Oct 29 2015

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GPS-III in big trouble per the GAO

ULA and Lockheed Sway Between Successes of the Past and Problems In the Near Future.

Lockheed won the contract for GPS-III over Boeing, which had the GPS-II contract. While it the satellite portion of the program gets rare reviews, the OEX ground system built by Raytheon is in big trouble. It is estimated to be four years behind schedule and more than $1 billion over budget.

Senator McCain calls GPS-III “America’s Most Wasted” program — not good.

Worse, the program may fall further behind schedule and further over budget — very not good.

The “America’s Most Wasted” citation noted:

McCain says, “The Air Force proceeded with OCX development without knowing enough to make key program decisions—for example, it picked a design and awarded a contract before formally launching the program. Both the Air Force and Raytheon had a poor understanding of cybersecurity requirements, despite the fact that OCX is critical to the cybersecurity of the entire GPS.”

“OCX—like other DOD programs—must incorporate standard requirements related to cybersecurity, but Raytheon didn’t take that requirement seriously in this case, hoping instead for a waiver, but the Air Force and Raytheon accelerated development even as the program struggled.” McCain added.

“In 2012, despite knowing that Raytheon had serious problems developing software, the Air Force authorized systems engineering activities at the same time as software development occurred, leading to rework and further delays instead of efficiency. In 2013, the Air Force paused to research root causes and fix the program, and subsequently believed it had identified and solved them. Unfortunately, the root cause(s) for software problems remain unclear and present continued risk today,” the Senator said.

“All along the way, the Air Force overstated progress to the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), presenting overly optimistic Air Force cost and schedule estimates that conflicted with independent DOD cost estimates—both of which the OSD accepted without sufficient scrutiny,” both the GAO and McCain agree.

“For the OCX program to succeed and deliver the capability that not just our nation, but the entire world depends on, the management and technical issues noted by GAO must be addressed,” said McCain

“The Defense Department should take immediate steps to identify all remaining developmental challenges, assess whether the existing program of record and contractor are capable of meeting program requirements in a reasonable timeframe and at an appropriate cost, and identify and hold accountable those responsible for program mismanagement,” McCain said in his America’s Most Wasted citation.

YIKES — I don’t know if I’ve ever read such a damning assessment of a space program. I suspect that the GPS-III program is “too big to fail”, but if I were in the Program Office, I bet I wouldn’t be sleeping well.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.newspaceraces.com/2015/10/29/gps-iii-in-big-trouble-per-the-gao/

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