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entitled 'Defense Management: Assessment Should Be Done to Clarify 
Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office Personnel and Funding 
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August 25, 2005:

The Honorable John Warner:
Chairman:
The Honorable Carl Levin:
Ranking Minority Member:
Committee on Armed Services:
United States Senate:

The Honorable Duncan L. Hunter:
Chairman:
The Honorable Ike Skelton:
Ranking Minority Member:
Committee on Armed Services:
House of Representatives:

Subject: Defense Management: Assessment Should Be Done to Clarify 
Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office Personnel and Funding 
Needs:

In response to congressional concerns about the Department of Defense's 
(DOD) performance in accounting for missing personnel, DOD established 
the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Office in July 1993. This 
office is now called the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel 
Office (DPMO). DPMO's original mission was to provide centralized 
management of prisoner of war/missing in action affairs throughout DOD, 
and the office initially focused on missing service personnel from the 
Vietnam War and, to a lesser extent, incidents during the Cold War. 
Since its inception, Congress and DOD have expanded DPMO's mission and 
responsibilities.

Concerned about the level of DPMO's resources, Congress in 2002 
directed the Secretary of Defense to ensure that DPMO was provided with 
sufficient military and civilian personnel and funding to enable the 
office to fully perform its mission.[Footnote 1] Specifically, Congress 
established minimum levels of resources for DPMO, providing that the 
military and civilian personnel levels, as well as funding, would be 
not less than requested in "the President's budget for fiscal year 
2003." On the basis of this congressional direction, DOD concluded that 
these minimum levels were: 46 military and 69 civilian personnel and 
$15.974 million in operation and maintenance (O&M) funding. [Footnote 
2] We used these minimum levels in our analysis.

The fiscal year 2005 National Defense Authorization Act[Footnote 3] 
required that we review the missions, staffing, and funding of DPMO. As 
we discussed with your offices, our objectives were to (1) identify 
changes in DPMO's mission from the inception of the office to the 
present; (2) compare DPMO personnel and funding requests with actual 
staffing and funding levels from inception through fiscal year 2004, 
and determine whether the actual levels for fiscal years 2003 and 2004 
were consistent with the minimum levels established by law; and (3) 
assess the extent to which DOD has evaluated any need for adjustment in 
personnel and/or funding levels, given changes in DPMO's mission. In 
May 2005, we provided your offices with information summarizing our 
observations in a briefing format. This letter summarizes and updates 
the information in the briefing (see enclosure I).

To perform our work, we assessed DOD directives and federal laws that 
either assigned missions to DOD that were later delegated to DPMO, or 
assigned missions directly to DPMO. We conducted interviews with DPMO 
officials and other officials in DOD components that also have 
responsibility for personnel accounting, recovery, and/or budgetary 
issues. We analyzed staffing data and budget materials from the 
President's budget requests, as well as the Future Years' Defense 
Program and other DOD sources, and we determined that the reliability 
of these data was sufficient for our purposes. We performed our work 
from January 2005 through June 2005 in accordance with generally 
accepted government auditing standards. Further details about our scope 
and methodology are provided at the end of this report.

Results in Brief:

Since its inception, DPMO's mission has expanded from initially 
accounting primarily for missing personnel from the Vietnam War era to 
accounting for missing personnel from past and current conflicts. 
Furthermore, in addition to performing its accounting function, DPMO 
has also become DOD's principal policy and oversight office for the 
rescue and return of live personnel to friendly control - that is, 
recovery. As of July 2005, DOD is revising DPMO's charter, which 
codifies DPMO's roles and missions.

After an initial consolidation period immediately following DPMO's 
inception, total personnel and current-dollar funding requests and 
actual levels have increased slightly. The total number of civilians in 
DPMO has declined, reflecting the overall DOD downsizing, with little 
difference between requested and actual numbers, whereas the number of 
military personnel working in DPMO has exhibited more fluctuation, with 
varying differences between requested and actual numbers. However, 
since fiscal year 2003, actual civilian and military personnel totals 
have not met the congressionally directed minimums. Actual civilian 
totals in fiscal years 2003 and 2004 were about 6 percent below the 69 
minimum personnel--65 in both years. Actual military personnel totals 
in fiscal years 2003 and 2004 were 30 percent or more below the 46 
minimum personnel--32 and 29, respectively. Between fiscal years 1996 
and 2005, DPMO funding increased in both constant and current dollar 
terms, and a close balance was kept between requested and actual 
funding. Operations and Maintenance (O&M) funding (which pays civilian 
salaries and other expenses) was similar in both requested and actual 
amounts, and it offset fluctuations in military personnel funding. 
Since fiscal year 1994, DPMO's O&M requested and actual funding levels 
increased, in current dollar terms. Except for fiscal year 2003, DPMO's 
funding has not met the congressionally directed minimum levels. In 
fiscal years 2004 and 2005, DOD requested and received slightly less 
than the congressionally directed minimum of $15.974 million--$174,000 
(about 1 percent) and $10,000 (about .06 percent) respectively.

The extent to which there is any need for adjustments in personnel or 
funding levels, given changes in DPMO's mission, cannot be determined 
because DPMO has not been subjected to a formal needs assessment since 
1998. Until DPMO's charter is finalized and an assessment is performed, 
neither Congress nor the Secretary of Defense will have sufficient 
information to determine what the appropriate personnel and funding 
levels for the office should be.

We are making recommendations to improve DOD's ability to determine 
what resources are needed for DPMO and how they can best be allocated.

DOD provided written comments on a draft of this report and concurred 
with each of our recommendations. DOD also provided technical comments 
on the report and we made changes where appropriate.

Background:

In 1993, DOD established DPMO by combining four separate offices within 
DOD. The personnel and funding resources of the four offices 
transferred to DPMO; however, many of the people did not transfer with 
their positions. Since its creation in 1993, DPMO has been headed by a 
Director, who also serves as a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense in 
the office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International 
Security Affairs. The Assistant Secretary, in turn, reports to the 
Under Secretary of Defense for Policy.

