GAO Calls Defense ISR Programs Fragmented, Wants Tighter Management

June 7, 2011
Cyber Security, FedCyber Wire
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via Signal Online

At a time when almost all of government is being squeezed by efforts to lower spending, a new report from a congressional watchdog agency strongly suggests that the Defense Department needs to do a better job of managing its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) systems.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) study, entitled “Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance: Actions Are Needed to Increase Integration and Efficiencies of DOD’s ISR Enterprise” (GAO 11-465), warns that the department must improve its control over disparate ISR efforts if it is to provide effective ISR support to the force.

Davi D’Agostino, the GAO’s Director of Homeland, Defense, Emerging Threats and Warfare, is the principal author of the GAO report. She explains that her office examined the more than $80 billion spent by the Pentagon on ISR in fiscal year 2010. “We looked at the various ISR ‘pots of money,’ and the source of the funding for ISR, and also how ISR seems to be fragmented across the department,” she relates.

As an example of how the fragmentation makes it difficult to account for how and why ISR funds are spent within DOD, D’Agostino points to the fact that the while “the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence (USD[I]) has oversight” as the Pentagon’s lead senior manager departmentwide for ISR, it is the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (ATL) who is in charge of all projects involving outer space, and unmanned aircraft systems that collect ISR data.

D’Agostino concludes that, because of this and other examples outlined in the report, the USD[I], which has been designated the ISR portfolio, “does not have the full visibility into the funding and all the investments into [the Defense Department’s] ISR enterprise.”

A key to the problem, says D’Agostino, is that at the uppermost levels, spending on most Pentagon ISR programs is divided between the Military Intelligence Program, totaling $27 billion in fiscal year 2010, and the National Intelligence Program, totaling $53.1 billion in FY 2010.

Continued here.