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United States General Accounting Office: 
GAO: 

Report to the Secretary of Defense: 

September 2002: 

Military Space Operations: 

Planning, Funding, and Acquisition Challenges Facing Efforts to 
Strengthen Space Control: 

GAO-02-738: 

Contents: 

Letter: 

Results in Brief: 

Background: 

DOD Is Undertaking Efforts to Strengthen Space Control: 

Substantial Challenges Still Face DOD in Strengthening Space Control: 

Conclusions: 

Recommendations for Executive Action: 

Agency Comments and Our Evaluation: 

Scope and Methodology: 

Appendix I: Comments from the Department of Defense: 

Appendix II: Staff Acknowledgments: 

Tables: 

Table 1: Space Missions, Operational Functions, and Examples of Related 
Assets/Programs: 

Table 2: DOD Actions Related to Improving Space Control: 

Abbreviations: 

DOD: Department of Defense: 

GPS: Global Positioning System: 

NSSA: National Security Space Architect: 

NSSI: National Security Space Integration: 

POM: Program Objective Memorandum: 

SBIRS: Space-Based Infrared System: 

[End of section] 

United States General Accounting Office: 
Washington, DC 20548: 

September 23, 2002: 

The Honorable Donald H. Rumsfeld: 
The Secretary of Defense: 

Dear Mr. Secretary: 

The United States is increasingly dependent on space for its security 
and well being. The Department of Defense’s (DOD) space systems collect 
information on capabilities and intentions of potential adversaries. 
They enable military forces to be warned of a missile attack and to 
communicate and navigate while avoiding hostile action. And they provide
information that allows forces to precisely attack targets in ways to
minimize collateral damage and loss of life. DOD’s satellites also 
enable global communications, television broadcasts, weather 
forecasting; navigation of ships, planes, trucks, and cars; and 
synchronization of computers, communications, and electric power grids. 

This growing dependence, however, is also making commercial and
military space systems attractive targets for adversarial attacks. 
According to DOD, our adversaries are exploring such capabilities as 
directed energy weapons, space object tracking systems, physical 
attacks on satellite ground stations, and signals jamming. Moreover, 
our adversaries are gaining access to space-based information as well 
as acquiring new space-based capabilities. In view of this growing 
threat, DOD is taking on efforts to strengthen its ability to protect 
and defend space-based assets, also known as “space control.” [Footnote 
1] Given the importance and potential costs of its acquisitions related 
to space, we identified DOD’s efforts to strengthen its ability to 
protect and defend its space assets and the challenges facing DOD in 
making those space control efforts successful. 

Results in Brief: 

DOD’s efforts to strengthen space control are targeted at seeking to
promote better coordination among DOD components, prioritization of
projects, visibility and accountability over funding, and 
interoperability among systems. Among other things, DOD is drafting a 
space control strategy that is to outline objectives, tasks, and 
capabilities for the next 20 years. It has also aggregated funding for 
space programs so that it can compare space funding, including space 
control funding, to its total budget, make decisions about priorities, 
and conduct future trend analyses. In addition, DOD has changed its 
acquisition policy to include separating technology development from 
product development and encouraging an evolutionary, or phased, 
approach to development. These changes are based on practices that have 
been proven in the commercial sector to curb incentives to overpromise 
the capabilities of a new system and to rely on immature technologies. 

Nevertheless, there are substantial challenges to making DOD’s space
control efforts successful. One challenge is putting needed plans in 
place to provide direction and hold the services accountable for 
implementing departmentwide priorities for space control. DOD’s draft 
space control strategy has not been completed and does not yet define 
roles and responsibilities among the services, departmentwide 
priorities and end states, [Footnote 2] and concrete milestones. Also, 
DOD’s aggregation of space funding is not a plan that targets 
investments at priority areas for DOD overall. Achieving agreement on a 
strategy and investment plan for space control will be difficult given 
the varying interests of the services. Another challenge is 
implementing knowledge-based practices that characterize successful 
acquisition programs. Unless DOD adopts knowledge-based practices, 
space control acquisitions, such as the Space-Based Surveillance 
System, may well face higher cost and schedule risks. 

We are making recommendations that are intended to enhance the planning 
of space control efforts. In commenting on a draft of this report, DOD 
concurred with our findings and recommendations. 

Background: 

DOD’s current space network is comprised of constellations of 
satellites, ground-based systems, and associated terminals and 
receivers. Among other things, these assets are used to perform 
surveillance and intelligence functions; detect and warn of attacks; 
provide communication services to DOD and other government users; 
provide positioning and precise timing data to U.S. forces as well as 
other national security, civil, and commercial users; and counter 
elements of an adversary’s space system. DOD categorizes these assets 
into four space mission areas—each with specific operational functions. 
(See table 1 for a description of space mission areas, operational 
functions, and related examples of systems and activities.) 

