oversight

Defense Space Systems: DOD Should Collect and Maintain Data on Its Space Acquisition Workforce

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 2019-03-14.

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

             United States Government Accountability Office
             Report to Congressional Committees




             DEFENSE SPACE
March 2019




             SYSTEMS

             DOD Should Collect
             and Maintain Data on
             Its Space Acquisition
             Workforce




GAO-19-240
                                             March 2019

                                             DEFENSE SPACE SYSTEMS
                                             DOD Should Collect and Maintain Data on Its Space
                                             Acquisition Workforce
Highlights of GAO-19-240, a report to
congressional committees




Why GAO Did This Study                       What GAO Found
DOD plans to spend about $65 billion         The Department of Defense (DOD) does not routinely monitor the size, mix, and
from fiscal year 2019 to 2023 on space       location of its space acquisition workforce. However, data GAO collected and
acquisition programs—including               aggregated from multiple DOD space acquisition organizations show that at least
satellites, launch vehicles, ground          8,000 personnel in multiple locations nationwide were working on space
components, and user equipment.              acquisition activities at the end of 2017 (see figure). Also as shown, military and
DOD’s space acquisition personnel            civilian personnel comprise the majority of the overall workforce, while contractor
perform a variety of activities, such as
                                             and Federally Funded Research and Development Center personnel also
preparing and reviewing acquisition
                                             provide support.
documents, to manage or oversee
programs that develop or procure
space capabilities. DOD recently             Primary Locations and Size of Department of Defense (DOD) Space Acquisition Workforce
announced it plans to establish a new        Identified by GAO as of December 31, 2017
Space Development Agency and a
United States Space Command.

A House Report accompanying a bill
for the 2017 National Defense
Authorization Act contained a provision
for GAO to review DOD’s space
acquisition workforce. This report
examines, among other things, what is
known about the size, mix, and
location of that workforce. GAO
collected data from DOD’s acquisition
workforce data systems and multiple
space acquisition organizations. GAO
interviewed officials from these
organizations and from a non-
generalizable sample of 10 space
acquisition programs, representing a
range of dollar values and stages in
the acquisition process.

What GAO Recommends
                                             Several factors hinder DOD’s ability to collect data needed for a comprehensive
GAO recommends that DOD                      view of its space acquisition workforce:
(1) identifies the universe of its space     • DOD does not maintain a complete list of its space acquisition programs;
acquisition programs and the                 • DOD’s workforce data systems are not configured to identify personnel
organizations that support them and              working on space acquisition activities; and
(2) collects and maintains data on the       • DOD space acquisition personnel are dispersed across organizations and
workforce that supports these                    some personnel support both space and non-space programs.
programs. DOD agreed with the first          Without complete and accurate data, DOD cannot assess gaps in the overall
recommendation, but not the second.          capabilities of the space acquisition workforce. Identifying space programs and
GAO revised the second
                                             collecting such data would also better position DOD to ensure that the
recommendation to address DOD’s
                                             appropriate space acquisition personnel are assigned to the new Space
concerns.
                                             Development Agency and the United States Space Command. Finally,
View GAO-19-240. For more information,
contact Jon Ludwigson at (202) 512-4841 or
                                             comprehensive data on the space acquisition workforce would also be beneficial
ludwigsonJ@gao.gov.                          to support DOD’s efforts related to its recent legislative proposal regarding the
                                             establishment of the United States Space Force.
                                                                                        United States Government Accountability Office
Contents


Letter                                                                                  1
               Background                                                               3
               DOD Lacks Comprehensive Data on Its Space Acquisition
                 Workforce, but Information Indicates That It Includes at Least
                 8,000 Personnel                                                        9
               DOD Faces Challenges Hiring, Assigning, and Retaining Qualified
                 Personnel to Work on Space Acquisition Programs, but Is
                 Taking Steps to Address These Challenges                             20
               Conclusions                                                            25
               Recommendations for Executive Action                                   26
               Agency Comments and Our Evaluation                                     26

Appendix I     Objectives, Scope, and Methodology                                     30



Appendix II    Comments from the Department of Defense                                36



Appendix III   GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgements                                 40


Tables
               Table 1: Department of Defense Acquisition Career Fields                 6
               Table 2: Roles and Responsibilities of Key Department of Defense
                       (DOD) Players in Strategic Workforce Planning                    8

Figures
               Figure 1: The Four Segments Needed to Provide Space Systems
                        Capabilities                                                    4
               Figure 2: Number of Department of Defense (DOD) Space
                        Acquisition Workforce Personnel Identified by GAO as of
                        December 31, 2017, by Type                                    15
               Figure 3: Percentage of Department of Defense (DOD) Space
                        Acquisition Workforce Identified by GAO Used by
                        Components to Support Their Respective Programs as of
                        December 31, 2017, by Personnel Type                          16




               Page i                                     GAO-19-240 Defense Space Systems
Figure 4: Selected Department of Defense (DOD) Space
         Programs’ Descriptions of Their Use of Military, Civilian,
         Contractor, and Federally-Funded Research and
         Development Center (FFRDC) Personnel                                             18
Figure 5: Primary Locations of Department of Defense (DOD)
         Organizations Performing Space Acquisition Work as of
         December 31, 2017                                                                19
Figure 6: Number of Military Program Managers Filling Positions
         Whose Rank Is Lower or Higher than Authorized Levels
         at Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center as of
         January 2018                                                                     23




Abbreviations

DOD               Department of Defense
FFRDC             Federally Funded Research and Development Center



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Page ii                                                GAO-19-240 Defense Space Systems
                       Letter




441 G St. N.W.
Washington, DC 20548




                       March 14, 2019

                       Congressional Committees

                       The Department of Defense (DOD) plans to spend more than $65 billion
                       from fiscal year 2019 to 2023 to acquire space systems that will provide
                       critical capabilities to support military and other government operations,
                       such as intelligence collection; battlefield surveillance and management;
                       communications; and positioning, navigation, and timing. Historically, the
                       military services and other DOD components, such as the Missile
                       Defense Agency, have developed space capabilities separately, and in
                       some cases collaboratively, to meet different warfighter needs, and each
                       has their own acquisition workforce to support these efforts.

                       Space programs and the acquisition functions necessary to develop them
                       have faced challenges over the years. We have previously found that
                       fragmentation and overlap in DOD space acquisition management and
                       oversight contributed to long-standing problems of cost overruns and
                       schedule delays. 1 For example, we reported that the Global Positioning
                       System lacked a single authority responsible for synchronizing the
                       various functions that must occur for the system to operate effectively.
                       This diffused leadership contributed to a decade-long gap in the military’s
                       ability to use the updated Global Positioning System signal after its
                       satellites were launched. 2 In December 2017, we found that the new
                       ground system—the Next Generation Operational Control System—
                       remained at risk for further delays and cost growth, and that the Air Force
                       has begun a second new program to deliver an interim, limited capability. 3

                       DOD’s oversight of its space activities is evolving. In August 2018, DOD
                       announced plans to establish a consolidated Space Development Agency
                       intended to rapidly develop and field next generation space capabilities.

                       1
                        GAO, Defense Space Acquisitions: Too Early to Determine If Recent Changes Will
                       Resolve Persistent Fragmentation in Management and Oversight, GAO-16-592R
                       (Washington, D.C.: July 27, 2016).
                       2
                        GAO, 2012 Annual Report: Opportunities to Reduce Duplication, Overlap and
                       Fragmentation, Achieve Savings, and Enhance Revenue, GAO-12-342SP (Washington,
                       D.C.: February 28, 2012).
                       3
                        GAO, Global Positioning System: Better Planning and Coordination Needed to Improve
                       Prospects for Fielding Modernized Capability, GAO-18-74 (Washington, D.C.: December
                       12, 2017).




