In August, the Defense Department finalized a rule making it easier for DoD agencies to share information by making all incoming data interoperable.
But DoD Instruction 8320.02 might also provide a perverse incentive for agencies to avoid specific types of hard-to-manipulate data in order to avoid the added effort and costs, according to a defense intelligence contractor.
Mike Stumborg, a counter-improvised explosive device and weapons technical intelligence mission engineer at Intelligent Software Solutions, said while much of the data DoD has gathered over the years has been standardized, such as field reports from service members, the data it collects in the future will require far more work to standardize.
The DoD instruction mandates “data, information, and IT services will be made visible, accessible, understandable, trusted and interoperable throughout their lifecycles for all authorized users.”
But, at the moment, data pulled from social networks and websites lack interoperability, while the process to make the data work with other networks is time intensive, Stumborg said.
He said while he agrees with the overall DoD goal of making data easier to transfer, it could unintentionally result in DoD agencies favoring certain types of data over others — in effect creating a blind spot that could harm mission effectiveness.
Stumborg added that budget cuts could also affect the ability of DoD agencies to carry out the instruction without leaving out valuable data.
“If we are moving to an environment where we will need to cut back on people, the data is going to be hard to exploit, and it’s going to be expensive to exploit,” Stumborg said.
He said while older systems are currently exempt from the interoperability requirement agencies will have to make those systems compliant during any scheduled upgrades, adding to the cost.
DoD should provide additional guidance to help agencies struggling with the cost of using unstructured data and should be aware of the financial burdens on DoD agencies, Sturmborg said.