Defense Networks:

Management Information Shortfalls Hinder Defense Efforts to Meet DISN Goals

AIMD-98-202: Published: Jul 30, 1998. Publicly Released: Jul 30, 1998.

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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) those DOD long-haul telecommunications networks operating outside of the common-user DISN; (2) DOD's progress in implementing its policies for managing DISN; and (3) DOD's progress in developing performance measures for DISN, which DOD agreed to do in response to GAO's previous review of the DISN program.

GAO noted that: (1) although DOD has been implementing the DISN program for 7 years, numerous networks continue to exist without the Defense Information Systems Agency's (DISA) knowledge; (2) GAO's survey found that the military services are operating at least 87 independent networks that support a variety of long-haul telecommunications requirements; (3) the services reported costs on 68 of these networks totalling more than $89 million annually; (4) DOD's inability to restrict the number of networks operating across the department stems from its failure to implement basic telecommunications management policies established at the beginning of the DISN program and its failure to develop objective performance measures for the program; (5) DISA has not developed a comprehensive inventory of telecommunications networks throughout DOD nor have the military services developed inventories of their own networks; (6) DISA has not reported on telecommunications acquisitions, trends (volumes and types of traffic) and costs throughout DOD, and it lacks the data to develop such reports; (7) DOD has not effectively enforced the use of common-user services, nor were Assistant Secretary of Defense for Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence (ASD/C3I) officials clear on how enforcement would occur; (8) DOD has only recently begun to implement an interim waiver process to exempt DOD components from using common-user networks--a final process has yet to be implemented; (9) DOD has not developed performance measures for the DISN program even though it agreed with GAO's previous report that these measures were essential to ensuring DISN was efficiently and effectively managed; (10) by not implementing the above, DOD lacks the basic management controls to ensure that it can achieve its goal for an interoperable and cost-effective telecommunications environment; (11) specifically, it lacks a foundation for identifying stovepiped and redundant networks that are not interoperable and cannot share information, and replacing them with mandated common-user services; it lacks a basis for maximizing the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of DISN; it cannot quantify problems; and it cannot learn from mistakes; and (12) as a result, DOD's stated goals for DISN are at risk, and DOD cannot ensure that DISN is the most cost-effective solution to DOD's telecommunications service requirements.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: There is no comprehensive inventory of telecommunications equipment and services as recommended, nor a plan for the same at this time. Interim Defense guidance contained in a policy memorandum does not require an inventory.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence (ASD/C3I) to ensure that existing policies are clearly defined, documented, and enforced. Specifically, ASD/C3I should develop and maintain a comprehensive inventory of Defense's telecommunications equipment and services.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: OASD/C3I does not track acquisitions of telecommunications services throughout Defense, the actual costs of those services, and trends in usage. Interim Defense guidance contained in a policy memorandum does not require such tracking. Such action has not been taken, nor is any planned at this time.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence to ensure that existing policies are clearly defined, documented, and enforced. Specifically, ASD/C3I should track acquisitions of telecommunications services throughout Defense, the actual costs of those services, and trends in usage (that is, the volumes and types of traffic that networks carry).

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD concurred with this recommendation, and has implemented a waiver process that provides oversight via its Global Information Grid (GIG) Waiver Panel. Customer service factors are not explicitly outlined as a waiver criterion, although operational considerations are considered. Technical and economic factors are explicitly described. Therefore, the DOD's GIG Panel and Waiver Process does fulfill the intent of the recommended action regarding a waiver process.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence to ensure that existing policies are clearly defined, documented, and enforced. Specifically, ASD/C3I should define and institute an effective process for evaluating the cost-effectiveness of Defense networks and mandating the use of common-user networks for long-haul telecommunications where appropriate. As part of this process, define the criteria that DISA will use to make waiver determinations, including how DISA will measure technical, economic, and customer service factors in granting waivers.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD concurred with this recommendation. The recommended DISN performance measures are now included in the current fiscal year (FY) 2002-FY2007 DISA performance contract. Specifically, for networking services, the DISA performance contract does include provisioning and performance measures for DISN voice, data, and video services. That contract also includes DISN unit cost targets for those services. Because of these steps taken to establish metrics through the DISA performance contract, this recommendation is Closed Implemented.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence to develop and adopt provisioning, pricing, and performance metrics as minimum performance measures for DISN.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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