oversight

Construction of Space Shuttle Facilities at Vandenberg Air Force Base

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1977-06-02.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

                          DOCUMENT BESUME
02629 - [A1612597]   (Restricted)

(Construction of Space Shuttle Facilities at Vandenberg Air
Force Base]. B-183134. June 2, 1977. 2 pp. + enclosure (6 pp.).
Report to Rep. George H. Mahon, Chairman, House Committee on
Appropriations; by Elmer B. Staats, Comptroller General.

Issue Area: Facilities and Material Management: Design and
    Const'ruction of Federal Facilities (707); Federal
    Proctrement of Goods and Services: Notifying the Congress of
    Status of Important Procurement Programs (1905).
Contact: Procurement and Systems Acquisition Div.
Budget Function: National Defense: Department of Defense -
    Procurement & Contracts (058).
Organizaticn Concerned: Department of Defense; Department of the
    Air Force: Vandentirg AFB, CA; Department of the Air Force.
Congressional Relevance: House Committee on Appropriations;
    House Committee on Appropriations: Military Construction
    Subcommittee.

         GAO examined the reasonableness of the Department of
Defense's (DOD's) estimated cost of the planned space shuttle
facilities at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California,
particularly from the standpoint of me-ting total DOD space
shuttle facilities requirements and providing for complete
usable facilities. Findings/Conclusions: Requirements for DOD
facilities to support the Space Transportation System (STS) are
not fully defined, and cost estimates are still being refined
and validated. The lack of firm requirements and cost estimates
is due to the Dynamic nature of the program in that it is still
changing in terms of operational concepts and anticipated levels
of operation. The request for military construction funds does
not include all costs necessary to provide completely functional
facilities. Additional costs zre included under the support
equipment and the research, design, test, and evaluation
appropriation codes. Recommendaticns: To get better visibility
as to the total costs of DOD's STS facilities, the
Appropriations Committee of the House should require the Air
Force to: identify all items necessary for the construction of
completely usable and functional facilities that are not being
funded under the military construction appropriation; and
prepare a separate DD Form 1391 for each STS facility.
(Author/QM)
                             RESTRICTED - Not to be released cttide the General
                             Accounting Offidi exept On 'h:, Ifns;s r; speciic approval
                             by the Office it cohivIfiiontal Re:atio::..
                      COMPTROLLgR    GENERAL. OF THE UNITED Sr'TC3
                                    WASHINGrOVN. D.C. SOUP




(cJ   B-183134


                                                                 JUO 2   1977
      The Honorable George H. Mahon
      Chairman, Committee on Appropriations
      House of Representatives

      Dear Mr. Chairman:

           Your letter of August 2, 1976, asked us to Obtain in-
      formation on the Department of Defense construction program
      for facilities to support the Space Transportation System at
      Vandenberg Air Force Base. As you suggested, we met with the
      staff of the Subcommittee on Military Construction, House
      Committee on Appropriations, to discuss its specific interests
      in this program. As agreed with the staff, we examined the
      reasonableness of the Department of Defense's estimated cost
      of the space shuttle facilities, particularly from the stand-
      point of meeting total Department of Defense space shuttle
      facilities requirements and providing for complete usable
      facilities.

           Generally, we found that requirements for Department of
      Defense facilities to support the Space Transportation System
      are not fully defined and that cost estimates are still being
      refined and validated. The mack of firm requirements and
      cost estimates is, in our opinion, due to the dynamic nature
      of the program in that it is still changing in terms of
      operational concepts and anticipated levels of operation.

           We also found that the request for military construction
      funds (appropriation code 3300) does not include all costs
      necessary to provide completely functional facilities. Ad-
      ditiona? costs are included under the support equipment (3020)
      and the research, design, test, and evaluation (3600) appro-
      priation codes.

           We recommend that the Committee, to get better visibility
      as to the total costs of the Department of Defense's Space
      Transportation System facilities, require the Air Force to (1)
      identify all items necessary for the construction of completely
      usable and functional facilities that are not being funded
      under the military construction appropriation and (2; prepare
      a separate DD Form 1391 (Military Construction ?roject Data)
      for each Space Transportation System facility.

                                                                 PSAD-77-109
B-183134


     We discussed these matters witn Air Force officials and
they believe that the Committee has adequate visibility or.
facilities costs. They also believe it is essential to main-
tain the program flexibility offered by consolidating all
facilities on one DD Form 1391.
     Details of these matters as presented to the Subcommit-
tee staff in an earlier briefing are sutmmarized in the en-
closure to this letter. Please let us know if we can be of
further assistance.




