What GAO Found
In fiscal year 2020, the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) made progress toward achieving its delivery and testing goals for some of the individual systems—known as elements—that combine and integrate to create the Missile Defense System (also known as the Ballistic Missile Defense System). However, MDA did not complete its overall planned deliveries or annual testing. The figure below shows MDA’s progress delivering assets and conducting flight tests against its fiscal year 2020 plans.
Percentage of Missile Defense Agency Planned Deliveries and Flight Tests Completed for Fiscal Year 2020
Deliveries— In fiscal year 2020, MDA delivered many assets it had planned. Specifically, MDA was able to deliver 82 missile interceptors for 3 elements. However, MDA was not able to deliver all planned interceptors, including one originally planned for 2018 for the Ground-based Midcourse Defense program, as the program experienced delays related to qualifying parts from a new supplier.
Flight testing— MDA conducted two planned flight tests, but neither was successful. The issues were due to problems with non-MDA assets, but the agency was able to collect important data. In addition, COVID-19 restrictions also affected the planned schedule. However, the delays continue a trend of MDA’s inability to conduct planned annual flight testing, resulting in assets and capabilities that are subsequently delayed or delivered with less data than planned.
Ground testing— In fiscal year 2020, MDA continued to implement a new ground testing approach that the agency began in fiscal year 2019. In addition, MDA successfully completed three planned ground tests demonstrating defense capabilities for the U.S., U.S. forces and regional allies. However, MDA delayed two other ground tests to future fiscal years and expects disruptions in fiscal year 2021, in part due to ongoing COVID-19 disruptions.
Cyber— Despite failing to meet annual operational cybersecurity assessments since 2017, MDA canceled its planned fiscal year 2020 operational assessments, instead taking steps to implement a new approach designed to improve cyber system requirements while streamlining cyber test planning. It is premature to assess whether this new approach will achieve its intended goals.
Why GAO Did This Study
For over half a century, the Department of Defense has funded efforts to defend the U.S. from ballistic missile attacks. This effort consists of diverse and highly complex land-, sea-, and space-based systems and assets located across the globe. From 2002 through 2019, MDA—the agency charged with developing, testing, integrating, and fielding this system of systems—received about $162.5 billion. The agency also requested about $45 billion from fiscal year 2020 through fiscal year 2024.
In fiscal year 2020, MDA’s mission broadened to include evolving threats beyond ballistic missiles such as defending against hypersonic missile attacks. With the inclusion of non-ballistic missile threats, the Ballistic Missile Defense System is in the process of transitioning to the Missile Defense System.
Congress included a provision in statute that GAO annually assess and report on MDA’s progress. This, our 18th annual review, addresses the progress MDA made in achieving fiscal year 2020 delivery and testing goals.
GAO reviewed planned fiscal year 2020 baselines, along with program changes due to COVID-19 restrictions, and other program documentation and assessed them against responses to GAO detailed question sets and program and baseline reviews. GAO also interviewed officials from MDA and various Department of Defense Combatant Commands.
We do not make any new recommendations in this report but continue to track the status of prior recommendations.
For more information, contact John D. Sawyer at (202) 512-4841 or SawyerJ@gao.gov.
