The committee believes that management attention to
the interoperability of C4I systems is today often not an assured process.
That is, while today's acquisition system does acknowledge the importance of
C4I interoperability in its various directives, in actual practice the
management attention afforded to C4I interoperability depends strongly on the
temperament and inclinations of the individual program manager. Program
managers who "buy into" the vision of interoperability pay a great deal of
attention to that subject, while those who do not pay far less attention to
it. The focus of this recommendation is not the development of additional
acquisition policy but rather the filling of a gap in implementation and
practice in program management.
Recommendation I-4: The services and agencies should
designate an activity within the program offices for C4I systems (and weapons
systems with embedded C4I) to be explicitly responsible for resolution of
architectural and system-level issues that determine
The establishment of an "interoperability cell" or equivalent in C4I program offices would provide a central point of focus for interoperability issues. The fundamental principle of this activity is that for each C4I program there must be an activity charged with looking outward, cross-service, at interoperability issues. This cell would be responsible for revising or modifying architecture as needed to accommodate changes in doctrine, tactics, techniques, procedures, and equipment; engaging the stakeholders in a particular C4I system in the problem of defining and achieving interoperability for that system; and negotiating interoperability issues with those responsible for development/upgrade of "neighboring" systems. In its efforts, an interoperability cell could be expected to take a pragmatic approach that narrows the scope of the systems that must be considered by the architectures (though not necessarily to those that are immediately adjacent to any given program), and limit the scope of the interoperability effort to particular configurations of components. In other words, interoperability cannot be realistically expected across an unlimited number of releases or versions. Such "bottom-up" negotiation of interoperability issues is intended to complement "top-down" architectural and common infrastructure efforts. The cell would also be responsible for elements that constitute an investment in future interoperability, such as metadata and appropriate interfaces.
The appropriate placement for an interoperability activity can vary. For a large program, placement within the program manager's office may be advantageous. In other cases, placement within a program executive office or service acquisition command may make sense--both for reasons of efficiency and to ensure that the "cell" has a sufficiently broad perspective. Somewhat similar functions have been performed by service elements such as the Air Force Electronic Systems Command, the Navy Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, and the Army Communications and Electronics Command. However, there is no clear analogy to these organizations for joint systems.