Report | April 28, 2022

Evaluation of the DoD’s Actions to Develop Interoperable Systems and Tools for Forecasting Logistics Demand Across the Joint Logistics Enterprise (DODIG-2022-088)

Evaluations

Publicly Released: May 2, 2022

Objective

The objective of this evaluation was to determine the extent to which the DoD took actions to develop interoperable systems and tools to forecast logistics demand for campaign planning across the Joint Logistics Enterprise (JLEnt).

 

Background

According to Joint Publication 4-0, “Joint Logistics,” logistics involves the “planning and executing the movement and support of forces,” and joint logistics involves the use of two or more combatant commands or Military Departments’ logistics resources to support the joint force. The DoD’s JLEnt consists of logistics directorates across DoD Components and is structured to achieve a unity of effort without jeopardizing individual mission and goals. JLEnt logisticians use a variety of automated systems and tools, including information systems, decision support tools, and communications capabilities to perform functions such as forecasting logistic demands required to execute specific missions. For the purposes of our report, we defined “forecasting demand for campaign planning” as a process to identify overall sustainment support that the joint force needs to accomplish its mission in the future.

The DoD has strategies focused on logistics, digital modernization, and data. In 2010, the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Logistics and Materiel Readiness) issued the DoD Logistics Strategic Plan (DoD Logistics Strategy), which stated that the DoD’s logistics community must take steps to better integrate logistics with strategic planning and decision-making processes. In 2019, the DoD issued the “DoD Digital Modernization Strategy,” which states that data owners and their communities of interest, such as logistics and cybersecurity, are responsible for much of the necessary work to treat data as a strategic asset. In 2020, the DoD released the “DoD Data Strategy,” which supports the Digital Modernization Strategy and requires data interoperability across DoD’s systems.

DoD policies also identify a number of requirements related to logistics and the interoperability of DoD systems. DoD Directive 5135.02, “Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment” requires the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, through the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Sustainment, to establish policies on and supervise all elements of the DoD relating to sustainment, which includes logistics. DoD Instruction (DoDI) 8330.01, “Interoperability of Information Technology, Including National Security Systems” states that information technology interoperability includes the technical exchange of information and the operational effectiveness of that exchange of information as required for mission accomplishment. The Instruction also states that interoperability includes systems, processes, procedures, organizations, as well as missions over the life cycle and must be balanced with cybersecurity.

DoDI 5158.06, “Joint Deployment and Distribution Enterprise (JDDE) Planning and Operations” issued by the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment establishes policy, assigns responsibilities, and provides procedures for the Joint Deployment and Distribution Enterprise planning and operations. DoDI 5158.06 states that the DoD will maintain the Joint Deployment and Distribution Enterprise in alignment with related DoD requirements, initiatives, and activities. According to DoDI 5158.06, it is the DoD’s policy to maintain a Joint Deployment and Distribution Enterprise that is “robust, agile, effective, efficient, resilient, and flexible” and capable of projecting and sustaining U.S. military power across the world. DoDI 5158.06 also establishes policy for the Office of Secretary of Defense and DoD Component participation in the development of campaign plans to assist with alignment between operational plans and theater distribution plans.

 

Finding

The DoD’s systems and tools used to forecast logistics demand for campaign planning across the JLEnt were not interoperable. The Defense Logistics Management Standards are not sufficient to achieve overall interoperability of the DoD’s systems and tools used for forecasting logistics demand because DoD policies do not assign roles and responsibilities for the development of interoperable JLEnt systems. Our analysis of an Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment-provided data set identified over 1,100 DoD systems and tools with the potential to forecast logistics demand for campaign planning. However, not one Military Service, combatant command, or Defense Logistics Agency official we spoke with identified any systems across the JLEnt that met the criteria for interoperability identified in DoDI 8330.01. To forecast logistics demand, joint logistics planners at the Military Services, combatant commands, and the Defense Logistics Agency either:

  • manually converted, manipulated, or validated data sets from these noninteroperable systems and tools, or;
  • bypassed the systems and tools by manually forecasting logistics demand for campaign plans to provide feasible estimates for future demands.

