A Pentagon effort to develop a global network that connects all military services and Defense Department agencies could fail as a result of current procurement and funding policies, says the Government Accountability Office.
The Defense Department plans to spend up to $34 billion through 2011 on the so-called “global information grid.” The GIG is intended to provide Internet-like capabilities to Defense Department users worldwide. The Pentagon also intends to integrate existing systems into the GIG.
The department’s “decentralized management approach for the GIG is not optimized for the development of this type of joint effort, which depends on a high degree of coordination and cooperation,” writes Michael J. Sullivan, procurement director at GAO. “No one entity is clearly in charge of the GIG or equipped with the requisite authority, and no one entity is accountable for results.” The budgeting process, “which has tended to favor longer-term weapon system development efforts, is not flexible enough to accommodate … the rapidly advancing information technologies that are characteristic of command, control and communications systems,” Sullivan adds.
In the Army, for example, procurement officials argue that the current budget process hinders efforts to apply funds to programs such as the GIG. “We have a hard time funding the GIG,” says Michael LeBrun, an Army acquisition official. “From an acquisition perspective, I don’t know what GIG is. It’s not a thing … Our procurement structure is about program elements. I put money against program elements. There’s no program element for the GIG. It’s a whole host of software, hardware, activities performed by people that defies the way we traditionally do business.”