Defense Acquisitions:

DOD Management Approach and Processes Not Well-Suited to Support Development of Global Information Grid

GAO-06-211: Published: Jan 30, 2006. Publicly Released: Jan 30, 2006.

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Michael J. Sullivan
(937) 258-7915
contact@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

Department of Defense (DOD) officials currently estimate that the department will spend approximately $34 billion through 2011 to develop the core network of the Global Information Grid (GIG), a large and complex undertaking intended to provide on-demand and real-time data and information to the warfighter. DOD views the GIG as the cornerstone of information superiority, a key enabler of network-centric warfare, and a pillar of defense transformation. A high degree of coordination and cooperation is needed to make the GIG a reality. In prior work GAO found that enforcing investment decisions across the military services and assuring management attention and oversight of the GIG effort were key management challenges facing DOD. This report assesses (1) the management approach that DOD is using to develop the GIG and (2) whether DOD's three major decision-making processes support the development of a crosscutting, departmentwide investment, such as the GIG.

DOD's management approach for the GIG--in which no one entity is clearly in charge or accountable for results--is not optimized to enforce investment decisions across the department. The DOD Chief Information Officer has lead responsibility for the GIG development effort, but this office has less influence on investment and program decisions than the military services and defense agencies, which determine investment priorities and manage program development efforts. Consequently, the services and defense agencies have relative freedom to invest or not invest in the types of joint, net-centric systems that are consistent with GIG objectives. Without a management approach optimized to enforce departmentwide investment decisions, DOD is at risk of not knowing whether the GIG is being developed within cost and schedule, whether risks are being adequately mitigated, or whether the GIG will provide a worthwhile return on DOD's investment. The department's three major decision-making processes are not structured to support crosscutting, departmentwide development efforts such as the GIG. In some significant respects, the department's processes for setting requirements, allocating resources, and managing acquisitions encourage investing in systems on an individual service and defense agency basis. While the department has developed a new process for determining requirements, the framework to assess capability needs is still evolving; the new process is not yet identifying shortfalls and gaps in joint military capabilities on a departmentwide basis; and requirements-setting continues to be driven by service perspectives. In addition, the resource allocation process is structured in terms of individual service programs and outdated mission areas instead of crosscutting capabilities such as net-centricity, and it is not flexible enough to quickly accommodate requirements resulting from lessons learned or from rapidly emerging technologies. Also, the process for managing acquisitions is unsuited to developing a system of interdependent systems such as the GIG, and DOD has struggled to achieve service buy-in on joint-service development programs to address interoperability problems. Finally, the lack of integration among these three processes makes it difficult to ensure that development efforts are affordable and technically feasible.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD agreed with the report findings and recommendations, but indicated that policies, procedures, and organizational roles and responsibilities are in place to integrate information technology and related activities across the department. Subsequent to providing comments on our report, DOD has taken additional steps to strengthen the management of command and control and networking acquisitions, including the Global Information Grid (GIG). In particular, DOD established a capability-based portfolio management framework in September 2008 to advise senior leadership on capability investments across the defense enterprise. This includes a portfolio for joint net-centric operations, which is intended to provide the transport, information assurance, services and management foundation for the GIG. A key purpose of the portfolios is to advise the Deputy Secretary of Defense on the capability needs and allocation of funding resources for joint net-centric programs. The policy which formalizes the roles and responsibilities of the portfolio management process establishes Capability Portfolio Managers (CPM), who are charged with evaluating capability demand against resource constraints, identifying and assessing risks, and suggesting capability trade-offs within their portfolio. They provide advice to the Deputy's Advisory Working Group (DAWG) which is the senior DOD proponent charged with integrating, synchronizing, and coordinating portfolio content to ensure alignment to strategic priorities and capability demand. The portfolio managers also have access to the Joint Requirements Oversight Council, Defense Acquisition Board, and other established Component forums to raise portfolio related issues and influence portfolio allocation decisions. The Assistant Secretary of Defense (Networks and Information Integration) is the civilian CPM for the net-centric capability portfolio, the same official who is responsible for providing oversight of the development, integration, and implementation of the GIG. We believe these actions are responsive to the intent of our recommendation.

    Recommendation: To better accommodate the crosscutting nature of the GIG development effort, DOD should adopt a management approach that will ensure a joint perspective is taken. In doing so, DOD should consolidate responsibility, authority, and control over resources--within the existing management structure or in a new entity--necessary to enforce investment decisions that cut across organizational lines.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD agreed with the report findings and recommendations, but indicated that policies, procedures, and organizational roles and responsibilities are in place to integrate information technology and related activities across the department. DOD has taken subsequent actions to strengthen the management of command and control and networking acquisitions, including the Global Information Grid (GIG), by establishing a capability-based portfolio management framework in September 2008 to advise senior leadership on capability investments across the defense enterprise. This includes a portfolio for joint net-centric operations, which is intended to provide the transport, information assurance, services and management foundation for the GIG. This policy established the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Networks and Information Integration) as the civilian portfolio manager for the net-centric capability portfolio, the same official who is responsible for providing oversight of the development, integration, and implementation of the GIG.

    Recommendation: To better accommodate the crosscutting nature of the GIG development effort, DOD should adopt a management approach that will ensure a joint perspective is taken. In doing so, DOD should hold the organization accountable for ensuring the objectives of the GIG are achieved.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Oct 16, 2014

Oct 10, 2014

Oct 8, 2014

Sep 30, 2014

Sep 25, 2014

Sep 23, 2014

Sep 19, 2014

Sep 18, 2014

Sep 10, 2014

Sep 9, 2014

Looking for more? Browse all our products here