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Highlights

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.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
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.
Closed - Implemented
DOD concurred with GAO's recommendation and is planning to conduct such a dedicated test of the Cobra Dane radar during the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2005. The test, FT 04-5, involves the air launch of a long-range target that would fly in the field of view of Cobra Dane and will be conducted to certify Cobra Dane operation.
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.
Closed - Not Implemented
The Missile Defense Agency and the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) are jointly determining the feasibility of performing the recommended reviews. However, both agencies believe that DCMA is already validating, at least in part, any new Performance Measurement Baseline (PMB) through its contractor surveillance activities.
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.
Closed - Not Implemented
MDA said that it will continue to adhere to DOD policy and strive to initiate Integrated Baseline Reviews in a timely manner. The agency expects to provide GAO with documentation of those cases where Integrated Baseline Reviews were initiated and completed within 6 months of the issuance of significant contract modifications.

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