                       Page 1                                             GAO-19-240 Defense Space Systems
In December 2018, the President directed DOD to establish the United
States Space Command to integrate space capabilities across all
branches of the military, and improve and evolve space procedures and
techniques to assist the warfighter. In the February 2019 Space Policy
Directive, the President called for DOD to submit a legislative proposal to
establish a United States Space Force as a new armed service within the
Air Force.

The House Report accompanying a bill for the National Defense
Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 contained a provision for GAO to
review DOD’s space acquisition workforce. 4 This report examines
(1) what DOD knows about the size, mix, and location of its space
acquisition workforce and (2) the challenges, if any, DOD faces in hiring,
staffing, and retaining space acquisition workforce personnel. We define
the space acquisition workforce broadly to include acquisition-coded
military and civilian personnel, as well as support contractor and Federally
Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC) personnel that work
on space acquisition programs and related activities.

To assess what DOD knows about the size, mix, and location of its space
acquisition workforce, we reviewed DOD directives related to the
definition of space systems and the DOD acquisition workforce, and
interviewed pertinent DOD officials. We obtained available data, as of
December 31, 2017, from organizations that perform space acquisition
activities since DOD-wide comprehensive data were not available. We
interviewed the Directors of Acquisition Career Management from the
military services to identify space organizations, and then met with
officials from each organization to identify the current space acquisition
programs and obtain workforce data. Military and civilian personnel data
in the report reflect those personnel that spent 50 percent or more of their
work time on space acquisitions. Contractor and FFRDC personnel data
are presented in terms of the number of full-time equivalents and staff-
years of technical effort equivalents, respectively. To assess the reliability
of these data, we discussed the data and sources used to compile the
data with DOD officials, reviewed the data for logical inconsistencies, and
compared the data when possible to other sources, such as DOD briefing


4
  H.R. Rep. No. 114-537, pt. 1, at 284-85 (2016). accompanying H.R. 4909, related to the
National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017, Pub. L. No. 114-328, § 911
(2016). The report specified that the space acquisition workforce of the National
Reconnaissance Office should be excluded from our review.




Page 2                                               GAO-19-240 Defense Space Systems
             documents. We determined the data were sufficiently reliable to provide
             estimates of the general size and mix of the space acquisition workforce.

             To assess any challenges DOD faces in hiring, staffing, and retaining its
             space acquisition workforce, we interviewed space acquisition officials
             from multiple levels within DOD, the Air Force, the Army, and the Navy.
             We also met with officials from a non-generalizable sample of 10 DOD
             space acquisition programs. We selected these programs to present a
             range of dollar values and different stages of the acquisition process. In
             addition, we reviewed studies from DOD and elsewhere that discuss
             space acquisitions and workforce challenges.

             We conducted this performance audit from November 2017 to March
             2019 in accordance with generally accepted government auditing
             standards. Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to
             obtain sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for
             our findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe
             that the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings
             and conclusions based on our audit objectives. Additional details on our
             scope and methodology are provided in appendix I.


             Space systems generally involve one of four types of interrelated
Background   segments that are needed to make a space capability fully functional. As
             illustrated in figure 1, they include (1) space components—namely the
             satellites, (2) ground components, including satellite control systems and
             data processing subsystems and facilities, (3) user equipment, such as
             radios/terminals, needed by the warfighter to use the capability, and
             (4) launch vehicles and facilities.




             Page 3                                        GAO-19-240 Defense Space Systems
Figure 1: The Four Segments Needed to Provide Space Systems Capabilities




                                       Page 4                              GAO-19-240 Defense Space Systems
DOD space systems are acquired under the same acquisition policies as
other weapons systems. 5 However, as we found in July 2016, space
systems are different from other acquisitions in some ways. 6 For
example, space has more programs of joint interest than other areas, and
includes varied stakeholders, such as civil agencies and multiple
services. According to officials, in developing space systems once a
satellite is launched, if there are problems it is essentially impossible to
change the hardware, and software changes may not be an option. In
addition, space programs typically use cutting-edge technologies that
have to withstand the harsh space environment. Such technologies are
rarely available as off-the-shelf systems from the commercial market and
must be developed following a specific process overseen by specially-
trained DOD acquisition personnel.

Data from the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and
Sustainment’s Office of Human Capital Initiatives show that, as of June
2018, DOD employed about 170,000 military and civilian personnel who
are designated as acquisition personnel and are responsible for acquiring
weapon systems, such as aircraft, ships, tanks, and space systems. DOD
tracks the characteristics, education, training, and experience of these
acquisition personnel in DOD’s acquisition workforce data system—Data
Mart—where they are tracked as belonging to 1 of 15 acquisition career
fields. 7 Table 1 shows a list of these acquisition career fields.




5
  DOD Directive 5000.01, The Defense Acquisition System (Aug. 31, 2018) and DOD
Instruction 5000.02, Operation of the Defense Acquisition System (Aug. 10, 2017), direct
the Defense Acquisition System and provide governing policies.
6
    GAO-16-592R.
7
  The Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act designates specific acquisition-
related career fields as defense acquisition workforce positions. Pub. L. No. 101-510,
§1202(a) (1990) (codified, as amended, at 10 U.S.C. § 1721).




Page 5                                                GAO-19-240 Defense Space Systems
Table 1: Department of Defense Acquisition Career Fields

 Auditing
 Business—Cost Estimating
 Business—Financial Management
 Contracting
 Engineering
 Facilities Engineering
 Industrial and/or Contract Property Management
 Information Technology
 Life Cycle Logistics
 Production, Quality & Manufacturing
 Program Management
 Program Management—International Acquisition
 Purchasing
 Science & Technology Manager
 Test & Evaluation
Source: GAO presentation of DOD information. | GAO-19-240




Contractor and FFRDC personnel often support DOD acquisition efforts.
For the purpose of this report, “contractor” refers to support service
contractors who provide technical and administrative support rather than
prime contractors who develop and produce weapon systems or
products. FFRDCs are not-for-profit entities sponsored and funded
primarily by DOD to fulfill research and development, engineering, and
analytic needs that cannot be met as effectively by existing government
or contractor personnel. 8 Nonprofit, university-affiliated, or private industry
organizations operate the FFRDCs through contracts or other
agreements with federal agencies. DOD procures FFRDC services by
staff years of technical effort. The total amount of FFRDC services time
that DOD is permitted to obtain is set annually by Congress. 9 For fiscal
year 2018, DOD was authorized to use available funds for FFRDCs for

8
 Other federal agencies, such as the Department of Energy, also sponsor and use
FFRDCs. For the purpose of this report, the term FFRDC refers to those FFRDCs
sponsored by DOD.
9
  DOD FFRDCs work within an annual ceiling of staff-years of technical effort defined as
1,810 hours of paid effort for technical services. Staff-years of technical effort specify a
fixed number of hours per fiscal year.




Page 6                                                      GAO-19-240 Defense Space Systems
not more than 6,030 staff years of technical effort. 10 Authorized staff years
of technical effort are allocated among the military services’ organizations
that act as the primary sponsors for each FFRDC, which then prioritize
what work the FFRDC will perform according to the allocation level
received. In general, managers in the contractor and FFRDC
organizations direct the daily activities of their respective personnel, while
DOD military and civilian personnel oversee their work.

