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Missile Defense: The Warfighter and Decision Makers Would Benefit from Better Communication about the System's Capabilities and Limitations


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Since 2002, MDA has been developing a Ballistic Missile Defense System that can identify and intercept enemy threats. MDA has received approximately $132 billion and is planning to spend an additional $47.8 billion through fiscal year 2022 to continue its efforts. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 included a provision that GAO annually assess and report on the extent to which MDA has achieved its acquisition goals and objectives. This report addresses (1) the progress MDA made in achieving fiscal year 2017 goals; (2) the extent to which MDA uses contracting vehicles known as undefinitized contract actions; and (3) the extent to which models provide credible information about the system's operational performance. To do this work, GAO reviewed planned fiscal year 2017 baselines and other documentation and assessed them against baseline reviews and GAO's acquisition best practices guides. In addition, GAO interviewed relevant officials. GAO is making six recommendations to, among other things, improve the way MDA communicates capability deliveries; better report information about MDA's use of undefinitized contract actions; and address the challenges MDA has encountered with certifying its test models and communicating limitations of those models. DOD partially concurred with the first recommendation and concurred with the other five. GAO continues to believe the recommendations are valid as discussed in the report.



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