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Daily News on Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Weapons, Terrorism and Related Issues

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GAO Cites Risky Antimissile Procurement Practices

"High risk" procurement practices remain in use at the U.S. Missile Defense Agency even after corresponding procedures held up manufacturing of interceptors for three separate antimissile programs, the Government Accountability Office said in a report made public last week.

"Interceptor production for three of MDA's systems has been significantly disrupted during the past few years due to high-risk acquisition strategies which have resulted in delaying planned deliveries to the warfighter, raising costs, and disrupting the industrial base," according to congressional auditors.

"[The MDA] Targets and Countermeasures program is adding risk to an upcoming complex, costly operational flight test involving multiple MDA systems because it plans to use unproven targets," says a GAO summary.

In addition, auditors said the agency did not systematically consider procurement options to pursue in place of two system now designated for cancellation: the Standard Missile 2 Block 2B and the Precision Tracking Space System.

The Pentagon is also still struggling to keep procurement activities in line with schedules for fielding missile defense elements in Europe, they said.

"Instability due to MDA’s frequent adjustments to its acquisition baselines makes assessing progress over time using these baselines extremely difficult and, in many cases, impossible," auditors wrote.

"MDA has also struggled for years to develop the tools -- the models and simulations -- to understand the capabilities and limitations of the individual systems before they are deployed," the report says. "War-fighters will not benefit from" a planned evaluation standard "until after the first two of the currently planned three phases for U.S. missile defense in Europe have been deployed in 2011 and 2015 respectively."

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