Over the years, GAO has highlighted the importance of workforce
management. Since 2001, GAO has included strategic human capital
management as a government-wide high-risk area. 11 More recently, we
found that having the right workforce mix with the right skill sets is critical
to achieving DOD’s mission, and that it is important for DOD, as part of its
strategic workforce planning, to conduct gap analyses of its critical skills
and competencies. 12 Strategic workforce planning—an integral part of
human capital management—is an iterative, systematic process that
helps organizations determine if they have staff with the necessary skills
and competencies to accomplish their strategic goals. As shown in table
2, many DOD offices play key roles in strategic workforce planning
activities.




10
   Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018, Pub. L. No. 115-141, § 8024(d) (2018). This
limitation does not apply to staff years funded in the National Intelligence Program and the
Military Intelligence Program.
11
     GAO, High-Risk Series: An Update, GAO-01-263 (Washington, D.C.: January 2001).
12
   GAO, Human Capital: DOD Needs Complete Assessments to Improve Future Civilian
Strategic Workforce Plans, GAO-12-1014 (Washington, D.C.: September 27, 2012).




Page 7                                                 GAO-19-240 Defense Space Systems
Table 2: Roles and Responsibilities of Key Department of Defense (DOD) Players in Strategic Workforce Planning

Office                                                  Primary responsibilities
Under Secretary of Defense, Personnel and               •   Issue guidance on overall personnel management to be used by DOD and the
Readiness                                                   military services
                                                        •   Provide guidance on personnel levels of the components
                                                        •   Develop personnel mix criteria and other information used by DOD components
                                                            to determine their workforce mix
Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller)                •     Ensure DOD’s budget is consistent with total force management policies and
                                                              procedures
Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition              •     Oversee department-wide acquisition workforce strategic planning
and Sustainment, Office of Human Capital                •     Oversee acquisition workforce education, training, and career development
Initiatives
                                                        •     Develop policy for the defense acquisition workforce
                                                        •     Coordinate, implement, and oversee acquisition workforce programs
                                                        •     Manage Defense Acquisition Workforce Development Fund
Career Functional Leaders from Offices of the           •     Serve as subject matter experts for respective career fields
Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition              •     Oversee and maintain education, training, and experience requirements for
and Sustainment and Research and                              career fields, including competencies and certification standards
Engineering
                                                        •     Establish and oversee functional integrated product teams
Functional Integrated Product Teams                     •     Support the career functional leaders in carrying out responsibilities
(Membership includes career functional                  •     Provide career functional leaders with information on DOD’s acquisition
leaders, career field experts, and                            workforce, including training requirements and professional development
representatives from DOD military services
and the Defense Acquisition University)
Military services secretaries and defense               •     Determine workforce requirements
agency heads                                            •     Perform planning, programming, and budgeting for total force management
Director, Acquisition Career Management                 •     Serve as service acquisition executives’ representative in assisting Under
office for each military service and other                    Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment’s Office of Human Capital
defense agencies                                              Initiatives with execution and oversight of acquisition workforce responsibilities
                                                              within respective components
                                                        •     Key advisor for policy, coordination, implementation and oversight of acquisition
                                                              workforce programs within respective components
Defense Acquisition University                          •     Offer training and certification courses to military and civilian personnel in the
                                                              defense acquisition workforce.
Source: GAO presentation of DOD data. | GAO-19-240




                                                     Page 8                                                    GAO-19-240 Defense Space Systems
                               DOD does not have comprehensive information about its space
DOD Lacks                      acquisition workforce—including the size, mix, and location of this
Comprehensive Data             workforce. DOD does not have this information because, among other
                               things, DOD has not clearly identified its space programs, and its
on Its Space                   workforce data systems are not configured to identify space acquisition
Acquisition                    personnel. In the absence of comprehensive DOD data, we sought to
                               obtain an understanding of the extent of this workforce. We aggregated
Workforce, but                 data from individual DOD organizations and estimate that at least 8,000
Information Indicates          military, civilian, contractor, and FFRDC personnel were working on
                               space acquisitions in multiple locations across the United States at the
That It Includes at            end of 2017. While this information represents only a snapshot in time, it
Least 8,000                    provides insight into the extent of the space acquisition workforce. Given
                               DOD’s recent decision to stand up a United States Space Command and
Personnel                      to establish a consolidated Space Development Agency in 2019, along
                               with the President’s directive for DOD to submit a legislative proposal for
                               a United States Space Force, having knowledge about which personnel
                               are involved with military space acquisitions and where these personnel
                               are located will be important to DOD’s planning efforts.


DOD Does Not Collect           DOD collects data on its acquisition workforce, but does not collect and
and Maintain                   maintain comprehensive and complete data on the size, mix, and location
                               of the military, civilian, contractor, and FFRDC personnel working on
Comprehensive
                               space acquisitions. According to the military services’ Directors of
Information on the Space       Acquisition Career Management, DOD manages its acquisition workforce
Acquisition Workforce          by career field, such as program management and engineering, and not
                               by the type of product being acquired, such as space systems. They told
                               us that, in their view, the acquisition skills needed for an acquisition
                               program—such as those for program management, engineering, and
                               contracting—are largely the same regardless of the product type.
                               However, officials acknowledged that it takes some time for personnel to
                               learn the nuances of acquiring a specific type of product.

                               We identified three factors that hinder DOD’s ability to collect
                               comprehensive data on its space acquisition workforce. Together, they
                               impede DOD from maintaining a complete and accurate understanding of
                               the size, mix, and location of its space acquisition workforce.

                           •   DOD does not maintain a complete list of its space acquisition
                               programs. Officials from the office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air
                               Force for Acquisition and the service-level acquisition career managers
                               told us that DOD does not maintain a list of the universe of space
                               acquisition programs. In addition, the budget document that DOD submits


                               Page 9                                        GAO-19-240 Defense Space Systems
    to Congress specific to space programs, which could possibly serve as
    an alternative source of such information, identifies programs that have
    large amounts of funding by name, but aggregates information for smaller
    programs without identifying them individually.

    While DOD does not maintain a complete list of space acquisition
    programs, during the course of our review we found that the military
    services were generally able to identify space acquisition programs. DOD
    does have a definition of space systems. Specifically, according to a DOD
    Directive, space systems include all systems related to making a space
    capability operational—that is programs acquiring satellites, satellite
    ground systems (including satellite control and data processing),
    receivers/user segments (including terminals and radios), and launch
    systems—but specifies that terminals that are embedded as part of a
    platform (i.e. aircraft, ship, or tank) are excluded. 13 However, DOD
    officials had difficulty identifying some programs, particularly those in the
    user segment. For example, the Air Force’s Space Fence program, which
    is developing ground radar as a part of the space surveillance network
    that detects and tracks space objects, is included as a space program in
    DOD’s budget documents. Officials from the Program Executive Office
    that staffs personnel to the program initially told us they did not consider it
    a space program since it is a series of ground-based radars. They
    subsequently determined that it is a space program since the radar will
    track space objects and provide data for space situational awareness.

•   DOD data systems are not currently configured to identify space
    acquisition personnel. We examined three data sources that have
    information on the different personnel groups in the acquisition workforce,
    and found that none of them can identify space acquisition personnel.
         •    The Office of Human Capital Initiatives within the Office of the
              Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment uses
              the Data Mart system to track the education, experience, and
              training of military and civilian acquisition-coded personnel
              working in the 15 acquisition functional career fields shown in
              table 1. DOD has taken periodic steps to enhance the data
              captured in this system. For example, in 2009 DOD began
              tracking whether acquisition personnel in the business career field
              were working on financial management or cost estimating. In

    13
      DOD, DOD Directive 5100.96, DOD Space Enterprise Governance and Principal DOD
    Space Advisor, § G.2 (June 9, 2017).




