Opportunity For Savings In Space Programs By Reevaluating Needs Before Buying Facilities

B-164027: Published: Jul 3, 1968. Publicly Released: Jul 3, 1968.

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GAO reviewed the Air Force acquisition of certain test, launch, and tracking facilities to support the Titan III booster program and a classified satellite program.

GAO noted that: (1) the progress and requirements of new and dynamic programs, such as the space programs, can be influenced by many factors and are subject to adjustment in the light of rapidly changing events and conditions; (2) for prudent use of program funds to be ensured, officials responsible for the management of such programs should be required to reevaluate program plans and program needs in consideration of changed events and conditions to determine whether costly support facilities actually are needed before action is taken to acquire them; (3) in its limited review, GAO found an instance in which savings were realized because Air Force officials did make reevaluations of changes affecting program development and consequently revised the requirements for support facilities; (4) on the other hand, GAO found several instances in which opportunities for savings were not realized because initial plans for the acquisition of support facilities were not reevaluated and revised to meet changed conditions in the development program; (5) under Air Force procedures construction of facilities commences early in the system development so that whatever facilities are required in the field will be ready concurrently with the mission hardware; (6) Air Force regulations require that the system program control documents show the total facility requirements; (7) initially, the requirements for facilities may be based on original development launch schedules or anticipated operational requirements; (8) the cases described in this report indicate that Air Force procedures for systematically reevaluating and documenting the need for facilities at the System Program Office level warrant improvement; (9) GAO also believes that the criteria under development should provide: (a) verification of the need for facilities just prior to award of the construction contract or initiation of procurement; and (b) development of alternative methods of acquiring the required facilities, including rescheduling of acquisition, so that only the facilities actually necessary, based on firm requirements, will be obtained or acquired; and (10) in GAO's opinion, such reevaluations, considering current needs and leadtime requirements, will provide the Air Force and the Department of Defense (DOD) with the information needed to satisfy needs in the most economical manner.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: To ensure that the procedures of the services, including changes currently being made by the Air Force and Navy, the Secretary of Defense should provide: (1) for reevaluation and updating of the approved plan for acquisition of facilities to be conducted by System Program Offices immediately prior to the procurement of costly facilities, emphasizing the need for the facilities; and (2) that, where appropriate, acquisitions of costly facilities for support of a system be rescheduled in accordance with leadtimes necessary to have the facilities operational concurrently with the mission hardware. The reevaluation should include consideration of alternatives and recommendation of courses of action to the appropriate levels of command within the particular service and DOD.

    Agency Affected:

 

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