Reports & Testimonies

  • GAO’s recommendations database contains report recommendations that still need to be addressed.

    GAO’s recommendations help congressional and agency leaders prepare for appropriations and oversight activities, as well as help improve government operations. Recommendations remain open until they are designated as Closed-implemented or Closed-not implemented. You can explore open recommendations by searching or browsing.

    GAO's priority recommendations are those that we believe warrant priority attention. We sent letters to the heads of key departments and agencies, urging them to continue focusing on these issues. These recommendations are labeled as such. You can find priority recommendations by searching or browsing our open recommendations below, or through our mobile app.

  • Browse Open Recommendations

    Explore priority recommendations by subject terms or browse by federal agency

    Search Open Recommendations

    Search for a specific priority recommendation by word or phrase



  • Governing on the go?

    Our Priorities for Policy Makers app makes it easier for leaders to search our recommendations on the go.

    See the November 10th Press Release


  • Have a Question about a Recommendation?

    • For questions about a specific recommendation, contact the person or office listed with the recommendation.
    • For general information about recommendations, contact GAO's Audit Policy and Quality Assurance office at (202) 512-6100 or apqa@gao.gov.
  • « Back to Results List Sort by   

    Results:

    Subject Term: "Ballistic missile defense systems"

    10 publications with a total of 24 open recommendations including 2 priority recommendations
    Director: Michael J. Sullivan
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure DOD takes a strategic approach for its prototyping and innovation initiatives and overcomes funding and cultural barriers, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering to develop a high-level DOD-wide strategy, in collaboration with the military services and other appropriate DOD components, to communicate strategic goals and priorities and delineate roles and responsibilities among DOD's prototyping and innovation initiatives.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To help ensure DOD takes a strategic approach for its prototyping and innovation initiatives and overcomes funding and cultural barriers, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering to take steps, such as adopting a "strategic buckets" approach, to help ensure adequate investments in innovation that align with DOD-wide strategy.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To help ensure DOD takes a strategic approach for its prototyping and innovation initiatives and overcomes funding and cultural barriers, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering to expand the Community of Interest working groups to include budget activity 6.4-funded prototyping and innovation initiatives in their science and technology planning and coordination processes or employ a similar coordination mechanism for budget activity 6.4-funded prototyping and innovation initiatives.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To help ensure DOD takes a strategic approach for its prototyping and innovation initiatives and overcomes funding and cultural barriers, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering to review budget activity 6.4 funding requests to help maintain a level of investment for budget activity 6.4-funded prototyping and innovation efforts that is consistent with DOD-wide strategy.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Cristina Chaplain
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To strengthen MDA's acquisition efforts and strengthen oversight, and to increase traceability and insight into MDA's test program, the Secretary of Defense should require MDA to (a) include a detailed crosswalk of changes to each test, such as names, planned execution dates, test types, targets, and other modifications, in each iteration of its Integrated Master Test Plan; (b) address deficiencies in its test scheduling policy by better aligning it with best practices for scheduling, including the use of a schedule work breakdown structure (WBS) that clearly traces each activity to the cost WBS, properly assigning resources to schedules, and clarifying guidance on when and how to conduct schedule risk analysis; (c) rectify deficiencies in its element and test level cost estimates by requiring the use of the common test WBS, documenting the traceability of source data, and codifying the processes and associated information for the software application Test Resource Mission Planning-Tool used to create the test level cost estimates in policy; and (d) break out funding requests by test in the BMDS Accountability Report and other budget documentation submitted during the annual budget submission.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To strengthen MDA's acquisition efforts and strengthen oversight, and to improve MDA's requirement-setting process and ensure it includes an appropriate balance between MDA and warfighter priorities, the Secretary of Defense should require MDA to develop a plan to transition operational requirements analysis currently performed within MDA's Achievable Capabilities List to the U.S. Combatant Commanders, with U.S. Strategic Command as the lead entity and, in the interim, require MDA to obtain their concurrence of the Achievable Capabilities List prior to its release.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To strengthen MDA's acquisition efforts and strengthen oversight, and to ensure that the Redesigned Kill Vehicle (RKV) acquisition strategy continues to remain viable, promotes effective competition, and addresses concerns raised by DOD components, the Secretary of Defense should require the Director, DOD's Office of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE) to perform a comprehensive review of the RKV acquisition strategy and provide any recommendations to the Secretary of Defense that the Director deems necessary and appropriate to obtain CAPE's concurrence for the RKV program's acquisition strategy. Any decision to award a full-rate production contract should be delayed until after MDA has received approval from the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics (USD(AT&L) to proceed to full-rate production.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To strengthen MDA's acquisition efforts and strengthen oversight, and to ensure that future acquisition strategies MDA develops for its new efforts reflect an appropriate balance between timeliness, affordability, reliability, and effectiveness and achieve department-wide buy-in, the Secretary of Defense should require MDA to produce acquisition strategies for all its major new efforts that are subject to review by the Director, CAPE and review and approval by the USD(AT&L).