DPMO's functions are divided between accounting and recovery missions. 
With respect to a person in a missing status, accounting takes place 
when (1) the person is returned to United States control alive, (2) the 
remains of the person are recovered and are identified through visual 
or forensic means, or (3) credible evidence exists to support another 
determination of the person's status.[Footnote 4] Recovery refers to 
actions taken to rescue or extract personnel for return to friendly 
control.[Footnote 5]

Other DOD components and organizations also have roles in accounting 
and/or recovery. The military services and the office of the Under 
Secretary of Defense (Personnel and Readiness) provide casualty and 
family support, handle mortuary and funeral issues, and maintain 
personnel casualty databases. The Joint Prisoner of War/Missing in 
Action Accounting Command, which is subordinate to U.S. Pacific 
Command, also focuses on accounting issues. Teams from this command 
also conduct operations to recover and identify personal remains. 
Finally, the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency, which is subordinate to 
the U.S. Joint Forces Command, advises the military on personnel 
recovery matters such as training, planning, intelligence, and 
operations; and coordinates personnel recovery issues throughout DOD 
and other government agencies.

DPMO's Mission Has Expanded:

DPMO's roles and missions have expanded since the office was 
established in July 1993, although there is no single, up-to-date 
document that enumerates and describes them. DPMO responsibilities are 
delineated in 10 DOD directives and instructions, not including the 
original charter. Mission growth has occurred incrementally, with DOD 
missions having been added by legislation and delegated to DPMO by the 
Secretary of Defense, without corresponding revisions having been made 
to the overall mission statement or charter directive. As of August 
2005, DOD is revising DPMO's charter, which codifies DPMO's roles and 
missions as currently delineated. In commenting on a draft of this 
report, DOD stated that the charter directive should be published later 
this summer.

DPMO's original missions were set out in its charter directive. The 
office originally had several main responsibilities, including 
participating in negotiations with foreign governments in efforts to 
account for missing American servicemembers and providing 
representation to U.S. government forums; assembling and analyzing 
information, and maintaining databases on U.S. military or civilians 
who are or were POW/MIAs; declassifying documents in accordance with 
the law and communicating with affected families; and providing a 
statement of intelligence collection requirements to the Defense 
Intelligence Agency. Over time, due to a series of laws and DOD 
directives and instructions, DPMO's missions gradually expanded. In 
1994, Congress directed DOD to establish liaisons with family members 
of unaccounted-for Korean War and Cold War personnel.[Footnote 6] In 
1996, Congress further directed DOD to establish an office to have 
responsibility for DOD policy on both accounting for and recovery of 
missing persons.[Footnote 7] That year Congress also expanded the scope 
of personnel considered covered to include DOD contractors.

During 1996, the Secretary of Defense issued two messages that directed 
DPMO to assume the new missions identified by Congress. An additional 
series of DOD Directives and Instructions that further delineated 
DPMO's responsibilities was issued between 1997 and 2003. By 2003, 
these included: setting personnel recovery,[Footnote 8] 
repatriation,[Footnote 9] and isolated personnel training[Footnote 10] 
policy; conducting interagency coordination on all matters concerning 
covered persons;[Footnote 11] and organizing and leading the DOD 
response cell established to manage recovery of missing 
personnel.[Footnote 12] One of these instructions also designated DPMO 
as the central point of contact in the Office of the Secretary of 
Defense for training and education measures necessary to support the 
Code of Conduct--the code outlining the expected behavior for captured 
military personnel.[Footnote 13] Once the DOD directives and 
instructions were completed, DPMO undertook an effort to update its 
original charter to reflect its designated missions. DPMO's original 
emphasis was accounting for personnel who were still missing from the 
Vietnam War era, which gave the staff a caseload at that time of about 
2,000. In contrast, the current accounting caseload, which includes 
personnel missing from past and current conflicts, is about 88,000.

Two recent documents have implications for further expanding DPMO's 
mission. First, DPMO's strategic plan, issued in January 2005, 
specified a goal of implementing an organizational structure that would 
unify government missing personnel accounting efforts. DPMO officials 
have proposed that their office lead the unification efforts, but 
without necessarily changing the organizational structure. The second 
document, which was still in draft form as of August 2005, would update 
DPMO's charter directive. Consistent with the goal in the strategic 
plan, the initial version that we reviewed would have given the office 
control over the entire process of recovery of personnel missing as the 
result of hostile action, designate DPMO as the single point of contact 
with other parts of the U.S. and foreign governments on all accounting 
matters, and assign DPMO the leading role in family outreach. Reactions 
to early versions of the draft were mixed, with some organizations 
expressing concern that DPMO would assume more of an operational role 
than it has previously played, particularly in the areas of family 
outreach and live recovery. A senior DOD official told us that all DOD 
stakeholders need to reach a common understanding of the extent of 
DPMO's operational responsibilities and authorities before the document 
can be finalized. At the time this report was issued, the charter 
directive had not been finalized, but DOD noted the directive should be 
published later this summer. DOD also noted that the latest draft does 
not expand DPMO's roles beyond those it is currently performing and has 
been revised to show DPMO as the "primary DOD representative and point 
of contact" rather than the "single point of contact" on all accounting 
matters.

DOD Has Not Met Congressionally Directed Personnel and Funding Levels:

After an initial consolidation period immediately following DPMO's 
inception, total personnel and current-dollar funding requests and 
actual levels have increased slightly. Civilian requested and actual 
personnel numbers have declined while military personnel numbers have 
increased. In fiscal years 2003 and 2004, civilian and military actual 
levels did not meet the congressionally directed minimum levels. O&M 
funding has slightly increased since inception, but it missed the 
minimum level in fiscal years 2004 and 2005 by $174,000 (about 1 
percent) and $10,000 (about .06 percent) respectively.

