A number of countries hostile to the United States and its allies have or will soon have missiles capable of delivering nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons. To counter this threat, the Department of Defense's (DOD's) Missile Defense Agency (MDA) is developing a system to defeat ballistic missiles. MDA expects to spend $50 billion over the next 5 years to develop and field this system. A significant portion of these funds will be invested in the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) element. To field elements as soon as practicable, MDA has adopted an acquisition strategy whereby capabilities are upgraded as new technologies become available and is implementing it in 2-year blocks. Given the risks inherent to this strategy, GAO was asked to determine when MDA plans to demonstrate the maturity of technologies critical to the performance of GMD's Block 2004 capability and to identify the estimated costs to develop and field the GMD element and any significant risks with the estimate.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Defense||1. To increase its confidence that the Ground-base Midcourse Defense element fielded in 2004 will operate as intended, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Director, Missile Defense Agency, to explore its options for demonstrating the upgraded Cobra Dane radar in its new ballistic missile defense role in a real-world environment before September 2004.|
|Department of Defense||2. To improve MDA's oversight of the GMD element and to provide the Congress with the best available information for overseeing the program, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Director, Missile Defense Agency, to ensure that when a contractor is authorized to begin new work before a price is negotiated that the Defense Contract Management Agency validate the performance measurement baseline to the extent possible by (1) tracking the movement of budget from the authorized, unpriced work account into the baseline, (2) verify that the work packages accurately reflect the new work directed, and (3) report the results of this effort to MDA.|
|Department of Defense||3. To improve MDA's oversight of the GMD element and to provide the Congress with the best available information for overseeing the program, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Director, Missile Defense Agency, to strive to initiate and complete an integrated baseline review of any major contract modifications within 6 months.|