GAO Dings Pentagon for Missile Defense Report

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The U.S. Department of Defense chose to provide Congress with a report on Regional Ballistic Missile Defense that was “optimistic” instead of using of other “comprehensive information which it could have provided to better reflect its current efforts,” according to findings from the Government Accountability Office.

In its 2013 defense authorization bill, Congress asked the secretary of defense to submit a report on the status of regional missile defense programs including President Barack Obama’s European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA), which is focused on protecting European allies and deployed U.S. forces against existing ballistic missile threats. At the same time, the GAO was asked to evaluate those findings. 

The March 14 report, “DOD’s Report Provided Limited Information; Assessment of Acquisition Risks is Optimistic,” says the Missile Defense Agency has struggled to complete performance tests of the EPAA. As a result, the agency has limited its understanding of how the system is working compared with its planned capability. The program also has experienced cancellations and delays due to the availability of targets, the report said.

“As a result, MDA faces making Technical Capability Declarations without the testing and assessment information it planned to have,” the report said.

The report also said many of the planned capabilities for the EPAA have been delayed. For example, some capabilities planned for the first phase and expected in 2014 are now expected by 2015, some planned for the second phase and expected in 2015 are now expected by 2017, and some planned for the third phase and expected by 2018 are now expected by 2020 or later.

The report found “additional details may have benefited the congressional defense committees during their authorization and appropriation deliberations.”