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Research Questions

  1. What are the key decisions with respect to life cycle management, the likely analyses needed for those decisions, and the data elements that should ideally be available as inputs to such analyses?
  2. What types and characteristics of data are captured by existing Army LCS data sources?
  3. What are the limitations within the available Army LCS data?
  4. What are the implications of those limitations for effective life cycle management?
  5. What factors could affect LCS data and opportunities for improvement?

The Army has been making policy, organizational, and information system changes to support Total Life Cycle Systems Management, the "cradle-to-grave" management of weapon and materiel systems. Recent reports, however, have described cases in which critical life cycle management (LCM) decisions and supporting analyses were hindered by problems with life cycle sustainment (LCS) data, i.e., the recorded information about the operation, support, and disposal of Army equipment. This documented briefing describes a study conducted to provide a comprehensive assessment of LCS data currently available in Standard Army Management Information Systems. Findings suggest that a range of data access, quality, and breadth issues should be addressed to ensure that rigorous analyses can be conducted in support of critical LCM decisions. Recommendations include a combination of potential Army policy revisions, information system design changes, and steps to improve execution of sustainment data policies.

Key Findings

LCS databases are not designed for ease of access and use by analysts

  • Multiple, sometimes lengthy approval processes.
  • Insufficient flexibility.
  • Data visibility hampered by dispersion in multiple systems and by partitioning within systems.

LCS data have substantial quality (accuracy and completeness) problems

  • Serial number discrepancies.
  • Inconsistent age data.
  • Poor usage data capture.

Some LCS data important to analyses are not captured or archived sufficiently

  • Most unit maintenance and scheduled maintenance actions.
  • Renewal actions.

Policy, design, and execution factors contribute to data problems

  • Policies do not require work orders for all organizational maintenance; do not require STAMIS archiving of renewal data; rely on units to check data quality.
  • Systems still depend on manual input and have limited error- and mistake-proofing.
  • Lack of emphasis on and enforcement of data reporting by units and depots.


  • Take actions to improve access, ease of use, and quality of LCS data.
  • Ensure the collection and archiving of all LCS data needed for analysis.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Background and Research Approach

  • Chapter Two


  • Chapter Three

    Overall Findings and Recommendations

  • Appendix A

    Reports of LCS Data Problems Hindering LCM Decisions

  • Appendix B

    Interview Questions

  • Appendix C

    Standard Sources of Army LCS Data

  • Appendix D

    Data Issues: Bases of Medium and Low Ratings of Data Elements

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was sponsored by the United States Army and conducted by the RAND Arroyo Center.

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