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Space Acquisitions: DOD Delivering New Generations of Satellites, but Space System Acquisition Challenges Remain

GAO-11-590T Published: May 11, 2011. Publicly Released: May 11, 2011.
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Despite decades of significant investment, most of the Department of Defense's (DOD) large space acquisition programs have collectively experienced billions of dollars in cost increases, stretched schedules, and increased technical risks. Significant schedule delays of as much as 9 years have resulted in potential capability gaps in missile warning, military communications, and weather monitoring. These problems persist, with other space acquisition programs still facing challenges in meeting their targets and aligning the delivery of assets with appropriate ground and user systems. To address cost increases, DOD reduced the number of satellites it would buy, reduced satellite capabilities, or terminated major space system acquisitions. Broad actions have also been taken to prevent their occurrence in new programs, including better management of the acquisition process and oversight of its contractors and resolution of technical and other obstacles to DOD's ability to deliver capability. This testimony will focus on the (1) status of space system acquisitions, (2) results of GAO's space-related reviews over the past year and the challenges they signify, (3) efforts DOD has taken to address causes of problems and increase credibility and success in its space system acquisitions as well as efforts currently underway, and (4) what remains to be done.

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Communication satellitesCost analysisDefense capabilitiesDefense cost controlDefense procurementGlobal positioning systemIT acquisitionsProcurement planningSatellitesSchedule slippagesStrategic planningSystems designCost growth