Warfighter Support:

DOD Needs Strategic Outcome-Related Goals and Visibility over Its Counter-IED Efforts

GAO-12-280: Published: Feb 22, 2012. Publicly Released: Feb 22, 2012.

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What GAO Found

As the responsible DOD agency for leading, advocating, and coordinating all DOD efforts to defeat improvised explosive devices (IED) the Joint IED Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) was directed to develop DOD’s counter-IED strategic plan in February 2006 under DOD Directive 2000.19E. As previously recommended by GAO, JIEDDO has made several attempts to develop such a plan, but its strategic-planning actions have not followed leading strategic-management practices or have since been discontinued. For example, JIEDDO’s 2007 strategic plan did not contain a means of measuring its performance outcomes—a leading strategic-management practice. In addition, JIEDDO’s 2009–2010 strategic plan contained performance measures, but JIEDDO discontinued using these measures because it later determined that the measures were not relevant to the organization’s goals. Although DOD tasked JIEDDO to develop its counter-IED strategic plan, DOD has not translated DOD’s counter-IED general mission objective of eliminating IEDs as a weapon of strategic influence into actionable goals and objectives. JIEDDO issued a new counter-IED strategic plan in January 2012; however, the new plan does not apply to all other counter-IED efforts departmentwide, only to those managed by JIEDDO. Consequently, JIEDDO’s new strategic plan alone will not provide the means necessary for determining the effectiveness of all counter-IED efforts across DOD. Further, as JIEDDO implements its plan, it will continue to face difficulty measuring effectiveness until DOD establishes and provides results-oriented goals to accompany its general mission objective. Without actionable goals and objectives established by DOD, JIEDDO and other DOD components cannot tie individual performance measures to DOD’s desired outcomes. As a result, DOD and external stakeholders will be left without a comprehensive, data-driven assessment as to whether their counter-IED efforts are achieving DOD’s mission and will not be informed about the overall effectiveness of its counter-IED efforts or use of resources as they relate to DOD’s mission.

DOD has not fully identified its counter-IED initiatives and activities, and as a result is not able to effectively coordinate these efforts across DOD. In attempting to develop a comprehensive database, as previously recommended by GAO, JIEDDO has used at least three systems to collect and record complete information on DOD’s counter-IED efforts but discontinued each of them for reasons including lack of timeliness, comprehensiveness, or cost. For example, beginning in 2009, JIEDDO pursued Technology Matrix as a possible counter-IED database for all efforts within the DOD. However, JIEDDO discontinued support for Technology Matrix as a database since DOD did not require all relevant organizations to provide information to JIEDDO, and therefore it was not comprehensive. Without an automated means for comprehensively capturing data on all counter-IED efforts, the military services may be unaware of potential overlap, duplication, or fragmentation. For example, GAO identified six systems that DOD components developed to emit energy to neutralize IEDs, and DOD spent about $104 million collectively on these efforts, which could be duplicative because the military services did not collaborate on these efforts. Given the lack of a DOD-wide counter-IED database, other efforts may be overlapping.

Why GAO Did This Study

Over $18 billion has been appropriated to the Joint Improvised Explosive Device (IED) Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) to address the improvised explosive device (IED) threat, and there is widespread consensus that this threat will continue to be influential in future conflicts. DOD established the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) in 2006 to lead, advocate, and coordinate all DOD actions in support of the combatant commanders’ and their respective joint task forces’ efforts to defeat IEDs. This report, one in a series on JIEDDO’s management and operations, addresses the extent to which DOD (1) has provided a comprehensive counter-IED strategic plan including measurable objectives that determine the effectiveness of efforts across DOD to combat IEDs, and (2) has identified counter-IED initiatives and activities, and coordinated these efforts. To address these objectives GAO reviewed counter-IED efforts from fiscal years 2006 through 2011, reviewed and analyzed relevant strategic-planning documents, collected and reviewed data identifying DOD counter-IED efforts, and met with DOD and service officials.

What GAO Recommends

GAO recommends four actions for DOD to develop a comprehensive strategic plan with strategic outcome-related goals and a complete listing of counter-IED efforts to maximize its resources. DOD concurred with one of the recommendations but did not concur with three. GAO continues to believe that its recommendations are warranted as discussed in the report.

For more information, contact Cary B. Russell at (404) 679-1808 or russellc@gao.gov.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD has taken action to more precisely define outcome related goals for its Counter-Improvised Explosive Device (IED) mission. The general goal DOD established in its Directive 2000.19E--for JIEDDO to lead, advocate, and coordinate all DOD actions and efforts to defeat IEDs as a weapon of strategic influence--is now supplemented by a defined set of six enduring counter-lED capabilities and eighteen supporting operational tasks. These capabilities and tasks were delineated in a January 2013 Joint Requirements Oversight Council memo resulting from a DOD-wide review of counter-IED capabilities. For example, one needed capability defined in the memorandum--Identify Threat Networks that Employ and/or Facilitate IEDs--has three defined operational tasks identified:(1) Identify network activities (2) Capture, catalog & identify IED and component signatures, and (3) Collect and analyze biometric, forensic and DOMEX. The identified enduring C-IED capabilities were derived from Joint Capability Areas with strong influence from lessons learned over years of conflict with the adaptive enemy DOD has faced. The memorandum specifies that DOD must sustain and continue to enhance these capabilities in order to conduct Counter Terrorism, Irregular Warfare, and Security Force Assistance activities.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Deputy Secretary of Defense, who is responsible for direction and control of JIEDDO, to define outcome-related strategic goals associated with DOD's counter-IED mission to enable the development of measures of effectiveness that will help to determine progress of DOD's counter-IED efforts.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Open

