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Highlights

Increasing combat demands and fiscal constraints make it critical for the Department of Defense (DOD) to ensure that its weapon system investments not only meet the needs of the warfighter, but make the most efficient use of available resources. GAO's past work has shown that achieving this balance has been a challenge and weapon programs have often experienced cost growth and delayed delivery to the warfighter. In 2003, DOD implemented the Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System (JCIDS) to prioritize and ensure that the warfighter's most essential needs are met. In response to Senate Report 109-69, GAO reported in March 2007 that DOD lacks an effective approach to balance its weapon system investments with available resources. This follow-on report focuses on (1) whether the JCIDS process has achieved its objective to prioritize joint warfighting needs and (2) factors that have affected DOD's ability to effectively implement JCIDS. To conduct its work, GAO reviewed JCIDS guidance and capability documents and budgetary and programming data on major weapon systems, and interviewed DOD officials.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Defense 1. The Secretary of Defense should direct the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to develop an analytic approach within JCIDS to better prioritize and balance the capability needs of the military services, COCOMs, and other defense components. The Joint Staff should consider whether current efforts--particularly, the capabilities prioritization project--should be adopted as a framework for this approach. The approach should also establish appropriate criteria and measures for identifying capability gaps and determining the relative importance of near-, mid-, and long-term capability needs. Ultimately, the approach should provide a means to review and validate proposals more efficiently and ensure that the most important capability needs of the department are being addressed.
Closed - Implemented
DOD partially concurred with this recommendation and revised both the JCIDS instruction and the associated guidance to specifically address the joint prioritization of capability needs. In January 2012, the JROC updated its operating manual and required that its subordinate bodies - the Functional Capabilities Boards - develop joint priorities for validated capability requirements, which could be used to inform DOD's annual program and budget review. The updated manual also created distinct processes for urgent (near-term) and emergent (mid-term) operational needs. Specifically, it established that urgent operational needs - related to ongoing contingency operations - are expected to be addressed within two years, and that emergent operational needs - related to anticipated contingency operations - are expected to be addressed within five years. The updated manual also established that urgent operational needs shall be staffed for validation within 15 calendar days, and that emergent operational needs shall be staffed for validation within 31 calendar days.
Department of Defense 2. The Secretary of Defense should determine and allocate appropriate resources for joint capabilities development planning. In so doing, the Secretary should consider whether the responsibility and capacity of the COCOMs and FCBs to conduct joint capabilities development planning should be increased, whether one or more of the functional COCOMs should be given the responsibility and capacity to conduct joint capabilities development planning, and whether resources currently residing within the military services for capabilities development planning should be shifted to the COCOMs and FCBs.
Closed - Implemented
DOD concurred with this recommendation, but asserted that the resources currently allocated for joint capabilities development planning are appropriate. DOD also has several initiatives to strengthen the involvement of the joint community in determining capability needs. For example, in September 2008, the JROC began to experiment with delegation of Joint Capability Board (JCB) requirements validation responsibility to functional combatant commands (COCOMS). Under this experiment, functional COCOMS are responsible for evaluating capabilities within their Joint Capability Area portfolios and, when appropriate, make recommendations to the Joint Requirements Oversight Council (JROC) regarding capability validation. Also, in October 2008, the JROC delegated JCB authority for command and control capabilities to Joint Forces Command. In 2009, DOD delegated responsibility for logistics topics to U.S. Transportation Command and authority for the management and approval of most special operations-specific capability documents to the U.S. Special Operations Command.

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