                             Comptroller General
                             of the United States
Enclosure




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ENCLOSURE I                                       ENCLOSURE I



               SUMMARY OF INFORMATION OBTAINED

         FOR SUBCOMMITTEE ON MILITARY CONSTRUCTION,

              COMMITTEE ON HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS

        ON CONSTRUCTION OF SPACE SHUTTLE FACILITIES

                AT VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE


BACKGROUND

     The Department of Defense (DOD) plans to build facili-
ties to support the Space Transportation System (STS) pri-
marily at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, and Port
Hueneme, California. Some DOD facilities will also be con-
structed at Kennedy Space Center, F: rida.   In addition, DOD
has requirements to construct facil  _jes at Johnson Space
Center, Texas, or other locations.

     The STS-related facilities at Vandenberg are intended
to achieve an initial operating capability, late in 1982,
using one launch pad. The acquisition cost is based on a
3-year construction schedule starting early in 1979 and end-
ing late in 1981.  DOD plans to fund the facilities through
two budgetary requests fur military construction funds
(appropriation code 3300), one in fiscal year 1979 and one
in fiscal year 1980, rather than requesting money for each
year of the construction schedule. These requests will also
include funding for facilities which may be required at Ken-
nedy Space Center or elsewhere.

     A second launch pad and associated facilities scheduled
for completion late in 1986 are still being evaluated. DOD
plans to request funds for construction of the second launch
pad, if needed, starting in fiscal year 1983.

DOD ACQUISITION COSTS
FOR STS FACILITIES

     Acquisition costs for STS facilities at Vandenberg and
Port Hueneme include development efforts, military construc-
tion, and support and communications equipment. Details
of costs by type of appropriation are presented below.
ENCLOSURE I                                          ENCLOSURE I

          Acquisition Costs for STS Facilities at
         Vandenberg Air Force Base and Port Hueneme

                               In real year dollars (note a)
                                          Additional
                               Launch      funds if
                              pad No. 1     launch
                                 and       pad No. 2
                             associated    is added
     Description             facilities    (note b)      Total

                             ------------imillions) ------------

Military construction
(appropriation code 3300)       $222.2      $136.7      $   358.9

Support equipment
(appropriation code 3020)        .51.8       129.7          381.5

Research, design, test,
and evaluation
(appropriation code. 3600)       311.3        5C.4          367.7

Communications equipment
(appropriation code 3080)           44.8      17.5           62.3

                                $830.1      $340.3      $1,170.4

a/Real year dollars, also known as cuirrent dollars, are
  always associated with the purchasing power of the dollar
  in the year that the expenditure will occur.   When future
  costs are stated, the figures given  are the actual amounts
  which will be paid, including inflation.

b/Includes support facilities, such as transportation and
  utilities.

     Air Force Space and Missile Systems Organization (SAMSO)
officials estimated additional costs of about $70 million to
$100 million for DOD security and communications require-
ments at Johnson Space Cender and about $4.8 million tor a
payload installation facility at Kennedy Space Center. These
officials also said a considerable increase in facility
costs of as much as $95.5 million is possible due to addi-
tional requirements which are being validated.

PLANNING ASSUMPTIONS FOR DOD's STS
FACILITIES AND OBSERVATIONS THEREON

     The planned STS operational flow and facilities at
Vandenberg were based on the following key considerations:

                                2
ENCLOSURE I                                       ENCLOSURE I

     -- A rate of 20 launches a vear with a two-orbiter
        fleet.

     -- Orbiter turnaround time of 205 hours.

     -- An initial operating capability late in 1982.

     -- Maximum use of existing facilities.

However, several changes in the operating concepts and
the number of shuttle launches planned for Vandenberg have
occured since the original planning effort.

     A maximum rate of 40 launches a year from Kennedy
Space iern er and 20 launches a year from Vandenberg was
based on a national traffic model of 572 launches during
fiscal years 1980-92. There have been several versions of
the traffic model since that time. The most current think-
ing is that there will be a total of 560 shuttle launches.
This model provides for a maximum of 129 launches over a
10-year period (average of 13 per year) from Vandenberg as
compared to the 572 model which provided for 173 launches
over the same 10-year period (average Df 17 per year).

     The two orbiters Ilanned for use at Vandenberg are
included in the National Aeronautics and Space Administra-
tion's (NASA's) fiscal year 1978 authorization and appro-
priations requests currently with the Congress. A congres-
sional decision to approve less than a five-orbiter fleet
for the STS could reduce the number of orbiters that will
be available for use at Vandenberg.  SAMSO officials agreed
that either a reduction in launch rate or a decrease in the
number of orbiters could result in deletions or changes in
the Vandenberg facilities.