    Page 10                                         GAO-19-240 Defense Space Systems
              2014, DOD started to track personnel with expertise in contracting
              with small businesses, and expanded its efforts to track personnel
              with expertise in international acquisitions. However, this system
              does not currently identify personnel staffed to or supporting
              space acquisitions or any other type of product acquisition.

         •    The Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and
              Readiness tracks contractor data using the Enterprise-wide
              Contractor Manpower Reporting Application system to provide
              DOD management information on contracted services obtained by
              each military service and defense agency. The system includes
              data on the number of hours of service each contractor provides
              to the government, which could be used to approximate the
              number of contractor personnel used to perform the work.
              However, the system does not track the type of acquisition
              programs being supported, such as space acquisition programs.
              In addition, the data are self-reported by service contractors and
              concerns exist regarding potential underreporting. For example,
              we reported in March 2018 that the military services estimated
              that the Enterprise-wide Contractor Manpower Reporting
              Application included fiscal year 2016 contractor data for 80
              percent of Army contracts and 75 percent of Navy contracts; the
              percentage of Air Force contracts was unknown. 14

         •    The Director of Laboratories and Personnel within the Office of the
              Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering tracks
              information on FFRDCs, such as the staff years of technical effort
              provided each year, to ensure that DOD stays within its
              congressionally mandated limit. Each FFRDC sponsor
              organization provides an annual report of their staff years of
              technical effort and funding to DOD. However, DOD officials told
              us that sponsoring organizations do not identify what type of
              acquisition program their respective FFRDC personnel support,
              such as space acquisition programs.

•   Personnel supporting space acquisitions are dispersed across a
    variety of organizations and may also support non-space programs.
    Each of the military services we reviewed has program executive offices,

    14
       GAO, DOD Contracted Services: Long-Standing Issues Remain about Using Inventory
    for Management Decisions, GAO-18-330 (Washington, D.C.: March 29, 2018).




    Page 11                                           GAO-19-240 Defense Space Systems
research labs, or other organizations that support both space and non-
space acquisitions. DOD officials told us that functional career field
leaders in each of the organizations, such as the engineering or the
contracting directorates, assign personnel to space or non-space
programs on an as-needed basis, which could make it difficult for DOD to
determine which and how many personnel should be included in the
space acquisition workforce. Five of the 10 space acquisition programs
we reviewed—1 Air Force, 1 Navy, and 3 Army—were managed by
organizations that were primarily responsible for developing and
acquiring non-space programs.
    •     Air Force—The Space Fence program is staffed by the Air Force
          Life Cycle Management Center’s Program Executive Office for
          Battle Management. The Center primarily supports non-space
          programs, such as fighters, bombers, tankers, and presidential
          aircraft.
    •     Navy—The Mobile User Objective System is managed by the
          Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, which primarily
          manages non-space programs that provide enterprise information
          system and command, control, communications, computers, and
          intelligence capabilities.
    •     Army—The Joint Tactical Ground Station program is managed by
          the Army’s Program Executive Office for Missiles and Space. The
          office primarily manages a variety of missile programs—such as
          close combat, cruise, and integrated air and missile defense
          programs—that are non-space programs. Similarly, the Secure,
          Mobile, Anti-Jam, Reliable, Tactical-Terminal and the
          Transportable Tactical Command Communications programs are
          managed by the Army’s Program Executive Office for Command,
          Control, Communications-Tactical. This office primarily manages a
          variety of information systems to provide tactical communication
          for the service, which may or may not be space programs.
          Officials told us that the three Army programs we reviewed were
          also supported by other, separate Army organizations, such as the
          Army Contracting Command for contracting support; the Army’s
          Aviation and Missile Research, Development, and Engineering
          Center for engineering support; and the Army Materiel Command
          for logistics support. These organizations provide support to space
          and non-space programs on an as-needed basis.
The Administration, Congress, and DOD are discussing a variety of
approaches for strengthening the government’s space operations,
including the establishment of one or more new organizations. In June
2018 the President directed DOD to begin the process of establishing a


Page 12                                        GAO-19-240 Defense Space Systems
new military branch focused on space that is separate from and equal to
the other military departments, Army, Navy, and Air Force. In an August
2018 report to the Congress on the organizational and management
structure needed for the national space components, DOD described the
immediate steps that it plans to take to implement the President’s
direction while waiting for Congressional authorization to create the new
military branch. 15 These steps include establishing a new United States
Space Command to further its space warfighting capabilities, as well as
developing plans to establish a consolidated Space Development Agency
to rapidly develop and field next generation space capabilities. DOD has
described the general areas of focus planned for these new
organizations; however, many specifics are still to be determined. DOD
has announced that a committee of senior DOD leaders is expected to
identify which of the current space activities will be consolidated into
these new space organizations. In addition, the President’s February
2019 Space Policy Directive now requires DOD to submit a legislative
proposal to establish a United States Space Force as a new armed
service within the Air Force. DOD announced it delivered a legislative
proposal to Congress on March 1, 2019.

The lack of comprehensive information about DOD’s space programs and
the acquisition personnel supporting those programs affects DOD’s ability
to assess gaps in the overall capabilities of its space acquisition
workforce and determine whether it has sufficient internal capability and
critical knowledge or skills for its space acquisitions. Moreover, it hampers
DOD’s ability to make decisions related to establishing the United States
Space Command, a new Space Development Agency, or potentially the
United States Space Force. This includes determining the appropriate
number and mix of acquisition personnel that are needed for the new
organizations, as well as which military and civilian personnel should be
assigned to them. According to federal internal control standards, an
agency, such as DOD, should have relevant, reliable, and timely
information in order to run and control operations, including managing the
workforce. 16 Air Force Director of Acquisition Career Management
officials stated that having a process for identifying space acquisitions
personnel would be beneficial. As we reported in July 2003, the success

15
  DOD, Final Report on Organizational and Management Structure for the National
Security Space Components of the Department of Defense, (August 9, 2018).
16
  GAO, Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government, GAO-14-704G
(Washington, D.C.: September 10, 2014).




Page 13                                            GAO-19-240 Defense Space Systems
                          of merging personnel during organizational transformations is more likely
                          when the best individuals are selected to meet the skills and
                          competencies needed for the new organization’s goals. 17


GAO Identified at Least   In the absence of readily available comprehensive data from DOD, we
8,000 Personnel in Over   collected and aggregated data from multiple DOD space organizations
                          and found that at least 8,000 personnel were in the space acquisition
20 Locations As Part of   workforce at the end of 2017. However, our data set is not complete. 18
DOD’s Space Acquisition   For example, the National Reconnaissance Office, which DOD officials
Workforce                 told us has a significant number of personnel working on space
                          acquisitions, is not included in our analysis. In addition, our count only
                          includes personnel that spent 50 percent or more of their time working on
                          space acquisitions; therefore any personnel who spent less than 50
                          percent of their time on space acquisitions was not included.
                          Furthermore, it is important to note that our data provide a snapshot of
                          the workforce as of December 31, 2017. According to DOD officials, the
                          size and mix of the workforce can change based on the number of
                          programs and where programs are in the acquisition process. The military
                          and civilian personnel data we collected are expressed as number of
                          people. 19 The contractor and FFRDC personnel data are expressed as
                          full-time equivalents and staff-years of technical effort equivalents,
                          respectively. 20



                          17
                            GAO, Results-Oriented Cultures: Implementation Steps to Assist Mergers and
                          Organizational Transformations, GAO-03-669 (Washington, D.C.: July 2, 2003).
                          18
                             We made a diligent attempt to work with DOD officials to identify the DOD programs
                          and organizations performing space acquisition activities, subject to time and resource
                          constraints. However, it is possible that DOD did not identify some existing programs or
                          organizations with personnel who support space acquisitions.
                          19
                             At our request, DOD identified the number of military and civilian personnel that worked
                          on space acquisitions 50 percent or more of their work time. As such, the data we
                          obtained reflect personnel and may not reflect the annual level of effort focused on space
                          acquisitions by military and civilians.
                          20
                             DOD officials could not identify the number of contractor and FFRDC personnel working
                          on space acquisitions. Therefore, at our request, DOD provided data on the level of
                          annual effort provided by contractor and FFRDC personnel as full-time equivalents for
                          contractors and annual technical effort for FFRDCs, which reflect the effort of one person
                          completing the work full-time over a full year; however, because the work could have been
                          completed by more than one person these data may not reflect the total number of
                          personnel supporting space acquisitions.




