Defense Acquisitions: Improvements Needed in Space Systems Acquisition Policy to Optimize Growing Investment in Space, Statement by Robert E. Levin, Director, Acquisition and Sourcing Management, before the Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, Senate Committee on Armed Services [open pdf - 359KB]
DoD has recently implemented a new acquisition policy, which sets the stage for decision making on individual space programs. GAO was asked to testify on its assessment of the new policy. Similar to all weapon system programs, GAO found that commitments were made to satellite launch dates, cost estimates, and delivering certain capabilities without knowing whether technologies being pursued could really work as intended. Thus, time and costs were consistently underestimated. As currently written, and from discussions with DoD officials about how the new acquisition policy will be implemented, GAO determined that the policy will not result in separating technology development from product development to ensure that a match is made between needs and resources. Instead, it allows major investment commitments to be made with unknowns about technology readiness, requirements, and funding. By not changing its current practice, DoD will likely perpetuate problems within individual programs that require more time and money to address than anticipated. More important, over the long run, the extra investment required to address these problems will likely prevent DoD from pursuing more advanced capabilities and from making effective tradeoff decisions between space and other weapon system programs. Although GAO did not make recommendations in this testimony, it reiterated a previous recommendation that DoD modify its policy to separate technology development from product development. GAO's past work has consistently shown that time and risk are reduced and capability is increased when programs begin with knowledge that technologies can work as intended.
Government Accountability Office (GAO): http://www.gao.gov/