In 1996, DOD initiated the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) to replace the nation's current missile detection system, and to provide expanded missile warning capability. Since then, SBIRS has been restructured several times to stem cost increases and schedule delays, including revising program goals in 2002, 2004, and 2005. These actions were partly due to the challenges of developing sophisticated technologies and software. In 2007, SBIRS had a major setback when flight software for the first satellite underwent testing and failed, a failure caused by design issues. DOD developed a plan for resolving these issues, and revised its cost and schedule goals. GAO has assessed (1) the approach used to mitigate the problems, and (2) the cost and schedule risks and challenges of that approach. To conduct our work, GAO has contacted, met with, and performed detailed work at numerous DOD and contractor offices; and reviewed technical documents on flight software.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Defense||To better ensure that SBIRS can meet the cost and schedule goals for resolving the flight software problems as well as launch the first satellite on schedule, the Secretary of Defense should revise the cost and schedule estimates based on more realistic assumptions to increase the confidence of success.|
|Department of Defense||To better ensure that SBIRS can meet the cost and schedule goals for resolving the flight software problems as well as launch the first satellite on schedule, the Secretary of Defense should require that the contractor make adherence to disciplined software practices a priority to reduce program risk.|