Table 1: Space Missions, Operational Functions, and Examples of Related 
Assets/Programs: 

Missions: Space control; 
Operational functions: Space surveillance, protection, prevention, and 
negation; 
Examples of assets/programs: Space surveillance network; 
Description: This space control asset is a network that provides space
object cataloging and identification, satellite attack warning, timely 
notification to U.S. forces of satellite flyover, space treaty 
monitoring, and scientific and technical intelligence gathering. 

Missions: Force enhancement; 
Operational functions: Navigation, satellite communications, 
environmental monitoring, surveillance and threat warning, command and
control, and information operations; 
Examples of assets/programs: Global Positioning System (GPS); 
Description: This network of satellites and supporting ground stations
provides all-weather, day/night, three-dimensional positioning 
information and precise timing data to land-based, seaborne, and 
airborne U.S. and allied forces, as well as other national security, 
civil, and commercial users. GPS enhances force coordination, command 
and control, target mapping, target acquisition, flexible routing,
and weapon accuracy, especially at night and in adverse weather. 

Missions: Space support; 
Operational functions: Launch operations, satellite operations, 
modeling, simulation, and analysis/force development evaluation; 
Examples of assets/programs: Air Force satellite control network; 
Description: This is the primary command, control, and communications 
support capability for DOD space systems. As a network of systems, it 
performs a multitude of functions, including data processing, tracking,
telemetry, satellite commanding, communications, and scheduling. The 
network has 15 worldwide fixed antennas, one transportable system, and 
two mission critical nodes. 

Missions: Force applications; 
Operational functions: Intercontinental ballistic missile sustainment,
conventional strike; 
Examples of assets/programs: Minuteman III Sustainment; 
Description: This program sustains the U.S. strategic ballistic missile
system. 

Source: GAO analysis. 

[End of table] 

The Air Force is the primary procurer and operator of space systems.
For fiscal years 2002 through 2007, the Air Force is expected to spend
about 86 percent of total programmed space funding of about $165 
billion, whereas the Navy, the Army, and other Defense agencies are 
expected to spend about 8 percent, 3 percent, and 3 percent, 
respectively. 

The space surveillance network and other space control systems, some
of which are classified, are currently helping to protect and defend
space assets or are under development. For example, the Space-Based
Surveillance System is being developed to provide a constellation of
satellites and other initiatives that will improve the timeliness and 
fidelity of space situational awareness information. The Rapid Attack
Identification and Reporting System, also under development, is expected
to ultimately provide notification to Air Force Space Command of threats
(radio frequency and laser) impinging upon the right of friendly forces 
to use space. 

DOD’s space control mission, which endeavors to protect and defend U.S. 
space assets, is becoming increasingly important. This importance was 
recognized by the Space Commission that was established by Congress in 
the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2000 [Footnote 
3] to assess a variety of management and organizational issues relating 
to space activities in support of U.S. national security. [Footnote 4] 
Principally: 

* While the commission recognized that organization and management are
important, the critical need is national leadership to elevate U.S. 
national security space interests on the national security agenda. 

* A number of disparate space activities should be merged, organizations
realigned, lines of communication opened, and policies modified to 
achieve greater responsibility and accountability. 

* The relationship between the officials primarily responsible for 
national security space programs is critical to the development and 
deployment of space capabilities. Therefore, they should work closely 
and effectively together to set and maintain the course for national 
security space programs. 

* Finally, the United States will require superior space capabilities 
and a cadre of military and civilian talent in science, engineering, 
and systems operations to remain the world’s leading space-faring 
nation. 

Among other things, the Space Commission emphasized the importance
of increasing the visibility and accountability of space funding. It 
also recommended that DOD pursue modernization of aging space systems,
enhance its command and control structure, and evolve the surveillance
system from cataloging and tracking to a system that could provide space
situational awareness. 

We recently reported on the status of implementation of the Space 
Commission recommendations. [Footnote 5] We found that DOD has decided 
to take actions related to 10 of the commission’s 13 recommendations, 
including organizational changes aimed at consolidating some 
activities, changing chains of command, and modifying policies to 
achieve greater responsibility and accountability. In addition, we have 
reported that: 

* Over the years, DOD’s space acquisition management approach has 
resulted in each of the services pursuing its own needs and priorities 
for space. This, in turn, has increased the risk that acquisitions will 
be redundant and not interoperable. Also, under this approach, there 
has also been no assurance that the services as a whole are satisfying 
the requirements of the U.S. Space Command [Footnote 6] to the maximum 
extent practicable. [Footnote 7] 

* DOD continues to face cost and schedule growth for some of its larger,
more complex space system acquisitions primarily as a result of not 
having knowledge on the maturity of necessary technology before entering
product development. [Footnote 8] 

