Defense Information Superiority:

Progress Made, but Significant Challenges Remain

NSIAD/AIMD-98-257: Published: Aug 31, 1998. Publicly Released: Aug 31, 1998.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Defense's (DOD) progress in implementing certain key information superiority activities to provide an indication of how well DOD is progressing toward its information superiority goals, focusing on DOD's progress in: (1) establishing a DOD-wide architecture for the information systems known as Command, Control, Communications, Computers (C4), Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) systems; (2) developing and implementing the Global Command Control System (GCCS); (3) establishing the Joint Tactical Radio Systems (JTRS); and (4) implementing recommendations of the Defense Science Board Task Force on Information Warfare-Defense.

GAO noted that: (1) DOD faces many challenges in achieving its information superiority goals and objectives and may need many years of concerted effort to reach them; (2) one of the key challenges is to complete the development of a C4ISR architecture, maintain it, and ensure that the many systems that make up the C4ISR infrastructure comply with the architecture; (3) without an established architecture and the ability to enforce its use, DOD will find it difficult to make cost-effective development and acquisition decisions and ensure that the systems work with each other, perform as expected, and are adequately protected; (4) DOD has been trying unsuccessfully to establish some form of Department-wide C4ISR architecture; (5) in the past 6 years DOD refocused its efforts and made progress by building Department-wide consensus on what should be accomplished by the architecture and how it should be built; (6) DOD also established the architectural component that defines technical standards for C4ISR systems; (7) the most important component, which defines the information needs that are the basis for setting system standards and acquiring and protecting systems, is not completed; (8) furthermore, plans for developing and implementing the remainder of the architecture are still being formulated; (9) DOD has been developing a number of critical C4ISR systems and information assurance measures without the benefit of a completed and approved architecture; (10) enforcing compliance with the C4ISR architecture will be an important factor in achieving information superiority; (11) DOD said that compliance with the architecture will be achieved through a combination of new and existing oversight organizations and processes; (12) however, DOD has had difficulty in achieving compliance with related C4ISR policies and decisions in the past; (13) in the absence of a C4ISR architecture, DOD has had mixed success in developing and fielding GCCS, its premier strategic C4ISR system; (14) although some of its features are well liked by users, GCCS has encountered problems; (15) it also has potential year 2000 problems that could cause systems failure; (16) DOD officials told GAO that the Department has suspended development of the JTRS program until Congress approves and funds the program; and (17) to meet interim needs, DOD has allowed the services to acquire a limited number of service-unique radios until the joint radios become available.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Matters for Congressional Consideration

    Matter: Congress may wish to take DOD's progress into consideration when deliberating the authorization and funding of C4ISR systems.

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD now calls the C4ISR architecture the Global Information Grid, which has been partially implemented. The initial thrust has been on development of policies and procedures, but not all policies are in place. The National Defense Authorization Act for the Year 2001, also requires that the Secretary of Defense report to Congress on: (1) the development and implementation of network warfare concepts and activities, and how DOD will ensure these activities are consistent with network centric warfare and information superiority; (2) the roles and responsibilities of the DOD in defending against attacks on critical infrastructure and critical information-based systems; and (3) actions taken to integrate various capabilities into this defense.

    Matter: In such reports, Congress may wish to require DOD to describe its progress in: (1) completing and maintaining the C4ISR architecture, including progress toward established milestones; (2) establishing information assurance and its compliance with the architecture; and (3) developing and implementing key C4ISR systems, such as GCCS and JTRS, and the ways and degree to which they are complying with the architecture and information assurance requirements.

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD now calls the C4ISR architecture the Global Information Grid, which has been partially implemented. The initial thrust has been on development of policies and procedures, but not all policies are in place. The National Defense Authorization Act for the Year 2001, also requires that the Secretary of Defense report to Congress on: (1) the development and implementation of network warfare concepts and activities, and how DOD will ensure these activities are consistent with network centric warfare and information superiority; (2) the roles and responsibilities of the DOD in defending against attacks on critical infrastructure and critical information-based systems; and (3) actions taken to integrate various capabilities into this defense.

