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Research Questions

  1. What laws and policies address the authority to issue Navy interoperability policy with regard to mission area systems engineering?
  2. Are there gaps and/or overlaps in the scopes of authority related to which parties may issue Navy interoperability policy with regard to mission area systems engineering?
  3. Are there ambiguities or potential conflicts in the authorities to issue Navy interoperability policy with regard to mission area systems engineering?
  4. What steps can the entities with roles and responsibilities with respect to mission area systems engineering (MASE) take to ensure establishment of effective MASE policy?

Achieving interoperability among systems is instrumental to enabling critical functions, such as timely information exchange during operations and efficiencies in acquisition, so it is important to understand what parties have authority to issue policy that governs the facets of interoperability. This report presents an approach and framework for determining what parties have authority to issue interoperability policy, the legal and policy origins and implementation paths of the authority, and the extent of the authority. The approach includes rigorous analysis by researchers to identify pertinent authorities in federal law supplemented by a means to facilitate discovery of roles and responsibilities in Department of Defense and Service-level policies. The approach results in a roles and responsibilities network that traces the paths of authority available to issue interoperability policy. The authors use as a case study the authority of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Research, Development, and Acquisition, Chief Systems Engineer to issue Navy interoperability policy related to mission area systems engineering (MASE) to demonstrate the use of the framework and methodology. They find that there are 13 different paths of authority that could be cited by four different parties to claim authority to influence interoperability policy related to MASE. The approach used in this report might be developed, along with complementary analytic techniques, to provide the government with the ability to create and maintain consistent and comprehensive bodies of policy that will ensure the effective and efficient operation of defense agencies.

Key Findings

A Framework for Assessing Interoperability Policy

  • The first step in assessing interoperability policy is to identify and examine guidance that governs the roles, responsibilities, and authorities pertinent to the issue being investigated.
  • Next, the relevant passages that are identified are diagrammed as a citation of source of authority, a set of caveats governing application of the guidance, and identification of a party with authority to issue policy.
  • By placing the citations, caveats, and parties with authority together into a single framework, researchers can generate a comprehensive roles and responsibilities network of authorities pertaining to the issue being investigated.
  • Researchers can then analyze the network, evaluating and comparing the scopes of authority for all executives identified as parties with authority, noting any gaps or overlaps.

Case Study: Authority to Issue Navy Interoperability Policy Related to Mission Area Systems Engineering (MASE)

  • There are 13 different paths of authority that could be cited by four different parties to claim authority to influence Navy interoperability policy related to MASE: Four of these paths place this authority with the Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV), four place it with the Department of the Navy Chief Information Officer, three place it with the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, and Acquisition (ASN[RD&A]), and two place it with the ASN(RD&A) Chief Systems Engineer (ASN[RD&A] CHSENG).
  • The three paths available directly to the ASN(RD&A) and one of the paths available to the SECNAV give the ASN(RD&A) CHSENG an indirect but pivotal role in influencing MASE policy.

Recommendations

  • With regard to the case study of Navy interoperability policy related to mission area systems engineering, all stakeholders, and particularly the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Research, Development, and Acquisition and Department of the Navy Chief Information Officer, should take proactive steps to increase the routine communications necessary to maintain and grow collaborative working environments.
  • The framework and methodology should be applied to more diverse collections of entities, such as identifying potential inconsistencies, conflicts, ambiguities, and gaps in information sharing guidance in counterdrug/counterterrorist activities by tracing the flow of authorities, roles, and responsibilities of government executives from federal law to multiple departments, such as the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense, and through the myriad of federal and local law enforcement agencies involved.
  • The framework and methodology should be used to facilitate understanding of the complex network of policies that govern test activities. For example, the framework and methodology could be applied to the body of guidance for testing during acquisition of Navy systems to examine the interrelationship of authorities for developmental, operational, and integrated testing. Agencies involved in such an application include the Office of the Secretary of Defense Director of Operational Test and Evaluation; the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation (DASN[RDT&E]); the Navy's Operational Test and Evaluation Force; Navy program executive officers; and Navy system commands.
  • More broadly, further research should be undertaken to enhance the government's capability to address potential inconsistencies, ambiguities, and gaps in interoperability policy.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Framework and Methodology

  • Chapter Three

    Analysis of Authority to Issue Navy Interoperability Policy

  • Chapter Four

    ASN(RD&A) CHSEN G Case Study

  • Chapter Five

    Recommendations and Closing Remarks

  • Appendix A

    Electronic Policy Improvement Capability (EPIC)

  • Appendix B

    Statements of Authority

  • Appendix C

    Authority of Other Officials

This research was conducted within the Acquisition and Technology Policy Center (ATPC) 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.

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