DOD Is Undertaking Efforts to Strengthen Space Control: 

DOD is now undertaking a wide range of efforts to strengthen its 
ability to protect and defend space-based assets. Some of these are 
focused solely on the space control mission while others are broader 
efforts aimed at strengthening space-related capabilities. The changes 
are intended to elevate the importance of space within the department; 
promote greater coordination on space-related activities both within 
and outside the department, particularly within the intelligence 
community; reduce redundant systems and capabilities while promoting 
interoperability; and enable the department to better prioritize space-
related activities. At the same time, DOD is making changes to its 
acquisition and oversight policies that will affect how space programs 
are developed and managed. 

Specifically, the U.S. Space Command is developing a space control
strategy that is to outline objectives for space control over the next
20 years. Concurrently, DOD is developing a national security space plan
that will lay down broader objectives and priorities for space-based
programs. As the future executive agent [Footnote 9] for space, the Air 
Force created an office to develop and implement the national security 
space plan and has yet to finalize plans for the organizational 
realignment of the office of the National Security Space Architect. The 
National Security Space Architect is responsible for developing 
architectures—frameworks that identify sets of capabilities—across the 
full range of DOD and intelligence community space mission areas. 

In addition, DOD is making changes to its budgeting process to gain
greater visibility over space-related spending and has created a 
“virtual” space major force program for the purpose of identifying what 
funding is specifically directed toward space efforts. The virtual 
major force program identifies spending on space activities within 
other major force programs. This does not change the current process 
that the military services use to fund their own space programs, but it 
does aggregate space funding so that the department will be able to 
compare space funding to DOD’s total budget and conduct future trend 
analyses. Moreover, DOD will be able to identify space control funding 
from other space-related activities. 

Lastly, DOD has made changes to its acquisition policy that will affect 
how space systems are acquired and managed. These changes focus on 
making sure technologies are demonstrated at a high level of maturity 
before beginning product development as well as taking an evolutionary, 
or phased, approach for producing a system. The Air Force is also 
implementing a new acquisition oversight mechanism for space intended
to streamline the time it takes to review and approve a program before
moving onto a subsequent stage of development. Table 2 describes some
of DOD’s efforts related to strengthening space control in more detail. 

Table 2: DOD Actions Related to Improving Space Control: 

Action policy/directives: DOD Instruction on Space Control; 
Status: Issued in Jan. 2001; 
Description: This instruction, developed by the Assistant Secretary of 
Defense for Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence, directed 
that an integrated space control strategy be developed and implemented 
to meet the needs of decisionmakers across the entire chain of command. 
The instruction specified that capabilities necessary to conduct the 
space control mission be integrated into an operational force structure
that is sufficiently robust, ready, secure, survivable, resilient, and 
interoperable to meet the needs of decisionmakers. 

Action policy/directives: Planning: National Security Space Plan; 
Status: In process; 
Description: This is to set overall objectives related to space and 
provide a high-level 10- to 15-year road map for the direction of space 
programs. It is intended to drive more detailed program objective 
memorandums (POM) and budget estimate submission processes for national
security space programs across DOD. The plan is not expected to be 
completed until sometime in fiscal year 2003. 

Action policy/directives: Space Control Strategy; 
Status: In process; 
Description: In response to the 2001 DOD instruction, the U.S. Space 
Command drafted a space control strategy, with a 20-year time frame, 
which outlines objectives, tasks, and capabilities of the four space 
control components: surveillance, protection, prevention, and negation. 
The strategy is aligned with the U.S. Space Command’s March 1998 Long 
Range Plan for pursuing space activities. The draft outlines threats to 
space systems and describes the importance of shaping a space 
environment that strengthens national security. 

Action policy/directives: Organizational: Air Force as Executive Agent 
for Space; 
Status: Draft Directive March 2002– not yet approved; 
Description: In response to the Space Commission’s recommendation, the 
Secretary of Defense issued a memorandum directing that the Air Force be
designated as the executive agent for space within DOD, with 
departmentwide responsibility for planning, programming, and acquiring 
space systems. Formal designation and corresponding DOD Directive 
outlining roles and responsibilities have yet to be finalized. 

Action policy/directives: Organizational: Milestone Decision Authority 
Status: February 2002; 
Description: The Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, 
Technology, and Logistics gave the Secretary of the Air Force milestone 
decision authority for acquiring DOD space systems. The Secretary 
redelegated this authority to the Under Secretary of the Air 
Force/Director, National Reconnaissance Office. 