    Comments: JIEDDO is working to develop goals and metrics to gauge its progress in the strategic management of its operations. However, in an August 2013 memorandum to the Secretary of Defense, JIEDDO reported limitations in its ability to fully assess the effectiveness of its counter-IED initiatives individually. JIEDDO initially reported this issue as a material internal control weakness in 2010, and has subsequently worked to improve tracking and measuring the effectiveness of its counter-IED initiatives against mission-oriented outcomes. To that end, JIEDDO recently adopted a new system called "Checkpoint" to track and record progress and outcomes for each of its initiatives, with all initiatives now subject to recurring assessments. JIEDDO is currently conducting an internal review to validate the effectiveness of its new system with a target completion and closure of this internal control weakness in mid-fiscal year 2014. Once the Checkpoint system is validated as fully implemented, all counter-IED initiatives, including Training and Science & Technology initiatives will be evaluated using assessment methodology scoring guidance that JIEDDO has developed for evaluating its counter-IED initiatives. According to JIEDDO officials, with the individual counter-IED initiative assessments done, JIEDDO leadership will be able to identify unacceptable high risk acquisition plans and make sound decisions regarding the efficacy and continuance of each counter-IED initiative. However, it is not yet clear how these individual initiatives assessments will link to the broader outcome-related strategic goals.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Deputy Secretary of Defense, who is responsible for direction and control of JIEDDO, to assess JIEDDO's recently completed strategic plan and its implementation to ensure that it (1) incorporates outcome-related strategic goals, (2) includes sufficient measures of effectiveness to gauge progress, and (3) uses the data collected from these metrics to adjust its counter-IED efforts, as needed.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The intent of our recommendation was met when DOD completed development of its database for identifying and recording counter-IED efforts across DOD. JIEDDO developed and maintains the database using a multi-pronged approach to capture comprehensive data on counter-IED efforts department-wide. The approach JIEDDO uses consists of capturing information derived from: (1) its own historic and ongoing counter-IED initiatives; (2) DOD agency contacts other than JIEDDO; (3) queries to existing DOD information systems that are open and available to JIEDDO; (4) GAO's list of potential counter-IED initiatives taken from its own DOD-wide survey; and (5) counter-IED initiatives identified through a February 2012 Joint Staff data call to all DOD components to identify DOD's portfolio of counter-IED efforts. The Joint Staff conducted the data call to support efforts to identify the enduring C-IED capabilities needed by the Department. Subsequently, in January 2013, DOD's Joint Requirements Oversight Council issued a memorandum making the department-wide data call for counter-IED initiatives an annual requirement. According to JIEDDO officials, the annual data call results will continue to feed into JIEDDO's data base, thereby corroborating counter-IED initiatives JIEDDO identifies through the other means described above and ensuring that its database is comprehensive.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Deputy Secretary of Defense, who is responsible for direction and control of JIEDDO, to develop an implementation plan for the establishment of DOD's counter- IED database including a detailed timeline with milestones to help achieve this goal.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DoD implemented procedures that meet the intent of this recommendation. JIEDDO has developed a process to analyze counter-IED initiative alternatives to consider whether overlap is present in counter-IED efforts. After updating its database with the counter-IED initiatives identified as a result of a February 2012 DOD-wide data call to identify DOD's portfolio of counter-IED efforts, JIEDDO began a portfolio review when determining whether or not to validate a requirement presented to JIEDDO for resourcing consideration. The process within JIEDDO compares "like" capabilities to the requested requirement to determine if there is duplication and overlap. If there is any duplication, a strong argument must be made for why the requested capability exceeds that of the existing one to move it forward for consideration. If the requirement is validated, the selected solution and portfolio review is presented to the Services and key stakeholders in a series of JIEDDO boards to obtain external inputs and concerns prior to funding the effort. This process ensures transparency and that the selected solution is fully vetted before being funded by JIEDDO. As a result of this process, JIEDDO has rejected counter-IED initiative proposals from the Services and Combatant Commands due to unnecessary duplication. JIEDDO reports that applying this procedure has resulted in $313 million in counter-IED initiative cost savings since GAO made its recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Deputy Secretary of Defense, who is responsible for direction and control of JIEDDO, to develop a process to use DOD's counter-IED database once it is established to identify and compare all counter-IED initiatives and activities, to enable program monitoring, and reduce any duplication, overlap, and fragmentation among counter-IED initiatives.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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