Report | Sept. 17, 2014

Assurance Policy Evaluation Spacecraft and Strategic Systems



Our objective was to evaluate the sufficiency of Department of Defense (DoD) mission assurance policies and procedures used in the acquisition of spacecraft and strategic systems.

Opportunity for Improvement

Our evaluation determined that there were no significant gaps or weaknesses in the DoD acquisition policies and procedures regarding mission assurance. The term “mission assurance” refers to the necessary systems engineering, design, quality, safety, reliability, maintainability, and availability requirements. Department of Defense Instruction (DoDI) 5000.02 “Operation of Defense Acquisition Systems” and the Defense Acquisition Guidebook generally support the mission assurance tenets through application of systems engineering practices. However, the Mission Assurance Guide TOR-2007(8546)-6018 provides more detailed guidance for systems engineering, quality assurance, and reliability;and it should be used by programs in their acquisition process.

We found three common program management practices across Missile Defense Agency (MDA), the Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC), and the Strategic Systems Program (SSP) that should be considered DoD standard practices. These three practices are 1) the development of specific policies and standards, which are applied on every program and contract, 2) verifying program requirements through in-depth quality assurance audits of the program and contractors; and 3) using independent organizations that report directly to the agency head to ensure mission success. These practices help ensure a specific level of mission success for their programs.


We recommend that the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Systems Engineering (DASD(SE)):

  • Update the Defense Acquisition Guidebook, to recommend that Major Defense Acquisition Programs (MDAPs) review, tailor, and apply applicable mission assurance concepts and principles, such as those found in the Mission Assurance Guide TOR-2007(8546)-6018, when developing Systems Engineering Plans and contract requirements to promote a higher probability of mission success. 
  • Review the best practices of Missile Defense Agency, Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, and Navy Strategic Systems Program identified within the report and incorporate them into the Defense Acquisition Guidebook. Present these practices at the next DASD(SE) bi-monthly systems engineering best practice meeting to ensure dissemination.

Management Comments

The Director of Acquisition Resources and Analysis concurred with the recommendation. DASD(SE) will update the Defense Acquisition Guidebook Chapter 4 by 2015 to implement the DOD IG recommendations and will invite the MDA, SMC and SSP to present their best practices at a System Engineering Forum in 2015.

DoD IG Response

We concur with the response. We request to be informed when the Defense Acquisition Guidebook Chapter 4 is updated and when MDA, SMC and SSP are scheduled to present at the Systems Engineering Forum.

This report is a result of Project No. D2013-DT0TAD-0002.000.