Aug 13, 2019
Congress asked six questions about the extent of, and opportunities to improve, data collection and analytic capabilities in the U.S. Department of Defense to inform acquisition decisions. This report identifies and measures extensive capabilities and recent progress in following commercial best practices. However, barriers to improvement include a culture against data sharing because of concerns about security and oversight burden.
In the conference report accompanying the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017, Congress expressed concern that the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) "does not sufficiently incorporate data into its acquisition-related learning and decision-making" and asked six questions about "the use of data analysis, measurement, and other evaluation-related methods in DoD acquisition programs." In this report, the authors decompose and measure acquisition functions, data governance, and training to assess how data and associated analytics support DoD acquisition decisionmaking.
The authors found that the DoD is applying a breadth of data analytics to acquisition. Capabilities range from simple data archives and plotting to archives integrated with commercial analytic tools. The DoD has implemented an array of data governance and management practices, but major challenges remain, including a culture against data sharing and concerns about security and oversight burden.
Some commercial breakthroughs in advanced analytics sound promising for DoD acquisition, but some might not be applicable; research is ongoing. Advancement should include developing a data analytics strategy across acquisition domains, expanding data governance and data sharing, and continuing to expand and mature data collection, access, and analytic layers. Also, mechanisms are needed to authorize and ensure protected access to data for both the DoD and external analysts. Improved incentives and understanding of data analytics could encourage decisionmakers to make better use of capabilities.
Approach and Methodology
Findings on Congressional Questions