Strategic Defense System:

Stable Design and Adequate Testing Must Precede Decision to Deploy

IMTEC-90-61: Published: Jul 6, 1990. Publicly Released: Jul 19, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed why the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization (SDIO) will not be able to support currently scheduled full-scale development or deployment decisions on any part of Phase I of the Strategic Defense System.

GAO found that: (1) SDIO cost estimates range from $69.6 billion to $87 billion for completion of Phase I development and deployment; (2) the system would not be deployed unless the President certified to Congress that the system could maintain effectiveness during a war and fulfill its mission; (3) by 1993, SDIO will not have conducted integrated system-level tests designed to demonstrate that the entire Phase I system will work as planned; (4) the new Phase I architecture will not be solidified until 1991, thus decreasing the level of system testing that can be performed by 1993; and (5) because of fiscal year (FY) 1990 funding cuts, research will be scaled back, reducing the information available on which to make a deployment decision in 1993.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Senate and House Armed Services Committees have denied $265 million for full-scale development of BSTS in 1991. An accomplishment report was submitted to the Office of Policy.

    Matter: Congress should not fund full-scale development for any element of Phase I until SDIO has stabilized the architecture and has demonstrated the effectiveness of the system through integrated system-level tests in real time, using hardware and software prototypes with human intervention. This would include not providing $265 million for the Boost Surveillance and Tracking System (BSTS) in FY 1991. However, if the Department of Defense needs BSTS for another mission, independent and separate from the Strategic Defense System, it should be justified and funded to meet that mission and should no longer be considered an element of the Strategic Defense System.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The 1993 Presidential decision to deploy the Strategic Defense System has been postponed to at least 1995. SDI is trying to stabilize the architecture and recognizes the need for integrated system-level testing. Since the near-term presidential decision point has now been pushed, the recommendation is no longer relevant.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should advise the President to defer a decision to deploy any element of the Phase I system until SDIO has stabilized the architecture and has demonstrated the effectiveness of the system through integrated system-level tests in real time, using system hardware and software prototypes with human intervention.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DAB will conduct a program review in May 1991 and a formal system review in December 1991.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should ensure that required oversight by the Defense Acquisition Board (DAB) is followed. The Board should more closely monitor system design, development, testing, and evaluation.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Defense agrees that operational testing of the Strategic Defense System needs to be performed. However, since phase I is no longer the target architecture, and deployment decisions have been postponed to 1995, the recommendation is no longer relevant.

    Recommendation: When the program's architecture is stable, the Secretary of Defense should request that Congress reinstate funding for the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation to provide an independent system-level assessment for the Strategic Defense System.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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