This report to Congress, Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq, is submitted pursuant to Section 9010 of the Department of Defense Appropriations Act 2007, Public Law 109-289. The report includes specific performance indicators and measures of progress toward political, economic, and security stability in Iraq, as directed in that legislation. [emphasis added]My view: This report can do double duty. Quarterly reports are all well and good. They present us with specific performance indicators and measures of progress. They offer an opportunity to take a step back and look at the evolving patterns.
AND between reports, they can be even more helpful on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.
Just as we don't have to wait till July or September to find out how well the "surge" strategy is working, we don't have to hold our breath between quarterly reports. We can make double duty of the infrastructure already in place to produce these reports to create a mechanism that lets us keep track of the most important indicators and measures of progress as we go along.
- Start where we are at. The quarterly report defines the currently understood list of the most important performance indicators and measures of progress.
- High Frequency Measurement. For each of these important indicators we establish a measurement frequency that is as rapid as is practical at this time.
- Near Real Time Reporting. For each of these important indicators we also establish a near time reporting interval that is as close as is practical to the time of the most recent measurement sample
- 21st Century Visualization. We then make the full set of high resolution trend data for all the most important performance indicators and measures of progress available. We make it available in a continuously updated form in near real time using a 21st century Trend Visualization Appliance. This makes it possible and manageable to observe the trends of a large number of factors within the time and resource constraints of the intended audiences.
- Improve Frequency. For any important factor where it proves impractical today to measure at the frequency that we think best, we set in motion a process to speed up that frequency as quickly as we can bring it on line.
- Improve Freshness. For any important factor where it proves impractical today to deliver the most recent measurements in suitable near real time fashion that would meet our needs for fresh data, we set in motion a process to reduce the delay as quickly as we can.
- Identify and Add Missing Indicators. Finally, as soon as we notice some new and important indicator that is vital to understanding progress in Iraq, we add it to the list of indicators to be included in the Quarterly report AND to be delivered to our Trend Visualization Appliance at high resolution and in near real-time for our consideration between these quarterly reports.
If there is a performance indicator that is important enough to be reported on quarterly, then it is even more important to make the underlying trends for that indicator available interactively and efficiently, at high resolution, and in near real time for all interested parties.
The current arrangement (infrequent reports, delayed reporting, lower frequency data) does not appear conducive to the most effective oversight by congress, the media or the general public. We can and must do better if we want to make sense of what is happening in Iraq.