Action policy/directives: Organizational: National Security Space 
Integration (NSSI); 
Status: April 2002; 
Description: The office was established to guide and coordinate 
implementation of the Space Commission’s recommendations. It is charged 
with providing program, plans, policy integration, and acquisition 
support among other activities. It will also be responsible for leading,
developing, maintaining, and coordinating the national security space 
plan. NSSI is located within the Air Force, reporting to the Under 
Secretary of the Air Force/Director, National Reconnaissance Office. 

Action policy/directives: Organizational: National Security Space 
Architect (NSSA); 
Status: In process; 
Description: A plan to relocate this office, previously under the 
Office of Secretary of Defense, has yet to be finalized. The office is 
responsible for developing architectures to guide new systems 
acquisitions and ensure that they can work effectively together. It will
also be responsible for ensuring that Air Force and National 
Reconnaissance Office funding for space is consistent with policy, 
planning guidance, and architectural decisions and preparing an annual
National Security Space Program Assessment. 

Action policy/directives: Funding: Funding request for promising space 
control initiatives; 
Status: Requested; 
Description: DOD’s fiscal year 2003 funding request includes about $300 
million strictly for space control. The request includes about $40 
million for continuing what DOD has termed as promising space control 
initiatives: about $24 million for the Counter Surveillance 
Reconnaissance System, $9 million for the Counter Satellite 
Communications System, and $7 million for the Rapid Attack 
Identification and Reporting System. Other than the space surveillance 
program, the fiscal year 2003 budget is the first time that DOD funded 
a multiyear acquisition program for space control, which continued
work that began in the space control technology program. 

Action policy/directives: Funding: Space is designated as a “virtual” 
major force program; 
Status: October 2001; 
Description: The Space Commission recommended that a “major force 
program” for space be established to improve management and oversight 
of space programs. A major force program is a DOD budgeting mechanism 
that aggregates related budget items into a single program in order to 
track program resources independent of the appropriation process and 
contains the resources needed to achieve an objective or plan. Instead 
of creating a separate major force program for space, DOD established a 
“virtual” major force program to increase visibility of resources 
allocated for space activities. The virtual major force program 
identifies spending on space activities within the other major force 
programs and provides information by functional area, including space 
control. 

Action policy/directives: Acquisition Management and Oversight: Best 
practices incorporated into DOD acquisition policy; 
Status: 2000 and 2001; 
Description: DOD changed its acquisition policy (DOD 5000 series for 
acquisition) to embrace acquisition practices that characterize 
successful programs for acquiring and developing systems. These focused 
primarily on (1) making sure technologies are demonstrated to a high 
level of maturity before beginning product development and (2) taking 
an evolutionary, or phased, approach for producing a system. The 
changes represent substantially different ways of doing business for 
DOD in that they would essentially separate technology development from 
a weapon system or space system development program and deliver 
capabilities in phases versus one “big bang.” This was done in order to 
curb incentives to overpromise the capabilities of a new system and to
rely on immature technologies and also to make sure that technologies 
and funds are available to make good on promises. 

Action policy/directives: Acquisition Management and Oversight: Defense 
Space Acquisition Board; 
Status: In process; 
Description: In an attempt to reduce oversight time for space programs, 
DOD plans to set up a special Defense Space Acquisition Board modeled 
after one employed by the National Reconnaissance Office, which will 
have one layer of review at each major milestone throughout the 
acquisition process. Under this new oversight process, the team would 
spend about 8 weeks, or more if required, on-site working full-time 
with program officials and would conclude this work with 
recommendations to the board on whether or not to allow the program to 
proceed. DOD anticipates that the new process will decrease milestone 
decision cycle time from about 8 to 12 months to about 8 to 12 weeks. 
The latest generation of Global Positioning System satellite vehicles 
is the initial system going through this process. Other programs being 
recommended for the Defense Space Acquisition Board process are the 
Space-Based Radar and the National Polar-orbiting Operational 
Environmental Satellite System. In contrast, under DOD’s current 
oversight process, the Defense Acquisition Board holds formal meetings 
at each milestone to review accomplishments and assess readiness for 
proceeding to the next phase. There are two oversight teams that advise 
the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and 
Logistics on whether or not programs should proceed. One is an 
overarching integrated product team and the other is a working level 
integrated product team. Sometimes, a third team comprised of 
membership from both may be involved. 

Action policy/directives: Acquisition Management and Oversight: Other 
practices being considered for improving space program acquisition; 
Status: In process; 
Description: The DOD is also looking to apply other practices 
considered by the Air Force and Army as best practices for inclusion on 
space program acquisitions. For example, the National Reconnaissance 
Office will be evaluating the possibility of using a best commercial 
practice for project selection, approval, and funding, referred to as 
the Warfighter Rapid Acquisition Process, that is to facilitate rapid 
deployment of new technology and capabilities. The Warfighter Rapid 
Acquisition Process is currently evolving from a new program start 
process to a technology insertion program. Another practice under study 
is strategic supplier alliances that would establish long-term 
comprehensive supplier partnerships to leverage the purchases of
material, products, and services in a more effective and efficient 
manner. 