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- Secretary Michael R. Pompeo With Greg Kelly of Greg Kelly Reports on Newsmax TVBy Sam NewsOctober 10, 2020
- Five Alleged MS-13 Members Charged Federally for Their Participation in a Violent Racketeering Conspiracy Including Eight Murders and Four Attempted MurdersBy Sam NewsOctober 20, 2020A federal grand jury returned an eleventh superseding indictment Monday, charging five men in connection with a conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise known as La Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13. The eleventh superseding indictment adds a new defendant charged with a racketeering conspiracy related to his membership in MS-13, including a double homicide and drug trafficking.[Read More…]
- Designation of Iraqi Militia Leader in Connection with Serious Human Rights AbuseBy Sam NewsJanuary 8, 2021
- On the First Anniversary of the Death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi By Sam NewsOctober 27, 2020
- United States and United Kingdom Sign Civil Air Transport AgreementBy Sam NewsNovember 17, 2020
- Secretary Blinken’s Call with Czech Prime Minister BabišBy Sam NewsMarch 6, 2021
- Championing America’s First FreedomBy Sam NewsJanuary 16, 2021
- Secretary Michael R. Pompeo With Joe Kernan, Becky Quick, and Andrew Ross Sorkin of CNBC Squawk BoxBy Sam NewsMarch 6, 2020
- Law Clerk Hiring Plan ExtendedBy Sam NewsIn U.S CourtsNovember 12, 2020The Judiciary’s Federal Law Clerk Hiring Pilot Plan, which makes the judicial clerkship hiring process more transparent and uniform, has been extended for two years after getting good reviews from both law school deans and judges.[Read More…]
- The Nation’s Fiscal Health: Information on the Spending and Revenue Implications of Potential Debt TargetsBy Sam NewsDecember 15, 2020The COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated major federal spending to respond to the national public health emergency and resulting economic turmoil. This response and the severe economic contraction from the pandemic have led to increased federal debt. Once the COVID-19 pandemic abates and the economy has substantially recovered, Congress and the administration will need to address the federal government’s fiscal challenges. To help change the long-term fiscal path, in September 2020 GAO recommended that Congress consider establishing a long-term fiscal plan that includes fiscal rules and targets, such as a debt-to-gross domestic product (GDP) target. In this report, GAO analyzed the changes in spending and revenue needed to reach six potential debt-to-GDP targets at the end of a 30-year period (2020-2049). To reach any of the targets, policymakers will need to cut program spending, increase revenue, or, most likely, a combination of both (see table). Illustrative Examples of Changes Needed to Achieve Debt-to-GDP Targets Debt target, percent of GDP (end of 30 years) Spending and revenue: total change over 30 years Program spending alone: Immediate and permanent decrease needed in annual projected program spendinga Revenue alone: Immediate and permanent increase needed in annual projected revenue Percent Dollars, trillions Percent Percent 140 25.4 13.8 18.5 120 31.2 16.9 22.8 100 37 20 27 80 42.8 23.1 31.2 60 48.5 26.3 35.4 0 (paying off all debt) 65.9 35.7 48.1 Source: GAO simulation. | GAO-21-211. Note: The simulation used for this analysis generally reflect historical trends, such as the extension of tax provisions scheduled to expire. It does not account for potential macroeconomic effects of fiscal policy changes over time. aProgram spending consists of all spending except interest payments on debt held by the public. When considering the spending and revenue changes needed to achieve various debt-to-GDP targets, policymakers may also consider how changes in assumptions about key variables—such as discretionary spending, revenue, and GDP—affect these fiscal outcomes. For example, if GDP growth is greater than expected, policymakers may have to make smaller spending cuts or revenue increases to reach a selected debt-to-GDP target than those that would be needed based on GAO’s standard assumptions. GAO created an interactive web tool accompanying this report to allow users to enter different assumptions for each of these variables. This tool illustrates how these changes would affect the different debt-to-GDP targets over time, as well as the changes in spending and revenue needed to achieve various targets. This tool can be found at https://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-21-211. Even before the fiscal and economic effects resulting from COVID-19, an imbalance between federal revenue and spending that is built into current law and policy was contributing to the growing federal debt. The Congressional Budget Office projects that by 2023 federal debt held by the public will reach 107 percent of GDP, its highest point in U.S. history. This situation—in which federal debt grows faster than GDP—means that our nation is on an unsustainable fiscal path. GAO was asked to review issues related to fiscal rules and targets and the