Issues with Access to Acquisition Data and Information in the Department of Defense

A Closer Look at the Origins and Implementation of Controlled Unclassified Information Labels and Security Policy

by Megan McKernan, Jessie Riposo, Jeffrey A. Drezner, Geoffrey McGovern, Douglas Shontz, Clifford Grammich

Download

Download eBook for Free

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 1.5 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.

Purchase

Purchase Print Copy

 FormatList Price Price
Add to Cart Paperback80 pages $24.00 $19.20 20% Web Discount

Research Questions

  1. How can nongovernment employee access to proprietary information be improved?
  2. What are the commonly used data markings that support acquisition decisionmaking and oversight, and what are the origins of those markings?
  3. How do U.S. Department of Defense security policies, processes, and procedures affect the ability of the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics to provide efficient and secure access to acquisition data?

Acquisition data play a critical role in the management of the U.S. Department of Defense's (DoD's) portfolio of weapon systems. Identifying which unclassified but potentially sensitive data require protection as Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) and how to properly protect them through the use of appropriate markings or labels can be difficult: Management and sharing of these data are subject to the interaction and interpretation of a number of laws, regulations, and policies. Therefore, the Office of the Secretary of Defense asked RAND to evaluate current CUI labeling procedures, practices, and security policies. The authors found that documentation on CUI labeling procedures is incomplete and unclear. To define and establish proper handling procedures for CUI, a function (additional responsibility for a currently existing office with experience using a large number of CUI labels in multiple roles) and reference (a central, authoritative online resource that references all relevant guidance on information management, handling, access, and release for acquisition data) should be established within the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics.

Because the RAND Corporation operates three federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs), the authors have an interest in FFRDC access to data. However, the authors believe that the results are valid independent of that interest. They also have firsthand experience with the struggles of DoD personnel managing data and access.

Key Findings

Identifying Which Sensitive Unclassified Information in Defense Acquisition Requires Protection and How to Properly Protect It Through the Use of Appropriate Markings and Security Policy Can Be Problematic

  • The current environment in which acquisition data are protected and shared can be characterized by many organizations promulgating policy on overlapping and interrelated topics, policies that are relatively new and change frequently, and an ill-defined Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) policy. Those who originate the policies do not fund their implementation, meaning that a new or changed policy is effectively an unfunded requirement for information system managers.
  • The authors were unable to find any single document that collects and describes the most commonly used CUI labels in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics. Some of these labels are legacy markings and practices that are not aligned with draft CUI policy. As a result, acquisition documentation with CUI may be mislabeled.
  • Proprietary information (PROPIN) is a special class of CUI that relates to information and data developed by a private entity but shared with the government. Substantial confusion exists within DoD about what information is truly proprietary, who can have access to it, and how to grant access when needed. While there are some laws and policy that describe PROPIN, no single source describes the processes and procedures.
  • Security policies tend to be one-size-fits-all, which does not reflect the unique characteristics of each information system. Originators of security policies do not fund their implementation, meaning that a new or changed policy is effectively an unfunded requirement for system managers.

Recommendations

  • A more robust, central authoritative source for Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) data labeling, access, and management (including monitoring and challenging document originators) should be established by the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics (OUSD[AT&L]). The U.S. Department of Defense should also train its workforce on the new CUI labeling procedures when they are released and implemented.
  • To define and establish proper handling procedures for CUI, a function (additional responsibility for a currently existing office with experience using a large number of CUI labels in multiple roles) and reference (a central, authoritative online resource that references all relevant guidance on information management, handling, access, and release for acquisition data) should be established within OUSD(AT&L).

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Proprietary Information: Clarifying and Creating Confusion

  • Chapter Three

    Origins and Meaning of Commonly Used Controlled Unclassified Information Labels on Acquisition Data

  • Chapter Four

    Security Policy and Its Implications for AIR and DAMIR

  • Chapter Five

    Conclusions and Options

  • Appendix

    DoD OGC Legal Opinion Dated February 1999

This research was sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense and conducted within the Acquisition and Technology Policy Center of the RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense Intelligence Community.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

Permission is given to duplicate this electronic document for personal use only, as long as it is unaltered and complete. Copies may not be duplicated for commercial purposes. Unauthorized posting of RAND PDFs to a non-RAND Web site is prohibited. RAND PDFs are protected under copyright law. For information on reprint and linking permissions, please visit the RAND Permissions page.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.