A new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report advocates an assessment of the Defense Department’s list of critical technologies–the Militarily Critical Technologies List (MCTL), because that list is “outdated and updates have ceased.”

DoD spends billions on its weapons and technologies to maintain its position on the cutting edge, and such technologies are vulnerable, the GAO said. The MCTL was created to help identify those technologies and help minimize risks.

GAO recommends DoD determine the best approach to meet user’s requirements for a technical reference to consistently identify critical technologies. This could be the MCTL, or something else. The report also recommends ensuring adequate resources are available to sustain whatever decision is made. Additionally, if DoD decides the MCTL is not the best solution, it should “seek necessary relief from its responsibility to develop the list,” the report said.

DoD concurred.

The concern is that while DoD has addressed previously identified weaknesses, funding has been cut, and content updates stopped. In 2011, the report said, DoD cut funding from $4 million in prior years to about $1.5 million. The public version of the list was removed from the Internet, and a disclaimer said the list should only be used for “informational purposes.”

As well, the “compendium of emerging technologies is outdated and two sections have not been updated since 1999,” the report (GAO-13-157) said.

While the program office has a plan to improve content updates, implementation is limited because of funding restraints.

The GAO report also stated: “The MCTL is not used to inform export decisions–its original purpose.”

Export control officials from DoD and the departments of Commerce and State do not rely on it, but on their own network of experts. But other DoD programs use the MCTL to help in making decisions. For example, MCTL is fully integrated into DoD‘s anti-tamper critical technology tool. As well, the Defense Security Service relies on it to identify overlap and connections among different technology catalogs. The programs are looking for alternatives.