GAO: Attack warning systems over cost, behind schedule

Critical capabilities for detecting air, missile and space attacks will not be ready on time, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office. Air Force efforts to upgrade systems at the Cheyenne Mountain Operations Center by fiscal 2006 have been plagued by a lack of oversight and poor management, the report states.

The Combatant Commanders’ Integrated Command and Control System (CCIC2S) is the latest in a series of upgrade programs initiated at Cheyenne Mountain. The GAO report uses this program as an example of the problems facing warning systems at Cheyenne Mountain.

“The Department of Defense’s CCIC2S program is over cost, behind schedule and some capabilities have been deferred indefinitely that could pose risks to performing some future operations,” GAO’s report states.

Severe development shortcomings will particularly hinder the center’s ability to track space objects, the report states. “None of the work on CCIC2S’s critical space mission capabilities has been completed, and estimated completion dates for this work have yet to be determined,” it states.

The Air Force is the lead service for the program. It estimates program costs will total $717 million through fiscal 2006, which is 51 percent greater than initial estimates. The Air Force had predicted the completion of upgrades for critical air, missile and space warning systems in fiscal 2006.

The service’s program management exacerbated the problem, the report states. It neglected to match requirements with existing resources when the program started in 2000.

Facing recurring cost overruns, the Air Force has adjusted the program’s costs and goals each year since 2000 by delaying the delivery of capabilities. That might manage accounting for the current fiscal year but has consequences for homeland defense.

“The deferral of capabilities and performance shortfalls has significant implications for future missions,” GAO said.

In addition to the cost overruns, the Air Force needs more money to maintain existing systems while the new technologies are in development.

DOD failed to manage the CCIC2S program in three main areas, according to GAO:

  • The department did not designate the program as a major information system acquisition, which would have required high-level and independent oversight.
  • The Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, the official with overall responsibility for the program, also failed to provide oversight.
  • The Air Force’s contract management approach prevented the program office from effectively monitoring the contractor’s performance.
GAO recommended that DOD limit further noncritical CCIC2S development pending a new acquisition approach and improved oversight. GAO also recommended that the program undergo an independent economic analysis to determine affordability and life cycle costs.

Responding to GAO’s recommendations, DOD has agreed to designate the program as a major information system acquisition and reform management controls.

GAO said the department will continue to face similar problems, however, because of poor oversight and management controls throughout DOD’s global procurement.

“DOD’s costly current and planned acquisitions are running head-on into the nation’s unsustainable fiscal path,” the letter accompanying the report states.

Lockheed Martin Mission Systems leads the team of contractors and commands working to implement the CCIC2S vision at Cheyenne Mountain.

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