Cut Too Far:

The Air Force told the Government Accountability Office that a prime reason for its “unrealistic” cost estimates for space acquisitions is that “cost-estimating resources have atrophied over the years because of the previous downsizing of the workforce,” according to a recently released GAO report. In reviewing estimating procedures for several high profile space programs—from the advanced extremely high frequency satellite program to the wideband gap filler communications satellite program—GAO was told that the number of estimators had dropped from 680 to 280 and high-grade positions abolished, making cost-estimating an additional duty in many cases. However, GAO also found that USAF had failed to rely on required independent cost estimates and “failing to encourage more realism in program planning and budgeting.” DOD, for the most part, concurred with GAO recommendations.