The Government Accountability Office (GAO) in a new report said the Defense Department (DoD) needs to improve stakeholder input and data gathering practices to better meet its obligations for reporting on national security topics to Congress.

DoD is required to report on national security topics each year to Congress, with the number of new reporting requirements rising sharply over the past two decades – from 513 in Fiscal Year 2000 to 1,429 in FY 2020.

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According to GAO, DoD faces challenges in its congressional reporting process including instances of delays, duplication, and fragmentation. Reforms are underway to address these challenges and recent legislation seeks to reform the process further.

GAO emphasized that DoD’s results would improve greatly from better outreach to stakeholders, and better data gathering efforts.

Th Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs (ASD(LA)) oversees the reporting process and is responsible for reporting requirements – so long as it takes three to six months to do so.

“GAO found that ASD(LA) conducted limited outreach to internal DOD stakeholders in developing its reform efforts, and many stakeholders were not aware of the extent of ASD(LA)’s efforts,” the government watchdog agency said. “Conducting additional outreach could help ASD(LA) more fully address stakeholders’ challenges with the process, such as needing to rely on their own separate systems to track congressional reporting requirements.”

Further, GAO found that ASD(LA) has limited performance data on its reporting process. It said that establishing performance measures and outcome-oriented goals, and collecting data to assess progress would help DoD with its reform efforts.  GAO said that DoD concurred with both of its recommendations.

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.