Transparency and Accountability

March 29, 2011

Dear Members and Friends,

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is the government agency that investigates, audits and evaluates programs for the United States Congress. Its mission is to support Congress in meeting its constitutional responsibilities, provide accountability and help improve the performance of the federal government for the American people. The GAO has recently released its report on missile defense for the past fiscal year.

Since 2002, Congress has directed the GAO to annually assess the Missile Defense Agency’s (MDA) fiscal year cost, schedule, testing and performance progress in developing our nation’s missile defense. Among the key programs assessed in this report are the implementation of the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) and the changes to the Ground Based Interceptor (GBI) program for our homeland defense.  The report also highlighted the positive deliveries by MDA of missile defense assets to our war fighters equal to and beyond what was required for the past year.

There are certainly concerns and issues with most of these systems as the technology and engineering are extremely challenging, pre-determined timeline scheduling equally as demanding and the testing budget accountability which doesn’t allow for failures which take place when evolving systems such as these. Transparency provides the foundation to address concerns and enables improvements to ease the technical and timeline strains so these systems can become better and be deployed sooner. The GAO has made ten recommendations for the MDA to further improve transparency and accountability. In response, the Department of Defense has agreed with seven of the recommendations and concurred partially with the remaining three.

Beyond the forty page report, there is an excellent independent analysis’s on each of the ten individual missile defense systems progress over the past year, including an analysis on targets/countermeasures for those systems. It is exceedingly important to understand what the costs are and how much risk is tolerable to make the systems as efficient and effective as possible. The United States Congress and the Administration needs to clearly understand the issues brought up in the GAO report in order to move down the path towards full delivery of each of these systems into our military’s hands in the Middle East, Pacific, Europe and the United States as soon as possible to make our nation and our troops safer than they are.

The full GAO Report can be found here on MDAA’s website.

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