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Defense Acquisitions: Improvements Needed in Space Systems Acquisition Policy to Optimize Growing Investment in Space

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Technical Report

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United States Government Accountability Office Washington United States

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The Department of Defense is spending nearly 18 billion annually to develop, acquire, and operate satellites and other space related systems. The majority of satellite programs that GAO has reviewed over the past 2 decades experienced problems that increased costs, delayed schedules, and increased performance risk. In some cases, capabilities have not been delivered to the warfighter after decades of development. 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. GAO did not make recommendations in its testimony. However, it reiterated a previous recommendation that DOD modify its policy to separate technology development from product development. DOD disagreed with our earlier recommendation because it believes that the modification would slow down acquisitions, increase risks, and keep DOD from taking advantage of cutting edge technology. Our past work, however, has consistently shown that time and risk are reduced and capability is increased when programs begin with knowledge that technologies can work as intended.

Subject Categories:

  • Unmanned Spacecraft

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