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Highlights

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.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
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.
Closed - Implemented
In its report on the fiscal year 2007 authorization bill, the House Armed Services Committee strongly encouraged the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) to adopt a knowledge-based acquisition strategy, which would be consistent with Department of Defense acquisition regulations and GAO's recommendation. In 2010, MDA began implementing a new acquisition strategy that incorporates key knowledge points leading up to major milestone decisions as well as distinct acquisition phases.
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.
Closed - Implemented
The Congress has directed the Missile Defense Agency to assess its block structure with an emphasis on implementing a knowledge-based acquisition strategy.
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.
Closed - Implemented
DOD did not initially concur with this recommendation. However, MDA has implemented a new acquisition strategy, citing GAO recommendations and DOD acquisition policy, that includes more transparent criteria for identifying and reporting significant changes in quantities, cost, or performance.

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