Personnel:

Overall, after an initial consolidation period immediately following 
DPMO's inception, total personnel levels have increased slightly from 
84 in 1995 to 94 in fiscal year 2004. DPMO's requested civilian 
personnel total fell steadily from 1994 through 2001, consistent with 
overall DOD downsizing, and since then has stabilized at 69 requested 
personnel. Throughout these years, most of the requested positions were 
filled.[Footnote 14] In fiscal years 2003 and 2004, DPMO's actual 
civilian personnel level did not meet the congressionally directed 
minimum of 69 personnel. In both fiscal years, the actual number was 
65, about 6 percent less. According to a DPMO official, the office 
tries to stay at the 69-person level; however, retirements, hiring 
actions, transfers, and other personnel issues result in fluctuations 
in the actual number of civilian personnel in DPMO at any one time. 
DPMO officials said that they plan to request an increase to 114 
civilian positions after fiscal year 2006 on a basis of 4 additional 
positions per year. After they complete development of the strategic 
plan tasks and subtasks and resource estimates, they will refine their 
projections and submit requirements for future funding.

The number of military personnel requested, on the other hand, has 
fluctuated considerably over time because of confusion within the 
department as to whether temporary positions assigned to DPMO should be 
included in the number requested. Specifically, while DPMO had 19 
permanent military positions after the initial consolidation period, it 
also had 27 additional military positions that were temporary.[Footnote 
15] These temporary positions have been included in the number of 
positions officially requested in some years, but excluded in others. 
As a result, there is little correlation between the number requested 
and the actual number of military personnel positions.

Specifically, in fiscal year 2003, the year that Congress established 
the minimum number of military personnel for DPMO, DOD included the 19 
permanent positions but did not include the 27 temporary positions in 
data that it sent to the Office of Management and Budget for inclusion 
in the President's budget request. However, the 19 positions were 
included in the more detailed budget justification materials that are 
submitted by DOD to Congress. As a result, the Office of the 
Comptroller within the Office of the Secretary of Defense initially 
thought the congressionally directed number was 19, while DPMO believed 
it to be 46.

In an April 2004 memorandum, the Deputy Secretary of Defense stated 
that the total number of military personnel positions in DPMO should be 
46. While the number of positions requested has remained at 46 since 
that time, the actual total has been lower than the congressionally 
directed minimum of 46 in both fiscal years 2003 (32 actual, about 30 
percent below) and 2004 (29 actual, about 37 percent below). The 
military services are responsible for providing personnel to fill these 
positions and have not always provided the full complement of 46 
servicemembers to fill DPMO's positions. According to DOD, the 
positions have not always been filled because of competing priorities, 
such as the global war on terrorism. In commenting on a draft of this 
report, DOD stated that, although DPMO's military personnel positions 
are not currently filled at the congressionally directed minimum, DPMO 
continues to meet its mission successfully.

Funding:

DPMO's O&M funding requests, which pay chiefly for civilian salaries, 
travel, and facilities, have increased slightly in current dollars 
since fiscal year 1994, the first year for which some data were 
available. The actual amounts received have closely followed the 
requests. It should be noted that DPMO funding requests included in the 
President's Budgets for fiscal years 2004 and 2005 were slightly lower 
than the $15.974 million congressionally directed minimum for O&M, 
$174,000 and $10,000, respectively. DPMO officials stated they did not 
know why this occurred. In commenting on a draft of this report, DOD 
stated that, although the FY 2004 and FY 2005 funding was slightly less 
than the congressionally directed minimum, it completely funded the 
DPMO mission requirement.

DPMO has no control over military personnel funding, which is 
appropriated to the services; in any event, there is no legislated 
minimum dollar requirement for military personnel funding. We were able 
to obtain some aggregated data from DOD that allowed us to compare the 
military personnel funding that would support DPMO's number of military 
personnel positions. Because DOD did not have specific data, we were 
unable to trace military personnel funding for fiscal years prior to 
1996 (when the first unified DPMO budget was presented), but we found 
that military personnel requests and actual amounts have fluctuated 
since that year. For example, the actual amounts have ranged from a low 
of $1.17 million in fiscal year 1996 to a high of $3.31 million in 
fiscal year 1997.

DPMO Lacks a Recent Needs Assessment:

Congress has stated that government organizations should define their 
mission, measure performance, and use performance information to self 
correct.[Footnote 16] Without such a roadmap, agencies can find it 
difficult to make appropriate resource decisions, especially important 
in a time of overall resource decline.[Footnote 17] With regard to 
DPMO, Congress specifically required that the Secretary of Defense 
ensure that the office has adequate resources to accomplish its mission 
and established the minimum personnel and funding levels discussed 
above.

DPMO has not been subject to a comprehensive needs assessment since 
1998. That assessment, done by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, 
evaluated each directorate and recommended personnel levels for each; 
however, while the study acknowledged the need for more resources, it 
recognized the constrained DOD fiscal environment and recommended that 
DPMO make better use of the personnel and funding that were already 
available. However, the study did not link its survey of DPMO's 
activities to a roles-and-missions baseline, such as an existing 
strategic plan. Other studies have analyzed aspects of DPMO's mission 
without providing a systematic evaluation of what staff or budgetary 
resources are needed to accomplish the mission. For example, a study 
done by the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA) and published in 2004 
considered only selected aspects of DPMO's activities and recommended 
that DPMO add personnel to work on recovery aspects of its mission 
without considering how this would affect other DPMO roles and 
responsibilities. In its written comments on our draft report, DOD 
noted that the IDA study linked the need for additional DPMO resources 
to issuance of a National Security Presidential Directive, which has 
not yet been issued. The Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) 
Office of Program Analysis and Evaluation recommended in 2003 that a 
comprehensive study be undertaken, but its recommendation was not 
approved by DOD management on the grounds that legislation had already 
established a floor level of personnel and funding, and therefore a 
study would be redundant.

While DPMO does have a new strategic plan that includes a mission 
statement, the office has not taken three key steps that constitute the 
core of output-based performance management: define all desired 
outcomes, establish metrics to measure performance, and use performance 
information to make adjustments and link resources to performance 
goals. For example, DPMO has not defined metrics to measure its 
performance, and, since there are no metrics to measure performance, 
DPMO has insufficient information on performance. Within DPMO, budget 
requests are made when division directors argue for their particular 
initiatives before a management panel; however, the panel does not link 
its resource decisions to a strategic plan.

