The Department of Defense (DOD) has spent nearly $90 billion since 1985 to develop a Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS). In the next 6 years, the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), the developer, plans to invest about $58 billion more. MDA's overall goal is to produce a system that is capable of defeating enemy missiles launched from any range during any phase of their flight. MDA's approach is to field new capabilities in 2-year blocks. The first--Block 2004--was to provide some protection by December 2005 against attacks out of North Korea and the Middle East. Congress requires GAO to assess MDA's progress annually. This year's report assesses (1) MDA's progress during fiscal year 2005 and (2) whether capabilities fielded under Block 2004 met goals. To the extent goals were not met, GAO identifies reasons for shortfalls and discusses corrective actions that should be taken.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Defense||1. To better ensure the success of future MDA development efforts, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Director, MDA, to direct all BMDS elements to implement a knowledge-based acquisition strategy that provides for demonstrating knowledge points for major events or steps leading up to those events. These knowledge points should be consistent with those called for in DOD's acquisition regulations. For example, markers could be established that would demonstrate that programs have the knowledge to meet design review standards and are ready to hold those reviews.|
|Department of Defense||2. To better ensure the success of future MDA development efforts, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Director, MDA, to assess whether the current 2-year block strategy is compatible with the knowledge-based development strategy recommended above. If not, the Secretary should develop event-driven time frames for future blocks. Events could represent demonstrated increases in capability, such as the addition of software upgrades, stand-alone components, or elements.|
|Department of Defense||3. To better ensure the success of future MDA development efforts, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Director, MDA, to adopt more transparent criteria for identifying and reporting on significant changes in each element's quantities, cost, or performance, such as those that are found in DOD's acquisition regulations. Coupled with a more knowledge-based acquisition strategy, such criteria would enable MDA to be more accountable for delivering promised capability within estimated resources.|