                          Page 14                                                GAO-19-240 Defense Space Systems
•   Size of Workforce: Based on data we collected from multiple DOD
    space acquisition organizations, at least 8,000 military, civilian,
    contractor, and FFRDC personnel supported DOD’s space acquisitions
    as of December 31, 2017 (see figure 2).

    Figure 2: Number of Department of Defense (DOD) Space Acquisition Workforce
    Personnel Identified by GAO as of December 31, 2017, by Type




    Military and civilian personnel comprised about 64 percent of the total
    space acquisition workforce, the vast majority of which support Air Force
    acquisitions. The remaining 36 percent of the workforce is contractor and
    FFRDC personnel that support DOD’s space acquisition activities. The Air
    Force has the largest number of military and civilian personnel because
    the Air Force has primarily been responsible for DOD’s space acquisitions
    and develops programs for all four segments of space capability,
    including launch services for the most critical national security space
    satellites. The Navy is responsible for systems that provide satellite
    communications across DOD as well as its user segments, while the
    Army and other DOD components primarily focus their efforts on
    developing their user segment systems or other space-related projects.




    Page 15                                        GAO-19-240 Defense Space Systems
•   Workforce Mix: Based on data we collected from multiple DOD space
    acquisition organizations, the mix of military, civilian, contractor, and
    FFRDC personnel that each military service and agency had supporting
    their respective space acquisition programs varied considerably (see
    figure 3).

    Figure 3: Percentage of Department of Defense (DOD) Space Acquisition Workforce
    Identified by GAO Used by Components to Support Their Respective Programs as
    of December 31, 2017, by Personnel Type




    Note: Totals may not add to 100 percent due to rounding.




    Page 16                                                    GAO-19-240 Defense Space Systems
Military and civilian personnel comprised between 54 and 63 percent of
the Air Force’s, Army’s, and Navy’s space acquisition workforce and 94
percent of the other DOD components’ workforces. Contractors and
FFRDC personnel made up the remainder of the workforce. The Air Force
relies more heavily on FFRDC personnel as a percentage of its workforce
than the Army, Navy, and other DOD components. According to Air Force
officials, the Space and Missile Systems Center—the Air Force’s major
space acquisition organization—has relied heavily on FFRDC support for
space engineering and technical expertise since its founding in the 1950s.
The Army and Navy primarily rely on contractors for their remaining
support. These contractors mainly provide technical expertise, such as
engineering services, to support military and civilian personnel. Some
contractors also support program management and business and
administration activities, such as cost estimating. Figure 4 provides
detailed examples of how personnel support two space acquisition
programs included in our review.




Page 17                                     GAO-19-240 Defense Space Systems
Figure 4: Selected Department of Defense (DOD) Space Programs’ Descriptions of Their Use of Military, Civilian, Contractor,
and Federally-Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC) Personnel




                                         Page 18                                            GAO-19-240 Defense Space Systems
                                    •   Locations of Workforce: Based on data we collected from multiple DOD
                                        space acquisition organizations, space acquisition personnel work at over
                                        20 organizations located across the United States. Figure 5 shows the
                                        primary locations of DOD’s space acquisition organizations.

Figure 5: Primary Locations of Department of Defense (DOD) Organizations Performing Space Acquisition Work as of
December 31, 2017




                                        Page 19                                         GAO-19-240 Defense Space Systems
                                Note: The map shows the primary locations where space systems acquisition work is performed.
                                Some organizations also have other locations that are not shown. For example, the Defense Contract
                                Management Agency identified 18 offices, but only the 5 largest are shown on the map.


                                About 45 percent of the overall space acquisition workforce is located at
                                the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center in Los Angeles,
                                California. The Army space acquisition workforce is located primarily at
                                Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama, and Aberdeen Proving Ground,
                                Maryland. The Navy space acquisition workforce is located at the Space
                                and Naval Warfare Systems Command in San Diego, California, and a
                                few other locations.


                                DOD faces several challenges related to hiring, assigning, and retaining
DOD Faces                       qualified personnel to work on space acquisition programs, similar to the
Challenges Hiring,              challenges it faces more generally with the acquisition workforce.
                                However, some of the challenges are magnified because almost half of
Assigning, and                  the military and civilian space acquisition workforce is concentrated in Los
Retaining Qualified             Angeles, California, which has a higher cost of living than many other
                                areas in the United States, and where competition with private industry for
Personnel to Work on            personnel with space acquisition experience is high. DOD is taking steps
Space Acquisition               to address these challenges where possible.
Programs, but Is
Taking Steps to
Address These
Challenges
DOD Faces Challenges            DOD officials told us that one of the primary workforce challenges DOD
Hiring Qualified                faces is its ability to hire qualified people to work on space acquisitions.
                                They said that DOD is competing with private industry and other federal
Candidates, but Is Taking
                                agencies for top talent in several acquisition career fields.
Steps to Address Them
                            •   Attracting Candidates with Technical Expertise. DOD officials stated
                                that it is particularly difficult to attract people with certain technical
                                expertise, such as cybersecurity and systems engineering, because they
                                are in high demand in both government and private industry. Air Force
                                officials said the government cannot match the salaries offered by
                                industry. For example, the Launch and Test Range System program
                                office told us that a shortage of trained and qualified cybersecurity
                                personnel exists both within the government and industry. Our prior work
                                has described how maintaining cybersecurity personnel is a challenge
                                government-wide, and that, according to DOD officials, even when DOD


                                Page 20                                                    GAO-19-240 Defense Space Systems
                             cybersecurity positions are filled, it may not necessarily be with the right
                             expertise since it is a specialized area. 21
                         •   Hiring in Areas with Higher Costs of Living. Air Force officials at the
                             Space and Missile Systems Center said that hiring challenges are further
                             exacerbated for space acquisition organizations that are located in areas
                             with higher costs of living. They said, for example, that prospective
                             employees often visit the center in Los Angeles, California, and, after
                             assessing the local cost of living, decide not to accept a job offer.

                             DOD is taking steps to address its hiring challenges.

                         •   To address difficulties in obtaining personnel with sufficient technical
                             experience, some officials told us that they typically hire the best
                             candidate available—who may lack some of the desired technical skills—
                             and provide them with on-the-job and formal training to increase their
                             technical knowledge and skills.
                         •   To better compete with higher salaries offered by other potential
                             employers, several officials told us they offer tuition reimbursement as a
                             recruiting incentive.
                         •   Air Force officials told us that in areas with higher costs of living they
                             focus their recruiting efforts on the local area because local candidates
                             already understand the higher costs of living challenges for the area and
                             are more likely to have support systems in place to manage such costs.

