GAO Calls for Better DoD Oversight of R&D Center Data-Access Pilots

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in a new report that the Defense Department (DoD) needs to do a better job managing some aspects of a pilot project with Federally-funded research and development centers (FFRDC) sponsored by DoD that aims to streamline those centers access to sensitive data.

The DoD began the pilot in 2017 to streamline information collection for the R&D centers that provide innovative solutions to national security threats.

“The pilot was intended to reduce the burden on FFRDCs to seek permission from hundreds of contractors to access information needed for their research. Six of DOD’s 10 FFRDCs have taken part in the pilot, enrolling a combined total of 33 projects,” the report said.

GAO made six recommendations to the agency’s Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, and DoD agreed to all of them.

  • Direct the Laboratories and Personnel Office to ensure that details of the pilot program’s data protections are incorporated into existing agreements;
  • Ensure the FFRDCs and sponsors are implementing the pilot program’s protections for sensitive data;
  • Establish a monitoring and oversight mechanism to ensure “primary sponsors submit complete information on pilot projects”;
  • Develop a plan to assess the pilot and how and when information collected will be analyzed to evaluate the pilot program;
  • Develop a plan to identify and evaluate lessons learned from the pilot; and
  • Plan to obtain input from stakeholders on the pilot program.
Jordan Smith
About Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.

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