Defense Communications:

Management Problems Jeopardize DISN Implementation

AIMD-95-136: Published: Jul 13, 1995. Publicly Released: Jul 21, 1995.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Defense's (DOD) efforts to implement the Defense Information Systems Network (DISN), focusing on: (1) DISN objectives, requirements, management plans, and implementation status; and (2) whether DOD has effectively positioned itself to participate in the governmentwide post-Federal Telecommunications System (FTS) 2000 program.

GAO found that: (1) DOD has not effectively managed its DISN program; (2) DOD has spent more than $100 million on DISN planning, implementation, operation, and management over the past 3 years; (3) DISN does not have validated operational requirements, approved plans for network implementation, or guidelines to ensure effective end-to-end management; (4) near-term DISN implementation is more than 2 years behind schedule and the program's objectives to improve DOD communications services and reduce costs are at risk; and (5) there is no assurance that the DOD approach to DISN implementation will meet long-standing DOD telecommunications needs.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: According to the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), the roles, responsibilities, and procedures for near-term DISN services were incorporated into the 1992 update of DISA Circular 310-7-1, Operational Policies and Procedures, which satisfies the GAO recommendation. However, DISA noted that, regarding continuing development of DISA Circular, guidance for development and enforcement of circular requires supporting policy from OSD. That OSD policy has yet to be developed.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence to develop a strategy and plans that establish and document the roles, responsibilities, and procedures essential to ensuring the efficient and effective end-to-end management of its operational near-term DISN services.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD concurred with the report's conclusions and recommendations; however, given that the DISN contracts have already been awarded, it is clear that Defense has no intention to finalize an operational requirements document for this program.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence to reassess the Defense Information Systems Agency's (DISA) proposed far-term DISN approach, reconsider decisions on post-FTS 2000 participation, and ensure that the approach is based on valid operational requirements and approved plans.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD concurred with the report's conclusions and recommendations. However, it has never taken action regarding this GAO recommendation. DISN implementation is being completed, and therefore the recommendation is no longer applicable.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence to fully justify any decision to procure communications circuits rather than services from the post-FTS 2000 program by identifying the additional life-cycle acquisition, operations, maintenance, and support costs that will be incurred in developing and operating DISN, as well as the effects on DOD warfighting and administrative support missions.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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