Warfighter Support:

Actions Needed to Improve Visibility and Coordination of DOD's Counter-Improvised Explosive Device Efforts

GAO-10-95: Published: Oct 29, 2009. Publicly Released: Oct 29, 2009.

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Prior to the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization's (JIEDDO) establishment in 2006, no single entity was responsible for coordinating the Department of Defense's (DOD) counter improvised explosive device (IED) efforts. JIEDDO was established to coordinate and focus all counter-IED efforts, including ongoing research and development, throughout DOD. This report, which is one in a series of congressionally mandated GAO reports related to JIEDDO's management and operations, assesses the extent to which 1) capability gaps were initially identified in DOD's effort to defeat IEDs and how these gaps and other factors led to the development of JIEDDO, 2) JIEDDO has maintained visibility over all counter-IED efforts, 3) JIEDDO has coordinated the transition of JIEDDO-funded initiatives to the military services, and 4) JIEDDO has developed criteria for the counter-IED training initiatives it will fund. To address these objectives, GAO reviewed and analyzed relevant documents and met with DOD and service officials.

With the escalation of the IED threat in Iraq, DOD identified several counter-IED capability gaps that included shortcomings in the areas of counter-IED technologies, qualified personnel with expertise in counter-IED tactics, training, dedicated funding, and expedited acquisition processes. For example, prior to JIEDDO's establishment, many different DOD entities focused on counter-IED issues, but coordination among these various efforts was informal and ad hoc. DOD's efforts to focus on addressing these gaps culminated in the creation of JIEDDO, but its creation was done in the absence of DOD having formal guidance for establishing joint organizations. Further, DOD did not systematically evaluate all preexisting counter-IED resources to determine whether other entities were engaged in similar efforts. JIEDDO and the services lack full visibility over counter-IED initiatives throughout DOD. First, JIEDDO and the services lack a comprehensive database of all existing counter-IED initiatives, limiting their visibility over counter-IED efforts across DOD. Although JIEDDO is currently developing a management system that will track initiatives as they move through JIEDDO's acquisition process, the system will only track JIEDDO-funded initiatives--not those being independently developed and procured by the services and other DOD components. Second, the services lack full visibility over those JIEDDO-funded initiatives that bypass JIEDDO's acquisition process. With limited visibility, both JIEDDO and the services are at risk of duplicating efforts. JIEDDO faces difficulties with transitioning Joint IED defeat initiatives to the military services, in part because JIEDDO and the services have difficulty resolving the gap between JIEDDO's transition timeline and DOD's base budget cycle. As a result, the services are mainly funding initiatives with funding for overseas contingency operations rather than their base budgets. Continuing to fund transferred initiatives with overseas contingency operations appropriations does not ensure funding availability for those initiatives in future years since these appropriations are not necessarily renewed from one year to the next. This transition is also hindered when service requirements are not fully considered during the development of joint-funded counter-IED initiatives, as evidenced by two counter-IED jamming systems. As a result, JIEDDO may be investing in counter-IED solutions that do not fully meet existing service requirements. JIEDDO's lack of clear criteria for the counter-IED training initiatives it will fund has affected its counter-IED training investment decisions. As a result, JIEDDO has funded training initiatives that may have primary uses other than defeating IEDs. In March 2009, JIEDDO attempted to update its criteria for joint training initiatives by listing new requirements; however, these guidelines also could be broadly interpreted. Without specific criteria for counter-IED training initiatives, DOD may find that it lacks funding for future initiatives more directly related to the counter-IED mission.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD actions taken to collect and maintain data for its counter-IED initiatives throughout the department have fulfilled the intent of this recommendation. DOD has now developed a database for identifying and recording counter-IED defeat initiatives across DOD. JIEDDO developed and maintains the database using several sources to capture comprehensive data on counter-IED efforts department-wide. The approach JIEDDO uses consists of capturing information derived from: (1) its own historic and ongoing counter-IED initiatives; (2) DOD agency contacts other than JIEDDO; (3) queries to existing DOD information systems that are open and available to JIEDDO; (4) GAO's list of potential counter-IED initiatives from 2006 to 2011 taken from our DOD-wide survey completed in 2012; and (5) counter-IED initiatives identified through a February 2012 Joint Staff data call to all DOD components, conducted to support DOD efforts to identify the enduring C-IED capabilities needed by the Department. Moreover, DOD's Joint Requirements Oversight Council issued a memorandum in January 2013 making the department-wide data call for counter-IED initiatives an annual requirement. According to JIEDDO officials, the data call results will continue to feed into JIEDDO's data base, thereby corroborating counter-IED initiatives identified through the other ongoing means described in items (1), (2), and(3) above ensuring that its database is comprehensive.

    Recommendation: To improve JIEDDO's visibility over all counter-IED efforts, the Secretary of Defense should direct the military services to create their own comprehensive IED defeat initiative databases and work with JIEDDO to develop a DOD-wide database for all counter-IED initiatives.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: JIEDDO's policy requires that all of its counter-IED initiatives are processed through its initiatives approval and management system. The system includes steps where external stakeholders representing each military service participate before counter-IED initiatives proceed to subsequent steps in the process. For example, the JIEDDO Operational Requirements Assessment Board (JORAB) serves as the initial point of entry to JIEDDO for all identified needs, ideas, and concepts from all sources of requirements. It is also a forum for re-validating existing requirements and considering programs and initiatives for termination based on failure to achieve desired outcomes. The services' stakeholders are participants in the JORAB process, and as such are informed of all proposed JIEDDO counter-IED initiatives as they are considered for acceptance prior to JIEDDO's funding the initiative. Service stakeholders participating in the JORAB and follow-on steps in JIEDDO's process therefore have the information needed to notify their respective service's counter-IED focal points of each initiative prior to its funding. This mechanism satisfies the intent of our recommendation.