Source: GAO analysis. 

[End of table] 

Substantial Challenges Still Face DOD in Strengthening Space Control: 

DOD’s efforts to strengthen its management and organization of space
activities, including space control, are a good step forward, 
particularly because they seek to promote better coordination among the 
services involved in space, prioritization of space-related projects, 
visibility over funding, and interoperability. But there are 
substantial planning and acquisition challenges involved in making 
DOD’s current space control efforts successful. 

Preparation of Plans to Provide Overall Direction and Hold Services 
Accountable: 

The Space Commission recognized that stronger DOD-wide leadership and
increased accountability were essential to developing a coherent space
program. As noted above, one effort to provide stronger leadership and
accountability is the development of a space control strategy. 
Completion of this strategy is a considerable challenge for DOD because 
it has not yet been aligned with other strategies still being revised 
and because agreement among the military services on specific roles, 
responsibilities, priorities, milestones, and end states may prove 
difficult to achieve. 

In February 2001, a draft of the space control strategy, prepared by
U.S. Space Command, was submitted to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs
of Staff for review, refinement, and submission to the Secretary of
Defense. In June 2001, the Chairman stated that it was important that 
the space control strategy be put on hold until it could be aligned 
with the national security and national military strategies that were 
being updated before official submission to the Secretary of Defense. 
Also, the space control strategy was drafted initially without the 
benefit of the broader national security space plan to use as a 
foundation for setting priorities, objectives, and goals. The National 
Security Space Integration Office expects to complete the space plan in 
the summer of 2002; however, there are indications that the plan may 
not be completed until 2003. Whenever the plan is completed, DOD would 
then have to reexamine the draft space control strategy to ensure 
alignment with the broader plan. 

Currently, the services are not satisfied with the draft strategy. Army,
Navy, and Air Force officials told us that the draft was not specific 
enough in terms of what their own responsibilities are going to be and 
what DOD’s priorities are going to be. They also pointed out that there 
were no specific milestones, only a rough 20-year time frame for 
achieving a “robust and wholly integrated suite of capabilities in 
space.” Without more specifics in this area, DOD would not be able to 
measure its progress in achieving goals. According to a U.S. Space 
Command official, although a final date for issuing the strategy is 
unknown, comments from the services have been incorporated where 
appropriate and additional detail has been added to reflect changes in 
DOD terminology. 

Without knowing more details, service officials said that they would
continue pursuing their own space control programs as they have been. In
fact, two services—the Air Force and the Army—have already set their
own priorities for space control. For example, Air Force Space Command,
in its Strategic Master Plan, lists its first priority under space 
control as improving space surveillance capability to achieve real-time 
space situational awareness and provide this information to the 
warfighter. The Army’s Space Master Plan recognized shortfalls in the 
space control area and identified future operational capabilities for 
space control that include space-based laser, airborne laser and the 
congressionally-directed Kinetic Energy Anti-Satellite capability. 

Another issue that could affect accountability for space control is the 
lack of a DOD-wide investment plan for space control to guide the 
development of the services’ budget submissions. The Space Commission 
recognized that increasing funding visibility and accountability is 
essential to developing a coherent space program. According to the 
commission, for example, the current decentralized approach of funding 
satellites from one service’s budget and terminals from another’s can 
result in program disconnects and duplication. The newly implemented 
virtual major force program for space addresses the need for visibility 
into space funding across the services by aggregating most space 
funding by service and function. DOD officials stated that the first 
iteration of the virtual major force program captured a high percentage 
of space funding and it will be fine tuned in the future years. The 
virtual major force program for space was designed to include program 
elements that represent space activities only. Funding for non-space-
weapon systems that may have some space related components (such as a 
Global Positioning System receiver in the bomb hardware of the Joint 
Direct Attack Munition bombs) are not included in the virtual major 
force program. 

Although the virtual major force program provides greater visibility 
into space funding, it is not intended to provide an investment plan 
for space. However, the space control systems and funding identified in 
the virtual major force program, along with priorities outlined in the 
space control strategy, could be used as a basis for developing an 
investment plan that would prioritize space control capabilities that 
DOD needs to develop. Such a plan would benefit DOD by: 

* setting DOD-wide priorities and helping the services make decisions on
meeting those priorities; 

* including short-, mid-, and long-range time frames to make sure space
control activities were carried out as envisioned in DOD’s overall goals
and the national security space plan; 

* establishing accountability mechanisms to make sure funding is 
targeted at priority areas; [Footnote 10] and; 

* providing the level of detail needed to avoid program disconnects and
duplications. 

