Auditors see GIG risks

The Government Accountability Office says the military's GIG vision compelling, but reality has many risks.

The Defense Department's plan for the Global Information Grid (GIG) is compelling, but the military lacks suitable investment and oversight strategies to make officials' network-centric vision a reality, according to a General Accountability Office report.

In theory, the GIG would allow military and intelligence community officials to access information relevant to their missions, regardless of what agency operates the network where the data resides. DOD officials plan to spend at least $21 billion through 2010 to build a core GIG capability.

"The most critical challenge ahead for DOD is making the GIG a reality," wrote Robert Levin, GAO's director of acquisition and sourcing management, in the July 28 report. "While DOD has taken steps to define its vision and objectives for the GIG on paper and in policy and is beginning to make a heavy investment in the GIG as well as systems that will be heavily dependent on the GIG, it is not fully known how DOD will meet these objectives."

The integration of virtually all department information systems, services and applications into one seamless, reliable and secure network, encompasses myriad technical and cultural challenges and risks. Officials at many DOD offices are trying to determine how unlimited amounts of information, including unprocessed intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance data, should be made available through the GIG.

The answer to that and other questions will affect not only future technology investments, but also how the intelligence community as a whole operates.

Department officials have failed to overcome those challenges "in smaller-scale efforts