Conclusions:

DOD has not clarified the precise scope of DPMO's roles and missions. 
Moreover, the recently issued strategic plan lacks key elements, such 
as performance metrics and linkages between resources and performance 
goals. As a result, neither the Secretary of Defense nor the Congress 
have sufficient knowledge about how DPMO intends to accomplish its 
current missions or, if it is assigned new missions, how the office 
intends to apportion its resources. Until a formal needs assessment for 
DPMO's workload is conducted, Congress and DOD cannot make informed 
decisions about what level of resources to assign to DPMO or encourage 
it to assume additional responsibilities, nor can the Secretary of 
Defense fulfill his statutory responsibility to ensure that DPMO has 
adequate resources.

Recommendations for Executive Action:

We are recommending that the Secretary of Defense direct the Under 
Secretary of Defense for Policy to (1) determine the scope of DPMO's 
missions and responsibilities, and revise DPMO's charter accordingly; 
(2) based on the results of this determination, undertake a formal 
needs assessment of DPMO's workload to determine both what resources 
are needed and how they can best be allocated among the various mission 
areas, taking into account how DPMO fits within the overall spectrum of 
DOD organizations that have accounting or recovery missions; and (3) 
incorporate that information into a revised strategic plan that links 
goals and objectives to performance metrics and resource needs.

Scope and Methodology:

To identify changes in DPMO's mission from the inception of the office 
to the present, we interviewed DPMO officials; service representatives 
in the offices of headquarters, Department of the Army, Washington, 
D.C.; The Army Adjutant General, Alexandria, Virginia; and officials 
from the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and 
Readiness, Washington, D.C.; the Office of the Under Secretary of 
Defense for Policy; and the Joint Staff (J-5), Washington, D.C. We also 
conducted telephone interviews with the Joint POW/MIA Accounting 
Command, Honolulu, Hawaii; Air Force Personnel Center, Randolph Air 
Force Base, Texas; and Navy Personnel Command, Millington, Tennessee.

To compare DPMO personnel and funding requests with actual personnel 
and funding levels since DPMO's inception, we interviewed officials in 
the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), Program 
Analysis and Evaluation and Program and Financial Control; Washington 
Headquarters Services; and the Directorate for Administration and 
Management. We also reviewed personnel and budget data from the Defense 
Manpower Data Center, Future Years' Defense Program (FYDP), Defense 
Manpower Requirements reports, and DOD Program Budget Decisions and 
Program Decision Memoranda; annual President's budget requests; and 
Congressional Budget Presentation justification materials. For purposes 
of assessing actual personnel levels, we used end-strength data - that 
is, the number of personnel who were on board as of September 30 of 
each year, which is the last day of the fiscal year. We encountered 
discrepancies in the data when comparing different sources' information 
for both civilian and military actual (on-board) personnel, and so 
although our chart is correct to the extent possible using official DOD 
sources, we cannot be sure that each data point represents the exact 
end-strength for each year. However, any errors are modest, given the 
low total numbers involved. To assess funding levels for military 
personnel, we used FYDP data. This database provides information that 
is calculated according to the number of personnel and whether they are 
officers or enlisted, rather than by adding up the compensation of each 
individual who occupied a particular position for all or part of the 
year. We determined that the reliability of these data was sufficient 
for our purposes.

To assess the extent to which DOD has evaluated any need for adjustment 
in staffing or funding levels given changes in DPMO's mission, we 
interviewed officials at DPMO, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense 
(Comptroller), Program Analysis and Evaluation, and the Research and 
Studies Office within the office of the Under Secretary of Defense for 
Policy. We obtained and analyzed reports on DPMO's structure, staffing, 
and resource needs. We reviewed reports that were prepared within DOD, 
such as the Directorate for Administration and Management's 1998 
staffing study and Army Manpower Analysis Agency's 1999 study, and 
external reports, such as the Institute for Defense Analyses' 2004 
report on creating a personnel recovery architecture.

We performed our work from January 2005 through June 2005 in accordance 
with generally accepted government auditing standards.

Agency Comments and Our Evaluation:

DOD provided written comments on a draft of this report and concurred 
with each of our recommendations.

With regard to our first recommendation that DOD determine the scope of 
DPMO's mission and responsibilities and revise DPMO's charter 
accordingly, DOD stated that a revised charter directive reflecting 
DPMO's responsibilities and functions should be published later this 
summer.

With regard to our second recommendation that DOD undertake a formal 
needs assessment of DPMO's workload to determine what resources are 
needed and how they should be allocated, DOD stated that DPMO has 
contracted with the Institute for Defense Analyses to develop an 
overall organizational plan for the personnel accounting mission that 
unifies DOD's personnel accounting efforts. DOD also stated that this 
study would not be completed until September 30, 2006 and any changes 
"would not be implemented until after it is reviewed, changes proposed 
and decisions implemented, a time-consuming process. Consequently, DOD 
will weigh the costs and benefits of conducting a needs assessment now 
versus waiting until after the community is reorganized." We believe 
that, given DOD's statement that the directive outlining DPMO's 
responsibilities and functions should be published later this summer, 
DOD has sufficient basis for conducting a needs assessment in the near 
term. We note that DPMO has not been subject to a comprehensive 
assessment of its workload and resources in its 12 years of existence. 
Should the ongoing study result in changes affecting DPMO, DOD could 
then reexamine DPMO's needs and make adjustments accordingly.

With regard to our third recommendation that, after a formal needs 
assessment is done, DOD revise DPMO's strategic plan to link goals and 
objectives to performance metrics and resource needs, DOD stated that 
DPMO is currently developing an implementation plan that would link the 
strategic plan's goals and objectives to performance metrics and 
resource expenditures. We continue to believe that a formal needs 
assessment must be done to determine DPMO's resource requirements, 
based on DPMO's stated mission and responsibilities in the charter 
directive being finalized, before this information can be linked in any 
meaningful way to the goals and objectives in a strategic plan.

