Consolidated Space Operations Center Lacks Adequate DOD Planning

MASAD-82-14: Published: Jan 29, 1982. Publicly Released: Jan 29, 1982.

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GAO was requested to evaluate the planning and development approach for the Department of Defense (DOD) Consolidated Space Operations Center (CSOC). Specifically, GAO provided information on the: (1) evolution of evaluation criteria and inconsistencies in their application; (2) unique operational and organizational factors bearing on final site selection; (3) possible legal ramifications of the manner in which State of Colorado land is being procured for CSOC use; (4) viable alternatives to the currently planned site construction, including a recommendation of the most cost-effective alternative; and (5) other potential cost savings related to this project which might be available to the Air Force.

Although GAO found weaknesses that would make the site selection methodology questionable, GAO believes that the site finally selected is technologically acceptable and has no recommendation for a better alternative location. DOD, while given the overall responsibility for military operations in space, has failed to designate a single manager who would provide clear and authoritative guidance. Instead, DOD has delegated authority and responsibility in such a manner that a large number of organizations now have operational planning and control of individual space programs. This could result in future duplication of assets and operational conflicts. The Air Force has the responsibility only for the development of CSOC. GAO found that it is following vague policy guidance and a developmental approach hastily implemented to achieve only short-term objectives. Further, GAO found that the Air Force deviated from standard development and procurement procedures. CSOC planning is in its formative stages, lacks order and direction, and is being done by several organizations. This may result in cost overruns, schedule slippages, and ultimately in less than the required capability. Because of its hastily developed implementation plan, the Air Force has not adequately explored cost savings alternatives. The inclusion of other satellite control facilities, by functionally integrating them into CSOC, could effect substantial savings. In addition, GAO believes that significant cost savings are available by incorporating the Space Defense Operations Center into CSOC.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: To date, there has been no decision by the Secretary of Defense regarding a unified space command headed by a single service manager although the Joint Chiefs of Staff has proposed this.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should take immediate action to designate a single manager for the management of military space development and operation.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: This recommendation still remains valid. The issues concerning CSOC development have been pursued in a more recent review and are discussed in a report to the Chairman, House Committee on Government Operations (NSIAD-84-13). The recommendation in this later report will be monitored since it continues to address the areas of concern regarding CSOC development.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should take immediate action to direct that the manager prepare an overall plan for the military exploitation of space. Included in this plan should be consideration of an interim Satellite Operations Complex in Colorado Springs, with a follow-on CSOC at such time as adequate planning is completed for a fully functional integrated system. Also, the CSOC implementation plan should be supported by an adequate cost-benefit analysis.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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