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Why have the costs of acquiring space systems been so high? What are the sources of the problems? To answer these questions, RAND researchers examined the sources of cost growth of Air Force space systems and undertook an extensive study of two space systems — the Space Based Infrared System–High (SBIRS) and the Global Positioning System (GPS) — including an evaluation of their sources of cost growth, an assessment of their approaches to technical risk assessment, and an examination of their acquisition policy adaptations and industrial base environments. The researchers recommend independent program assessment for space systems that emphasizes technical and program factors, and a modified organizational structure that maintains cost analyst independence. They also summarize the cost estimating best practices of several other government organizations.

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The research described in this report was sponsored by the United States Air Force and conducted by RAND Project AIR FORCE.

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