DOD also provided technical comments on the report and we made changes 
where appropriate. We have reprinted DOD's comments in enclosure II.

Should you or your staff have any further questions, please contact me 
at (202) 512-9619. Contact points for our Offices of Congressional 
Relations and Public Affairs may be found on the last page of this 
report. Key contributors to this report were Ann Borseth, Jonathan 
Clark, Sally Newman, Paul Newton, Maria-Alaina Rambus, Cheryl Weissman, 
John Van Schaik, and R.K. Wild.

Signed by: 

Sharon L. Pickup:
Director, Defense Capabilities and Management:

Enclosures:

Enclosure I: Observations: Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel 
Office (DPMO):

Briefing to Senate and House Armed Services Committees:

Mandate and GAO Objectives:

PL 108-375, Ronald W. Reagan National Defense Authorization Act for 
Fiscal Year 2005, requires GAO to assess DPMO's mission, personnel, and 
funding.

GAO's objectives are to:

* Identify changes in DPMO's mission from the inception of the office 
in 1993 to the present;

* Compare DPMO personnel and funding requests with actual personnel and 
funding levels since inception, and whether actual levels met 
congressional minimum levels; and:

* Assess the extent to which DOD has evaluated any need for adjustment 
in personnel and/or funding levels given changes in DPMO's mission.

Observations:

DPMO was originally established to account for missing personnel from 
Vietnam and, to a lesser extent, the Cold War. However, the mission has 
expanded to include accounting for missing personnel from past 
conflicts as well as becoming DOD's principal policy and oversight 
office for personnel recovery.

Total personnel and current-dollar funding requests and actual levels 
have increased slightly since DPMO's inception.

-DOD did not meet P.L. 107-314 requirement to sustain actual personnel 
at the FY 2003 President's Budget level (69 civilian/46 military) in FY 
2003 and FY 2004, and missed the funding target ($15,974,000) in FY 
2004 and FY 2005.

DPMO has not been subject to a formal needs assessment since 1998. 
DPMO's recent strategic plan set goals and objectives, but did not 
quantify personnel needs. New draft directive codifies scope of DPMO's 
responsibilities, but DPMO has not quantified how many staff will be 
needed.

Background: Origin of DPMO:

* Established on July 16, 1993, by DOD directive.

* Four existing offices combined to create DPMO. These offices worked 
to resolve cases from Russia and Southeast Asia.

* Personnel and funding transferred from component offices to DPMO.

[See PDF for image] 

[End of figure] 

Background: DOD Components Sharing Recovery and/or Accounting Mission:

[See PDF for image] 

[End of table] 

Background: Total Personnel Unaccounted For (as of July 2005):

* World War II: about 78,000:

* Korea/Cold War: more than 8,300:

* Vietnam War: more than 1,800:

* Gulf War: 3:

* Current Conflicts: (to include Colombia, OIF/OEF): 12:

Source: DPMO. 

[End of table] 

DPMO Mission Requirements:

[See PDF for image] 

Source: GAO analysis of public laws and DOD directives/instructions.

[End of figure] 

Total Personnel:

* After the initial consolidation of offices into DPMO:

- Personnel numbers requested have fluctuated over time due to civilian 
downsizing and uncertainty of military positions.

- Actual total personnel numbers have increased slightly.

* P.L. 107-314 established minimum requirements for personnel for DPMO 
at the level of the FY03 President's Budget request, which were set at 
69 civilians and 46 military.

Civilian Personnel: Comparison of Requested and Actual Personnel 
Levels: 

* DPMO started with 122 positions (some vacant) in August 1993, but 
many staff remained with original agencies.

* Personnel levels decreased over time due to overall DOD downsizing.

* P.L. 107-314 established personnel level of 69 civilians as a 
minimum. Actual levels were about 6 percent less--65 civilians in 
FY2003 and FY 2004.

* Civilian totals exclude 29 information technology support contractors 
on-board since 2000 and small numbers of intermittent contractors.

[See PDF for image]

Sources: President's Budget Requests and justification books, Program 
Budget Decisions, Defense Manpower Data Center SR-113 pay records.

[End of figure] 

Military Personnel: Comparison of Requested and Actual Personnel 
Levels: 

* At inception, DPMO had few permanent military positions.

* Requests for military positions fluctuated due to uncertainty of 
authorization of 27 temporary military positions.

* P.L. 107-314 established minimum requirement for military positions. 
DOD confirmed congressional direction that requirement is 46.

* In fiscal years 2003 and 2004, actual levels (32 and 29 respectively) 
did not meet minimum. Actual levels depend on availability of military 
personnel.

[See PDF for image] 

Sources: President's Budget requests and justification books, Future 
Years Defense Program (FYDP).

[End of figure] 

O&M Funding: Comparison of Requested and Actual Levels:

* DPMO's overall Operation and Maintenance (O&M) funding request 
initially decreased, but then steadily increased, in current dollars, 
from about $15.5 million in FY 1994 to almost $16 million in FY 2005.

* P.L. 107-314 requires DOD to maintain DPMO funding at least at level 
of FY 2003 President's Budget ($15.974 million).

* DOD met target in FY03, but requested and received slightly less 
funding in FY04 and FY05.

[See PDF for image] 

Sources: President's Budget Request, Future Years Defense Program. 
Actual data for FY94-95 not available.

[End of figure] 

Military Personnel Funding: Comparison of Requested and Actual Levels:

* DPMO gets no military personnel funding; services pay those costs.

* Requested military personnel funding has fluctuated because of the 
uncertainty of authorization of 27 temporary military positions.

* Actual military personnel costs have fluctuated due in large part to 
the number of authorized positions filled.

* At times, actual is greater than requested because the 27 temporary 
positions were reauthorized too late to be reflected in a request.

[See PDF for image] 

Source: GAO analysis of President's Budget Request and Future Years 
Defense Program. Data for 1994-1995 are unavailable.