    Recommendation: To further provide DOD visibility over all counter-IED efforts in cases where initiatives bypass JIEDDO's rapid acquisition process, the Secretary of Defense should direct JIEDDO to develop a mechanism to notify the appropriate service counter-IED focal points of each initiative prior to its funding.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD actions taken to guide the transition of Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization's (JIEDDO) counter-IED initiatives to the military services have fulfilled the intent of this recommendation. Each year, the Deputy Secretary of Defense provides a memo to the Service Secretaries listing the Joint IED Defeat initiatives that are to transfer into DOD programs of record for sustainment and further integration. Specifically, the list provides the services two year's advanced notice for each initiative that is to be transferred and provides sustainment cost estimates for each in initiative. This communication resulted from a process JIEDDO developed and documented. Specifically, in November 2012, JIEDDO issued a standard operating procedure that included the key objective of providing the services, external agencies, and the combatant commands visibility over the JIEDDO Counter-IED portfolio, to include those initiatives that will transfer to them after development for continued sustainment. The standard operating procedure also specifies how JIEDDO obtains the Deputy Secretary of Defense memo approving the transfer of a counter-IED initiative to a service (or other DOD entity) for primary responsibility and sponsorship. Moreover, the standard operating procedure identifies and delineates the roles and responsibilities of the stakeholders involved in the process, including those within JIEDDO and those external to JIEDDO. The external stakeholders include representatives from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and other Defense components, any of which may have future sustainment responsibility for JIEDDO initiatives currently under development. The process details the coordination and review for each counter-IED initiative from the initial budget and requirements analysis level through Joint Staff processing and two separate general officer steering committees, wherein the military services' representatives participate in final decisions regarding whether to terminate or transfer initiatives to a sponsor other than JIEDDO, before going to the Deputy Secretary of Defense for final approval and inclusion in the annual transition memo.

    Recommendation: To facilitate the transition of JIEDDO-funded initiatives, the Secretary of Defense should direct the military services to work with JIEDDO to develop a comprehensive plan to guide the transition of each JIEDDO-funded initiative, including expected costs, identified funding sources, and a timeline including milestones for inclusion into the DOD base budget cycle.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Actions taken by the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) during counter-IED initiative development fulfill the intent of this recommendation. JIEDDO's November 2012 standard operating procedure now ensures that JIEDDO and the military services can fully coordinate regarding service requirements related (or potentially related) to a JIEDDO counter-IED initiative prior to JIEDDO funding the initiative. Requirements the services identify in this process are then fully taken into account when JIEDDO makes its counter-IED investment decisions. More specifically, JIEDDO's standard operating procedure established and defined the process wherein planned or proposed counter-IED initiatives are presented and discussed in preparation for approval by the JIEDDO Director and Deputy Secretary of Defense. The operating procedure identifies and delineates the roles and responsibilities of the stakeholders involved in the process including representatives from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps. The process details the coordination and review for each counter-IED initiative from the initial budget and requirements analysis level through Joint Staff processing and two separate general officer steering committees, wherein the military services' representatives participate in decisions regarding a counter-IED initiative's development, before going to the Deputy Secretary of Defense for approval. At any point in this process, the military service representatives may identify known or defined requirements and raise any related issues for consideration and settlement in the process. Further, according to JIEDDO officials, in the event that JIEDDO and a military service are not at consensus regarding the requirements determination and direction for a counter-IED initiative, the services may elevate their unresolved requirements concerns to the DOD Warfighter Senior Integration Group, the DOD Joint Requirements Oversight Council, the DOD Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office, or to the Deputy Secretary of Defense for resolution.

    Recommendation: To facilitate the transition of JIEDDO-funded initiatives, the Secretary of Defense should direct JIEDDO to coordinate with the services prior to funding an initiative to ensure that service requirements are fully taken into account when making counter-IED investment decisions.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD has taken action to address this recommendation. Specifically, to ensure the same criteria is used for JIEDDO and theater-based joint counter-IED urgent requirements, JIEDDO officials have developed language for incorporation into draft DOD Directive Instruction DODI 1322.XX. The instruction, titled "Implementing DOD Training," establishes policy, assigns responsibilities, and provides implementing procedures for DOD training. According to DOD officials, the instruction has undergone final coordination for comments with no changes to the JIEDDO-developed language. Consequently, when published in fiscal year 2015,the instruction will specify that DoD Components "...shall implement [counter] improvised explosive device mission essential tasks across all levels of war into their training regimens at the individual, collective, unit and staff levels and shall sustain relevancy through interface with the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization."

    Recommendation: To better clarify what counter-IED training initiatives JIEDDO will fund, the Secretary of Defense should direct JIEDDO to evaluate counter-IED training initiatives using the same criteria it uses to evaluate theater-based joint counter-IED urgent requirements, and incorporate this direction into existing guidance.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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