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Highlights

The Department of Defense (DOD) relies on space to support a wide range of vital military missions. Many factors contribute to DOD success in space activities, and having sufficient quantities of space-qualified personnel to design, oversee, and acquire space assets, on which DOD expects to spend about $20 billion in fiscal year 2007, is critical to DOD's ability to carry out its mission. The individual services are responsible for providing adequately qualified space personnel to meet mission needs. The Air Force provides over 90 percent of the space personnel to DOD's mission, but has not identified the space acquisition workforce. This report examines the extent to which (1) the Air Force's space acquisition workforce is managed using a strategic workforce management approach, (2) there are sufficient numbers of Air Force space acquisition personnel to meet DOD's national security needs, and (3) the Air Force's space acquisition personnel are adequately qualified for their positions. For its analysis, GAO identified the space acquisition workforce as those Air Force scientists, engineers, and program managers with experience developing space assets.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Defense The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to direct that an integrated, zero-based needs assessment of space acquisition personnel be performed and then incorporated into the Air Force's force reduction planning and process improvement efforts in order to ensure that the resulting force structure is optimally balanced among workforce segments--that is, military, civilian, contractor, those who work on classified and unclassified programs, and Federally Funded Research and Development Center support personnel--and functional areas, such as classified and unclassified space systems.
Closed - Not Implemented
Although DOD partially concurred with our recommendation, it stated only that a needs assessment of space acquisition personnel must be integrated as part of the component's force planning and process improvement initiatives. DOD has taken no further action to address the recommendation.
Department of Defense The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to institutionalize and manage a space-specific specialty within the Air Force's acquisition manager career field in order to ensure that all incumbents in the space acquisition workforce, including personnel at SMC and NRO, have strong technical backgrounds and to better manage the career paths and retention of technical personnel in accordance with strategic workforce management principles.
Closed - Not Implemented
DOD partially concurred with our recommendation and highlighted the responsibilities of the Space Professional Functionality Advisory Council and Space Assignment Advisory Board. The advisory board oversees assignments for Air Force Credentialled Professionals. However, DOD indicated that these bodies do not actually review space-related professional assignments and influence the process through other means. DOD has taken no further action to address the intent of our recommendation.
Department of Defense The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to improve training by providing greater acquisition-specific content in the Air Force's National Security Space Institute's curricula in order to broaden the pool of personnel who are qualified to fill space acquisition positions.
Closed - Not Implemented
DOD partially concurred with our recommendation. Although it highlighted the hiring of at least one additional space acquisition specialist for the NSSI faculty in September 2009, it has taken no further action on enhancing the NSSI curricula, which was the intent of our recommendation.
Department of Defense The Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics to improve training by bolstering space-specific content in Defense Acquisition University's curricula in order to broaden the pool of personnel who are qualified to fill space acquisition positions.
Closed - Not Implemented
DOD concurred with our recommendation and listed some of the ways in which DAU has expanded its support of the space acquisition community. We acknowledge these efforts but continue to believe that additional space-specific content is needed in DAU's curricula in order to increase the pool of personnel who are qualified to fill space acquisition positions. Adding such space-specific content would allow more acquisition officers to receive a baseline level of training in space acquisition through DAU. This baseline level of training would help ensure that acquisition officers do not arrive in space acquisition assignments with little or no knowledge of space-specific acquisitions, such as is currently often the case. DOD has initiated new senior-level workshops, but these are not aimed at the personnel levels emphasized in our finding. DOD has taken no further action to address the intent of this recommendation.

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