Key Issues > Duplication & Cost Savings > GAO's Action Tracker > Army and Air Force Virtual Training
defense icon, source: [West Covina, California] Progressive Management, 2008

Defense: Army and Air Force Virtual Training

The Army and Air Force need to improve the management and oversight of their virtual training programs to avoid fragmentation and more efficiently and effectively acquire and integrate virtual devices into operational training and potentially save tens of millions of dollars.

Action:

The Army should specify in Army guidance for developing virtual training device requirements that training developers consider and document the time available to train with the devices and intended usage rates to achieve training tasks and proficiency goals during operational training.

Progress:

The Army has taken some steps to address this action, as recommended by GAO in August 2016, but has not yet implemented guidance for developing virtual training devices. As of August 2017, Army officials stated that the Army has established target usage rates for existing virtual training devices and has issued guidance and tracking tools for recording usage. However, the Army has not modified the guidance, cited in GAO’s August 2016 report, for developing new virtual training devices to reflect consideration of time available to train with a new device or expected usage rates, as GAO recommended. Without analysis that considers and documents available training time, tasks to be trained, and associated target usage rates, the Army does not have the information needed to evaluate the amount of virtual training capabilities needed to achieve training tasks and proficiency goals during operational training.

Implementing Entity:

Department of Defense

Action:

The Army should modify its policies to define how post-fielding training effectiveness analysis should be conducted and the process for selecting existing virtual training devices for such analysis to better prioritize Army resources for conducting such analyses.

Progress:

In March 2017, the Army published the Training Effectiveness Analysis Best Practices Guide, which defines how post-fielding training effectiveness analysis should be conducted, as GAO recommended in August 2016. As of August 2017, Army officials stated that virtual training devices are selected for post-fielding training effectiveness analysis based on a variety of factors that are considered by senior Army leaders. The Army’s goal is to conduct one to two training effectiveness analyses of virtual training devices per fiscal year. By more clearly defining the types of qualitative and quantitative analytical techniques used to analyze the training effectiveness of its virtual training devices and the process used to select devices for analysis, the Army is better positioned to assess the value of these devices in meeting unit training needs.

Implementing Entity:

Department of Defense

Action:

The Air Force should continue to refine its planning for virtual training to incorporate the desirable characteristics of a comprehensive strategy, including developing a risk-based investment strategy that identifies and prioritizes capability needs and includes a time line for addressing them.

Progress:

The Air Force has begun taking steps to address this action, as recommended by GAO in September 2016, but has not yet completed efforts to incorporate the desirable characteristics of a comprehensive strategy. As of August 2017, Air Force officials stated that the service is in the process of updating its Air Force Operational Training Infrastructure 2035 Flight Plan and plans to have it finalized in the fall of 2017. This plan will be accompanied by an infrastructure funding strategy and classified supplement. These officials stated that among these three documents the Air Force will incorporate all of the desirable characteristics of a comprehensive strategy. Air Force officials estimate that these documents will be finalized in the fall of 2017. Completion of these documents should help the Air Force incorporate the desirable characteristics of a comprehensive strategy and better enable the Air Force to acquire virtual training devices based on sound requirements and priorities.      

Implementing Entity:

Department of Defense
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    • Cary Russell
    • Director, Defense Capabilities and Management
    • russellc@gao.gov
    • (202) 512-5431