Developing such an investment plan for space control will be a
considerable challenge because it will require the services to forgo 
some of their authority to set priorities. Secondly, DOD will need to 
identify space capabilities that are scattered across programs and 
services, and in many instances, are even embedded in non-space-weapon 
systems. Finally, development of an investment plan for space control 
will require leadership on the part of the Air Force, as the executive 
agent for space, because such a plan will have to balance the needs and 
priorities of all of the services. 

Implementation of Best Acquisition Practices to Reduce Risks: 

The changes DOD has made to its acquisition policy embracing practices 
that characterize successful programs are a positive step that could be
applied to the acquisition of space control systems. By separating 
technology development from product development (system integration
and system demonstration) and encouraging an evolutionary approach, for
example, the new policy would help to curb incentives to over promise 
the capabilities of a new system and to rely on immature technologies.
Moreover, decisionmakers would also have the means for deciding not to 
initiate a program if a match between requirements and available 
resources (time, technology, and funding) was not made. 

But, so far, DOD has been challenged in terms of successfully 
implementing acquisition practices that would reduce risks and result in
better outcomes—particularly in some of its larger and more complex 
programs. For example, in 1996, DOD designated the Space-Based Infrared
System (SBIRS), consisting of a Low and High program, a Flagship 
program for incorporating a key acquisition reform initiative aimed at
adopting successful practices that would develop systems that are
generally simpler, easier to build, and more reliable, and that meet DOD
needs. In 2001, we reported that the SBIRS Low program, in an attempt to
deploy the system starting in fiscal year 2006 to support a missile 
defense capability for protecting the United States, was at high-risk 
of not delivering the system on time or at cost or with expected 
performance. [Footnote 11] In particular, we reported that five of six 
critical satellite technologies had been judged to be immature and 
would not be available when needed. As stressed in previous GAO 
reports, failure to make sure technologies are sufficiently mature 
before product development often results in increases in both product 
and long-term ownership costs, schedules delays, and compromised 
performance. The SBIRS Low program has recently undergone restructuring 
in an attempt to control escalating costs and get back on schedule. 

In 2001, we reported that the SBIRS High program was in jeopardy 
because (1) ground processing software might not be developed in time to
support the first SBIRS High satellite, and (2) sensors and satellites 
might not be ready for launch as scheduled due to technical development
problems. [Footnote 12] These difficulties increased the risk that the 
first launches of SBIRS High sensors and satellites would not occur on 
time and that mission requirements would not be met. The Under 
Secretary of the Air Force recently acknowledged that the SBIRS High 
program was allowed to move through programmatic milestones before the 
technology was ready. In addition, the Under Secretary of Defense for 
Acquisition, Technology and Logistics recommended modifications to the 
SBIRS High requirements to meet realistic cost and performance goals. 
[Footnote 13] 

As we recently testified, there are actions DOD can take to make sure 
that new acquisition policies produce better outcomes for acquisitions 
of space control systems (or any other space systems). [Footnote 14] 
These include: 

* structuring programs so that requirements will not outstrip available
resources; 

* establishing measures for success for each stage of the development
process so that decisionmakers can be assured that sufficient knowledge
exists about critical facets of a product before investing more time and
money, and; 

* placing responsibility for making decisions squarely in those with
authority to adhere to best practices and to make informed trade-off
decisions. 

Our prior reports have recommended actions that DOD could take in these
and other areas. [Footnote 15] 

Conclusions: 

DOD recognizes that space systems are playing an increasingly important
role in DOD’s overall warfighting capability as well as the economy and
the nation’s critical infrastructure. Its recent actions are intended 
to help elevate the importance of space within the Department, and also 
improve coordination, priority setting, and interoperability. But there 
are substantial challenges facing DOD’s efforts to achieve its 
objectives for space control. Principally, the services and the U.S. 
Space Command have not agreed to the specifics of a strategy, 
especially in terms of roles and responsibilities. DOD still lacks an 
investment plan that reflects DOD-wide space control priorities and can 
guide the development of the services budget submissions for space 
control systems and operations. Moreover, it is still questionable 
whether DOD can successfully apply best practices to its space control 
acquisitions. Clearly, success for space control will depend largely on 
the support of top leaders to set goals and priorities, ensure an 
overall investment plan meets those goals and priorities, as well as 
encourage implementation of best practices. 

Recommendations for Executive Action: 

To better meet the challenges facing efforts to strengthen DOD’s space 
control mission, we recommend that the Secretary of Defense align the 
development of an integrated strategy with the overall goals and 
objectives of the National Security Space Strategy, when issued. The 
Secretary should also ensure that the following factors are considered 
in finalizing the integrated space control strategy: 

* roles and responsibilities of the military services and other DOD
organizations for conducting space control activities; 

* priorities for meeting those space control requirements that are most
essential for the warfighter; 

* milestones for meeting established priorities, and; 

* end states necessary for meeting future military goals in space 
control. 

