Report | July 22, 2022

Evaluation of Efforts by the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to Mitigate Foreign Influence (DODIG-2022-113)

Evaluations

Publicly Released: July 26, 2022

Objective

We determined whether the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (OUSD[R&E]) monitored and mitigated foreign influence into the DoD’s research and development (R&D) programs. Specifically, we evaluated the implementation and execution of DoD programs by the OUSD(R&E) and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to identify and protect critical programs and technologies, and to integrate counterintelligence activities to protect and support R&D in accordance with DoD Directive (DoDD) 5137.02 requirements.

 

Background

The National Counterintelligence Strategy 2020–2022, written by the National Counterintelligence and Security Center and approved by the President, states that foreign intelligence actors— including nation‑states, organizations, and individuals—are employing innovative combinations of traditional spying, economic espionage, and supply chain and cyber operations to gain access to critical infrastructure and steal sensitive information, research, technology, and industrial secrets. The United States Code defines foreign malign influence, in relevant part, as “any hostile effort undertaken by, at the direction of, or on behalf of or with the substantial support of, the government of a covered foreign country with the objective of influencing, through overt or covert means,… activities of the United States Government.”

The National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2017 reestablished the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (USD[R&E]) as the chief technology officer of the DoD with the mission of advancing technology and innovation for the DoD. The National Defense Authorization Act gave the USD(R&E) broad responsibility over all DoD R&D, including establishing policy on the DoD’s research and engineering, technology development, technology transition, prototyping, experimentation, and developmental testing activities and programs. Also, DoD policy specifies those responsibilities which require the USD(R&E) to establish science and technology and program protection policy to manage technical risk to DoD programs, including R&D, from foreign influence.

 

Finding

The OUSD(R&E) implemented procedures to monitor and mitigate foreign influence into the DoD’s R&D programs by:

  • initiating a Science and Technology Protection Working Group,
     
  • developing standardized science and technology protection plan templates, and
     
  • creating modernization priority areas.

 

Recommendations

We recommend that the Director of the DARPA Mission Support Office, in collaboration with the Special Agent in Charge of the NCIS Office of Strategic Support, update the CISP and update the memorandum of agreement reinstating the CISP to comply with DoDI 5200.39 and DoDI O-5240.24 requirements for research, development, and acquisition programs with CPI.

We also recommend that the Director of the DARPA Mission Support Office, in collaboration with the Special Agent in Charge of the NCIS Office of Strategic Support, implement the CISP and memorandum of agreement to comply with DoDI 5200.39 and DoDI O-5240.24 requirements for the DoD research, development, and acquisition programs with CPI.

This report is a result of Project No. D2020-DEV0SI-0045.000.