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Highlights

The Department of Defense's (DOD) intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) systems--including manned and unmanned airborne, space-borne, maritime, and terrestrial systems--play critical roles in support of current military operations. Demand for ISR capabilities, including processing, exploitation, and dissemination, has increased dramatically. GAO was asked to (1) describe the challenges, if any, the military services and defense agencies face processing, exploiting, and disseminating the information collected by ISR systems and (2) determine the extent to which the military services and defense agencies have developed the capabilities required to share ISR information. GAO reviewed and analyzed documentation, guidance, and strategies of the military services and defense agencies in regard to processing, exploiting, and disseminating ISR data as well as information sharing capabilities. GAO also visited military units in Iraq and the United States to observe and discuss processing, exploitation, and dissemination conducted in both environments.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Defense 1. To improve the capabilities of the military services to share ISR information, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, in coordination with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force, to develop guidance, such as a concept of operations that provides overarching direction and priorities for sharing intelligence information across the defense intelligence community.
Closed - Implemented
DOD has taken actions that address the intent of our recommendation to develop guidance that provides overarching direction and priorities for sharing intelligence information. Specifically, DOD has developed overarching guidance through such actions as the completion of a Distributed Common Ground/Surface System Enterprise Concept of Operations and the establishing of the Defense Intelligence Information Enterprise Council. Additionally, the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence created a a meta-data management team to improve meta-data tagging, a key elemt of effective hsaring of intelligence information across the department. By developing the concept of operations and leveraging the work of the meta-data management team to provide guidance and metrics for the yearly assessment of information sharing across the department, DOD has fully addressed the intent of our recommendation. As a result of DOD's efforts, intelligence information sharing can improve in support of the warfighter.
Department of Defense 2. To improve the capabilities of the military services to share ISR information, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force to develop service-specific implementation plans, consistent with the concept of operations, which set timelines and outline the prioritization and types of ISR data they will share with the defense intelligence community through the DIB.
Closed - Implemented
The military services and the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence have addressed the intent of our recommendation to develop service-specific implementation plans that establish timelines and set priorities for sharing different types of intelligence data with the defense intelligence community. The Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence has provided guidance and metrics for the military services through the a yearly assessment process. The services now have specific timelines for evenly sharing specific types of ISR data. The military services have set priorities for the order in which different types of ISR data will be shared with the defense intelligence community. As a result of the services' individual information sharing progress and the department's efforts to promote an even approach of these efforts, the intent of our recommendation has been addressed. As a result of DOD and the services' efforts, the services are able to prioritize improvements in the types of intelligence information they are sharing and support overall improvements in the sharing of intelligence information within the department, which will improve intelligence information sharing in support of the warfighter.