives, August 2006. http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/74xx/doc7461/08-02-Army.pdf Considers the short and long-term implications of FCS program, and explores alternatives to FCS and their costs. Alternatives include scaling down the program altogether, as well as refocusing FCS to meet more specific, manageable objectives.

CBO Testimony – The Army's Future Combat Systems Program, April 4, 2006. http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/71xx/doc7122/04-04-FutureCombatSystems.pdf This comprehensive report includes a description of the goals and subsets of FCS. Additionally, it discusses the risks and funding challenges of FCS, and three potential alternatives that would reduce costs, but also refocus FCS, and thereby compromise some original objectives. The three alternative proposals are similar to three discussed in the CBO study referenced directly above this testimony.

CBO Study – The Long-Term Implications of Current Defense Plans: Detailed Update for Fiscal Year 2006, January 2006.  http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/70xx/doc7004/01-06-DPRDetailedUpdate.pdf A more sophisticated study of all major defense plans, including FCS. Contains graph and charts, which track current spending and investments, as well as projected and alternative expenditures. FCS is explored primarily from pages 20-30 of the study.

Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports

CRS Report – Defense: FY2008 Authorization and Appropriations, May 11, 2007. http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/RL33999.pdf Includes the requested appropriations for FCS in FY 2008, and discusses the differences in the House and Senate authorizations for the program. Cutting funds from FCS in FY 2008 is further discussed in recent news articles from major newspapers across the nation.

CRS Report – Defense: FY2007 Authorization and Appropriations, September 5, 2006. http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/RL33405.pdf Details the requested appropriations for FCS in FY 2007, and highlights differences in the House and Senate authorizations for the program. Includes a table (p. 61) with defense costs broken down by program.

CRS Report – The Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) and the Army's Future Combat System (FCS): Issues for Congress, November 17, 2005. http://digital.library.unt.edu/govdocs/crs/permalink/meta-crs-7941:1 Specifically discusses the role of the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) aspect of the Future Combat System (FCS). It demonstrates the centrality of this technology in producing a successful, networked FCS system-of-systems, and current developmental issues for JTRS.

CRS Report – Defense: Authorization and Appropriations for FY2006, July 15, 2005. http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/RL32924.pdf Summarizes the requested appropriations for FCS in FY 2006, and discusses the differences in the House and Senate authorizations for the program. Includes a table (p. 40-41) with defense costs broken down by program.

CRS Report – U.S. Army's Modular Redesign: Issues for Congress, May 20, 2005. http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/RL33999.pdf Provides a summary of the Army's objective in redesigning its forces, with specific attention to the modularity program. The report distinguishes between FCS and modularity (p. 14 of pdf file) and questions whether the Army can afford a thorough modularization program along with FCS at once. It provides many questions for Congress to consider.

CRS Report - The Army's Future Combat System (FCS): Background and Issues for Congress, April 28, 2005. http://pogo.org/m/dp/dp-CRS-RL32888-2005.pdf Very thorough discussion of Future Combat Systems, which includes background and objectives of the program, program timelines, criticisms of the Lead System Integrator (LSI) approach, developmental issues, and issues for Congress. Highly recommended as a detailed, yet understandable starting point for information.

CRS Report – Authorization and Appropriations for FY2005: Defense, May 27, 2004. http://www.fas.org/man/crs/RL32305.pdf Details the requested appropriations for FCS in FY 2005, and highlights the differences in the House and Senate authorizations for the program. Includes a table (p. 59) with defense costs broken down by program.

CRS Report – Authorization and Appropriations for FY2004: Defense, December 9, 2003. http://opencrs.cdt.org/rpts/RL31805_20030610.pdf  Very briefly discusses the FCS proposal as part of a military transformation on page 30 of the pdf file.

CRS Report – Army Transformation and Modernization: Overview and Issues for Congress, April 4, 2001. http://www.fas.org/man/crs/RS20787.pdf Introduces the FCS proposal and the objectives of such a broad scale army transformation, and briefly discusses the affordability, scheduling feasibility, and desirability of such a program.

Government Accountability Office (GAO) Reports

GAO Report - Defense Acquisitions: Role of Lead Systems Integrator on Future Combat Systems Program Poses Oversight Challenges, GAO-07-380, June 2007. http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d07380.pdf  Focuses on the oversight challenges presented by the Lead System Integrator approach to FCS, and the complexities and risks of such a relationship between contractor and government. Especially interesting because many of the complaints can be generalized to other systems using the LSI approach of large contracts to a major corporation, with reduced government control.

