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Highlights

The Department of Defense (DOD) is working to achieve information superiority over adversaries and share information seamlessly among disparate weapons systems. Two programs envisioned as a part of this effort are Transformational Satellite Communications System (TSAT) and Space Radar. TSAT is designed to provide rapid worldwide secure communications with air and space systems--including Space Radar--through radio frequency and laser communications links. Space Radar is expected to provide global all-weather intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, particularly in denied areas, for military, national intelligence, and civil users. Both TSAT and Space Radar will require major software development efforts and employ a significant number of experienced staff. TSAT and Space Radar development efforts are expected to be among the most costly space systems ever developed by DOD. In 2004, TSAT was estimated to have a total life cycle cost of about $16 billion, of which $2.0 billion will have been spent at the end of fiscal year 2007. Space Radar is estimated to have a total life cycle cost from $20 billion to $25 billion, and the program has spent about approximately $464.5 million. TSAT expects to begin product development in fiscal year 2008, and launch the first satellite in the first quarter of fiscal year 2016. Space Radar expects to begin product development in fiscal year 2009 and launch the first satellite in third quarter of fiscal year 2016. The systems are also expected to be among the most complex ever developed, largely because of the challenges associated with integrating critical technologies within the satellites and networking the satellites to other platforms. Congress requested that GAO assess DOD's progress in adopting best practice as both of these programs proceed toward product development. We presented our findings on TSAT and Space Radar in briefings to Congressional staffs in March 2007. This letter summarizes our findings, conclusions, and recommendations.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Defense 1. To ensure that TSAT and Space Radar do not succumb to funding pressures within DOD, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of the Air Force to identify potential gaps between requirements and resources before approving the start of product development and, if necessary, adjust requirements and resources to increase the likelihood of achieving program cost, schedule, and performance goals.
Closed - Implemented
Over the years, GAO has recommended numerous actions that can be taken to address problems identified with the Transformational Satellite Communications System (TSAT) and Space Radar-two of DOD's most costly programs-envisioned to achieve information superiority over adversaries and share information seamlessly across disparate weapons systems. Generally, GAO has recommended that DOD's programs ensure technologies work as intended, match resources and requirements at program start, and use quantifiable data and demonstrate knowledge to make decision to move to next phases. Both TSAT and Space Radar have been taking actions to identify potential gaps between requirements and resources before approving the start of product development to ensure they can meet their cost and schedule goals. Specifically, in 2007, DOD approved updates to the TSAT capabilities document and validated key performance. Finally, a recent TSAT investment study directed by the Office of the Secretary of Defense identified potential gaps between requirements and resources, and identified alternatives for DOD Space Radar has also adopted some best practices and has identified potential gaps between requirements and resources before approving the start of product development to ensure they can meet their cost and schedule goals.

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