GAO Faults Some Air Force Space Programs

Although some Air Force space systems “have largely overcome acquisition challenges,” the Governmental Accountability Office told the Senate Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee April 29 that analyses showed serious cost overruns and schedule delays in several major programs. GAO’s director of acquisition and sourcing management, Cristina Chaplain, also said the Air Force is running out of time to execute proposals to maintain space-based capabilities in the face of “fiscal constraints and growing threats to space systems.” Chaplain’s report noted improvements over the past decade’s acquisition problems, but a group of space programs studied are projected to exceed original cost estimates by a total of $16.7 billion, or 186 percent. It acknowledged some of that was due to expanded programs. The report said the first launch of a GPS III satellite is running two years late due to developmental problems. The next generation ground control system for GPS satellites has experienced “significant schedule delays and cost growth,” meaning some GPS capabilities will go unused for several years, it said. And although new missile warning satellites are in orbit after delays, they cannot be fully utilized because the ground system needed to operate them is still in development. (GAO report; Caution, large-sized file.)