InsideDefense.com has a obtained a Naval Audit Service report verifying that urgent requests for capabilities from marines in the field, in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, are not being resolved fast enough. POGO has made this government report available for free here (pdf; note: InsideDefense.com charges for documents).
In sum, the Naval Audit Service concluded that the Urgent Universal Needs Statement (UUNS) process "was not effective" at the time of the audit. The report is dated September 28, 2007.
The report states that "the effectiveness of the process could not be measured, the ability to accomplish the mission could be impacted, the potential exists for wasted resources, and delivery of required UUNS requirements to Marine Corps warfighters could be delayed." The primary reason for these potential and real problems are the "lack of oversight and real-time visibility over the UUNS process" which "could delay solutions for [an] identified capability gap." The Marine Corps could not track where many of the UUNS requests were in the acquisition process.
The audit looked at 29 UUNS requests. The average time to complete an identification and validation of solutions for capability gaps identified in the UUNSs for these requests was about 6 months. The audit says that 6 months is "excessive if the requirements are urgently needed by deployed or deploying troops."
Earlier this year, we made available parts of a leaked presentation that was never delivered to senior Defense Department officials earlier this year that made many similar points about the Marine Corps' rapid acquisition process.
One of the most notorious examples of unmet needs were MRAPs (mine resistant ambush protected vehicles), which the Defense Department is now planning on procuring in extremely large quantities (many experts question the numbers the DoD is planning to procure). Marines in the field requested over 1000 MRAPs in early 2005 (and other identified a need for the vehicles even earlier) and it was not until early this year that either the Marine Corps or Defense Department began to really move.
-- Nick Schwellenbach