We further recommend that the Secretary of Defense develop an overall
investment plan that: 

* supports future key goals, objectives, and capabilities that are 
needed to meet space control priorities, and; 

* supports the end states identified in the integrated space control 
strategy, and is aligned with the overall goals and objectives of the 
national security space strategy. 

Agency Comments and Our Evaluation: 

We received written comments on a draft of this report from the 
Secretary of Defense. DOD concurred with our findings and 
recommendations. It also offered additional technical comments and 
suggestions to clarify our draft report, which we incorporated as 
appropriate. DOD’s comments appear in appendix I. 

Scope and Methodology: 

To identify DOD’s efforts to strengthen its ability to protect and 
defend its space assets and the challenges facing DOD in making those 
space control efforts successful, we reviewed the DOD Instruction for 
Space Control, U.S. Space Command’s draft Space Control Strategy, U.S. 
Space Command’s Long Range Plan, military service space master plans, 
DOD’s 1999 Space Policy, the Report of the Commission to Assess United 
States National Security Space Management and Organization, and the 2001
Quadrennial Defense Review. We also reviewed national and DOD space
policies and DOD’s Future Years Defense program from fiscal year 2002
through 2007. 

To understand DOD’s efforts and challenges, we reviewed the draft
space control strategy and held discussions with officials at the U.S. 
Space Command, Colorado Springs, Colorado. To gain a better 
understanding of how the services regarded the draft space control 
strategy and development of a corresponding investment plan, we held 
discussions with and obtained documentation from officials at the Air 
Force Space Command, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado Springs, 
Colorado; Air Force Headquarters, Washington, D.C.; the Army Space and 
Missile Defense Command, Arlington, Virginia; the Naval Space Command
Detachment, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado Springs, Colorado; the
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Command, Control, 
Communications and Intelligence; the Joint Staff; Under Secretary of 
Defense Comptroller/Chief Financial Officer and Director, Program, 
Analysis and Evaluation; the Office of the National Security Space 
Architect, Fairfax, Virginia; and the RAND’s National Security and
Research Division, Washington, D.C. To identify the acquisition 
challenges, we reviewed prior GAO reports on practices characterizing
successful acquisition program and held discussions with DOD officials.
Specifically, we held discussions with and obtained documentation from
representatives of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition,
Technology, and Logistics and officials with the Air Force/National
Reconnaissance Office Integration Planning Group. 

We performed our work from July 2001 through July 2002 in accordance
with generally accepted government auditing standards. We are sending 
copies of this report to the Secretaries of the Army, the Navy, and the 
Air Force; the Director of the Office of Management and Budget; and 
interested congressional committees. We will also make copies available 
to others on request. 

The head of a federal agency is required under 31 U.S.C. 720 to submit a
written statement of actions taken on our recommendations to the Senate
Committee on Governmental Affairs and the House Committee on Government 
Reform no later than 60 days after the date of the report and to the 
Senate and House Committee on Appropriations with the agency’s first 
request for appropriations made more than 60 days after the date of the 
report. In addition, the report will be available at no charge at the
GAO Web site at [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov]. 

If you or your staff have any questions, please contact me at (202) 512-
4841 or Jim Solomon at (303) 572-7315. The key contributors to this 
report are acknowledged in appendix II. 

Sincerely yours, 

Signed by: 

R. E. Levin: 
Director: 
Acquisition and Sourcing Management: 

[End of section] 

Appendix I: Comments from the Department of Defense: 

Office Of The Assistant Secretary Of Defense: 
Command, Control, Communications, And Intelligence: 
6000 Defense Pentagon: 
Washington, DC 20301-6000: 

September 12, 2002: 

Mr. Robert E. Levin: 
Director: 
Acquisition and Sourcing Management: 
U.S. General Accounting Office: 
441 G Street. N.W. 
Washington, D.0 20548: 

Dear Mr. Levin: 

This is the Department of Defense (DoD) response to the GAO draft 
report, 'Military Space Operations: Planning, Funding, and Acquisition 
Challenges Facing Efforts to Strengthen Space Control', dated August 2, 
2002, (GAO Code 120078/GAO-02-738). 

The detailed DoD comments in response to the GAO recommendations are 
provided in the enclosure. Suggested technical changes for 
clarification and accuracy have also been included. 

The Department appreciates the opportunity to comment on the draft 
report. 

