Defense Space Activities:

Additional Actions Needed to Implement Human Capital Strategy and Develop Space Personnel

GAO-04-697: Published: Aug 11, 2004. Publicly Released: Aug 11, 2004.

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The Department of Defense (DOD) relies on space for many critical capabilities, and its continued success in space operations depends on having sufficient space-qualified personnel. Space-qualified personnel are needed to develop technology, doctrine, and concepts and operate complex systems. In the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004, Congress required DOD to develop a strategy for developing and integrating national security space personnel. DOD completed it in February 2004. Congress also required GAO to assess DOD's space human capital strategy and the military services' efforts to develop their space personnel. In the first of two required reports, GAO assessed (1) whether DOD's space human capital strategy and management approach promote development and integration of the services' space personnel and (2) the extent of the services' initiatives to develop and manage their space personnel.

DOD's space human capital strategy is a significant first step that promotes the development and integration of DOD's space personnel by providing strategic goals and objectives; however, DOD does not have a complete results-oriented management approach to implement the strategy because it does not include an implementation plan that details specific actions, time frames, and evaluation measures. The space human capital strategy provides general direction for developing and integrating DOD space personnel, and it identified key actions needed for implementation. DOD has not completed any of these actions. Without an implementation plan, DOD will not be in a sound position to effectively monitor and evaluate implementation of the strategy and achieve the strategy's purpose of integrating the services' space personnel into a cohesive DOD total force. The military services vary in the extent to which they have identified and implemented initiatives to develop and manage their space personnel. The Air Force and the Marine Corps have taken significant actions in developing and managing their space personnel, including developing space human capital strategies and designating organizational focal points. The Air Force, which has the largest number of space personnel, approved its space human capital strategy in July 2003, and it is implementing its initiatives. The other services are working on similar initiatives and have completed some, but many will take years to fully implement. The Army's and the Navy's actions in developing their space personnel have been limited because they do not have clear goals and objectives for developing their space personnel or organizational focal points to manage them. Without these tools, the Army and the Navy may not be able to determine their requirements for space personnel and develop sufficient numbers of space personnel with the necessary training, education, and experience to meet service and joint needs.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Navy to develop a strategy for the U.S. Navy's space cadre that incorporates the Navy's long-term goals and approaches and is consistent with the DOD space human capital resources strategy.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In January 2005, the Navy issued its human capital strategy for space that contained a strategy statement, objectives, roles and responsibilities, strategy implementation actions, milestones, and measures of merit. The Navy's strategy is consistent with the strategy and implementation actions in DOD's space human capital strategy of February 2004. Therefore, the Navy strategy meets the intent of our recommendation. The strategy should enable the Navy's space cadre advisor to facilitate the development and maintenance of a pool of qualified space professionals who possess the depth and breadth of training, education, and expertise required to advance the use of Navy and National space systems.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to establish a permanent organizational focal point for developing and managing the Army's space cadre.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Army created a permanent organizational focal point for developing and managing the Army's space cadre in Sept. 2007.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to develop a strategy for the Army's space cadre that incorporates long-term goals and approaches and is consistent with the DOD space human capital resources strategy.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD has taken steps to build and maintain a space cadre, including developing guidance on space workforce development, that applies to the Army. In addition, DOD's National Security Space Office are overseeing implementation of DOD's space human capital strategy across the services. These actions fulfill the intent of the recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the DOD Executive Agent for Space, in conjunction with the military services, to develop an implementation plan for the DOD space human capital strategy. The plan should include performance goals, milestones, resources needed, performance indicators, and an evaluation process.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In December 2004, DOD issued its space human capital strategy implementation plan that contained tasks to implement the strategy in three broad areas: management, education and training, and space critical positions. For each of these areas, the plan included metrics, and for the tasks within these areas, the plan included the offices responsible and estimated completion dates. Because of this, the implementation plan enhances the ability of DOD and the services to assess whether tasks intended to meet the strategy's goals and objectives are effective. Therefore, the plan meets the intent of our recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Navy to establish a permanent organizational focal point in the U.S. Navy for developing and managing the service's space cadre.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In May 2005, the Navy revised its space policy implementation guidance to delineate Navy space roles and responsibilities that included designating the Navy space cadre advisor to act as a manager for the space cadre. This action established a permanent organizational focal point by formalizing the responsibilities of the Navy space cadre advisor. In addition, in March 2005, the Navy designated the Commander, Naval Network Warfare Command, as its space cadre functional authority, which is the senior Navy leader for the development and management oversight of the Navy space cadre.

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