Missile Defense Agency slows IG reviews

The Missile Defense Agency stymied staff investigators from the Defense Department's Office of Inspector General as they tried to conduct audits of MDA projects, policies and procedures in the past two years, the DOD IG said.

According to the IG, auditors working last year on the "Audit of Systems Engineering Planning for the BMDS,” the Ballistic Missile Defense System, received only 20 percent -- 49 of 245 – of the requested documents within five business days.

The IG also said that in 2004, auditors working on the “Audit of the Capabilities Development Process and Management of Target Acquisitions at MDA,” received only 2 percent -- 2 of 94 -- of the requested documents within five business days.

Delays in receiving documents resulted in the suspension of another audit, “Information Security Operational Controls at the Missile Defense Agency,” for 24 days, the IG said.

That audit, which examined security problems with the Ground-based Midcourse Defense Communications Network, resulted in a recent report, which was removed from the IG’s Web site sometime during this past weekend. Federal Computer Week published a Web story on the report March 16.

Victoria Samson, a research analyst at the Center for Defense Information, a watchdog group based in Washington, D.C., said she has heard that MDA delays the release of documents to other government agencies, including congressional committees.

But she added that the DOD IG report was the first evidence she had firsthand of MDA's tactics. She added that the strong language in the DOD IG report is a sign that MDA “must have really made someone mad” on DOD's IG staff.

The DOD IG report states that even though the IG staff is supposed to have “expeditious and unrestricted access to, and, when required, copies of all records, reports, investigations, audits, documents, papers, recommendations or other material,” according to long-standing DOD instructions, MDA has a document release policy that conflicts with DOD policy.

According to the DOD IG, the MDA policy states that the agency may have as many as 10 business days to provide auditors with copies of requested documents and that auditors must coordinate document requests through MDA and its general counsel.

The DOD IG said that coordination process led to unreasonable delays in receiving documents, which violates document-access requirements. The DOD IG added that MDA incorrectly classified it as an external audit agency.

Because MDA adheres to its own policy, the DOD IG said, auditors were unable to remove documents that the MDA staffers had specifically copied or burned onto a CD for them. Instead, because of MDA policies, the auditors needed to first coordinate the release of documents through MDA, after which they encountered delays while waiting for the requested documents.

MDA said it has substantially modified its policy to streamline the release of the majority of documents within five days of a request.

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