Joint Military Operations: Weaknesses in DoD's Process for Certifying C4I Systems' Interoperability, Report to the Chairman, Subcommittee on Military Research and Development, Committee on National Security, House of Representatives   [open pdf - 240KB]

Command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence (C4I) systems relay critical information to U.S. forces during joint operations. If joint operations are to be successful, C4I systems must be "interoperable"--capable of exchanging information and operating effectively together. To help ensure interoperability, the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA)--under the direction of the Joint Chiefs of Staff--established the current certification process in 1992. According to Joint Staff guidance, commanders in chief, the four services, and Department of Defense (DoD) agencies are required to use this process to test and certify existing and newly developed systems for interoperability. Generally, newly developed systems are to be denied production approval if they have not been certified. After a system has been fielded and a modification is made that affects interoperability, the system must be recertified. GAO determined (1) whether DoD organizations are complying with interoperability testing and certification requirements and (2) what actions, if any, are needed to improve the current certification process. GAO also identified initiatives that affect interoperability.

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