GAO: Air Force planning on course

Air Force's Planning Process Meets Statutory Requirement

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The Air Force has done a good job of changing how it assesses the short- and long-term prospects for its science and technology program, according to a General Accounting Office report released Feb. 14.

The service has formed a task force to identify short-term objectives, and established an integrated product team to identify long-term science and technology challenges, as required by language in the fiscal 2001 National Defense Authorization Act, according to the report, "Air Force's Planning Process Meets Statutory Requirement."

The GAO embarked on its study after Congress expressed concerns about the Air Force's declining investment in science and technology.

During its discussions with the Air Force, the GAO agreed to focus its review "on whether the Air Force complied with the criteria specified in the act and the process-related requirements of the act, and not on the technical merits of the research projects identified."

The report addresses the three primary areas specified in the act:

* Long-term challenge identification and planning.

* Short-term objective identification and planning.

* Program and budgetary resource assessment.

The Air Force also complied with the requirement to establish teams to identify the necessary technological capabilities to achieve the goals for each confirmed challenge or objective.

Once the planning process was completed, the secretary of the Air Force had the deputy assistant secretary for science, technology and engineering review the results of the teams' work and identify any science and technology research not currently funded. The deputy complied with the act's review provisions, according to the report.

Since the Air Force satisfied all requirements, the GAO took the rare step of not including any recommendations in its report. The watchdog agency took a similar stance in a recent report that examined the Defense Department's collection and reporting of IT purchases.

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