Defense Intelligence:

Additional Steps Could Better Integrate Intelligence Input into DOD's Acquisition of Major Weapon Systems

GAO-17-10: Published: Nov 1, 2016. Publicly Released: Nov 1, 2016.

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What GAO Found

The Department of Defense (DOD) has developed certifications and training for acquisition and intelligence personnel, but it does not have certifications for certain personnel who provide intelligence support to acquisition programs. These personnel help integrate threat information on foreign capabilities and intelligence mission data—technical intelligence such as radar signatures and geospatial mapping data—into acquisition programs. DOD uses certifications to determine that an employee has necessary education, training, and experience. The lack of certifications for personnel providing intelligence support to acquisition programs has led to the services developing varying levels of training: the Air Force certifies and requires training specific to providing intelligence support, the Army offers training that is not required, and the Navy has no formal training. Without certifications for personnel providing intelligence support to acquisition programs, DOD does not have assurance that these personnel are prepared to carry out their duties.

DOD has multiple efforts underway to improve processes and procedures for integrating intelligence into its acquisitions but does not require prioritization of intelligence mission data, which would identify those data most needed for a weapon system to perform its mission. A task force DOD created in 2015 to better integrate intelligence into acquisition programs identified the need for prioritization and proposed processes and procedures for doing so. Without department-wide requirements to prioritize intelligence mission data, new processes and procedures such as those developed by the task force may not be fully implemented and weapon systems could be deployed without the intelligence mission data they need to perform their missions.

DOD is developing two tools for integrating intelligence into major defense acquisition programs. One tool to share threat information lacks a communication plan to obtain feedback from users to better ensure its effectiveness. Without user feedback, DOD may not receive useful information to develop the tool. The other tool is for acquisition programs to communicate their intelligence needs to the intelligence community, though the services did not identify a need for the tool and there is no mechanism to fund its implementation and operation. Without assessing the need for such a tool or plans or funding for implementation and operation, DOD may be using funds unnecessarily to develop an unneeded tool.

Examples of Intelligence Mission Data

Examples of Intelligence Mission Data

Why GAO Did This Study

DOD has reported that it expects to invest $1.6 trillion on acquiring 80 major defense acquisition programs, many of which depend on intelligence input both during the acquisition process and to effectively perform missions once deployed. The complexity of advanced weapon systems, such as the F-35, is creating increasing demand for intelligence mission data—such as radar signatures—for sensors and processes supporting warfighters.

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 includes a provision that GAO review intelligence integration into DOD acquisitions. This report evaluates, for major defense acquisition programs, the extent to which DOD has (1) processes and procedures for certifying and training personnel providing intelligence input into acquisition programs; (2) efforts to improve processes and procedures for integrating intelligence into its acquisitions; and (3) efforts to develop tools to integrate intelligence into its acquisitions. GAO compared certification and training to relevant guidance; reviewed relevant documents to identify intelligence inputs and the provision of intelligence input into acquisition programs; and interviewed cognizant officials.

What GAO Recommends

GAO recommends DOD create certifications and training for intelligence support personnel, require that intelligence mission data be prioritized, develop a communication plan for a threat information tool, and determine the need to develop another tool. DOD concurred with GAO's recommendations.

For more information, contact Joseph W. Kirschbaum at (202) 512-9971 or kirschbaumj@gao.gov.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Open

    Comments: DOD agreed with the recommendation. Once DOD has provided information on actions to address the recommendation we will update the status.

    Recommendation: To enhance DOD's efforts to better integrate and improve intelligence support to major defense acquisition programs, and to better enable personnel to provide intelligence inputs to their portfolios of acquisition programs, the Secretary of Defense should direct--as appropriate--the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics; the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence; and/or the Secretaries of the military departments, in coordination with one another, to establish certifications that include having these personnel complete required training.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Open

    Comments: DOD agreed with the recommendation. Once DOD has provided information on actions to address the recommendation we will update the status.

    Recommendation: To enhance DOD's efforts to better integrate and improve intelligence support to major defense acquisition programs, and to facilitate implementation of improved processes and procedures developed by the Acquisition Intelligence Requirements Task Force and by the Air Force for the integration of intelligence into major defense acquisition programs, the Secretary of Defense should direct--as appropriate--the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics; the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence; and/or the Secretaries of the military departments, in coordination with one another, to revise relevant guidance and procedures--including DOD Instruction 5000.02 and DOD Directive 5250.01-- require that intelligence mission data at the acquisition program, service, and department levels be prioritized.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Open

    Comments: DOD agreed with the recommendation. Once DOD has provided information on actions to address the recommendation we will update the status.

    Recommendation: To enhance DOD's efforts to better integrate and improve intelligence support to major defense acquisition programs, and to better ensure that DOD obtains useful feedback from stakeholders and the intended users of the Validated Online Lifecycle Threat tool, the Secretary of Defense should direct--as appropriate--the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics; the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence; and/or the Secretaries of the military departments, in coordination with one another, to instruct the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency to develop a communication plan for the tool that includes plans for communicating with and obtaining feedback from stakeholders and intended users such as acquisition program offices and personnel providing intelligence support to acquisition programs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Open

    Comments: DOD agreed with the recommendation. Once DOD has provided information on actions to address the recommendation we will update the status.

    Recommendation: To enhance DOD's efforts to better integrate and improve intelligence support to major defense acquisition programs, and to ensure that it fulfills the needs of acquisition programs and the intelligence community and works as intended, the Secretary of Defense should direct--as appropriate--the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics; the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence; and/or the Secretaries of the military departments, in coordination with one another, to assess the need for the Acquisition Intelligence Support Assessment tool and, if validated by this assessment, define this tool's requirements for development and identify the entity responsible for providing oversight and funding for its continued development, implementation, and operation.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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