The World Wide Military Command and Control System--Major Changes Needed in Its Automated Data Processing Management and Direction

LCD-80-22: Published: Dec 14, 1979. Publicly Released: Dec 14, 1979.

Additional Materials:


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

The World Wide Military Command and Control System (WWMCCS) is an arrangement of personnel, equipment, communications, facilities, and procedures employed in planning, directing, coordinating, and controlling the operational activities of U.S. military forces. WWMCCS and its priority component, the National Military Command System, are essential elements of U.S. national security. WWMCCS is intended to provide the President and the Secretary of Defense a means to receive warning and intelligence information, apply the resources of the military departments, assign military missions, provide direction to the Unified and Specified Commands, and support the Joint Chiefs of Staff in carrying out their responsibilities. An evaluation focused on the WWMCCS automatic data processing (ADP) program. The WWMCCS ADP program, consisting of data communication lines, an intercomputer network, computers, and software capabilities, is an essential resource that can enable WWMCCS to achieve its intended purpose. To properly support the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the equipment must be compatible, data communication links must provide a direct connection (or real-time relay) whenever necessary, computerized data formats must be common, and all components of the system configuration and operation must be as efficient as possible.

The objectives of the WWMCCS ADP program had not yet been achieved, although about $1 billion had been spent since the start of the current program in 1966. The management structure was so complex and fragmented that no one organization or individual had a complete overview of the program or the centralized responsibility for its funding, budgeting, and management. As a result, the WWMCCS ADP program was not responsive to national or local level requirements, was not reliable, lacked economical and effective growth potential, could not transfer data and information efficiently, made it extremely difficult and costly to exploit ADP technology, impaired each command's operational backup capability, and encouraged independent and decentralized software development efforts. The Department of Defense (DOD) recognized all of these problems in 1966; the current WWMCCS ADP program was intended to resolve them. The problems occurred because the DOD WWMCCS ADP program specification preparation and evaluation process resulted in the selection of a computer configuration and related software that was not suited for the environment in which it was to operate, and DOD failed to define the information requirements of the various commanders comprising the WWMCCS community properly and clearly.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Matter: To encourage DOD to make the needed changes in the WWMCCS ADP program management structure and direction, the Congress should consider reducing WWMCCS funding by (1) withholding funds for completion of the study to determine the operational utility of ADP in support of WWMCCS; (2) withholding funds for the WWMCCS Intercomputer Network until DOD completes its determination of the information needed by the various commands to support their command and control functions; and (3) withholding funds intended to upgrade the current WWMCCS standard computer system until DOD identifies the configuration that will replace it.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should give project management authority and responsibility for all WWMCCS and WWMCCS-related, computer-based information systems to one central organization. The designated central organization should be given the authority and responsibility for: (1) determining the information requirements of the various commands which must use and rely on WWMCCS computer-based information systems to accomplish assigned missions, including the National Military Command System; (2) preparing comprehensive long- and short-range plans for the design, development, implementation, and operation of computer-based information systems that are responsive to and reliable for the WWMCCS primary and secondary missions; (3) implementing a DOD Directive on life cycle management and other sound management practices as reflected in directives for all WWMCCS-related, computer-based information systems; (4) developing and implementing a system that provides a basis for tracking actual costs incurred for designing, developing, implementing, and operating computer-based information systems in support of the WWMCCS missions; and (5) simplifying the exchange of information throughout the various commands.

    Agency Affected:


Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Mar 14, 2018

Jan 30, 2018

Jan 10, 2018

Nov 21, 2017

Nov 15, 2017

Nov 7, 2017

Oct 4, 2017

Sep 18, 2017

Sep 6, 2017

Looking for more? Browse all our products here