DOD Business Systems Modernization:

Governance Mechanisms for Implementing Management Controls Need to Be Improved

GAO-12-685: Published: Jun 1, 2012. Publicly Released: Jun 1, 2012.

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What GAO Found

The Department of Defense (DOD) continues to take steps to comply with the provisions of the Ronald W. Reagan National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2005, as amended, and to satisfy relevant system modernization management guidance. While the department has initiated numerous activities aimed at addressing the act, it has been limited in its ability to demonstrate results. Specifically, the department

  • released its most recent business enterprise architecture version, which continues to address the act’s requirements and is consistent with the department’s future vision for developing its architecture. However, the architecture has not yet resulted in a streamlined and modernized business systems environment, in part, because DOD has not fully defined the roles, responsibilities, and relationships associated with developing and implementing the architecture.
  • included a range of information for 1,657 business system investments in its fiscal year 2013 budget submission; however, it does not reflect about 500 business systems, due in part to the lack of a reliable, comprehensive inventory of all defense business systems.
  • has not implemented key practices from GAO’s Information Technology Investment Management framework since GAO’s last review in 2011. In addition, while DOD has reported its intent to implement a new organizational structure and guidance to address statutory requirements, this structure and guidance have yet to be established. Further, DOD has begun to implement a business process reengineering review process but has not yet measured and reported results.
  • continues to describe certification actions in its annual report for its business system investments as required by the act—DOD approved 198 actions to certify, decertify, or recertify defense business system modernizations, which represented a total of $2.2 billion in modernization spending. However, the basis for these actions and subsequent approvals is supported with limited information, such as unvalidated architectural compliance assertions.
  • lacks the full complement of staff it identified as needed to perform business systems modernization responsibilities. Specifically, the office of the Deputy Chief Management Officer, which took over these responsibilities from another office in September 2011, reported that 41 percent of its positions were unfilled.

DOD’s progress in modernizing its business systems is limited, in part, by continued uncertainty surrounding the department’s governance mechanisms, such as roles and responsibilities of key organizations and senior leadership positions. Until DOD fully implements governance mechanisms to address these long-standing institutional modernization management controls provided for under the act, addressed in GAO recommendations, and otherwise embodied in relevant guidance; its business systems modernization will likely remain a high-risk program.

Why GAO Did This Study

For decades, DOD has been challenged in modernizing its business systems. Since 1995, GAO has designated DOD’s business systems modernization program as high risk, and it continues to do so today. To assist in addressing DOD’s business system modernization challenges, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2005 requires the department to take certain actions prior to obligating funds for covered systems. It also requires DOD to annually report to the congressional defense committees on these actions and for GAO to review each annual report. In response, GAO performed its annual review of DOD’s actions to comply with the act and related federal guidance. To do so, GAO reviewed, for example, the latest version of DOD’s business enterprise architecture, fiscal year 2013 budget submission, investment management policies and procedures, and certification actions for its business system investments.

What GAO Recommends

GAO recommends that the Secretary of Defense take steps to strengthen the department’s mechanisms for governing its business systems modernization activities. DOD concurred with two of GAO’s recommendations and partially concurred with one, but did not concur with the recommendation that it report progress on staffing the office responsible for business systems modernization to the congressional defense committees. GAO maintains that including staffing progress information in DOD’s annual report will facilitate congressional oversight and promote departmental accountability.

For more information, contact Valerie Melvin at (202) 512-6304 or melvinv@gao.gov.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: To facilitate congressional oversight and promote departmental accountability, the Secretary of Defense should ensure that the Deputy Secretary of Defense, as the department's Chief Management Officer, direct the Deputy Chief Management Officer to include in DOD's annual report to Congress on compliance with 10 U.S.C. § 2222, the results of the department's business process reengineering (BPR) efforts. Among other things, the results should include the department's determination of the number of systems that have undergone material process changes, the number of interfaces eliminated as part of these efforts (i.e., by program, by name), and the status of its end-to-end business process reengineering efforts.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Open

    Comments: The Office of the Deputy Chief Management Officer stated that measures such as the number of systems that have undergone material process changes, the number of interfaces eliminated, and the status of end-to-end business process reengineering efforts were not included in its annual report to Congress because the focus for this year was on establishing baseline portfolios. The department took steps to update its business process reengineering guidance in September 2012 and has begun to validate business process reengineering assertions on selected investments. However, the department has yet to demonstrate that it has identified and reported the results of its business process reengineering efforts.

