Defense Department Funding 1,340 Separate Counter-IED Programs
The Defense Department’s inability to identify and compare initiatives may lead to waste if efforts are duplicated, GAO found.
“DoD has funded hundreds of [Counter]-IED initiatives but has not yet developed a comprehensive database of these initiatives and the organizations conducting them,” the report stated.
The Defense Department assigned the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) to lead the fight against roadside bombs in 2006. From 2006 through 2011, JIEDDO received more than $18 billion in funding. Meanwhile, the Defense Department also funded separate efforts, such as the rapid multi-billion dollar acquisition of mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles, the report said.
Many initiatives have concentrated on certain areas of development, which had led to overlaps. For example, the report found 19 organizations with 107 initiatives under development to combat cell phone-triggered IEDs alone.
“While the concentration of initiatives in itself does not constitute duplication, this concentration taken together with the high number of different DoD organizations that are undertaking these initiatives and JIEDDO’s inability to identify and compare [counter]-IED initiatives, demonstrates overlap and the potential for duplication of effort,” the report wrote.
In a separate February report, the GAO reported that the Defense Department does not have the means to properly assess their various counter-IED initiatives.
“Our survey results showed that a majority of respondents said they communicated with JIEDDO regarding their [counter]-IED initiatives; however, JIEDDO does not consistently record and track this data,” the report said. “Based on our prior work, JIEDDO does not have a mechanism for recording data communicated on [counter]-IED efforts. Therefore, these data are not available for analysis by JIEDDO or others in DoD to reduce the risk of duplicating efforts and avoid repeating mistakes.”
In response to the report’s findings, the Defense Department said that GAO's examples of overlapping programs were “overstated,” citing a specific example where the GAO reported that the JIEDDO was funding the development of 60 chemical sensors by 14 different organizations.
“The figure showing 60 chemical sensors efforts by 14 DoD elements fails to explain that these are different sensors for different chemical signatures," Army Lt. Gen. Michael D. Barbero, the director of the JIEDDO, said in the response. "This distinction highlights the complexity and technical challenges of the [counter]-IED fight. JIEDDO’s role is to identify and rapidly develop or deploy those efforts which will support the urgent needs of the war fighter. Basic research and longer term development of systems to counter IEDs is required across DoD.”
In response, the GAO wrote, “Since DoD has not developed a comprehensive database listing all of its [counter]-IED efforts — including those involving chemical sensors — it is not clear to what degree the chemical sensors associated with the 60 efforts represented in the figure are different from one another or apply to different chemical signatures. Therefore, we continue to believe, as noted in the briefing, that the potential for duplication exists.”