Task force slams inefficient budgeting, poor decisions and lack of co-ordination between DoD and CIA

Fifteen months after making its first report, a US Air Force-sponsored task force has again criticised the service's management of several national security space programmes, while also noting some signs of progress.

Inefficient budgeting, poor requirements decisions and a lack of co-ordination between the US defence secretary and the intelligence community continue to plague the air force's chronically over-budget and behind-schedule space programmes, says a new report by the Task Force on Acquisition of National Security Space Programmes.

Last year, the task force called for the air force space leadership - namely, undersecretary of defence Peter Teets - to overhaul the service's space acquisition policy.

A key recommendation involved making improvements to the budgeting process. The task force recommended the air force create a reserve fund worth about 20-25% of the value of the full programme, to be used at the programme manager's discretion as needs or requirements change. The air force's implementation of this recommendation "has been disappointing", says the new report.

Moreover, "the task force observed no progress in resolving ineffective discipline and decision-making in the requirements process prior to programme implementation," it says. In another finding, the task force calls on secretary of defence Donald Rumsfeld and the chief of the US Central Intelligence Agency to establish a process to resolve conflicts between requirements in space programmes.

On specific programmes, the task force warns that "optimistic" test plans and software development schedules could again derail the Space-Based Infrared System High programme, which is now undergoing a major restructuring (Flight International, 13-19 January).

But the task force had strong praise for the new leadership of the Boeing Future Imagery Architecture (FIA) programme, which has run $4 billion over budget.

Although careful monitoring is still needed, "progress on the FIA programme was more positive than expected", it says.



Source: Flight International