Special Access Programs:

DOD Criteria and Procedures for Creating Them Need Improvement

NSIAD-88-152: Published: May 24, 1988. Publicly Released: May 24, 1988.

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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO reviewed the Department of Defense's (DOD) criteria and approval procedures for establishing special access programs.

GAO found that DOD: (1) lacked a clear definition of special access programs; (2) could not determine how many such programs existed; (3) inconsistently applied criteria for establishing such programs; (4) cited program sensitivity for establishing special access status without demonstrating the inadequacy of normal security measures; (5) had no centralized office with cognizance of all special access programs; (6) did not maintain a list of all special access programs, citing security reasons; (7) conducted only limited oversight of special access programs; and (8) had obtained increased funding for special access programs between 1980 and 1988. GAO believes that, although DOD and its individual military departments have improved their special access program establishment and management to some extent, DOD could further improve its compliance with the applicable regulations and maintain a systematic record to demonstrate adequate implementation of DOD requirements.

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