DOD Faces Challenges         Beyond the concerns expressed about hiring personnel, Air Force Space
Assigning Experienced        and Missile Systems Center officials expressed concerns that some
                             functional areas within the space acquisition workforce face challenges
Personnel to Space
                             assigning experienced personnel—personnel with the appropriate
Acquisition Programs, but    knowledge and skill set to perform the work—that are already hired to
Is Taking Steps to Address   space acquisition programs. For example, contracting career field officials
Them                         at the center noted that the space acquisition workforce does not have
                             enough mid-level personnel who understand the detailed steps and
                             documentation required in the acquisition process. In particular, the Air
                             Force Space and Missile Systems Center reported that at the end of
                             January 2018, the number of mid-level civilian and military personnel
                             working in the contracting functional career field was 50 less than the


                             21
                               GAO, Weapons Systems Cybersecurity: DOD Just Beginning to Grapple with Scale of
                             Vulnerabilities, GAO-19-128 (Washington, D.C.: October 9, 2018).




                             Page 21                                           GAO-19-240 Defense Space Systems
number authorized. 22 According to contracting career field officials at the
center, a large number of mid-level procurement contracting officer
positions were vacant, and senior procurement managers were picking up
the corresponding workloads rather than performing their staff
development and strategic planning tasks.

Furthermore, officials from the Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems
Center program management functional office also expressed concern
that the bulk of the military personnel assigned to the program
management positions were more junior in rank than the Center was
authorized by the Air Force to obtain. Figure 6 shows the level of the Air
Force Space and Missile Systems Center personnel that filled its program
management positions as of January 2018. Junior officers typically have
less experience managing acquisition programs than more senior officers.




22
   In commenting on a draft of this report, the Air Force Space and Missile Systems
Center reported that as of February 2019 the number of vacancies in the mid-level civilian
and military contracting functional career field was 28 less than the number authorized.




Page 22                                               GAO-19-240 Defense Space Systems
                              Figure 6: Number of Military Program Managers Filling Positions Whose Rank Is
                              Lower or Higher than Authorized Levels at Air Force Space and Missile Systems
                              Center as of January 2018




                              Note: An additional 13 military positions were vacant.


                              The military services are taking steps to manage the effects of military
                              and civilian personnel skills and experience gaps, to some degree, by
                              having contractor personnel perform the work. For example, the Air Force
                              Space and Missile Systems Center’s contracting functional office used
                              four contractor personnel to support its pricing work.


DOD Faces Challenges          DOD has also experienced challenges with retaining some space
Retaining Experienced         acquisition personnel, especially those within their first few years of
                              joining federal government service that had obtained certain acquisition-
Personnel in Space
                              related experience or authorities. For example, contracting career field
Acquisitions, but Is Taking   officials at the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center said that they
Steps to Address Them         have difficulty retaining contracting officers once they receive their
                              contract warrant authority because they can obtain a higher
                              compensation package from private industry companies. Receiving
                              contract warrant authority is considered an indication that the individual



                              Page 23                                                  GAO-19-240 Defense Space Systems
gained sufficient skills and experience to be able to perform the work
involved in writing, awarding, and managing contracts. 23 Officials also
stated that some personnel leave after obtaining security clearances
required to perform their work because private companies working on
government contracts pay more to qualified individuals with clearances.

Officials from the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center and Army
Space and Missile Defense Command also told us that they have
difficulty retaining engineers. They said some engineers have left
because they were not satisfied with being used as generalists to oversee
the work of FFRDC or contractor personnel, rather than being used to
perform hands-on engineering work. Officials also stated that this
situation is not unique to space acquisitions—government engineers
seldom get to design, develop, or build systems as the hands-on
engineering work is primarily performed by prime contractors. Air Force
Space and Missile Systems Center officials said they are trying to help
the government engineers understand how to influence decisions and be
more effective in working as part of the space engineering acquisition
team, which would include military, civilian, contractor, and FFRDC
personnel.

Officials from various functional career fields at these Air Force and Army
locations noted that limited promotion opportunities for civilian personnel
in space acquisitions also cause retention challenges. For example, the
Air Force Space and Missile System Center has 53 management
(General Schedule 15) positions; however, Center officials told us that the
turnover rate for these higher-level positions is low. Officials reported that
some mid-level program management personnel seek and accept
promotions at other non-space acquisition offices or in other geographical
locations that have more promotion opportunities.

Some Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center and Army officials
noted that retention incentives are used to help retain staff. This includes
student loan repayments, and recognition incentives, such as monetary or
time-off awards tied to performance. Air Force Space and Missile
Systems Center officials also said that they are working to realign current
civilian acquisition personnel at the center under the Civilian Acquisition

23
   Per Federal Acquisition Regulation, contracting authority is granted by an appointing
official after considering the complexity and dollar value of the acquisitions to be assigned
and the candidate’s experience, training, education, business acumen, judgment,
character, and reputation. (Federal Acquisition Regulation § 1.603-2).




Page 24                                                 GAO-19-240 Defense Space Systems
              Workforce Demonstration project, which they believe will help attract,
              retain, and motivate high-quality civilian personnel for the acquisition
              workforce. 24


              DOD space systems and the personnel who work to acquire them remain
Conclusions   critical components of national security and key resources. As DOD takes
              steps toward establishing the United States Space Command, its Space
              Development Agency, and potentially the United States Space Force, it
              will be essential to understand the size, mix, and location of the space
              acquisition workforce. However, DOD does not collect and maintain this
              type of comprehensive data on its space acquisition workforce. Although
              we were able to pull together information on the space acquisition
              workforce, the data represent a snapshot of the workforce at one point in
              time, and are not complete since acquisition personnel working on
              National Reconnaissance Office space programs and those who spent
              less than 50 percent of their time working on space acquisitions were not
              included.

              Taking steps to identify and routinely track accurate information on space
              acquisition programs and the organizations and personnel that support
              those programs would provide several benefits to DOD. In particular, it
              would better position DOD to assess whether it has the appropriate
              number and mix of military, civilian, contractor, and FFRDC personnel
              working on space acquisitions and to make adjustments if necessary.
              Further, it would better position DOD to make decisions on which
              acquisition personnel will support or transition into the United States
              Space Command or the new Space Development Agency, since DOD
              has not clearly defined what acquisition functions may or may not be
              handled by these new organizations. Finally, comprehensive data on the
              space acquisition workforce would also be beneficial to support DOD’s
              development of its legislative proposal regarding the establishment of the
              United States Space Force.




              24
                 DOD implemented the Civilian Acquisition Workforce Demonstration Project in 1999.
              Among other initiatives, it simplifies the hiring process and allows for more flexibility in
              determining compensation. It promotes greater compensation for those who are the
              highest contributors to the organization’s mission based on factors such as level of effort
              and required skills and certifications.




