Well, there's more to the GAO report on Army ESAPI plate testing than meets the eye.
With only a couple references thrown in early on, it's easy to miss it. But a sharp eyed researcher at the Project on Government Oversight who called me today to ask a few questions did my job better than I and raised an issue I should have pounced on.
It turns out, the Army did its ESAPI tests at Aberdeen instead of HP White not because DOT&E requested it, but because "one manufacturer of flexible small arms protective vests, which had failed previous testing conducted for the Program Executive Office (PEO) Soldier at an NIJ-certified facility, made allegations that the PEO Soldier and the facility had wrongly failed its designs."
Okay folks, who do you think that is?
So it turns out our reporting in October of '08 was spot on that the Army deemed the technology too immature to field deployable Flexible-SAP systems. The GAO fills in some blanks, saying (not sure how many) vendors sent in samples of a Flexible Small Arms Protective Vest-Enhanced and FSAPV-X and shot them at Aberdeen between February and June of '08.
In October 2008, on the basis of the Preliminary Design Model testing results, the Army awarded four 5-year indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contracts at a total of over $8 billion for the production of the ESAPI and the XSAPItwo categories of ceramic plates. No FSAPV-E or FSAPV-X solutions passed the testing.
Now this gets back to our boy Allan Bain's contention that flexible systems need a whole new test methodology different from the Army's current one (that failed the FSAPs in '08)...but that's a debate for another post.