Missile Defense:

Precision Tracking Space System Evaluation of Alternatives

GAO-13-747R: Published: Jul 25, 2013. Publicly Released: Jul 25, 2013.

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Cristina T. Chaplain
(202) 512-4841
chaplainc@gao.gov

 

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What GAO Found

The Department of Defense (DOD) submitted to the congressional defense committees a terms of reference and a report on a 2012 DOD Director for Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE) program review of the Precision Tracking Space System (PTSS), a missile defense program designed to track ballistic missiles. These documents did not provide for or include an evaluation of PTSS alternatives as required by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013. In addition, the terms of reference were approved by the Missile Defense Executive Board but not in coordination with the Defense Space Council as required by the act. According to senior DOD officials, the Secretary of Defense decided to propose canceling the PTSS program in November 2012--prior to the act's enactment in January 2013--based on a 2012 CAPE review of the PTSS program. DOD officials from multiple organizations told us that there are several efforts under way to review missile defense sensor options. DOD expects to complete some of these efforts later this year in order to inform internal DOD fiscal year 2015 budgetary decisions.

Why GAO Did This Study

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 mandated that the DOD Director for Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE) conduct an evaluation of PTSS alternatives and report it to the congressional defense committees. The act also limited the use of funds made available for fiscal year 2013 for PTSS until (1) DOD submitted to the congressional defense committees a formal plan for the evaluation of PTSS alternatives--called a terms of reference--that had been approved by the Missile Defense Executive Board in coordination with the Defense Space Council, and (2) CAPE completed the evaluation of alternatives.

Additionally, the act mandated that GAO assess the PTSS terms of reference and evaluation of alternatives, and then both brief and report our assessment to the defense committees. To meet the requirements of the mandate, we assessed the extent to which (1) the terms of reference submitted by DOD addressed an evaluation of alternatives, and (2) the PTSS report submitted by DOD included an evaluation of alternatives.

To conduct this work, we reviewed both the terms of reference and the PTSS report to determine whether they provided for and assessed alternative systems and concepts as well as to determine whether internal agency coordination occurred consistent with the restrictions and requirements for the PTSS program in the Fiscal Year 2013 NDAA. We also interviewed DOD officials from CAPE; Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics; Missile Defense Agency; U.S. Strategic Command; and Joint Staff.

For more information, contact Cristina Chaplain at (202) 512-4841 or chaplainc@gao.gov.

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