Warfighter Support:

DOD's Urgent Needs Processes Need a More Comprehensive Approach and Evaluation for Potential Consolidation

GAO-11-273: Published: Mar 1, 2011. Publicly Released: Mar 1, 2011.

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Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan have faced significant risks of mission failure and loss of life due to rapidly changing enemy threats. In response, the Department of Defense (DOD) established urgent operational needs processes to rapidly develop, modify, and field new capabilities, such as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) technology, and counter-improvised explosive devices (IED) systems. However, GAO, the Defense Science Board, and others have raised concerns about the effectiveness, efficiency, and oversight of DOD's various urgent needs processes. GAO conducted this review to determine (1) what various entities exist within DOD for responding to urgent operational needs, and the extent to which there is fragmentation, overlap, or duplication; (2) the extent to which DOD has a comprehensive approach for managing and overseeing its urgent needs activities; and (3) the extent to which DOD has evaluated the potential for consolidations. To conduct this review, GAO examined DOD's urgent needs processes and collected and analyzed data from urgent needs entities.

Over the past two decades, the fulfillment of urgent needs has evolved as a set of complex processes within the Joint Staff, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, each of the military services, and the combatant commands to rapidly develop, equip, and field solutions and critical capabilities to the warfighter. GAO identified at least 31 entities that manage urgent needs and expedite the development of solutions to address them. Moreover, GAO found that some overlap exists. For example, there are numerous points of entry for the warfighter to submit a request for an urgently needed capability, including through the Joint Staff and each military service. Additionally, several entities have focused on developing solutions for the same subject areas, such as counter-IED and ISR capabilities, potentially resulting in duplication of efforts. For example, both the Army and the Marine Corps had their own separate efforts to develop counter-IED mine rollers. DOD has taken steps to improve its fulfillment of urgent needs, but the department does not have a comprehensive approach to manage and oversee the breadth of its activities to address capability gaps identified by warfighters in-theater. Steps DOD has taken include developing policy to guide joint urgent need efforts and working to establish a senior oversight council to help synchronize DOD's efforts. Federal internal control standards require detailed policies, procedures, and practices to help program managers achieve desired results through effective stewardship of public resources. However, DOD does not have a comprehensive, DOD-wide policy that establishes a baseline and provides a common approach for how all joint and military service urgent needs are to be addressed. Moreover, DOD lacks visibility over the full range of its urgent needs efforts. For example, DOD cannot readily identify the cost of its departmentwide urgent needs efforts, which is at least $76.9 billion based on GAO's analysis. Additionally, DOD does not have a senior-level focal point to lead the department's efforts to fulfill validated urgent needs requirements. Without DOD-wide guidance and a focal point to lead its efforts, DOD risks having duplicative, overlapping, and fragmented efforts, which can result in avoidable costs. DOD also has not comprehensively evaluated opportunities for consolidation across the department. GAO's Business Process Reengineering Assessment Guide establishes that such a comprehensive analysis of alternative processes should be performed, to include a performance-based, risk-adjusted analysis of benefits and costs for each alternative. In an effort to examine various ways the department might improve its fulfillment of urgent needs, GAO identified and analyzed several potential consolidation options, ranging from consolidation of all DOD urgent needs entities to more limited consolidation of key functions. Until DOD comprehensively evaluates its strategic direction on urgent needs, it will be unaware of opportunities for consolidation as well as opportunities for increased efficiencies in its fulfillment of urgent needs. GAO recommends that DOD develop comprehensive guidance that, among other things, defines roles, responsibilities, and authorities across the department and designates a focal point to lead urgent needs efforts. GAO also recommends that DOD evaluate potential options for consolidation. DOD concurred with the recommendations.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In August 2012, Department of Defense Directive (DODD) 5000.71 , "Rapid Fulfillment of Combatant Commander Urgent Operational Needs" was developed and promulgated. DODD 5000.71 establishes policy, assigns responsibilities, and provides direction to facilitate the rapid delivery of capabilities in response to urgent operation needs. The directive also establishes the Warfighter Senior Integration Group as a standing DOD-wide forum to lead and facilitate agile and rapid responses to combatant commander urgent operational needs. Additionally, in January 2015, DOD Instruction (DODI) 5000.02, "Operation of the Defense Acquisition System" was reissued. DODI 5000.02 now includes an enclosure that provides policy and procedure for acquisition programs that provide capabilities to fulfill urgent operational needs and other quick reaction capabilities.

    Recommendation: To promote a more comprehensive approach to planning, management, and oversight of the department's fulfillment of urgent operational needs, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics to develop and promulgate DOD-wide guidance across all urgent needs processes that establishes baseline policy for the fulfillment of urgent operational needs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In January 2012, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Instruction (CJCSI) 3170.01H established the Department-wide urgent operational needs definition as well as assigned roles and responsibilities for phases of the urgent needs process, including initiation and validation. To enable flexibility and decentralized action, the process and responsibilities for the initiation and validation of DOD Component urgent operational needs is delegated to the DOD Components. Additionally, in August 2012, Department of Defense Directive (DODD) 5000.71 , "Rapid Fulfillment of Combatant Commander Urgent Operational Needs" establishes policy, assigns responsibilities, and provides direction to facilitate the rapid delivery of capabilities in response to urgent operation needs. The directive also establishes the Warfighter Senior Integration Group as a standing DOD-wide forum to lead and facilitate agile and rapid responses to combatant commander urgent operational needs. Finally, in January 2015, DOD Instruction (DODI) 5000.02, "Operation of the Defense Acquisition System" was reissued. DODI 5000.02 now includes an enclosure that provides policy and procedure for acquisition programs that provide capabilities to fulfill urgent operational needs and other quick reaction capabilities.