    Recommendation: To ensure that DOD continues to implement the full range of institutional management controls needed to address its business systems modernization high-risk area, the Secretary of Defense should ensure that the Deputy Secretary of Defense, as the department's Chief Management Officer, establish a policy that clarifies the roles, responsibilities, and relationships among the Chief Management Officer, Deputy Chief Management Officer, DOD and military department Chief Information Officers, Principal Staff Assistants, military department Chief Management Officers, and the heads of the military departments and defense agencies, associated with the development of a federated business enterprise architecture (BEA). Among other things, the policy should address the development and implementation of an overarching taxonomy and associated ontologies to help ensure that each of the respective portions of the architecture will be properly linked and aligned. In addition, the policy should address alignment and coordination of business process areas, military department and defense agency activities associated with developing and implementing each of the various components of the BEA, and relationships among these entities.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Open

    Comments: The department stated that it has a number of policy and guidance documents currently under development to help clarify the roles and responsibilities associated with development of the BEA and enterprise architecture in general across DOD. For example, DOD has established a forum for discussing the development of the federated BEA and is currently working to establish a BEA Configuration Control Board charter, which is intended to document the roles and responsibilities for the review and approval of proposed BEA content. However, DOD has yet to demonstrate that these policy and guidance documents have been completed and issued.

    Recommendation: To facilitate congressional oversight and promote departmental accountability, the Secretary of Defense should ensure that the Deputy Secretary of Defense, as the department’s Chief Management Officer, direct the Deputy Chief Management Officer to include in DOD’s annual report to Congress on compliance with 10 U.S.C. § 2222, an update on the office of the DCMO’s progress toward filling staff positions and the impact of any unfilled positions on the ability of the office to conduct its work.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: To facilitate congressional oversight and promote departmental accountability, the Secretary of Defense should ensure that the Deputy Secretary of Defense, as the department’s Chief Management Officer, direct the Deputy Chief Management Officer to include in DOD’s annual report to Congress on compliance with 10 U.S.C. § 2222, the results of the department’s business process reengineering (BPR) efforts. Among other things, the results should include the department’s determination of the number of systems that have undergone material process changes, the number of interfaces eliminated as part of these efforts (i.e., by program, by name), and the status of its end-to-end business process reengineering efforts.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: To ensure that annual budget submissions are based on complete and accurate information, the Secretary of Defense should direct the appropriate DOD organizations to establish a deadline by which it intends to complete the integration of the repositories and validate the completeness and reliability of information.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Defense (DOD) has taken steps to address this recommendation. For example, the department has been working to integrate information contained in its system data repositories by developing and implementing the DOD Information Technology Investment Portal (DITIP). According to DOD documentation, the system is now the authoritative source for DOD header (i.e., basic) information about information technology (IT) systems and is to serve as a one stop source for all IT investment portfolio information. More specifically, the system will maintain a core database composed of common DOD IT Portfolio Repository (DITPR) and Select and Native Programming Data Input System - Information Technology (SNAP-IT) data elements as well as essential data elements required for initial registration of DOD IT systems (e.g., investment title, mission area, etc.). According to DOD documentation, efforts to establish the portal include addressing common data errors and integrating data between the portal and the DITPR and SNAP-IT system data repositories. In addition, DOD's Portfolio Certification Request Memorandum template includes language indicating that the component Pre-Certification Authority is to assert that information contained in DITPR, DITIP, and SNAP-IT has been verified to be complete and accurate prior to any system's certification to spend appropriated funds. However, DOD yet to establish a deadline by which it intends to validate the completeness and reliability of information contained in its systems.

    Recommendation: To ensure that DOD continues to implement the full range of institutional management controls needed to address its business systems modernization high-risk area, the Secretary of Defense should ensure that the Deputy Secretary of Defense, as the department’s Chief Management Officer, establish a policy that clarifies the roles, responsibilities, and relationships among the Chief Management Officer, Deputy Chief Management Officer, DOD and military department Chief Information Officers, Principal Staff Assistants, military department Chief Management Officers, and the heads of the military departments and defense agencies, associated with the development of a federated business enterprise architecture (BEA). Among other things, the policy should address the development and implementation of an overarching taxonomy and associated ontologies to help ensure that each of the respective portions of the architecture will be properly linked and aligned. In addition, the policy should address alignment and coordination of business process areas, military department and defense agency activities associated with developing and implementing each of the various components of the BEA, and relationships among these entities.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: To facilitate congressional oversight and promote departmental accountability, the Secretary of Defense should ensure that the Deputy Secretary of Defense, as the department's Chief Management Officer, direct the Deputy Chief Management Officer to include in DOD's annual report to Congress on compliance with 10 U.S.C. § 2222, an update on the office of the DCMO's progress toward filling staff positions and the impact of any unfilled positions on the ability of the office to conduct its work.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Open

    Comments: The Office of the Deputy Chief Management Officer provided an update to GAO on the numbers of positions filled and open. However, status on staffing and the impact of unfilled positions on the ability of the office to conduct its work have not yet been included in the annual report to Congress.

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