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GAO discussed the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization's (SDIO) program. GAO found that: (1) through fiscal year 1991, SDIO has received $20.9 billion for research and development on ballistic missile defense, for which about $6.3 billion was for sensors, $4.9 billion for directed energy weapons, $4.8 billion for kinetic energy weapons, $2.7 billion for systems analysis and battle management, and $2.2 billion for survivability, lethality, and other key technologies; (2) the administration and SDIO frequently planned and started projects on the basis of unrealistic and overly optimistic funding requests and schedules hampering the efficient pursuit of research and development; (3) SDIO either cancelled or cut back major energy technology demonstrations after making large investments, in order to hold to an early schedule for other systems' development and deployment decisions; (4) the postponement of the President's 1993 decision on deployment allows SDIO to stabilize new project designs and develop a comprehensive system test and evaluation program; and (5) SDIO based cost estimates on optimistic assumptions about the pace of technology development, and the current estimate could increase as the system proceeds into full-scale development and production.

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