GAO Testimony – Defense Acquisitions: Future Combat System Risks Underscore the Importance of Oversight, GAO 07-672T, March 27, 2007. http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d07672t.pdf Calls for the Secretary of Defense to increase oversight of FCS and hold it to higher standards in determining whether to proceed with the program in 2009. The Secretary should also use the practices employed in FCS, such as the Lead System Integrator (LSI) approach and the system-of-systems proposal, to draw broader conclusions for the Department of Defense.

GAO Report – Defense Acquisitions: Assessment of Major Weapons Programs, GAO 07-406SP, March 2007. http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d07406sp.pdf Reviews FCS on pages 89-90 of the PDF File. This report includes an army timeline for the program (as of 2007) and an assessment of the current state of the program at the above listed date. Currently, only 1 of the 46 crucial technologies is mature.

GAO Report – Defense Acquisitions: Key Decisions to Be Made on Future Combat Systems, GAO 07-376, March 2007. http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d07376.pdf In this report, the GAO urges the Secretary of Defense to use specific criteria to evaluate FCS in the 2009 milestone review, and to address alternatives if the program appears unable to meet its objectives.

GAO Letter – Defense Contracting: Questions for the Record, GAO 07-217R, December 21, 2006. http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d07217r.pdf Comptroller General David Walker testifies before the House Subcommittee on Defense regarding DOD policies and practices that undermine their ability to establish sound business arrangements.

GAO Report – Force Structure: Army Needs to Provide DOD and Congress More Visibility Regarding Modular Force Capabilities and Implementation Plans, GAO 06-745, September 2006. http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d06745.pdf Calls for greater transparency from the DOD, and urges them to submit information to Congress regarding their modular force equipping strategy and plans for assessing the program to make sure it is meeting the original and evolving objectives.

GAO Testimony – Defense Acquisitions: Actions Needed to get Better Results on Weapons System Investments, GAO 06-585T, April 5, 2006. http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d06585t.pdf  The GAO concludes that at this time, DOD is not prepared to deliver the benefits of FCS in a cost-efficient and timely manner. Consequently, it calls on the DOD to re-evaluate "the entirety of their acquisition process."

GAO Testimony – Defense Acquisitions: Improved Business Case Key for Future Combat System's Success, GAO 06-564T, April 4, 2006. http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d06564t.pdf  Encourages the Secretary of Defense to take actions to improve the business case and oversee the DOD's work. The report also calls for a major milestone review by 2008, which would determine if FCS has progressed and established enough sound practices to continue.

GAO Testimony – GAO's High-Risk Program, GAO 06-497T, March 15, 2006. http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d06497t.pdf Characterizes the FCS as a "high-risk" program, again emphasizing the lack of a sound business case to support this claim. It uses the specific example of award and incentive fees given to the Lead System Integrator (LSI) Boeing. The information on FCS appears primarily on pages 17-18 of the pdf file.

GAO Testimony – Defense Acquisitions: Business Case and Business Arrangements Key for Future Combat System's Success, GAO 06-478T, March 1, 2006. http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d06478t.pdf The GAO concludes that the FCS has continued to develop without a sound business case, which has led to various problems throughout the program and will lead to more problems if a plan is not established in the near future.

GAO Report – Defense Acquisitions: Improved Business Case is Needed for Future Combat System's Successful Outcome, GAO 06-367, March 2006. http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d06367.pdf Again argues for the establishment of a sound business case. The GAO urges the Secretary of Defense to set clear expectations and track progress of the FCS program.

GAO Report – Defense Acquisitions: Assessment of Major Weapons Programs, GAO 06-391, March 2006. http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d06391.pdf Reviews FCS on pages 69-70 of the PDF File. Document includes an army timeline for the program (as of 2006) and an assessment of the current state of the program at the above listed date. Currently, none of the 49 crucial technologies are mature.

GAO Report – Force Structure: Actions Needed to Improve Estimates and Oversight of Costs for Transforming Army to a Modular Force, GAO 05-926, September 2005.  http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d05926.pdf  Discusses issues with the Army's funding plan, and asserts that their practices to estimate costs are misleading and inaccurate. Recommends the Secretary of Defense provide a plan for overseeing costs and reporting to Congress to allow for further disclosure.