              Page 25                                                  GAO-19-240 Defense Space Systems
                      We are making the following two recommendations to DOD:
Recommendations for
Executive Action      The Secretary of Defense should direct the military services and other
                      DOD components to identify the universe of space acquisition programs,
                      as well as the various organizations that support these programs, and
                      report this information to Congress. In doing so, DOD should implement
                      procedures to maintain and periodically update the list. (Recommendation
                      1)

                      The Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, in
                      conjunction with the Under Secretaries of Defense for Research and
                      Development and for Personnel and Readiness, should collect and
                      maintain data on acquisition-coded military and civilian personnel that
                      support space acquisition programs and related activities—including
                      those that may do so less than full time—as well as track the contractor
                      and FFRDC workforce general levels of effort supporting space
                      acquisition programs and related activities and the total resources
                      annually committed to perform that work. (Recommendation 2)


                      We provided a draft of this report to DOD for review and comment. DOD
Agency Comments       provided written comments (reproduced in appendix II) on our draft
and Our Evaluation    report. In those comments, DOD concurred with our first recommendation
                      to identify the universe of space acquisition programs, as well as the
                      various organizations that support these programs, and report this
                      information to Congress. DOD did not concur with our draft second
                      recommendation to collect and maintain data on the space acquisition
                      workforce. DOD stated that the manner in which personnel data are
                      captured in its human resource and development systems makes it
                      difficult to identify, collect, and maintain data on the military and civilian
                      personnel working on space acquisition programs. Further, DOD raised
                      concerns over contractual limitations on collecting and maintaining data
                      on contractor and FFRDC personnel supporting space acquisitions. In
                      light of these concerns, we made changes to the draft recommendation.
                      We believe the language of our final recommendation will better facilitate
                      implementation by DOD.

                      With regard to our second recommendation, we continue to believe that
                      taking steps to identify military and civilian personnel supporting space
                      acquisition programs would support DOD’s strategic workforce planning,
                      particularly considering DOD’s recent legislative proposal for establishing
                      the United States Space Force. For example, we acknowledge that the
                      current personnel data system used to track military and civilian


                      Page 26                                        GAO-19-240 Defense Space Systems
acquisition personnel has limitations, but we believe taking steps to make
minor modifications to the system to facilitate identifying and routinely
tracking accurate information on these two segments of the space
acquisition workforce would provide several benefits to DOD. Most
importantly, it would help DOD make decisions on how many and which
military and civilian acquisition personnel should be assigned to the new
space organizations—namely the Space Development Agency, the
United States Space Command, and the United States Space Force. With
regard to DOD’s comment that our recommendations do not recognize
that DOD personnel have been shifted into and out of space acquisition
programs, we recognize that acquisition personnel have been moved
across programs and support space and non-space acquisitions.
However, we continue to believe that DOD should have better information
on military and civilian acquisition personnel. In particular, knowing which
personnel have space acquisition backgrounds could enhance the
productivity and effectiveness of DOD’s space acquisition efforts. As a
result, we did not make a change to our second recommendation as it
relates to military and civilian space acquisition personnel.

However, in consideration of the concerns raised by DOD about tracking
data on contractor and FFRDC personnel who are supporting space
acquisition activities, we modified our second recommendation. It was not
our intention to have DOD undertake significant modifications to the
relevant contracts to obtain data on these segments of the space
acquisition workforce. However, understanding the extent to which space
acquisition programs rely on contractor and FFRDC personnel for support
could be useful in helping DOD determine the right number and mix of
military and civilian personnel needed in the new space organizations. As
a result, we modified the language of our second recommendation to
focus on tracking the contractor and FFRDC workforce general levels of
effort supporting space acquisition activities and the resources spent to
obtain this assistance, rather than—as we stated in our draft
recommendation—tracking the individuals who perform such work.
However, we continue to believe that collecting and maintaining more
robust data on that workforce will support DOD’s planning efforts and
better inform Congress.

DOD also expressed concern that our report may be equating statements
of officials at the staff- and operational-level to military service- and DOD-
level officials. We reviewed statements attributed to DOD officials
throughout our report. Where necessary, we clarified attributions to better
reflect the appropriate level of the officials with whom we discussed the
corresponding information during our review.


Page 27                                        GAO-19-240 Defense Space Systems
DOD also provided technical comments on our draft report, which we
incorporated as appropriate.


We are sending copies of this report to the appropriate congressional
committees; the Acting Secretary of Defense; and the Secretaries of the
Air Force, Army, and Navy. In addition, the report will be available at no
charge on GAO’s website at http://www.gao.gov.

If you or your staff have any questions about this report, please contact
me at (202) 512-4841 or ludwigsonj@gao.gov. Contact points for our
Office of Congressional Relations and Public Affairs may be found on the
last page of this report. GAO staff who made major contributions to this
report are listed in appendix III.




Jon Ludwigson
Acting Director, Contracting and National Security Acquisitions




Page 28                                       GAO-19-240 Defense Space Systems
List of Committees

The Honorable James M. Inhofe
Chairman
The Honorable Jack Reed
Ranking Member
Committee on Armed Services
United States Senate

The Honorable Richard Shelby
Chairman
The Honorable Richard Durbin
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Defense
Committee on Appropriations
United States Senate

The Honorable Adam Smith
Chairman
The Honorable Mac Thornberry
Ranking Member
Committee on Armed Services
House of Representatives

The Honorable Peter Visclosky
Chairman
The Honorable Ken Calvert
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Defense
Committee on Appropriations
House of Representatives




Page 29                         GAO-19-240 Defense Space Systems
Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and
              Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and
              Methodology



Methodology

              A House Report related to the National Defense Authorization Act of
              Fiscal Year 2017 contained a provision for GAO to review the current
              state of the Department of Defense’s (DOD) space systems acquisition
              workforce. 1 This report examines (1) what DOD knows about the size,
              mix, and location of its space acquisition workforce, and (2) the
              challenges, if any, DOD faces in hiring, staffing, and retaining space
              acquisition workforce personnel. For the purpose of this report, we
              defined the space acquisition workforce broadly to include military,
              civilian, contractor, and Federally Funded Research and Development
              Center (FFRDC) personnel working on space acquisition programs and
              related efforts.

              To determine what DOD knows about the size, mix, and location of the
              space acquisition workforce, we met with officials from DOD’s Office of
              Human Capital Initiatives, the Air Force, the Army, the Navy, and 4th
              Estate’s Director of Acquisition Career Management to obtain information
              that is collected on the space acquisition workforce. We were told by each
              of these officials that DOD does not have a group of personnel officially
              designated as the space acquisition workforce. They stated that DOD has
              separate mechanisms for collecting military, civilian, contractor, and
              FFRDC workforce data and that none of these systems contained the
              level of granularity we would need to identify all personnel working on
              space acquisitions. Specifically, the sources we discussed were DOD’s
              Data Mart system, a central repository for military and civilian acquisition
              workforce data, as well as workforce data systems maintained by DOD
              components that feed into the Data Mart system; the Enterprise-wide
              Contractor Manpower Reporting Application system for contractor
              services data; and FFRDC data maintained by military components.

              We collected data on the size, mix, and location of the space acquisition
              workforce from the space organizations performing space acquisition
              activities. The Directors of Acquisition Career Management for the military
              services and the 4th Estate defense agencies provided a list of
              organizations that could be working on space acquisitions based on
              DOD’s 2017 space system definition, which states that a space system
              includes all areas related to making a space capability operational—that
              is programs acquiring satellites, satellite ground systems (including
              satellite control and data processing), receivers/user segments (including

              1
                H.R. Rep. No. 114-537, accompanying H.R. 4909, 114th Cong. (2016). The report
              specified that the space acquisition workforce of the National Reconnaissance Office
              should be excluded from our review.




