Defense Networks

Management Information Shortfalls Hinder Defense Efforts to Meet DISN Goals Gao ID: AIMD-98-202 July 30, 1998

The military services and Defense agencies have long procured and operated multiple long-haul telecommunications systems to meet their individual mission needs--resulting in a fragmented and redundant military communications environment. To eliminate costly duplication and improve the effectiveness and efficiency of its communications services, the Defense Department (DOD) in 1991 began to plan and implement the Defense Information System Network (DISN) as the common-user, long-haul telecommunications network for all DOD components. This report (1) identifies those DOD long-haul, telecommunications networks operating outside of the common-user DISN; (2) evaluates DOD's progress in implementing its policies for managing DISN; and (3) evaluates DOD's progress in developing performance measures for DISN, which DOD agreed to do in response to an earlier GAO review. (See GAO/AIMD-97-9, Nov. 1996.)

GAO noted that: (1) although DOD has been implementing the DISN program for 7 years, numerous networks continue to exist without the Defense Information Systems Agency's (DISA) knowledge; (2) GAO's survey found that the military services are operating at least 87 independent networks that support a variety of long-haul telecommunications requirements; (3) the services reported costs on 68 of these networks totalling more than $89 million annually; (4) DOD's inability to restrict the number of networks operating across the department stems from its failure to implement basic telecommunications management policies established at the beginning of the DISN program and its failure to develop objective performance measures for the program; (5) DISA has not developed a comprehensive inventory of telecommunications networks throughout DOD nor have the military services developed inventories of their own networks; (6) DISA has not reported on telecommunications acquisitions, trends (volumes and types of traffic) and costs throughout DOD, and it lacks the data to develop such reports; (7) DOD has not effectively enforced the use of common-user services, nor were Assistant Secretary of Defense for Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence (ASD/C3I) officials clear on how enforcement would occur; (8) DOD has only recently begun to implement an interim waiver process to exempt DOD components from using common-user networks--a final process has yet to be implemented; (9) DOD has not developed performance measures for the DISN program even though it agreed with GAO's previous report that these measures were essential to ensuring DISN was efficiently and effectively managed; (10) by not implementing the above, DOD lacks the basic management controls to ensure that it can achieve its goal for an interoperable and cost-effective telecommunications environment; (11) specifically, it lacks a foundation for identifying stovepiped and redundant networks that are not interoperable and cannot share information, and replacing them with mandated common-user services; it lacks a basis for maximizing the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of DISN; it cannot quantify problems; and it cannot learn from mistakes; and (12) as a result, DOD's stated goals for DISN are at risk, and DOD cannot ensure that DISN is the most cost-effective solution to DOD's telecommunications service requirements.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

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