Defense Acquisitions: Actions Needed to Ensure Adequate Funding for Operation and Sustainment of the Ballistic Missile Defense System

GAO-05-817 Published: Sep 06, 2005. Publicly Released: Sep 06, 2005.
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In 2002, the Department of Defense (DOD) implemented a new acquisition model to develop a Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) that included all major missile defense acquisitions, some of which were being developed by the military services. The model called for the management and funding responsibility for production, operation, and sustainment of a capability to be transferred to a military service when a BMDS element or major component is technically mature and plans for production are well developed. The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) was given responsibility for developing the BMDS and recommending the transfer of management and funding responsibilities to the services. In 2004, MDA emplaced an initial missile defense capability, but DOD did not transfer management and funding responsibility for that capability. Because a formal transfer did not occur, GAO was asked to (1) identify DOD's criteria for deciding when a missile defense capability should be transferred to a service and (2) determine how DOD is managing the costs of fielding a BMDS capability.

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Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics The Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics should revise the criteria for deciding when management and funding responsibility for missile defense assets should be transferred from MDA to a military service so that those criteria are clear and complete.
Closed – Implemented
Working together, the Missile Defense Agency, Combatant Commands, and military services generated a transition and transfer plan in July 2006. The annexes included in the plan identify the time line for transferring an asset, the military service that is to receive the asset, and any unique requirements that must be met before transfer takes place. Although the action taken by DOD is different from the action GAO recommended, DOD achieved the intent of the recommendation, which was to clarify--in a timeframe that would allow for appropriate planning--when the transfer of BMDS elements would take place and which organization would be responsible for each assets' management and funding.
Department of Defense The Secretary of Defense should ensure that a decision is made as to which DOD organization will fund the operation and sustainment of missile defense assets that are part of the initial defensive capability but have not been transferred from MDA to a military service and direct that organization, or those organizations, to budget for those costs.
Closed – Implemented
The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and the military services have worked together to develop a Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) Transition and Transfer Plan. The plan is responsive to our recommendation because it addresses agreements reached as to the organization that will budget for and provide funding support for elements that will not transfer from MDA to a military service.

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