    Matter: Congress may wish to consider having DOD report, in conjunction with annual budget requests, on the progress being made Department-wide in implementing the information superiority concept and its attendant key C4ISR systems development and acquisitions.

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD now calls the C4ISR architecture the Global Information Grid, which has been partially implemented. The initial thrust has been on development of policies and procedures, but not all policies are in place. The National Defense Authorization Act for the Year 2001, also requires that the Secretary of Defense report to Congress on: (1) the development and implementation of network warfare concepts and activities, and how DOD will ensure these activities are consistent with network centric warfare and information superiority; (2) the roles and responsibilities of the DOD in defending against attacks on critical infrastructure and critical information-based systems; and (3) actions taken to integrate various capabilities into this defense.

    Matter: Rather than establishing a separate reporting requirement, Congress may wish to have DOD modify the reports it already provides to include the information GAO suggests.

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD now calls the C4ISR architecture the Global Information Grid, which has been partially implemented. The initial thrust has been on development of policies and procedures, but not all policies are in place. The National Defense Authorization Act for the Year 2001, also requires that the Secretary of Defense report to Congress on: (1) the development and implementation of network warfare concepts and activities, and how DOD will ensure these activities are consistent with network centric warfare and information superiority; (2) the roles and responsibilities of the DOD in defending against attacks on critical infrastructure and critical information-based systems; and (3) actions taken to integrate various capabilities into this defense.

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: A consideration the Secretary of Defense should give to achieving compliance is to ensure that architecture compliance is incorporated into DOD's planning, programming, and budgeting process and C4ISR systems funding decisions.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD now calls the C4ISR architecture the Global Information Grid. On March 31, 2000, DOD published overarching guidance defining the major policy principles and associated responsibilities for the GIG. Also on March 31, 2000, DOD established a DOD Chief Information Officer Executive Board as the principal DOD forum to advise the DOD CIO on all matters pertaining to the GIG. In addition, on June 16, 2000, DOD issued Guidance and Policy for GIG Information Assurance (IA) to provide a framework for achieving IA. Finally, DOD has issued a series of guidance documents to implement the GIG.

    Recommendation: To enhance DOD's ability to achieve its information superiority goals and objectives, the Secretary of Defense should ensure the C4ISR management structure has sufficient authority to enforce compliance with the C4ISR architecture and is effective in achieving that compliance.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD now calls the C4ISR architecture the Global Information Grid. On March 31, 2000, DOD published overarching guidance defining the major policy principles and associated responsibilities for the GIG. Also on March 31, 2000, DOD established a DOD Chief Information Officer Executive Board as the principal DOD forum to advise the DOD CIO on all matters pertaining to the GIG. In addition, on June 16, 2000, DOD issued Guidance and Policy for GIG Information Assurance (IA) to provide a framework for achieving IA. Finally, DOD has issued a series of guidance documents to implement the GIG.

    Recommendation: To enhance DOD's ability to achieve its information superiority goals and objectives, the Secretary of Defense should establish milestones for completing the C4ISR architecture and information assurance program.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD now calls the C4ISR architecture the Global Information Grid. On March 31, 2000, DOD published overarching guidance defining the major policy principles and associated responsibilities for the GIG. Also on March 31, 2000, DOD established a DOD Chief Information Officer Executive Board as the principal DOD forum to advise the DOD CIO on all matters pertaining to the GIG. In addition, on June 16, 2000, DOD issued Guidance and Policy for GIG Information Assurance (IA) to provide a framework for achieving IA. Finally, DOD has issued a series of guidance documents to implement the GIG. The Defense Authorization Act for the Year 2001 also requires that the Secretary of Defense report to Congress on: (1) the roles and responsibilities of the DOD in defending against attacks on critical infrastructure and critical information-based systems; and (2) actions taken to integrate various capabilities into this defense.

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