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Highlights

The Department of Defense (DOD) is experiencing a growing demand for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) assets to provide vital information in support of military operations. Over the next 7 years, DOD plans to invest over $28 billion in existing and new airborne ISR acquisition systems. This represents a marked increase over prior ISR investments. Given the significant investments, GAO was asked to (1) evaluate various ISR platforms for potential synergies and assess their cost and schedule status and the impact of any increases or delays on legacy systems and (2) assess the effectiveness of ISR investment decisions. To assess cost and schedule status, we reviewed programmatic and budget documentation. To evaluate investment decisions, we collected information on system capability, mission, and concept of operation and analyzed the data for similarities.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Defense 1. While DOD has numerous ISR studies, either recently completed or ongoing, there have been no substantive actions recently implemented to gain greater jointness in ISR acquisition programs. Therefore, DOD should develop and implement an integrated enterprise-level investment strategy approach that is based on a joint assessment of warfighting needs and a full set of potential and viable alternative solutions, considering cross-service solutions including new acquisitions and modifications to legacy systems within realistic and affordable budget projections for DOD. This strategy should draw on the results of ongoing studies, like the portfolio management pilot program, but should include the necessary authority and controls needed to ensure a single point of accountability for resource decisions.
Closed - Implemented
In February 2010, the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence released the second Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) Roadmap. This latest version included a funding profile for some of the capabilities.
Department of Defense 2. While DOD has numerous ISR studies, either recently completed or ongoing, there have been no substantive actions recently implemented to gain greater jointness in ISR acquisition programs. Therefore, DOD should report to the defense committees by August 1, 2007, the results of the ISR studies and identify the specific plans and actions needed and intended to make joint acquisition decisions in ISR programs and improve the way it plans, buys, organizes, manages, and executes its ISR acquisition programs and operations.
Closed - Not Implemented
DOD concurred with the recommendation but non-concurred with the date GAO proposed and suggested delaying the date by four months. The Air Force issued its 2008 Strategy for United States Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance in July 2008. The strategy describes an overarching plan for integrating people, equipment, processes, and investments within the Air Force. With regard to investment, the plan calls for increasing investments in 14 capabilities, decreasing investments in one capability, and maintaining level investments in three capabilities. The plan does not tie dollar amounts to named systems. In December 2008, the Defense Science Board issued its Final Report of the Joint Defense Science Board (DSB) and Intelligence Science Board (ISB) Task Force on Integrating Sensor-Collected Intelligence. The report had two recommendations designed to improve access to the data already available from myriad ISR assets. The DODIG and OSD (AT&L) were not able to determine whether the reports were provided to the defense committees. Furthermore, neither report included specific plans and actions to facilitate joint acquisitions or improve the way DOD executes its ISR acquisition programs. Therefore, this recommendation should be closed, but not implemented.

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