federal fiscal condition. In response to this request, in September 2020, GAO issued a report (GAO-20-561) on key considerations for the design, implementation, and enforcement of fiscal rules and targets. This report supplements that work and describes how changes in assumptions of future spending and revenue affect the federal government’s projected fiscal condition. GAO updated its long-term simulations of federal revenue and spending to (1) analyze six potential debt-to-GDP targets and (2) measure the fiscal gap—the policy change needed to reach a given debt-to-GDP fiscal target from the start to the end of 30-years. GAO also analyzed how changes in key variables affected the debt-to-GDP targets and the fiscal gap. For more information, contact Jeff Arkin at (202) 512-6806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.[Read More…]
- Investing in Diversity and Inclusion at StateBy Sam NewsFebruary 24, 2021
- Secretary Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Republic of Korea President Moon Jae-in Before Their MeetingBy Sam NewsMarch 18, 2021
- Travel of Special Envoy for the Sahel Region Dr. J. Peter Pham to MaliBy Sam NewsSeptember 30, 2020
- Turkey Travel AdvisoryBy Sam NewsSeptember 26, 2020Reconsider travel to [Read More…]
- Largest U.S. Seizure of Iranian Fuel from Four TankersBy Sam NewsAugust 14, 2020The Justice Department today announced the successful disruption of a multimillion dollar fuel shipment by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a designated foreign terrorist organization that was bound for Venezuela. These actions represent the government’s largest-ever seizure of fuel shipments from Iran.[Read More…]
- Remarks by Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim on the Future of ASCAP and BMI Consent DecreesBy Sam NewsJanuary 15, 2021Good afternoon. Thank you very much to Vanderbilt Law School and in particular to the Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment & Technology Law for hosting this event. I love Vanderbilt and I love Nashville, and I’m sorry not to be there in person with you today. Someday when COVID-19 is a memory and social distancing is something you do only with people you don’t like, I look forward to returning to Nashville and reconnecting with many of my old friends there. More importantly, I look forward to returning to some of my favorite honky-tonks and showing off my famous dance moves. I’ve been practicing at home in my free time, to make sure I’m ready.[Read More…]
- Czech Republic Travel AdvisoryBy Sam NewsSeptember 26, 2020Reconsider travel to the [Read More…]
- U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Elan S. Carr On Recent Progress In the Fight Against Anti-SemitismBy Sam NewsNovember 6, 2020Elan S. Carr, Special [Read More…]
- Readout of U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland’s Call with Mexico Attorney General Alejandro Gertz ManeroBy Sam NewsApril 27, 2021More from: April 27, 2021 [Read More…]
- Bermuda Travel AdvisoryBy Sam NewsSeptember 26, 2020Reconsider travel to [Read More…]
- Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim Delivers Remarks at Virtual MOU Signing Ceremony with Korean Prosecution ServiceBy Sam NewsNovember 18, 2020It is with great pleasure that I sign this Memorandum of Understanding on behalf of the Department of Justice alongside my good friend, Prosecutor General Yoon. Enhancing the ties between our agencies has been an important priority for me during my tenure as Assistant Attorney General of the Antitrust Division. While only a few years ago we knew comparatively little about one another, our relationship has quickly blossomed into a strong and enduring friendship. I am extremely pleased that we have succeeded in developing important and lasting ties between our agencies, as underscored by our signing of this Memorandum of Understanding today.[Read More…]
- 2020 U.S.-Vietnam Human Rights DialogueBy Sam NewsOctober 6, 2020
- Assistant Attorney General Beth A. Williams Commends the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts for New Website Enhancing Access to JusticeBy Sam NewsAugust 21, 2020Assistant Attorney General Beth A. Williams issued the following statement today on the efforts by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts to enhance public and litigant access to electronic court records. This year, as part of its access to justice efforts, the Office of Legal Policy at the Department of Justice partnered with the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts to improve transparency regarding fee exemptions for access to court records in the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system. As part of that partnership, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts announced an enhanced PACER website that makes it easier for indigent individuals, as well as pro bono attorneys, academic researchers, and non-profit organizations, to understand how they may access court records for free.[Read More…]
- Secretary Michael R. Pompeo and Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena at a Press AvailabilityBy Sam NewsOctober 28, 2020