[End of figure] 

DPMO Actual Funding by Account, in Constant FY2005 Dollars: 

[See PDF for image] 

Source: Future Years Defense Program.

[End of figure] 

DOD Evaluation of Personnel and Funding Needs:

OSD's Directorate for Administration and Management study done in 1998 
acknowledged DPMO's need for more resources, but recommended that DPMO 
make maximum use of existing resources.

DPMO-sponsored studies concluded that DPMO needed more resources, but 
did not conduct formal needs assessments.

-Army Manpower Analysis Agency, 1999:

* Study to determine combined personnel needs if DPMO were to absorb 
Army Central Identification Laboratory and Joint Task Force Full 
Accounting. 

* DPMO has not absorbed these organizations.

-Interagency National Personnel Recovery Architecture, 2004:

* Study was funded by Congress and conducted by Institute for Defense 
Analyses.

* Recommended increasing personnel subject to issuance of new National 
Security Presidential Directive.

* OSD's Office of Program Analysis and Evaluation sought unsuccessfully 
in 2003 to initiate comprehensive needs assessment.

DPMO issued Strategic Plan in January 2005 that set forth goals and 
objectives, but not metrics for personnel needs.

DOD is currently reviewing a draft update to the DPMO directive that 
codifies its roles and missions, to include:

- Central management, policy control, and oversight of the entire 
process for investigation and recovery related to personnel missing as 
a result of hostile action.

* includes: repatriation/reintegration; non-conventional assisted 
recovery; combat search and rescue; survival, evasion, resistance, and 
escape (SERE); operational POW/missing personnel matters; isolated 
personnel training and training on related matters such as Code of 
Conduct; and DOD support to civil search and rescue.

DPMO has not quantified how many staff will be needed nor determined 
how to allocate resources to meet these responsibilities. 

[End of section] 

OFFICE OF THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: INTERNATIONAL SECURITY 
AFFAIRS:
2400 DEFENSE PENTAGON: 
WASHINGTON, DC 20301-2400:

August 11, 2005:

Ms. Sharon L. Pickup: 
Director:
Defense Capabilities and Management: U.S. Government Accountability 
Office: 441 G Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20548:

Dear Ms. Pickup:

Attached is the DoD response to the GAO Draft Report, GAO Code 350632/ 
GAO-05-756R, "Defense Management: Assessment Should be Done to Clarify 
Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office Personnel and Funding 
Needs."

The attached consists of the DoD general concurrence in the overall 
recommendations, with comments on each recommendation, and comments on 
the factual information in the report. These comments at Tab A are an 
integral part of the DoD response.

Sincerely,

Signed by: 

Mary Beth Long, 
Principal Deputy: 

DoD Comments on Recommendations:

RECOMMENDATION 1: The GAO recommended that the Secretary of Defense 
direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy to determine the scope 
of the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) mission 
and responsibilities, and revise DPMO's charter accordingly.

DoD RESPONSE:

DoD concurs in this recommendation.

A revised draft of the DPMO charter directive has been in coordination 
since January 2005. It has the concurrence of the DoD components and 
the OSD Staff, only waiting for DoD General Counsel coordination. There 
is broad agreement within DoD on the responsibilities and functions 
reflected in the revised directive so no significant changes are expect 
from the remaining coordination. The draft directive does not expand 
DPMO's responsibilities beyond those it is currently performing. It 
should be published later this summer.

RECOMMENDATION 2: The GAO recommended that the Secretary of Defense 
direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy to, based on the 
results of the determination in Recommendation 1, undertake a formal 
needs assessment of DPMO's workload to determine both what resources 
are needed and how they can best be allocated among the various mission 
areas, taking into account how DPMO fits within the overall spectrum of 
DoD organizations that have accounting and/or recovery missions.

DOD RESPONSE:

DoD concurs in this recommendation.

In June 2005, DPMO contracted with the Institute for Defense Analyses 
(IDA) to develop an overall organizational plan for the personnel 
accounting mission that unifies DoD's personnel accounting efforts. 
This study includes examining the structure of the entire accounting 
community; i.e. DPMO, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, the Air 
Force Life Sciences Equipment Laboratory, the Armed Forces DNA 
Identification Laboratory, and certain personnel accounting-related 
functions of the DoD Intelligence Community and Service Casualty 
Offices.

The study will not be completed until 30 September 2006 when IDA 
submits its findings. Any changes from the study would not be 
implemented until after it is reviewed, changes proposed and decisions 
implemented, a time-consuming process. Consequently, DoD will weigh the 
costs and benefits of conducting a needs assessment now versus waiting 
until after the community is reorganized.

RECOMMENDATION 3: The GAO recommended that the Secretary of Defense 
direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy to incorporate that 
information into a revised strategic plan that links goals and 
objectives to performance metrics and resource needs.

DOD RESPONSE:

DoD concurs in this recommendation.

As reported, DPMO published its first strategic plan in January 2005. 
Since then, it has developed more specific objectives and enabling 
tasks to reach its goals. DPMO is currently developing an 
implementation plan that links the strategic plan's goals and 
objectives to performance metrics and resource expenditures. This 
revised strategic plan will be submitted to Policy for review and 
approval.

3. Substantive factual comments include:

* DoD leadership recognizes the importance of DPMO's mission. As noted 
in the report, in April 2004, Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz directed the 
DPMO military manning would be 46, making permanent the 27 temporary 
billets. This will give those billets the same fill rate priority as 
the other permanent billets, and an improvement in military manning is 
expected.

* Since 1999, DPMO has managed its own manpower and budget resources, 
maintaining its civilian work force and submitting its own budget 
requests.

* In FY2003, the funding level for DPMO exceeded the congressional 
minimum by $642,000, or 4% ($16.616M). The total amount funded below 
congressional minimums in FY2004 and FY2005 was $184,000.

* Although the FY 2004 and FY 2005 funding was slightly less than the 
congressionally directed minimum, it completely funded the DPMO mission 
requirement.