These conditions occurred because the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment did not:

  • assign roles and responsibilities in DoD policies to develop interoperable JLEnt systems and tools to forecast demand for campaign planning, and;
  • update the DoD Logistics Strategy to address data interoperability (as defined in DoDI 8330.01) for forecasting demand for campaign planning to align the DoD Logistics Strategy with the DoD Digital Modernization Strategy and the DoD Data Strategy, which identified specific goals to achieving interoperability of DoD information technology systems and tools.

 

Not having interoperable systems and tools for forecasting logistics demand increased the DoD’s risk to execute global operations in support of the National Defense Strategy. The lack of interoperability led to potentially inaccurate or untimely forecasts for logistics demands. Specifically, the lack of interoperability prevented logistics officials at combatant commands from accessing and analyzing accurate data, and providing effective, relevant recommendations to combatant commanders. Furthermore, forecasting logistics demand for campaign planning using noninteroperable DoD systems and tools placed a significant time burden on logistics officials, reducing their effectiveness and capability to support other priorities, such as managing global supplier networks. The inability to produce accurate and timely forecasts of joint logistics needs created an unmitigated risk to the DoD’s ability to plan and logistically support operations and contingencies.

Additionally, the duplication of future efforts to develop interoperable JLEnt systems and tools risks financial waste. Without clearly defined roles and responsibilities, the Military Services and combatant commands may continue to develop separate systems and tools, which may produce redundant or overlapping capabilities. For example, in April 2019, the Joint Requirements Oversight Council terminated the Global Combat Support System-Joint logistics system after investing over $200 million. Specifically, according to logistics officials we interviewed, the system was terminated because the system did not meet its objective, and combatant commands continued developing their own separate logistics information technology solutions.

 

Recommendations

We recommend that the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment:

Review and identify DoD issuances related to forecasting logistics demand for campaign planning.

No later than the next periodic review process, identify and recommend updates to the DoD issuances identified in the prior recommendation or the creation of new issuances to assign roles and responsibilities across the JLEnt. At a minimum, the recommended updates should propose the following actions:

  • establish a DoD-wide executive agent or management action group to track and monitor ongoing development and implementation of interoperable systems and tools (as defined in DoDI 8330.01) for forecasting logistics demand across the JLEnt;
  • task existing logistics executive agents and offices of primary responsibility with coordinating and standardizing JLEnt data, planning factors, tools, and logistics support area processes within their areas of responsibility, and;
  • assign new executive agents and offices of primary responsibility to coordinate and standardize data, planning factors, tools, and logistics support area processes for JLEnt areas that do not currently have an executive agent or office of primary responsibility.

Update the DoD Logistics Strategy to align with the DoD Digital Modernization Strategy and the DoD Data Strategy, which identified specific goals to achieving the interoperability of DoD systems and tools, by addressing data interoperability as identified in DoDI 8330.01 for forecasting logistics demand for campaign planning.

 

Management Comments and Our Response

The Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Logistics (DASD[L]), responding for the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, agreed with the recommendation to review and identify DoD issuances related to forecasting logistics demand for campaign planning. The DASD(L) stated that her office would conduct a review and identify DoD issuances related to forecasting logistics demand for campaign planning.

The DASD(L) also agreed with the recommendation to update the DoD Logistics Strategy to align with the DoD Digital Modernization Strategy and the DoD Data Strategy. The DASD(L) stated that, in October 2021, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Sustainment updated the DoD Logistics Strategy and reissued it as the Logistics & Materiel Readiness Strategic Plan. The DASD(L) also stated that the updated strategic plan aligns with the DoD Digital Modernization Strategy and the DoD Data Strategy.

The DASD(L) partially agreed with the recommendation to update DoD issuances, as appropriate, to ensure roles and responsibilities are properly documented. However, the DASD(L) stated that the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Sustainment does not have the authority or resources to provide direct oversight of DoD Components’ development of logistics systems and tools.

Additionally, the DASD(L) stated that the assignment of an executive agent for certain logistics functions already accomplishes the intent of the recommendation. However, we disagree with the DASD(L)’s statement.

To address the DASD(L)’s comments, we revised the recommendation to clarify actions needed to improve forecasting logistics demand for contingency planning across the JLEnt. We also aligned the recommendation with the objectives of the 2021 Logistics & Materiel Readiness Strategic Plan. We request that the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment provide additional comments on the final report.

 

This report is a result of Project No. D2021-DEV0PC-108.000