Sincerely, 

Signed by: 

Roger E. Robb, Col, USAF: 
Director, Space Programs: 
ODASD(C3ISR, Space & IT Programs): 

Enclosure: As Stated: 

GAO Draft Report - Dated August 2, 2002: 
GAO Code 120078/GAO-02-738: 
"Military Space Operations: Planning, Funding, and Acquisition 
Challenges Facing Efforts to Strengthen Space Control" 

Department of Defense Comments: 

Recommendation 1; The GAO recommended that the Secretary of Defense 
ensure that following factors are considered in finalizing the 
integrated space control strategy: 

* roles and responsibilities of the military services and other DOD 
organizations for conducting space control activities; 

* priorities for meeting those space control requirements that are most 
essential for the warfighter; 

* milestones for meeting established priorities, and; 

* end states necessary for meeting future military goals in space 
control. 

* Furthermore, the development of an integrated strategy should be 
aligned with the overall goals and objectives of the National Security 
Space Strategy, when issued. 

DOD Response: Concur. 

Recommendation 2: The GAO recommended that the Secretary of Defense 
develop an overall investment plan that: 

* supports future key goals, objectives and capabilities that are 
needed to meet space control priorities; 

* supports the end states identified in the integrated space control 
strategy, and is aligned with the overall goals and objectives of the 
national security space strategy. 

DOD Response: Concur. 

[End of enclosure] 

[End of section] 

Footnotes: 

[1] DOD Directive 3100.10, Space Policy, July 9, 1999, defines space 
control as ensuring freedom of action in space for the United States 
and its allies and, when directed, deny an adversary freedom of action 
in space. This is accomplished through surveillance, protection, 
prevention, and negation. 

[2] DOD defines end state as the set of required conditions that 
defines achievement of objectives. 

[3] Report of the Commission to Assess United States National Security 
Space Management and Organization, Pursuant to Public Law 106-65, 
January 11, 2001. 

[4] Similar challenges were also recognized in the 2001 Quadrennial 
Defense Review that serves as the overall strategic planning document 
of DOD. 

[5] U.S. General Accounting Office, Defense Space Activities: Status of 
Reorganization, GAO-02-772R (Washington, D.C.: June 26, 2002). 

[6] The U.S. Space Command is responsible for establishing operational 
requirements and the services are responsible for satisfying these 
requirements to the maximum extent practicable through their planning, 
programming, and budgeting system. 

[7] U.S. General Accounting Office, National Space Issues: Observations 
on Defense Space Programs and Activities, GAO/NSIAD-94-253 (Washington, 
D.C.: Aug. 1994) and Defense Acquisitions: Improvements Needed in 
Military Space Systems’ Planning and Education, GAO/NSIAD-00-81 
(Washington, D.C.: May 2000). 

[8] U.S. General Accounting Office, Defense Acquisitions: Space-Based 
Infrared System-low at Risk of Missing Initial Deployment Date, GAO-01-
6 (Washington, D.C.: Feb. 2001). 

[9] The Secretary of Defense has not yet officially designated the Air 
Force as executive agent for space. An executive agent is a term used 
to indicate a delegation of authority by the Secretary of Defense to a 
subordinate to act on the Secretary’s behalf. 

[10] According to the Space Commission report, some priority areas 
might include improved space situational awareness and attack warning 
capabilities, a more robust science and technology program for 
developing and deploying space-based radar, space-based laser, and 
hyper-spectral sensors and reusable launch vehicle technology. 

[11] U.S. General Accounting Office, Defense Acquisitions: Space-Based 
Infrared System-low at Risk of Missing Initial Deployment Date, GAO-01-
6 (Washington D.C.: Feb. 28, 2001). 

[12] Although the information provided here is unclassified, our SBIRS-
High report is classified. 

[13] In May 2002, after experiencing unit cost increases exceeding 25 
percent, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and 
Logistics certified to Congress, as required by the legislative 
provision known as Nunn-McCurdy, 10 U.S.C. 2433, that the program is 
essential to national security, in order to permit the program to 
continue. The Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology 
and Logistics was required to make this written certification before 
appropriated funds could be obligated for the program. 

[14] U.S. General Accounting Office, Defense Acquisitions: DOD Faces 
Challenges in Implementing Best Practices, GAO-02-469T (Washington, 
D.C.: Feb. 27, 2002). 

[15] U.S. General Accounting Office, Best Practices: Better Matching of 
Needs and Resources Will Lead to Better Weapon System Outcomes, GAO-01-
288 (Washington, D.C.: Mar. 8, 2001); U.S. General Accounting Office, 
Best Practices: DOD Teaming Practices Not Achieving Potential Results, 
GAO-01-510 (Washington, D.C.: Apr. 10, 2001); and U.S. General 
Accounting Office, Best Practices: Capturing Design and Manufacturing 
Knowledge Early Improves Acquisition Outcomes, GAO-02-701 (Washington, 
D.C.: July 15, 2002). 

[End of section] 

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