For the FY2006 budget, DPMO has requested funding above the 
congressional minimum.

5. Please contact me, or the primary action office, OASD/ISA, Captain 
Michael Fierro, 703-697-2788, if you have further questions.

Attachments: As stated.

TAB A:

DoD Comments on Factual Information in Report GAO Code 350632/GAO-05- 
756R:

Comment on Objectives of the Report: The GAO objectives stated in the 
report differ from the language contained in the Congressional 
legislation (Ronald W. Reagan National Defense Act for Fiscal Year 200, 
Pub. L. No. 108-375, Sect 582) and the objectives stated in the 
originating GAO Notification statement. The legislation states the 
report shall include:

(1) a description of changes, over the period from inception of the 
office to the time of the submission of the report, in the missions and 
mission requirements of the office, together with a comparison of 
personnel and funding requirements of the office over that period with 
actual manning and funding levels over that period; and:

(2) the Comptroller General's assessment of the adequacy of current 
manning and funding levels for that office in light of current mission 
requirements.

The Objectives/Key Questions listed in the originating GAO notification 
document mirror the legislation but the GAO report adds the statement: 
"to determine whether the actual levels for fiscal years 2003 and 2004 
were consistent with the minimum levels established by law."

* The legislation asks about mission, personnel and funding 
"requirements" while the report uses the term "requests."

Continents with respect to the DPMO Mission, Mannin comments amplify 
the report more completely:

The following:

DoD leadership recognizes the importance of DPMO's mission. As noted in 
the report, in April 2004, Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz directed the DPMO 
military manning would be 46, making permanent the 27 temporary 
billets. This will give those billets the same fill rate priority as 
the other permanent billets, and a dramatic improvement in military 
manning is expected.

Since 1999, DPMO has managed its own manpower and budget resources, 
maintaining its civilian work force and submitting its own budget 
requests. DoD has never limited DPMO's civilian authorization at a 
level below that mandated by Congress level.

* In FY2003, the funding level for DPMO exceeded the congressional 
minimum by $642,000, or 4% ($16.616M). The total amount funded below 
congressional minimums in FY2004 and FY2005 was $184,000.

* Although the FY 2004 and FY 2005 funding was slightly less than the 
congressionally directed minimum, it completely funded the DPMO mission 
requirement.

For the FY2006 budget, DPMO has requested funding above the 
congressional minimum.

* At the time DPMO was established, its primary focus was accounting 
for missing service personnel from the Vietnam War. Task Force Russia, 
which was charged with supporting the U.S.-Russia Joint Commission on 
POWs and MIAs, was dissolved to form the Defense POW/MIA Office. The US-
Russia Joint Commission accounted for losses from World War II, the 
Korean War, and a number of shoot-down incidents of reconnaissance 
aircraft, collectively referred to as Cold War losses. A responsibility 
subsumed into the DPMO mission.

To clarify DPMO's World War II case load and responsibility for 
accounting for World War II missing personnel, the legislation 
(National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2000 PL 106-65, Sec. 576. 
Recovery and Identification of Remains of Certain World War II 
Servicemen Lost in Pacific Theater of Operations) only requires DPMO to 
make every reasonable effort to search for, recover, and identify the 
remains of United States servicemen lost in the Pacific theater of 
operations during World War II (including in New Guinea) while engaged 
in flight operations. Although the World War 11 accounting case load 
required by legislation, is substantially smaller than the 78,000 cases 
referenced in the report, fairness to families of any unaccounted for 
servicemember compels DPMO to handle other World War II cases as 
requested. This makes the potential case load 78,000.

* To support the US-Russia Joint Commission, in late-1994, DPMO formed 
the Joint Commission Support Directorate (JCSD). To man the JCSD, DPMO 
planners identified 27 military billets as the manpower necessary to 
support the Commission's work with the former Soviet Union. Military 
billets were chosen to capitalize on unique language skills (i.e., 
Russian) readily available in the Services. Because it was expected 
that the Commission's work would only span three years, the billets 
were authorized as temporary billets. The US-Russia Joint Commission's 
work continued under Presidential endorsement, requiring JCSD's support 
beyond the initial three-year manpower request. This unanticipated 
manpower requirement was resolved by extending the billets another 
three years. Extending the billets continued every three years until it 
was obvious that the mission was enduring and a permanent manpower 
solution was needed.

The principal problem with the temporary nature of the billets is that 
temporary billets and permanent billets do not enjoy the same fill rate 
priority and the lower priority for temporary billets caused 
disruptions in DPMO's manning. Also, they were frequently authorized 
too late in the budget cycle for the Services to program them into 
their authorization requests. Consequently, though the billets were 
eventually included in the budget, the Services did not always program 
personnel to fill them.

* As slide number 11 indicates, improving military manning was on track 
until 2001 when the onset of the war on terrorism created more urgent 
national priorities that challenged the filling of routine, non-combat 
related billets. In support of war-related priorities, the Personnel 
Recovery Office in DPMO is fully manned. While the importance of DPMO's 
mission is undiminished, the manpower requirements to fight two wars 
compounds already difficult resource decisions for all DoD 
organizations. DPMO continues to meet its mission successfully despite 
the current situation.

* The DPMO Strategic Plan is an internally-generated DPMO document that 
was not sent to the Policy leadership for review and approval. The 
revision will be reviewed and approved by Policy.

* Updating of charter directives has been a DoD priority and DPMO's 
charter directive is one of many being revised. The Director of 
Administration and Management (DA&M) in OSD is responsible for 
preparing charter directives for DoD, including DPMO. DA&M performs 
this in conjunction with the organization being chartered and is 
responsible for DoD-wide coordination.

A revised draft of the DPMO charter directive has been in coordination 
since January 2005. It has the concurrence of the DoD components and 
the OSD Staff, only waiting for the DoD General Counsel coordination. 
There is broad agreement wating DoD on the responsibilities and 
functions reflected in the revised directive so no significant changes 
are expected from the remaining coordination. The draft directive does 
not expand DPMO's responsibilities beyond those it is currently 
performing. It should be published later this summer.