GAO Report – Defense Acquisitions: Resolving Development Risks in the Army's Networked Communications is Key to Fielding Future Force, GAO 05-669, June 2005. http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d05669.pdf  This report explores the more technical aspects of the FCS network, and the challenges therein. It includes the key technologies integral to the network's success, including the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) and Warfighter Information Network – Tactical (WIN-T). GAO concludes the need to resolve development risks in these programs is essential to improving the chances of success for FCS.

GAO Report – Defense Acquisitions: Future Combat Systems Challenges and Prospects for Success, GAO 05-428T, March 16, 2005. http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d05428t.pdf  Outlines the technical complexity of the FCS program, including the vast number of systems and the challenge of unifying them under a single network. In light of these challenges, the GAO questions the ability of FCS to meet the requirements in the allocated budget and time frame.

GAO Report – Defense Acquisitions: Assessment of Major Weapons Programs, GAO 05-301, March 2005. http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d05301.pdf  Reviews FCS on pages 74-5 of the PDF File. The report includes an army timeline for the program (as of 2005) and an assessment of the current state of the program at the above listed date.

GAO Report – Spectrum Management: Better Knowledge Needed to Take Advantage of Technologies that May Improve Spectrum Efficiency, GAO 04-666, May 2004. http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d04666.pdf Discusses the need for the DOD to improve spectrum efficiency to meet the operational requirements of their vast programs. Specifically lays out FCS' reliance on information and communications, which buttresses the need to improve spectrum efficiency.

GAO Report – Defense Acquisitions: The Army's Future Combat Systems' Features, Risks, and Alternatives, GAO 04-635T, April 1, 2004. http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d04635t.pdf This report focuses on the risks of FCS, specifically regarding its ability to meet the required capabilities on budget, especially in light of the vague requirements and aggressive schedule set forth at this point.

GAO Report – Defense Acquisitions: Assessment of Major Weapons Programs, GAO 04-248, March 2004. http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d04248.pdf  FCS is reviewed on pages 71-2 of the PDF File. Document includes an army timeline for the program (as of 2004) and an assessment of the current state of the program at the above listed date.

GAO Letter – Issues Facing the Army's Future Combat Systems Program, GAO 03-1010R, August 13, 2003. http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d031010r.pdf  This article lays out the basic groundwork and challenges for FCS near the onset of the System Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase. It discusses the objectives of the program and recommends three areas for improvement to a Subcommittee of the House Committee on Armed Services.

Other Reports

Office of the Secretary of Defense – Selected Acquisition Reports: Summary Tables, 1972-2006. http://www.acq.osd.mil/ara/am/sar/index.html  The Selected Acquisition Reports (SARs) are released 3 times annually and contain detailed spending information in chart form for various spending programs. Using these reports can be helpful in tracing expenditures for FCS. New information should be released by the end of June.

Department of Defense: Quadrennial Defense Report Review, February 6, 2006. http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/policy/dod/qdr-2006-report.pdf  Discusses "spin-outs" of FCS that will be used in the Army's modular forces as the program continues development. This is a spiral development process.

Institute for Defense Analyses Testimony – IDA Findings on the Use of the Lead Systems Integrator Structure for the Army's FCS Program: Statement for the Air-Ground Subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee, March 1, 2006. http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/congress/2006_hr/060301-graham.pdf  The Institute for Defense Analysis (IDA) says that although the Lead Systems Integrator (LSI) approach can work for FCS, it does present "significant management risks," mainly because of Boeing's financial stake in the program. Consequently, IDA recommends that the Army undergo many tests to make sure Boeing is complying with standards of conduct, especially in light of prior misconduct suits.

Institute for Defense Analyses Testimony – IDA Findings on the Use of Other Transactions Authority for the Army's FCS Program: Statement for the Air-Ground Subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee, March 15, 2005. http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/congress/2005_hr/050316-graham.pdf  The IDA assesses the Other Transactions Agreement (OTA) that governed FCS until 2005, and finds that although it does add contractor flexibility, it is drawn up rather conservatively with many aspects of Federal Acquisition Regulations (FARs) included.

National Legal and Policy Center Testimony – A Closer Look at the Future Combat Systems Agreement with Boeing: A High Risk Program with a Higher Risk Agreement, March 15, 2005. http://www.nlpc.org/pdfs/BoehmTestimony31505.PDF  Questions the appropriateness of the Other Transaction Agreement (OTA) in governing relations between the Army and Boeing, and documents prior complaints raised against Boeing including their ability to oversee programs fairly and managing access to propriety information from rival corporations. Additionally questions Boeing's selection as Lead System Integrator in the face of these serious and repeated charges.

