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Highlights

Missing among the Department of Defense's (DOD) portfolio of systems is a capability to track stationary and moving enemy vehicles on land or at sea in any type of weather, day or night, from space. To meet this need, DOD and the intelligence community are collaborating on the ambitious Space-Based Radar (SBR) program. By leveraging the newest generation of radar technologies, the SBR concept promises to deliver high-quality data to a wide array of users. DOD intends to start product development in 2006 and to field SBR satellites as quickly as possible so that warfighters, the intelligence community, and national decision makers can gain a better understanding of what adversaries are doing in specific locations around the world. GAO reviewed the SBR program to assess DOD's progress in attaining the knowledge it needs by 2006 in terms of customer needs (or requirements) and resources.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Defense 1. To better ensure that DOD and its intelligence community partners obtain the additional knowledge they need determine whether and when to begin the SBR acquisition program, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of the Air Force to direct the SBR Executive Steering Group to ensure that outcomes from the requirements management process are formally approved and documented as the program proceeds through product development before an investment is made beyond technology and concept development for the SBR program. This group should identify how key document review comments are to be obtained and addressed and identify all the officials and/or organizations responsible for taking specific approval action. In addition, the group should establish a mechanism and time frame for providing approval/disapproval. Finally, the group should establish a formal mechanism for addressing unresolved issues as they relate to key program documentation, as well as how changes to approved requirements will be assessed.
Closed - Not Implemented
The agency did not complete action to implement this recommendation, and as of March 2008, the Space Radar (formerly called Space-Based Radar) program of record had essentially been canceled. Specifically, in a March 6, 2008, written statement, DOD states that it and the Intelligence Community (IC) had decided not to pursue the Space Radar program of record. DOD further stated that the Space Radar program of record was not affordable, would be restructured effective immediately, and activities for which would cease as soon as practical.
Department of Defense 2. To better ensure that DOD and its intelligence community partners obtain the additional knowledge they need determine whether and when to begin the SBR acquisition program, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of the Air Force to modify DOD's space acquisition policy to reflect protocols for setting requirements when DOD undertakes programs in partnership with the intelligence community.
Closed - Not Implemented
DOD non-concurred with this recommendation.
Department of Defense 3. To better ensure that DOD and its intelligence community partners obtain the additional knowledge they need determine whether and when to begin the SBR acquisition program, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of the Air Force to delay approval to commit funding to product development (key decision point B) for SBR until technologies have been demonstrated in a relevant or operational environment so DOD can more reliably estimate the resources needed to complete the program. If the Under Secretary determines that the program should go forward with less mature technologies, the Under Secretary should (1) undertake an assessment of the backup technologies that may lessen capability and add cost to the program and the additional time and money that may be required to meet SBR's performance objectives to address those risks, (2) undertake an assessment of trade-offs that may need to be made with other space programs to assure SBR's successful outcome, and (3) secure formal commitments from DOD to provide funding for total estimated costs as well as costs estimated to address potential technical risks.
Closed - Implemented
DOD made the determination not to begin the SBR acquisition program and, therefore, did not commit funding to product development.
Department of Defense 4. To better ensure that DOD and its intelligence community partners obtain the additional knowledge they need determine whether and when to begin the SBR acquisition program, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of the Air Force to strengthen ongoing study of options for tracking ground-moving targets by ensuring this work includes (1) a full range of air and space options, (2) measures of effectiveness that would help justify choosing SBR over air options, and (3) the possibility of having to rely on TCA alternatives for space options. This work should also consider the results of analyses being conducted by other DOD entities on tracking ground-moving targets.
Closed - Implemented
DOD made the determination not to fund the development of the SBR program. DOD plans to assess a full range of air and space options to determine its needs in this area.

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