GAO: Questions swirl around Defense GIG

The Defense Department is developing the Global Information Grid without an investment and oversight strategy and faces significant management, operational and technical challenges, according to a Government Accountability Office report.

The GIG is defined as an Internet-like architecture that will integrate thousands of DOD information and business systems, weapons, sensors, services and applications. It is expected to cost the department $21 billion to build through 2010.

The report released today found that the most critical challenge for the DOD was in actually making the GIG a reality.

'While DOD has taken steps to define its vision and objectives for the GIG on paper and in policy, it is not fully known how DOD will meet these objectives, particularly with respect to setting investment priorities, providing management attention and oversight, transforming operations, and advancing technologies,' said Robert E. Levin, GAO's director of acquisition and sourcing management, in the report.

GAO found that the Defense Department had not determined how much information to post on the network or where and how it should be used.

Most importantly, Defense officials must be able to convince data owners that the network is secure enough to post and share information.

Another big challenge the DOD has not considered is how officials will persuade users to rely on IT applications developed by the Defense Information Systems Agency, the lead on developing a series of core enterprise services to run on the GIG.

'The military services and defense agencies have historically been reluctant to rely on the Defense Information Systems Agency for these services,' Levin explained.

'We have reported in the past that the military services have regularly bypassed (DISA), preferring instead to procure their own telecommunications networks and commercial satellites bandwidth services because they were dissatisfied with the level of service provided by the agency as well as the cost and length of time it took to procure these services centrally,' he added.

The Defense Department didn't submit comments on the report.

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