Daniel I. Gordon, "Organizational Conflicts of Interest: A Growing Integrity Challenge," The George Washington Law School , February 8, 2005. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=665274  In more general terms, outlines conflicts of interest involving government officials that have become more common in recent years, especially in the federal procurement process. The article discusses reasons for the increase in organizational conflicts of interest (OCIs), as well as the legal response to such violations.

Institute for Defense Analyses Report - Review of FCS Management Issues, Final Report to Acting Secretary of the Army Hon. R. L. Brownlee, August 17, 2004. (No link available yet)

Relevant News Articles

"High Tech Weapons: A Loss of Control," Business Week, by Stanley Holmes, June 25, 2007. http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/07_26/b4040042.htmCasts doubt on the ability of FCS to meet its requirements, and highlights how Boeing stands to benefit from the LSI arrangement, regardless of results.  Describes how the relationship with Boeing could result in troubling influences on the Army's FCS program.

"Troubled Waters: Systems Integrators Fall from Grace, but Many Doubt that Government Can Run Without Them," Washington Technology, by  Alice Lipowicz, June 11, 2007. http://www.washingtontechnology.com/print/22_10/30823-1.html
Comments more generally on Lead Systems Integrators (LSI's) and the criticism they have received. Talks about proposed Fiscal Year 2008 House Defense Authorizations, which would phase out LSI's by 2011, and Senate legislation endorsed by Lieberman and Collins that would further regulate and define the role of LSI's. At the same time, doubts if the government can run without LSI's unless broad structural changes are made.

"U.S. Army's 'Future Combat Systems' Program Remains Under Fire," World Politics Review, by Richard Mullen, May 30, 2007. http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/article.aspx?id=807#
Discusses criticism of FCS put forth by Center for Defense Analysis (CDI) analyst Winslow Wheeler and from the House Armed Service Committee, which has threatened to cut funding for FCS in fiscal year 2008. The Army and Heritage Foundation fellow James Carafano defend the program, calling it a work in progress, and a program still trying to fully define its goals.

"Fighting Folly," Government Executive, by Greg Grant, May 1, 2007. http://www.govexec.com/features/0507-01/0507-01s3.htmQuestions the concepts underlying the FCS program as a whole, which have been challenged by experts and further questioned by fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan . Also describes the risks of a close relationship between Boeing and the Army, and cites RAND studies which criticize specific aspects of FCS.

"Future Tanks Could Surprise Critics," Government Executive, by Sydney J. Freedburg, Jr., September 20, 2006. http://www.govexec.com/story_page.cfm?filepath=/dailyfed/092006nj1.htm
Describes four major problems of FCS that have threatened its continuation, and argues that the FCS has to be seen in a different light, not as a program that will change every aspect of fighting, but one that will add complementary units to traditional, heavier vehicles.

"Weapons Are Far Over Budget: 25 Programs Overrun Estimates by More Than 50%," Washington Post, by Charles R. Babcock,  April 8, 2006. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/04/07/AR2006040701781_pf.html
Provides many examples of the disturbing Department of Defense trend to go drastically over budget in efforts to complete projects. Cites a GAO report that noted FCS costs rose 76% in just one year.

"High-tech U.S. combat force stalled by price tag," International Herald Tribune, by Tim Weiner,  March 29, 2005. http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/03/28/news/military.php
Describes price increases in FCS that may continue in future years. Quotes Representative Weldon (R-PA) who called the FCS budget "a train wreck" during a hearing on March 16th.

 "Hearings Focus on $100 Billion Army Plan," Washington Post, by Renae Merle, March 15, 2005. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/03/26/AR2005032600078_pf.html
Describes a hearing held by the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee, chaired by Senator McCain, which questioned the FCS procurement contract, which was currently in the form of an Other Transaction Agreement (OTA) and not subject to all FAR regulations. The Committee questioned whether FCS meets the requirements for OTA use, and whether it allows for sufficient government accountability.

 "Revamped Army Plans Give Boeing Bigger Role," Washington Post, by Renae Merle, August 10, 2004. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A53003-2004Aug9.html
Documents increases in the value of Boeing's contract as Lead System Integrator (LSI) for FCS. The contract has grown from under $15 billion to over $20 billion dollars, coinciding with rising cost estimates of the FCS program.