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Zina Merritt
    Phone: (202) 512-5257

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that DOD's biennial core reporting procedures align with the reporting requirements in Section 2464 and each reporting agency provides accurate and complete information, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics to update DOD's guidance--in particular DOD Instruction 4151.20--to require future Biennial Core Reports to include instructions to the reporting agencies on how to (1) report additional depot workload performed that has not been identified as a core requirement, (2) accurately capture inter-service workload, (3) calculate shortfalls, and (4) estimate the cost of planned workload.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To increase the transparency of future Biennial Core Reports, Congress should consider amending 10 USC 2464 to require DOD to include information such as (1) workload shortfalls at lower-level categories; (2) executed workload in similar categories that could be used to mitigate shortfalls; (3) progress on implementing mitigation plans; (4) data reported at the first-level category of the work breakdown structure, except for when shortfalls are identified; (5) explanations for first-level categories (i.e., Special Interest Items and Other) of the work breakdown structure; and (6) whether the core requirements reported in the previous Biennial Core Report have been executed.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we determine what steps the Congress has taken, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Cristina Chaplain
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In the event that operational test results for PDB-8 and PDB-8.1 reveal performance shortfalls that require additional development of the near and mid-term upgrades tested, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to establish mechanisms for overseeing those upgrades commensurate with other major defense acquisition programs, to include an initial report--similar to a Selected Acquisition Report--as soon as practical following operational testing for both PDB-8 and PDB-8.1, on the near and mid-term upgrades evaluated during these tests, including: (1) cost, schedule, and performance estimates for any additional development that is needed; and (2) an estimate of the amount of development costs it has incurred since 2013 for near- and mid-term Patriot upgrades operationally tested along with PDB-8 and PDB-8.1.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD partially concurred with this recommendation, however, it is too early to determine what, if any, actions the agency will take until the results of operational testing for PDB-8 are made available following its planned completion in late summer 2017.
    Recommendation: In the event that operational test results for PDB-8 and PDB-8.1 reveal performance shortfalls that require additional development of the near and mid-term upgrades tested, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to establish mechanisms for overseeing those upgrades commensurate with other major defense acquisition programs, to include annual updates to Congress comparing the latest cost and schedule estimates against the initial estimates and providing explanations for any major deviations until development is complete.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD partially concurred with this recommendation, however, it is too early to determine what, if any, actions the agency will take until the results of operational testing for PDB-8 are made available following its planned completion in late summer 2017.
    Director: Michele Mackin
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure a more accurate estimate of the expected cost savings under the fiscal year 2013-2017 multiyear procurement, Congress should consider requiring the Navy to update its estimate of savings, which currently reflects only Flight IIA ships, to increase transparency for costs and savings for Congress and the taxpayers, as well as provide improved information to support future multiyear procurement savings estimates.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: To ensure a more accurate estimate of the expected cost savings under the fiscal year 2013-2017 multiyear procurement, we asked Congress to consider requiring the Navy to update its estimate of savings, which currently reflects only Flight IIA ships, to increase transparency for costs and savings for Congress and the taxpayers, as well as provide improved information to support future multi-year procurement savings estimates. Neither the Senate nor House National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) reports for fiscal year 2018 direct the Navy to update its savings and both reports include language authorizing the Navy to pursue a DDG 51 Flight III multi-year procurement contract for fiscal years 2018-2022. We will continue to monitor the status of this matter at least until the NDAA for fiscal year 2018 is enacted, at which time we will close the matter as not implemented if the multi-year procurement is authorized and no savings update requirement is included.
    Recommendation: To better support DDG 51 Flight III oversight, the Secretary of Defense should designate the Flight III configuration as a major subprogram of the DDG 51 program in order to increase the transparency, via Selected Acquisition Reports, of Flight III cost, schedule, and performance baselines within the broader context of the DDG 51 program.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD agreed that visibility into DDG 51 Flight III cost, schedule, and performance is important for oversight, but does not plan to designate Flight III as a major subprogram. No further DOD action has been taken on this recommendation and congressional reports supporting the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018--yet to be finalized and enacted--do not include any direction for the department to do so. Nevertheless, with construction of the lead Flight III ship only recently awarded (June 2017), we will continue to monitor any action taken to designate Flight III as a major subprogram.
    Director: Cristina Chaplain
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To strengthen MDA's acquisition efforts and help support oversight and to ensure MDA makes sound investment decisions on improving homeland ballistic missile defense, the Secretary of Defense should direct MDA to make the department's analysis of alternatives an integral part of its planning effort and delay any decisions to begin development of the new GMD Redesigned Kill Vehicle until: a) the department's analysis of alternatives is completed and identifies the best solution to pursue; and b) Congressional and DOD decision makers have been provided the results of that analysis.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD partially concurred with our recommendation. As of July 2017, MDA has yet to finalize the analysis of alternatives (AOA) report. MDA officials stated the results of the analysis from the AOA were reached in early fiscal year 2015 and informed the decision to pursue the RKV. The AOA results were summarized and briefed to staff members from the congressional defense committees and senior DOD leadership. MDA subsequently submitted the report to DOD's Office of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE) for a sufficiency review but an official from the Office of the Secretary of Defense stated in July 2017 that CAPE has yet to perform the review. We await the final AOA report to make a determination of whether the recommendation was implemented.
    Recommendation: To strengthen MDA's acquisition efforts and help support oversight, drawing from information it already has, the Secretary of Defense should direct MDA to report annually to Congress its plans for, and achieved progress in developing and delivering integrated Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS)-level capabilities. This reporting should include: a) planned integrated BMDS-level capabilities, including dates for when capability is planned for delivery; and b) element-level upgrades needed for delivery of the integrated BMDS capability, including dates that these upgrades need to be available for integration into the BMDS capability.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, the Department of Defense concurred with our recommendation to annually report to Congress its plans and progress made in delivering integrated BMDS-level capabilities, including delivery dates for the capabilities and element upgrades needed to support these capacities. Previously, MDA planned to provide Congress a table summarizing the development and delivery of integrated BMDS capabilities annually, beginning in the 2016 BMDS Accountability Report (BAR). We reviewed the 2016 BAR and determined the report did not include the full extent of information regarding plans and progress made in delivery integrating BMDS-level capabilities described in our recommendation. To remain consistent with the methodology for our annual missile defense review, we will assess the 2017 BAR in next year's review to determine if it includes this information.
    Director: John Pendleton
    Phone: (202) 512-3489

