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Missile Defense: Actions Needed to Improve Information for Supporting Future Key Decisions for Boost and Ascent Phase Elements

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Congressional rept.

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The Department of Defense DoD has spent about 107 billion since the mid-1980s to develop a capability to destroy incoming ballistic missiles. DoD has set key decision points for deciding whether to further invest in capabilities to destroy missiles during the initial phases after launch. In March 2006, DoD issued a report on these capabilities in response to two mandates. To satisfy a direction from the House Appropriations Committee, GAO agreed to review the report. To assist Congress in evaluating DoDs report and preparing for future decisions, GAO studied the extent to which DoD did the following 1 analyzed technical and operational issues, and 2 presented complete cost information. To do so, GAO assessed the reports methodology, explanation of assumptions and their effects on results, and whether DoD followed key principles for developing life-cycle costs. The report DoDs Missile Defense Agency submitted to Congress in March 2006 included some useful technical and operational information on boost and ascent phase capabilities by describing these elements, listing upcoming decision points, and discussing geographic areas where boost and ascent elements could intercept missiles shortly after launch. However, the information in the report has several limitations because the analysis did not involve key DoD stakeholders such as the services and combatant commands in preparing the report and did not clearly explain modeling assumptions and their effects on results as required by relevant research standards. To support future decisions, DoD should include key stakeholders in assessing operational issues, report on technical progress, and update and verify life-cycle cost estimates in accordance with key principles for developing life-cycle costs. In comments on a draft of this report, DoD agreed to include stakeholders and assess technical progress but did not agree to prepare or report life-cycle costs in accordance with key principles.

Subject Categories:

  • Administration and Management
  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Antimissile Defense Systems

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