GAO says DoD failed to evaluate alternatives to ballistic missile tracking system

The U.S. Department of Defense failed to include an evaluation of alternatives to the Precision Tracking Space System in its report to congressional defense committees, the Government Accountability Office said on Thursday.

The GAO evaluated a report on a 2012 DoD Director for Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation program review on the PTSS, a missile defense program built to track ballistic missiles. The documents did not provide for or include an evaluation of PTSS alternatives, a requirement of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013.

The DoD also submitted to the congressional defense committees a terms of reference approved by the Missile Defense Executive Board. The GAO found the terms of reference were not approved in coordination with the Defense Space Council, another requirement of the National Defense Authorization Act.

The act mandated that the GAO assess the PTSS terms of reference and the evaluation of alternatives and report the assessment to congressional defense committees.

"To conduct this work, we reviewed both the terms of reference and the PTSS report to determine whether they provided for and assessed alternative systems and concepts as well as to determine whether internal agency coordination occurred consistent with the restrictions and requirements for the PTSS program in the Fiscal Year 2013 NDAA," the GAO said. "We also interviewed DoD officials from CAPE; Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics; Missile Defense Agency; U.S. Strategic Command; and Joint Staff."

According to senior DoD officials, the Secretary of Defense proposed the cancellation of the PTSS program in November based on a 2012 CAPE review of the program. DoD officials said there are multiple efforts underway to review other options for missile defense sensors. The DoD anticipates that some of the efforts will be completed later in 2013 to inform internal DoD fiscal year 2015 budgetary decisions.

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