Like nearly all responsibilities of government, defending the nation's citizens and interests is driven by knowledge. National defense not only requires knowledge of an adversary's intent and capability, but also of the U.S. military's resources and readiness to deter, dissuade, disrupt or defeat the unwanted action by the enemy.
During the past six decades, the Defense Department has developed thousands of information systems to support decision-making. Interconnectivity at the machine-to-machine level of these systems is uneven. As a result, leaders at every level of the Air Force must often rely on manual, labor-intensive processes to obtain information that should be readily available.
At units worldwide, for example, commanders and directors routinely must know their "burn rates," or how quickly they are spending allocated funds, particularly compared with similar units. They must determine variables ranging from whether their people and equipment are ready for deployment to whether discrepancies noted in workplace and housing inspections have been resolved. Yet obtaining routine information reports can be challenging and time-consuming.
The root causes are many. In large organizations, critical data are scattered across components, time zones and information systems. As these pockets of data are connected machine to machine, meaningful information can be extracted across the entire organization. Otherwise, the data assist only a limited few.
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