              Page 30                                               GAO-19-240 Defense Space Systems
    Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and
    Methodology




    terminals and radios), and launch systems. It also specifies that terminals
    are included unless they are embedded as part of a platform (i.e., aircraft,
    ship, or tank). 2

    We contacted each of the identified space organizations to verify that they
    had personnel working on space acquisitions based on this definition.
    Three of the organizations we originally contacted stated their
    organizations did not work on any space acquisition programs based on
    the definition. We did not include these organizations in our data
    gathering efforts. We also identified other organizations that worked on
    space acquisitions through discussions with acquisition management
    officials from the Army and included these organizations in our data
    gathering efforts. We asked each space organization to identify the
    number of military and civilian personnel working on space acquisition
    activities for 50 percent or more of their work time as of December 31,
    2017. We used the threshold of 50 percent or more of the time to be
    consistent with the DOD definition of the acquisition workforce, which
    requires personnel to work 50 percent or more of their work time on
    acquisition activities to be counted as part of that workforce. DOD officials
    could not identify the number of contractor and FFRDC personnel working
    on space acquisitions. Therefore, for contractor and FFRDC personnel,
    we asked for the number of full-time equivalencies and staff-years of
    technical effort equivalencies, respectively, provided as support to space
    acquisitions. We requested that the personnel data be categorized by
    acquisition career field.

    We collected data from each DOD component as follows:

•   Air Force
    The Air Force Director of Acquisition Career Management provided
    military and civilian workforce data from the Air Force’s Acquisition Career
    Management System that feeds into Data Mart for all Air Force
    organizations where the entire organization works on space acquisitions.
    These organizations were the Air Force Space Command and the
    Networks Family of Advanced Beyond Line of Sight Terminals Division
    within the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s Program Executive
    Office for Command, Control, Communications, Intelligence and
    Networks. The Deputy Director identified other space programs that are

    2
     DOD, DOD Directive 5100.96, DOD Space Enterprise Governance and Principal DOD
    Space Advisor, § G.2 (June 9, 2017).




    Page 31                                         GAO-19-240 Defense Space Systems
    Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and
    Methodology




    managed by the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, but could not
    identify which military and civilian personnel were supporting those
    programs because the workforce data system is not configured to identify
    personnel by product types. In addition, the Deputy Director could not
    provide data on the number of contractor or FFRDC personnel working on
    any space acquisition program. We contacted these organizations directly
    to collect additional military, civilian, contractor and FFRDC workforce
    data:

        •     Air Force Space Command;
        •     Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center;
        •     Program Executive Office Command, Control, Communications,
              Intelligence and Networks;
        •     Program Executive Office Battle Management; and
        •     Air Force Research Laboratory.
    These organizations provided personnel data from their respective
    manpower sources, such as personnel data systems or manning
    documents.

    To assess the reliability of the data, we discussed the data and sources
    used to compile the data with Air Force officials; reviewed the data for
    logical inconsistencies; compared the data received from the Air Force
    workforce data system to data from Air Force Space and Missile Systems
    Center briefing documents; and compared relevant data received from
    individual space organizations with data from the Air Force Research
    Laboratory Space Vehicle Directorate.

•   Army
    We collected military, civilian, contractor and FFRDC workforce data
    directly from the following Army organizations performing space
    acquisition activities:

        •     Army Space and Missile Defense Command;
        •     Program Executive Office Missiles and Space;
        •     Program Executive Office Command, Control and
              Communications-Tactical;
        •     Program Executive Office Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and
              Sensors;




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    Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and
    Methodology




        •     Communications-Electronics Research, Development and
              Engineering Center;
        •     U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research Development and
              Engineering Center; and
        •     Army Contracting Command.
    These organizations provided personnel data from their respective
    manpower sources, such as personnel data systems or manning
    documents.

    To assess data reliability, we discussed the data and sources used to
    compile the data with Army officials, and reviewed the data for logical
    inconsistencies.

•   Navy
    We collected military, civilian, contractor and FFRDC workforce data
    directly from the following Navy organizations:

        •     Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command;
        •     Program Executive Office Space Systems;
        •     Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific; and
        •     Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic.
    These organizations provided personnel data from their respective
    manpower sources, such as personnel data systems or manning
    documents.

    The Naval Research Laboratory and the Navy’s Program Executive Office
    for Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence
    were originally identified as performing space acquisition activities;
    however, officials stated they did not have any personnel working on
    space acquisition activities for at least 50 percent of their time.

    To assess data reliability, we discussed the data and sources used to
    compile the data with Navy officials, and reviewed the data for logical
    inconsistencies.




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    Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and
    Methodology




•   Other DOD Components
    We collected military, civilian, contractor, and FFRDC workforce data
    directly from:

        •     Defense Contract Management Agency; and
        •     Missile Defense Agency.
    To assess data reliability, we obtained information on the data and
    sources used to compile the data with the agencies’ officials and
    reviewed the data for logical inconsistencies.

    The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency was originally
    identified as performing space acquisition activities; however, officials
    stated they did not have any personnel working on space acquisition
    activities for at least 50 percent of their time.

    We determined the workforce data were sufficiently reliable to provide
    estimates of the general size and mix of the space acquisition workforce.

    To assess any challenges DOD faces in hiring, staffing, and retaining its
    space acquisition workforce, we interviewed officials from multiple levels
    within DOD and the Air Force, Army and Navy. In addition to discussing
    the challenges with the majority of the military service space
    organizations listed above, we also met with the following DOD
    organizations:

•   Office of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation; and
•   Defense Acquisition University.

    To gather additional insight into the challenges faced at the program
    office level, we also interviewed officials from a non-generalizable sample
    of 10 space acquisition programs from the Air Force, Army, and Navy.
    The selected programs included different types of space acquisitions—
    such as satellites and launch systems—with a range of dollar values and
    phases of acquisition. During our review, the Air Force and Army had
    other space acquisition programs in addition to the ones we selected,
    whereas the Navy had one space acquisition program according to
    service officials. The selected programs from each military service
    included:




    Page 34                                        GAO-19-240 Defense Space Systems
    Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and
    Methodology




•   Air Force
        •     Advanced Extremely High Frequency (space segment)
        •     Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (launch segment)
        •     Launch and Test Range System (launch segment)
        •     Protected Tactical Enterprise Service (ground segment)
        •     Space Fence (ground segment)
        •     United States Nuclear Detonation Detection System (ground
              segment)
•   Army
        •     Joint Tactical Ground Station (ground system)
        •     Secure, Mobile, Anti-Jam, Reliable, Tactical–Terminal (user
              segment)
        •     Transportable Tactical Command Communications (user
              segment)
•   Navy
        •     Mobile User Objective System (space segment)


    We also reviewed prior DOD and other space acquisition studies,
    including reports from the Defense Science Board, Institute for Defense
    Analyses, Office of Management and Budget, and the RAND Corporation.

    We conducted this performance audit from November 2017 to March
    2019 in accordance with generally accepted government auditing
    standards. Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to
    obtain sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for
    our findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe
    that the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings
    and conclusions based on our audit objectives.




    Page 35                                        GAO-19-240 Defense Space Systems
Appendix II: Comments from the Department
             Appendix II: Comments from the Department
             of Defense



of Defense




             Page 36                                     GAO-19-240 Defense Space Systems
Appendix II: Comments from the Department
of Defense




Page 37                                     GAO-19-240 Defense Space Systems
Appendix II: Comments from the Department
of Defense




Page 38                                     GAO-19-240 Defense Space Systems
Appendix II: Comments from the Department
of Defense




Page 39                                     GAO-19-240 Defense Space Systems
Appendix III: GAO Contact and Staff
                   Appendix III: GAO Contact and Staff
                   Acknowledgements



Acknowledgements

                   Jon Ludwigson (202) 512-4841 or ludwigsonj@gao.gov.
GAO Contact
                   In addition to the contact named above, Cheryl K. Andrew (Assistant
Staff              Director), Peter W. Anderson, R. Eli DeVan, Lorraine R. Ettaro, Lisa L.
Acknowledgements   Fisher, Miranda Riemer, Anne Louise Taylor, and Lauren M. Wright made
                   key contributions to this report.




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                   Page 40                                    GAO-19-240 Defense Space Systems
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