Guidance and Progress Measures Are Needed to Realize Benefits from Changes in DOD's Joint Requirements Process

February 24, 2012

After studying the Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System (JCIDS) process since September 2010, the Joint Staff began initiating actions in October 2011 to better prioritize capability needs and align those needs with available budgetary resources. Specifically, according to Joint Staff officials, the Joint Requirements Oversight Council (JROC) has begun to consider the benefits and affordability of new capabilities within the context of joint capability areas and to evaluate possible duplication before validating new capability requirements. The Joint Staff has begun to implement a new approach to support JROC prioritization of capability needs, but the new approach is still evolving and has not been fully developed and clearly documented. New guidance does not clearly outline goals of the new approach, develop and communicate the analytic approach envisioned to support JROC decision making, or set out criteria and accompanying measures of progress. GAO previously reported that JCIDS's ability to prioritize needs could be improved if it had an analytic approach to reviewing and validating proposals that would help ensure that the most important capability needs of the department are addressed. Until the Joint Staff takes steps to fully develop, document, and institutionalize the new analytic approach, it is not clear whether the current momentum for improving the JCIDS process will be sustained.

JCIDS guidance in effect through December 2011 required that sponsors of potential major defense acquisition programs address sustainment information in capability development documents according to four metrics—materiel availability, operational availability, reliability, and ownership cost. Each of these metrics includes a set of potentially reportable criteria or data, which are listed as review criteria and are suggested, but not clearly required by the guidance, to be included in the metric. Based on GAO's analysis of six capability development documents, GAO found that all of the documents provided information on the four required sustainment metrics, but the completeness of information for all of the metrics' key criteria varied. Further, in some cases information that should have been included, according to Department of Defense officials, was not provided. The Joint Staff issued updated JCIDS guidance in January 2012, but the guidance still does not clearly require program sponsors to report on the individual criteria for each of the four sustainment metrics. Without complete and detailed information on each of the individual criteria elements, the JROC may not have the information it needs to make the most informed decisions when validating the requirements of proposed solutions intended to mitigate capability gaps. 

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