      The estimated orbiter turnaround time of 205 hours also
considered in planning the Vandenberg facilities has been
revised. The estimate was increased to 336 hours in October
1976.

     Another area for potentil change is the planned 3-year
construction schedule; Air Force officials are concerned
whether the December 1982 initial operating capability date
can be met. Their concern centers around the magnitude
of the STS facilities project and the lack of flexibility
for contingencies, such as labor strikes or other unknowns.
Further, requirements for the presently planned STS facili-
ties at Vandenberg may not be firm.




                             3
ENCLOSURE I                                      ENCLOSURE I

INTEGRAL EQUIPMENT NOT FUNDED FROM
MILIT ARY CONSTRUCTION APPROPRIATIONS

     The request for military construction funds (appro-
uriation code 3300) does not include all costs necessary to
provide completely functional facilities. Additional costs
are included under the spport equipment (3020) and the re-
search, design, test, and evaluation (3600) appropriation
codes.

     According to documents available at SAMSO, Air Force
officials had directed that &'l long lead items (e.g., stain-
less steel tanks, bridge cranes, elevators) required for a
military construction program would be budgeted under the
support equipment (3020) appropriation. A SAMSO official
believed this was done because only complete facilities, not
just portions of a facility, could be purchased from mil-
itary construction funds. A June 1976 letter, from Air
Force headquarters, states, however,

     "* * * that MCP funds could not be made available
     in FY 78 due to constraints on the program * * *.
     However, * * * a decision was reached by the Air
     Staff to transfer P-3020 funds from the Interim
     Uppir Stage (IUS) Program at Kennedy Space Center
     to the Ground Support Systems Facilities Program
     at Vandenberg AFB for the specific use of providing
     the required long lead procurement items."

     The mate/demate facility estimated to cost $6.8 mil-
lion is an example of a facility being funded from several
appropriation codes, including the military construction
and the support equipment appropriations.  This facility
is planned to be constructed at Vandenberg for use in lift-
ing the orbiter on or off the carrier aircraft. About $0.9
million, primarily for construction of a concrete base, is
categorized as military construction. The crane portion
of the mate/demate facility, estimated to cost $2.8 million,
is categorized as support equipment. NASA, on the other
hand included the cost of its crane in the "cost of facili-
ties" (i.e., construction) estimate.

IMPROVED CONTROL NEEDED
OVER DOD's STS FACILITIES

     The submission of the budgetary requirements for
military construction funds (appropriation code 3300) will




                              4
ENCLOSURE I                                       ENCLOSURE I

be accomplished by means of a consolidated DD Form 1391
(Military Construction Project Data) covering all shuttle
facilities at Vandenberg to be funded in any one fiscal
year.  This form includes a project description and justi-
fication, project cost estimates, and other data. The
rationale for consolidating all facilities on one DD Form
1391 is to (1) facilitate preparation and review of documen-
tation and (2) provide a degree of programmatic flexibility
essential in a program of this magnitude and complexity.

     Public law authorizing military construction allows
variations in project costs provided the total for any
given base within the continental United States is not ex-
ceeded by more than 5 percent, and the total authorized for
the Air Force is not exceeded. An exception to this limita-
tion occurs when construction at a base consists of one
line item (i.e., one DD Form 1391); under this situation,
the Secretary of Defense may approve variations up to 125
percent of the congressionally authorized amount without
advising the Congress.

     With the currently estimated value of the consoli-
dated DD Form 1391s planned to be submitted for fiscal year
1979 ($128.5 million) and for fiscal year 1980 ($86.5 mil-
lion) an additional $32.1 million and $21.6 million, re-
spectively, in construction funds could be approved by the
Secretary of Defense without congressional oversight.
For the Congress to have adequate visibility on the scope
and magnitude of costs of space shuttle facilities, a sepa-
rate DD Form 1391 should be prepared for each facility.
This would also allow the Congress to follow program
changes and measure program progress.

RECOMMENDATIONS
TO THE COMMITTEE

     To get better visibility as to the total costs of DOD's
STS facilities, the Committee should require the Air Force
to

     -- identify all items necessary for the construc-
        tion of completely usable and functional
        facilities that are not being funded under
        the military construction appropriation
        and

     -- prepare a separate DD Form 1391 for each STS
        facility.




                             5
ENCLOSURE I                                     ENCLOSURE I

AGENCY COMMENTS

     We met with officials at Air Force headquarters to
discuss matters in this report. They believe the Committee
is given adequate visibility of the Space Transportation
System facilities program cost, They also believe it is
essential to maintain the program flexibility offerd by
consolidating all facilities on one DD Form 1391.




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