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BMD Focus: Space Defense Budget Mess

"DOD does not have performance measures and an evaluation plan to evaluate progress" on its space programs, the report said. As a result, the different U.S. armed forces were all going their own way in developing their own space programs and Rumsfeld's Department of Defense was not reining them in.

Washington (UPI) Oct 06, 2005
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has let chaos reign in his $22.663 billion ballistic missile and other space defense programs, and he needs to take a hands-on administering role in sorting out the mess, according to a recent GAO report.

The report, entitled "Defense Space Activities: Management Guidance and Performance Measures Needed to Develop Personnel," GAO-05-833 was issued by the Government Accountability Office on Sept. 21 and it was outspoken in its criticism of the Department of Defense's lax management of its space defense programs during Rumsfeld's tenure as secretary of defense since January 2001.

"Since a January 2001 Space Commission report highlighted the need to develop and maintain a space cadre, DOD has made limited progress on defense wide space cadre actions," the report said. "DOD has fallen behind its implementation schedule for its February space human capital strategy."

"As of June 2005, DOD had completed three of the nine tasks scheduled for completion by March 2005 and one other task," the report said.

"DOD's management approach for the departmentwide space cadre is inconsistent with a results-oriented management approach in two areas," the report said. "DOD has not issued detailed guidance to provide accountability by institutionalizing space cadres authorities and responsibilities," it said. Also, "DOD has not completed its strategy implementation."

"Without defensewide guidance, progress may not continue and DOD may not develop enough space-qualified professionals," it added.

Furthermore, "DOD does not have performance measures and an evaluation plan to evaluate progress" on its space programs, the report said.

As a result, the report said, the different U.S. armed forces were all going their own way in developing their own space programs and Rumsfeld's Department of Defense was not reining them in.

"Without proactive DOD leadership, the Secretary of Defense and Congress will not have assurance that the services are obtaining and the developing the space cadre the nation needs," the report warned.

The Department of Defense had only "taken limited actions to ensure the future success of its space cadre because it has not established a complete results-oriented management approach," the report concluded.

"As a result of the lack of a complete management approach, DOD may not be able to move toward establishing a defensewide cadre of space professionals with the required training, education, experience and vision to advance the use of space power and (to) transform military operations," it said.

The GAO urged Rumsfeld to "issue defensewide guidance to provide accountability by defining and institutionalizing space cadre authorities and responsibilities."

The defense secretary, it said, should define the DOD Executive Agent for Space's "specific authority and responsibilities related to the defensewide space cadre and leadership role in synchronizing the services' space cadre activities."

Although the report's criticisms were harsh, the GAO noted that the "DOD agreed with the recommendations" that it had made.

The GAO investigation that led to the report was a massive one. It took nine months to complete from September 2004 to June 2005 and involved discussions with officials at the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff and the U.S. Strategic Command.

GAO officials also investigated DOD management operations with the Air Force Space Command, the Army Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Plans, the Army Space Operations Office Proponency Office, the Office of the Navy Space Cadre Advisor at the Office of Plans, Policies and Operations at the headquarters of the U.S. Marine Corps.

The GAO said the Air Force continued to operate by far the king's share of the space defense budget amounting to $20.992 billion in Fiscal Year 2006. The Navy, which operates Aegis cruisers for missile defense among other programs, came next with $916 million and the Army's space defense budget amounted to $413 million.

Dividing the Fiscal Year 2006 Space Budget according to budget title, Research, Development, Test and Evaluation consumed by far the largest portion of it, the GAO report said. That amounted to $10.965 billion.

Procurement came next with $7.824 billion, while Operation and Maintenance costs were only one third of that at $2.684 billion. The cost of military personnel in the space budget came to $1.124 billion, it said.

In all them, U.S. armed services in Fiscal Year 2006 identified about 8,200 space personnel with space experience, education and training throughout the Department of Defense, the GAO report said. And the Air Force had 91 percent of these, with 7,434 space personnel, it said.

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