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve DOD's ability to assess Joint Operational Access Concept implementation, including the contribution of the Army and the Marine Corps, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Joint Staff, in coordination with the Army, the Marine Corps, and other members of the working group, to establish specific measures and milestones in future iterations of the JOAC Implementation Plan to gauge how individual implementation actions contribute in the near and long terms to achieving the required capabilities, operational objectives, and end state envisioned by the department.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD partially concurred with the recommendation stating that it previously recognized the need to assess JOAC implementation progress and had already begun to develop specific measures and milestones. According to officials, as of August 2015 the JOAC implementation plan has not been completed.
    Director: Cristina Chaplain
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To strengthen MDA's acquisitions and help support oversight and, to the extent that MDA determines hardware or software modifications are required to address the September 2013 Aegis BMD SM-3 Block IB failure, the Secretary of Defense should direct, (a) the Director of the MDA to verify the changes work as intended through subsequent flight testing, and (b) the Under Secretary of Defense, Acquisitions, Technology, and Logistics to delay the decision to approve the program's full production until such testing demonstrates that the redesigned missile is effective and suitable.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, the Department of Defense partially concurred with our recommendation to delay full production decision until flight testing the Standard Missile-3 Block IB (SM-3 Block IB) with modifications that resulted from a September 2013 test failure. MDA recently completed 2 non-intercept flight tests to assess the redesign, these were non-interceptor tests and thus the extent to which the tests stressed the redesign and how well the redesigned component responded is still not fully understood. The assessment is currently ongoing and Full Production is planned for Fiscal Year 2018, after the assessment is completed.
    Recommendation: To strengthen MDA's acquisitions and help support oversight, and to demonstrate the Capability Enhancement-I's (CE-I) effectiveness against a longer range target in more challenging conditions and to confirm the design changes implemented to improve performance, as well as any changes needed to resolve the July 2013 CE-I flight test failure work as intended, the Secretary of Defense should direct MDA's Director to conduct a flight test of the CE-I interceptor once the cause of the failure has been determined and any mitigations have been developed.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD did not concur with the recommendation. In its response to the recommendation, DOD stated the decision to flight test a CE-I interceptor will be made by the Director, MDA, based on the judgment of stakeholders from the Office of the Secretary of Defense and combatant commanders on the need to perform a test. This year, MDA has indicated no change in direction regarding plans to conduct another CE-I flight test in the near term. The next CE-I flight test is not planned to occur until Fiscal Year 2018. That test is not a re-test of FTG-07; rather, it is a salvo test. It is unclear whether MDA will remain committed to including the CE-I in the test, as MDA has previously indicated it may use a different type of interceptor for that test. In addition, MDA only implemented a partial mitigation to address the FTG-07 failure cause and as such, MDA is not implementing all necessary corrections.
    Director: Chaplain, Cristina T
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    3 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: In order to strengthen investment decisions, place the chosen investments on a sound acquisition footing, provide a better means of tracking investment progress, and improve the management and transparency of the U.S. missile defense approach in Europe, the Secretary of Defense should direct MDA's new Director to add risk reduction non-intercept flight tests for each new type of target missiles developed.