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Defense Acquisition: Use of Lead System Integrators (LSIs) -- Background, Oversight Issues, and Options for Congress

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Publication Date: February 2009

Publisher(s): Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service

Series: RS22631

Topic: Military and defense (Military spending)


Some in Congress have expressed concern about the government's use of privatesector lead system integrators (LSIs) for executing large, complex defense-related acquisition programs. LSIs are large, prime contractors hired to manage such programs. Two LSI-managed programs -- the U.S. Army's Future Combat System (FCS) and the U.S. Coast Guard's Deepwater program -- have been strongly criticized by some observers because of cost and schedule overruns, and the potential for possible conflicts of interest. Supporters of the LSI concept argue that it is needed to execute certain large, complex acquisition efforts, and can promote better technical oversight and innovation. They assert that the use of LSIs result in an overall benefit for the government. Congress has several potential options regarding how and when LSIs might be used in the future. Section 115 of P.L. 109-364 requires the Comptroller General to report to Congress on the FCS lead system integrator. The 110th Congress has also introduced legislation (S. 680) to require the federal government to study the use of LSIs, and legislation which would prohibit the use of LSIs for remaining contracts under the Deepwater Program (S. 889). This report will be updated as events warrant.