Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance:

Actions Are Needed to Increase Integration and Efficiencies of DOD's ISR Enterprise

GAO-11-465: Published: Jun 3, 2011. Publicly Released: Jun 3, 2011.

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The success of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) systems in collecting, processing, and disseminating intelligence information has fueled demand for ISR support, and the Department of Defense (DOD) has significantly increased its investments in ISR capabilities since combat operations began in 2001. In fiscal year 2010, intelligence community spending --including for ISR--exceeded $80 billion. Section 21 of Public Law 111-139 mandated that GAO identify programs, agencies, offices, and initiatives with duplicative goals and activities. This report examines the extent to which: (1) DOD manages and oversees the full scope and cost of the ISR enterprise; (2) DOD has sought to identify and minimize the potential for any unnecessary duplication in program, planning, and operations for ISR; and (3) DOD's ISR Integration Roadmap addresses key congressionally directed management elements and guidance.

The Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence (USD[I]) has the authority to oversee DOD's ISR enterprise; however, the broad scope and complex funding arrangements of DOD's ISR enterprise make it difficult to manage and oversee. The scope of the ISR enterprise and capabilities include many different kinds of activities conducted by multiple agencies. As a result, ISR activities may be funded through any of several sources, including the Military Intelligence Program, the National Intelligence Program, overseas contingency operations funding, and military service funds. To manage DOD's large ISR enterprise, the USD(I) serves as DOD's senior intelligence official, responsible for providing strategic, budget, and policy oversight over DOD's ISR enterprise. However, the USD(I) does not have full visibility into several budget sources that fund DOD's ISR enterprise, such as national intelligence capabilities, dual use assets, urgent operational needs, and military personnel expenses related to ISR. The USD(I)'s inability to gain full visibility and clarity into all of DOD's ISR financial resources hinders efforts to develop an investment strategy for ISR and to achieve efficiencies. DOD has developed general guidance in directives and other documents emphasizing the need to identify efficiencies and eliminate duplication or redundancies in its capabilities, which provides a foundation for further action. In August 2010, the Secretary of Defense directed that the department begin a series of efficiency initiatives to reduce duplication, overhead, and excess. However, the scope of the review pertaining to ISR was limited to analysis activities and excluded activities associated with collecting ISR data--one of the largest areas of growth in ISR spending. Additionally, two ISR efficiency initiatives are in the early stages of development and do not have implementation goals and timelines. Without goals and timelines, it will be difficult to determine whether these initiatives will make progress in achieving efficiencies. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004 required DOD to develop a roadmap to guide the development and integration of DOD ISR capabilities over a 15-year period and report to Congress on the contents of the roadmap, such as goals and an investment strategy to prioritize resources. DOD responded to both of these requirements by issuing an ISR roadmap. GAO's review of DOD's 2007 and 2010 ISR roadmaps found that DOD has made progress in addressing the issues that Congress directed to be included, but the 2007 and 2010 roadmaps did not address certain management elements identified by Congress. In 2008, Congress restated the 2004 requirements and provided additional guidance to the USD(I). However, the 2010 roadmap still does not represent an integrated investment strategy across the department because it does not clearly address capability gaps or priorities across the enterprise and still lacks investment information. Until DOD develops an integrated ISR investment strategy, the defense and intelligence communities may continue to make independent decisions and use resources that are not necessarily based on strategic priorities. GAO recommends that DOD compile and aggregate complete ISR funding data, establish implementation goals and timelines for its efficiency efforts, and give priority to examining efficiency in ISR collection activities. DOD agreed or partially agreed with these GAO recommendations. GAO also suggests that Congress consider holding DOD accountable to address required elements of the ISR roadmap.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Congress did not decide to amend current legislative language regarding the ISR Roadmap.

    Matter: To ensure that future versions of the ISR Integration Roadmap meet all of the elements of an integrated ISR roadmap identified in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004 as well as the 2008 House of Representatives Committee on Armed Services report, Congress may wish to consider establishing additional accountability in legislation, such as conditioning a portion of ISR funding on completion of all congressionally directed management elements, including the development of an integrated ISR investment strategy.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD did not provide any information regarding how the department was taking action to implement this recommendation.

    Recommendation: To improve management of DOD's ISR enterprise and increase its ability to achieve efficiencies, the Secretary of Defense should direct the USD(I) to collect and aggregate complete financial data--including information on dual-use assets, urgent operational needs, capability funding from multiple sources, and military personnel funding--to inform resource and investment decisions.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Open

    Comments: DOD originally planned to issue a strategy and roadmap for the Defense Intelligence Information Enterprise by May 2012 that would establish goals and timelines for implementation of a defense intelligence architecture. However, DOD did not issue this strategy and roadmap and instead planned to develop a broader ISR Integration Roadmap that will incorporate the previously envisioned strategy and roadmap for the Defense Intelligence Information Enterprise. DOD projected that the broader ISR Integration Roadmap will be delivered to Congress in the spring of 2013; however as of September 2014 this roadmap had not been completed. DOD stated that it plans to complete this roadmap later in 2014.

    Recommendation: To improve management of DOD's ISR enterprise and increase its ability to achieve efficiencies, the Secretary of Defense should direct the USD(I) to establish goals and timelines to ensure progress and accountability for design and implementation of its defense intelligence enterprise architecture, including clarifying how the department plans to use the architecture and tools it is developing to achieve efficiencies.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD has suspended its department-wide program of initiatives to achieve efficiencies.

    Recommendation: To improve management of DOD's ISR enterprise and increase its ability to achieve efficiencies, the Secretary of Defense should direct the USD(I) to expand the scope of current efficiency efforts to include ISR collection activities.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Open

    Comments: DOD is developing a Defense Intelligence Information Enterprise Framework, which is intended to enable the interoperability of ISR information systems architecture, identify future cost avoidance for the entire Defense Intelligence Information Enterprise, and optimize security in an increasingly hostile threat environment. DOD plans to start using this architecture in the near future.

    Recommendation: To identify efficiencies in ISR capability development, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the USD(I) to collaborate in developing decision support tool(s), such as the Joint Staff's decision support tool, and to establish implementation goals and timelines for completion of such efforts.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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