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: Despite partially concurring with our recommendation in 2013, MDA has not adjusted its test plans to include risk-reduction (i.e., non-intercept) flight tests for new target types prior to their inclusion in an intercept flight test. MDA officials have not done so because such decisions must be balanced against potential cost, schedule, and programmatic impacts and flight test preparation processes, like dry-runs and quality control checks, are sufficient to discover issues prior to an intercept test. While test preparation processes are valuable, they are not a substitute for risk reduction flight tests. This was proven in June 2015 when MDA launched a new intermediate-range target that had 6 different test preparation processes but not a risk-reduction flight test and the target failed, which resulted in significant cost, schedule, and programmatic impacts. Moving forward, despite the impacts from its recent target failure, MDA plans to use a new medium-range target during its third, and most complex operational test in the second quarter of fiscal year 2019. We maintain our stance that risk reduction flight tests would reduce the risk for the associated test and the overall flight test plan; however, MDA's action to-date suggest that it has no intention of including risk-reduction flight tests for new targets. However, we will continue to monitor its progress in this regard.
    Recommendation: In order to strengthen investment decisions, place the chosen investments on a sound acquisition footing, provide a better means of tracking investment progress, and improve the management and transparency of the U.S. missile defense approach in Europe, the Secretary of Defense should direct MDA's new Director to include in its resource baseline cost estimates all life cycle costs, specifically the operations and support costs, from the military services in order to provide decision makers with the full costs of ballistic missile defense systems.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: DOD partially concurred with our recommendation that decisionmakers should have insight into the full lifecycle costs of MDA's programs. However, as of August 2017, MDA is still not including the military services' operations and sustainment costs--which are a part of the full lifecycle costs--in the resource baselines it reports in the Ballistic Missile Defense System Accountability Report. MDA is trying to determine how to report the full lifecycle costs to decisionmakers, but has indicated that the Ballistic Missile Defense System Accountability Report is not the appropriate forum for reporting the military services' operation and support costs. We continue to believe that including the full lifecycle costs of MDA's programs enables decisionmakers to make funding determinations that are based on a comprehensive understanding of the depth and breadth of each program's costs.
    Recommendation: In order to strengthen investment decisions, place the chosen investments on a sound acquisition footing, provide a better means of tracking investment progress, and improve the management and transparency of the U.S. missile defense approach in Europe, the Secretary of Defense should direct MDA's new Director to stabilize the acquisition baselines, so that meaningful comparisons can be made over time that support oversight of those acquisitions.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: DOD concurred with our recommendation regarding the need for MDA to stabilize its acquisition baselines, but also noted MDA's need to adjust its baselines to remain responsive to evolving requirements and threats; both of which are beyond MDA's control. Further, DOD highlighted the MDA Director's authority to make adjustments to the agency's programmatic baselines, within departmental guidelines. Our recommendation, however, is not designed to limit the Director's authority to adjust baselines or to prevent adjusting baselines as appropriate. Rather, our recommendation is designed to address traceability issues we have found with MDA's baselines, which are within its control. Specifically, for MDA to be able to effectively report longer-term progress of its acquisitions and provide the necessary transparency to Congress, it is critical that the agency stabilize its baselines so that once set, any revisions can be tracked over time. At this point we have not seen any indication that MDA is working to implement this recommendation. For example, in 2016, MDA's Director made changes to the Targets and Countermeasures program's baseline that omit the costs of some targets and may make tracking progress against prior years and the original baseline very difficult, and in some instances, impossible. We will continue to monitor MDA's baselines to determine any progress in this area or implementation of this recommendation.
    Director: Chaplain, Cristina T
    Phone: (202)512-3000