    Recommendation: To promote a more comprehensive approach to planning, management, and oversight of the department's fulfillment of urgent operational needs, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics to develop and promulgate DOD-wide guidance across all urgent needs processes that clearly defines common terms as well as the roles, responsibilities, and authorities of the OSD, Joint Chiefs of Staff, combatant commands, and military services for all phases of the urgent needs process, including, but not limited to, generation, validation, funding, execution, tracking, and management of the transition, termination, or transfer process and that incorporates all available expedited acquisition procedures.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Overall, the Department of Defense Directive (DODD) 5000.71, 'Rapid Fulfillment of Combatant Commander Urgent Operational Needs,' issued in August 2012, addresses this recommendation. DODD 5000.71 established the Warfighter Senior Integration Group (SIG) chaired by the Deputy Secretary of Defense and Co-chaired by the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. They have subsequently delegated their chairmanships to the USD (AT&L) and Joint Staff, J-3, respectively. The Warfighter SIG is the focal point within the Department with the appropriate authority and resources to lead the Department's urgent needs efforts. According to this Directive, the Warfighter SIG's responsibilities include: the authority to prioritize and direct actions to meet urgent requirements and direct action to identify, develop, fund, acquire, field and sustain solutions; adjudicate issues concerning the fulfillment of validated urgent operational needs; review, monitor, and oversee efforts to provide rapid acquisition support to current or anticipated contingency operations; ensure reporting mechanisms are effectively communicating the highest priority warfighter needs to the requirements, resourcing, and acquisition communities; and to provide timely feedback on the performance of fielded solutions. Moreover, DOD reissued two additional policy documents, ensuring tools and mechanisms are used to track, monitor, and manage the status of urgent needs, including a formal feedback mechanism or channel for military services to provide feedback on how well fielded solutions met urgent needs. In January, 2012, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Instruction (CJCSI) 3170.01H, 'Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System (JCIDS)' included a requirement that for any rapidly fielded capability solutions, the original requirement sponsor will generate an assessment of operational utility for the capability solution within 90 days of initial fielding to facilitate transition, sustainment, or alternate approaches. In January 2015, DODD 5000.02, 'Operation of the Defense Acquisition System' (enclosure 13) included a requirement for formal feedback on how well fielded solutions meet urgent needs, stating that in collaboration with the original requirement sponsor, a post-fielding assessment will be conducted after deployment by the DOD Component on all capabilities fielded as urgent needs.

    Recommendation: To promote a more comprehensive approach to planning, management, and oversight of the department's fulfillment of urgent operational needs, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics to develop and promulgate DOD-wide guidance across all urgent needs processes that designates a focal point within the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (such as the Rapid Fielding Directorate, or other entity as deemed appropriate) with the appropriate authority and resources, dedicated to leading the department's urgent needs efforts, including, but not limited to: (1) acting as an advocate within the department for issues related to DOD's ability to rapidly respond to urgent needs; (2) improving visibility across all urgent needs entities and processes; and (3) ensuring tools and mechanisms are used to track, monitor, and manage the status of urgent needs, from validation through the transition, including a formal feedback mechanism or channel for military services to provide feedback on how well fielded solutions met urgent needs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In August 2012, Department of Defense Directive (DODD) 5000.71 , "Rapid Fulfillment of Combatant Commander Urgent Operational Needs" was developed and promulgated. DODD 5000.71 establishes policy, assigns responsibilities, and provides direction to facilitate the rapid delivery of capabilities in response to urgent operation needs. The directive also establishes the Warfighter Senior Integration Group as a standing DOD-wide forum to lead and facilitate agile and rapid responses to combatant commander urgent operational needs. Additionally, in January 2015, DOD Instruction (DODI) 5000.02, "Operation of the Defense Acquisition System" was reissued. DODI 5000.02 now includes an enclosure that provides policy and procedure for acquisition programs that provide capabilities to fulfill urgent operational needs and other quick reaction capabilities.

    Recommendation: To promote a more comprehensive approach to planning, management, and oversight of the department's fulfillment of urgent operational needs, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics to develop and promulgate DOD-wide guidance across all urgent needs processes that directs the DOD Components to establish minimum processes and requirements for each of the above phases of the process.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In February 2012, the Deputy Secretary of Defense directed a study be accomplished by the Warfighter Senior Integration Group (SIG) to determine what core Quick Reaction Capabilities (QRCs) should be retained to ensure the Department is prepared for future contingency operations. The QRC study was accomplished from March 2012 to July 2012 and the working group reviewed the various recommendations, best practices and reports that have been generated over the past decade to include GAO recommendations, as well as the study of the Deputy Chief Management Officer (DCMO) in response to this recommendation. The DCMO's review determined that overlap in functions and attributes identified in the various organizations provides legitimate depth that enhances the Department's ability to respond to Warfighter urgent operational needs by allowing for the development of multiple solutions to complex problems. However, the DCMO review also found that the various processes could be improved through improved process documentation and visibility across the QRC processes. The QCR study results and recommendations were made to the Deputy Secretary of Defense at a Deputy's Management Action Group in July 2012. As a result, in August 2012, DOD published Department of Defense Directive (DODD) 5000.71, "Rapid Fulfillment of Combatant Commander Urgent Operational Needs" to document the Department's urgent operational needs processes and to permanently establish the Warfighter SIG to lead and facilitate agile and rapid responses to Combatant Commander urgent operational needs.

    Recommendation: To promote a more comprehensive approach to planning, management, and oversight of the department's fulfillment of urgent operational needs, the Secretary of Defense should direct DOD's Chief Management Officer to evaluate potential options for consolidation to reduce overlap, duplication, and fragmentation, and take appropriate action.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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