This report is a snapshot in time, reflecting the realities of the DoD’s budget process, software systems, and the Commission’s findings. Based on the following assumptions, this report is divided into three areas of exploration; Human-centered Design (HCD), security and technology, and operations and ownership. Vast improvements across all three categories will be necessary in order to develop an enclave that improves communication and fosters trust between the DoD and Congressional staff.

Assumption 1: The needs of the enclave will change over time

Several of the Commission’s recommendations, such as transforming the budget structure, would fundamentally change the enclave as a product. If accepted, those changes will take years to implement. DoD is currently attempting to implement the enclave recommendation and we assume development will continue. Building the enclave before implementing the more complex recommendations from the Commission’s report will mean the enclave will be built for the current budget structure and will need to evolve alongside the implementation of the Commission’s other recommendations.

Assumption 2: Advana will be a part of the enclave

Advana, short for Advancing Analytics, is a centralized data and analytics platform that provides DoD users with common business data, decision support analytics, and data tools. To its credit, Advana contains a number of high quality commercial applications and digital infrastructure tools that have all been deemed secure by the DoD to manage unclassified data, controlled unclassified data (CUI), and classified data. Advana currently ingests data from over 450 DoD systems, and was mentioned frequently as the authoritative platform for analytics. It is already being used by the Military Departments for data analytics.

Current development and business practices around Advana are deeply flawed. Advana has serious usability issues, lacks sufficient data structuring and labeling, and has performance issues including, but not limited to, unacceptably slow load times and incorrect or incomplete data sets. Despite its flaws, Advana could provide the enclave with several significant benefits. Built properly, an enclave could leverage a data layer like Advana to collect information from the many systems and sources throughout the DoD and deliver it to Congress via a single user interface. Since Advana has already cleared several security-related hurdles, is being used by DoD internally, and has some funding, we assume it will continue to function as the DoD’s common enterprise data repository.

Assumption 3: DoD will own the enclave

While the enclave focuses on Congressional needs, Congress lacks sufficient continuity, staff, and resources to develop and maintain the enclave. DoD has the expertise, resources, and ability to build the enclave. Furthermore, the enclave will contain primarily DoD data and the Department should be responsible for its management.

Assumption 4: Congress wants and will use the enclave

Many of our research participants said they wanted more access to data, but very few use the resources currently available. Staffers want their questions answered with up-to-date, detailed information. Current offerings do not provide such data. The enclave will need to address Congressional needs for it to be useful. Importantly, it will not entirely replace the human interaction needed to make complex budget decisions.

Assumption 5: User behavior and cultural expectations must change to support the enclave’s success

While technology can solve many issues, there are still processes and patterns in place that must change to make an enclave successful. This includes changes in both the DoD and Congress as part of a joint effort to develop a more robust system that is responsive to user needs in both branches of government.

Assumption 6: Terminology will change

As the PPBE process of today changes and is eventually retired, the acronym will no longer be relevant. We use PPBE in this report to describe the entire end-to-end DoD financial process. The Commission has named the successor to PPBE the Defense Resourcing System (DRS). For the purposes of this report, PPBE should be understood to be interchangeable with DRS or any emerging terminology that replaces PPBE.

Assumption 7: Congress and DoD are working toward a common goal in good faith

Congress and the DoD share a common goal of keeping the United States safe. While rare individuals might act in bad faith, we assume the overall PPBE process operates in a way that preserves the integrity of the system as a whole. Nearly everyone involved in the PPBE process works as best they can through a complicated process fraught with many challenges.

Assumption 8: The first iterations of the enclave will be unclassified

There are substantial benefits to offering a classified enclave but technical, policy, and cultural barriers make it much harder to implement. Sharing any information between DoD and Congress, even publicly available data, in a timely, accurate, and automated manner is currently extremely difficult. We focus on architecting an unclassified system first. Future efforts should strive to develop a classified enclave but the DoD should begin with unclassified data sharing.

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This site was last updated on 12 MAR 2024.