* The report says DPMO's charter directive will designate them DoD's 
"single point of contact with other parts of the US and foreign 
governments on all accounting matters." Subsequently, the draft charter 
directive has been revised from "single point of contact" to "primary 
DoD representative and point of contact" which is more accurate.

Because DPMO's military manpower consisted of both permanent and 
temporary billets, some personnel at various levels of the 
organizations responsible for programming the military billets were 
confused over the number of military personnel to be authorized. At the 
supervisory level, it was understood by 2001 to be 46 - what budget 
authorizations for military billets had as a target.

* To clarify the point about the comment that the USD(C) Office of 
Program Analysis and Evaluation (PA&E) recommended a comprehensive 
study and DoD management denied approval, the recommendation not to 
undertake the study came from the same PA&E personnel who originally 
recommended the study. As stated in the report, since Congress mandated 
the manpower levels for DPMO, PA&E did not consider spending money and 
resources on a study to be sound.

Both the report and slide 15 state that results of two previous studies 
of DPMO mission and manpower requirements (Army Manpower Analysis 
Agency and IDA) concluded that DPMO needed more resources. The Army 
Manpower Analysis Agency studied whether or not DPMO would need more 
manpower if it were to absorb the duties of Joint Task Force Full 
Accounting and the Army Central Identification Laboratory. Those 
organizations joined to form the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command 
(JPAC) avoiding the need for DPMO to add billets. IDA recommended that 
DPMO add two billets contingent upon implementation of a National 
Security Presidential Directive (NSPD). The NSPD is still being 
developed.

Comments on the briefing slides are:

- Slide 3: See above discussion on the difference between the language 
of the legislation and the objectives.

- Slide 4: See above discussion about WWII case load. DPMO accounting 
activities for other conflicts has been on an exceptional basis. The 
first bullet should read "personnel" recovery instead of "live" 
recovery. As the report states, the draft directive may "change" the 
scope of responsibilities but as the draft charter directive firms up, 
that does not appear to be the case.

- Slide 7: See discussion above concerning the figure for World War II 
missing. As of July 14, the figure for those missing from current 
conflicts figure is 12.

- Slide 9: See discussion above concerning military billets.

- Slide 11: See discussion above concerning fluctuations in filling 
military billets.

- Slide 12: DoD exceeded the FY03 funding target by $642,000. Comments 
above discuss the adequacy of the funding provided and the absence of 
mission impact by the slight shortage in meeting the target.

- Slide 15: See discussion above regarding these studies.

The IDA study recommendation to add two personnel to DPMO was 
contingent on the implementation of an NSPD that is still under 
development.

- Slide 16: The second bullet presumes that the updated charter 
directive will expand DPMO's roles and missions. That does not appear 
to be the case. 

[End of section] 

FOOTNOTES

[1] Bob Stump National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2003, 
Pub. L. No. 107-314,  551(a) (2002).

[2] With respect to the minimum level for military personnel, we found 
no specific number in the President's budget for fiscal year 2003. 
Other supporting documents included various levels of military 
personnel for the DPMO. For example, a budget justification document 
submitted to Congress by DOD included 46 military personnel for DPMO, 
and DOD's Future Years Defense Program submitted pursuant to 10 U.S.C. 
221 indicated 19 military personnel for DPMO. The Conference Report for 
the Authorization Act states that the "conferees note that the budget 
request for fiscal year 2003 provides for 46 military personnel." H.R. 
Conf. Rep. No. 107-772, at 648 (2002). In an April 27, 2004 memorandum, 
the Deputy Secretary of Defense stated that Congress had directed that 
DPMO's military manpower should be at least 46 billets. 

[3] Ronald W. Reagan National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 
2005, Pub. L. No. 108-375, 582 (2004).

[4] Department of Defense (DOD) Instruction 2310.5, Accounting for 
Missing Persons, section E2.1.1 (Jan. 31, 2000) (hereinafter DOD 
Instruction 2310.5).

[5] Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joint Pub. 1-02, Department of Defense 
Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, (May 9, 2005).

[6] National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1995, Pub. L. 
103-337,  1031 (1994).

[7] National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1996, Pub. L. 
104-106,  569 (1996).

[8] DOD Instruction 2310.6, Non-Conventional Assisted Recovery in the 
Department of Defense (Oct. 13, 2000).

[9] DOD Instruction 2310.4, Repatriation of Prisoners of War (POW), 
Hostages, Peacetime Government Detainees, and Other Missing or Isolated 
Personnel (Nov 21, 2000).

[10] DOD Instruction 1300.23, Isolated Personnel Training for DOD 
Civilian and Contractors (Aug. 20, 2003).

[11] DOD Instruction 2310.5.

[12] DOD Instruction 2310.3, Personnel Recovery Response Cell (PRRC) 
Procedures (Jun 6, 1997).

[13] DOD Directive 1300.7, Training and Education to Support the Code 
of Conduct (CoC) (Dec. 8, 2000).

[14] As of June 2005, DPMO's 69 civilian positions were graded as 
follows: GS-15, 14 positions; GS-14, 17 positions; GS-13, 22 positions; 
GS-12, 6 positions; GS-11, 6 positions; GS-9, 1 position; and GS-8, 3 
positions.

[15] DPMO identified the 27 temporary military positions as necessary 
to provide support to the U.S.-Russia Joint Commission, which was 
established in 1992 to account for and recover missing American 
servicemembers in the former Soviet Union, but, over time, these 
positions have evolved to support other aspects of DPMO's work. 

[16] Government Performance and Results Act of 1993, Pub. L. No. 103-62 
(1993); GAO, Executive Guide: Effectively Implementing the Government 
Performance and Results Act, GAO/GGD-96-118 (Washington, D.C.: June 1, 
1996).

[17] GAO, 21ST Century Challenges: Reexamining the Base of the Federal 
Government, GAO-05-325SP (Washington, D.C.: February 2005).