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To strengthen its baselines, facilitate external and independent reviews of those baselines, ensure effective oversight of the BMDS, and further improve transparency and accountability of its efforts, and to improve clarity, consistency, and completeness of the baselines reported to Congress, the Secretary of Defense should ensure that MDA, for resource baselines, obtain independent cost estimates for each baseline.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on our report, the agency concurred with this recommendation but has not yet taken all actions necessary to implement it. Although the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) has received independent cost estimates from its internal independent cost group for some programs and components that support the baselines provided in MDA's Ballistic Missile Defense System Accountability Report (BAR), MDA officials told us they have not yet completed independent estimates for all the BAR baselines. In addition, the independent estimates will not have full lifecycle costs which will hamper their effectiveness. We will continue to monitor MDA's progress over the course of our next annual review.
    Recommendation: To strengthen its baselines, facilitate external and independent reviews of those baselines, ensure effective oversight of the BMDS, and further improve transparency and accountability of its efforts, and to improve clarity, consistency, and completeness of the baselines reported to Congress, the Secretary of Defense should ensure that MDA, for schedule baselines, in meeting new statutory requirements to report variances between reported acquisition baselines, also report variances between the test plan as presented in the previous acquisition baseline and the test plan as executed that explain the reason for any changes.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, the Department of Defense concurred with our recommendation and has taken initial steps to report the test variances, by laying out the dates of the proposed changes. However, the variances do not include all changes to test objectives, detail when tests are deleted, nor when the altered objectives will be satisfied. MDA has initiated an effort with DOT&E and the OTA to track the movement of test objectives, however these changes are not reported and are only used internally. In addition, MDA utilizes a "mid-year" test change memorandum. The change explains the difference from the prior master test plan, but is not reported. Thus, changes that are included in the mid-year memorandum can not be tracked if one only receives the annual test plan. We will continue to monitor MDA's progress in fiscal year 2017 and determine whether MDA lays out the changes in its upcoming integrated master test plan.