This is the accessible text file for GAO report number GAO-08- entitled 
'Defense Budget: Independent Review Is Needed to Ensure DODís Use of 
Cost Estimating Tool for Contingency Operations Follows Best Practices' 
which was released on September 15, 2008. 

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Report to Congressional Committees: 

United States Government Accountability Office: 

GAO: 

September 2008: 

Defense Budget: 

Independent Review Is Needed to Ensure DOD's Use of Cost Estimating 
Tool for Contingency Operations Follows Best Practices: 

Defense Budget: 

GAO-08-982: 

GAO Highlights: 

Highlights of GAO-08-982, a report to congressional committees. 

Why GAO Did This Study: 

Since the September 2001 terrorist attacks, Congress has provided about 
$800 billion as of July 2008 to the Department of Defense (DOD) for 
military operations in support of the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT). 
GWOT budget requests have grown in scope and the amount requested has 
increased every year. DOD uses various processes and the Contingency 
Operations Support Tool (COST) to estimate costs for these operations 
and to develop budget requests. 

GAO assessed (1) how DOD uses COST and other processes to develop GWOT 
budget requests and (2) what actions DOD has taken to ensure COST 
adheres to best practices for cost estimation. 

GAO interviewed DOD officials and others to determine how the services 
develop GWOT budget requests using COST and other processes. GAO also 
used its Cost Assessment Guide as criteria for best practices for cost 
estimation. 

GAO is recommending that DOD (1) arrange for an independent review of 
COST to ensure that the model adheres to best practices and (2) 
consider options for refining COST to better meet the needs of the 
services. DOD agreed with both of GAOís recommendations. 

What GAO Found: 

The services use COST as part of their process to develop a GWOT budget 
request. While the Army relies more on the estimate resulting from 
COST, the other services adjust the results of COST to reflect 
estimates they generate outside of COST, based on historical obligation 
data and other information. DODís financial management regulation and 
other guidance require components to use COST to develop an estimate 
for the deployment and sustainment of military personnel and equipment 
for ongoing operations in support of GWOT. While all services use COST 
to develop an initial estimate, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy 
budget officials alter the results of the tool to match information 
provided by lower level commands and historical obligation data that 
they believe are more accurate than the COST-generated estimate. These 
officials stated that the tool routinely overestimates some costs and 
therefore most changes made are decreases in the amount estimated by 
COST. These officials believe that the requirement to use COST to 
develop a GWOT budget request is a duplicative process to their 
preferred method of using historical obligation data and other 
information better suited to their specific service. For example, they 
stated that COST better represents the needs of Army ground forces and 
the tool has not been refined to be as effective for estimating needs 
for their serviceís mission. These officials also mentioned that COST 
is better suited for developing estimates for smaller-scale contingency 
operations than for the lengthy deployments and sustainment phases 
associated with a large campaign such as GWOT. To develop estimates for 
items that are outside the scope of COST, such as procurement and 
certain contracts, the military services rely primarily on needs 
assessments developed by commanders and historical obligation data. 

DOD has taken steps to improve the performance and reliability of COST; 
however, COST could benefit from an independent review of the toolís 
adherence to best practices for high-quality cost estimation as 
described in GAOís Cost Assessment Guide. COST has been refined many 
times and cost factors are routinely updated in an effort to use the 
most current information available to develop an estimate. DOD 
officials stated they are confident in the toolís ability to provide 
reasonable estimates because COST is frequently updated. However, COST 
has not been assessed against best practices for cost estimation to 
determine whether COST can provide high-quality estimates that are well 
documented, comprehensive, accurate, and credible. While GAO did not 
undertake a full assessment of COST against best practices, it 
determined that some features of the tool meet best practices while 
other features would benefit from further review. For example, the tool 
adheres to several best practices for a comprehensive and accurate cost 
estimate, such as frequent updates to the structure of COST and the 
data the tool uses to generate estimates. However, COST relies on GWOT 
obligation data that GAO has identified as being of questionable 
reliability. A thorough, independent review of COST against best 
practices could provide decision makers with information about whether 
the tool creates cost estimates for GWOT expenses that are well 
documented, comprehensive, accurate, and credible. 

To view the full product, including the scope and methodology, click on 
[hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-08-982]. For more 
information, contact Sharon L. Pickup, (202) 512-9619, pickups@gao.gov. 

[End of section] 

GAO Highlights: 

Highlights of GAO-08-982, a report to congressional committees. 

Why GAO Did This Study: 

Since the September 2001 terrorist attacks, Congress has provided about 
$800 billion as of July 2008 to the Department of Defense (DOD) for 
military operations in support of the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT). 
GWOT budget requests have grown in scope and the amount requested has 
increased every year. DOD uses various processes and the Contingency 
Operations Support Tool (COST) to estimate costs for these operations 
and to develop budget requests. 

GAO assessed (1) how DOD uses COST and other processes to develop GWOT 
budget requests and (2) what actions DOD has taken to ensure COST 
adheres to best practices for cost estimation. 

GAO interviewed DOD officials and others to determine how the services 
develop GWOT budget requests using COST and other processes. GAO also 
used its Cost Assessment Guide as criteria for best practices for cost 
estimation. 

GAO is recommending that DOD (1) arrange for an independent review of 
COST to ensure that the model adheres to best practices and (2) 
consider options for refining COST to better meet the needs of the 
services. DOD agreed with both of GAOís recommendations. 

What GAO Found: 

The services use COST as part of their process to develop a GWOT budget 
request. While the Army relies more on the estimate resulting from 
COST, the other services adjust the results of COST to reflect 
estimates they generate outside of COST, based on historical obligation 
data and other information. DODís financial management regulation and 
other guidance require components to use COST to develop an estimate 
for the deployment and sustainment of military personnel and equipment 
for ongoing operations in support of GWOT. While all services use COST 
to develop an initial estimate, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy 
budget officials alter the results of the tool to match information 
provided by lower level commands and historical obligation data that 
they believe are more accurate than the COST-generated estimate. These 
officials stated that the tool routinely overestimates some costs and 
therefore most changes made are decreases in the amount estimated by 
COST. These officials believe that the requirement to use COST to 
develop a GWOT budget request is a duplicative process to their 
preferred method of using historical obligation data and other 
information better suited to their specific service. For example, they 
stated that COST better represents the needs of Army ground forces and 
the tool has not been refined to be as effective for estimating needs 
for their serviceís mission. These officials also mentioned that COST 
is better suited for developing estimates for smaller-scale contingency 
operations than for the lengthy deployments and sustainment phases 
associated with a large campaign such as GWOT. To develop estimates for 
items that are outside the scope of COST, such as procurement and 
certain contracts, the military services rely primarily on needs 
assessments developed by commanders and historical obligation data. 

DOD has taken steps to improve the performance and reliability of COST; 
however, COST could benefit from an independent review of the toolís 
adherence to best practices for high-quality cost estimation as 
described in GAOís Cost Assessment Guide. COST has been refined many 
times and cost factors are routinely updated in an effort to use the 
most current information available to develop an estimate. DOD 
officials stated they are confident in the toolís ability to provide 
reasonable estimates because COST is frequently updated. However, COST 
has not been assessed against best practices for cost estimation to 
determine whether COST can provide high-quality estimates that are well 
documented, comprehensive, accurate, and credible. While GAO did not 
undertake a full assessment of COST against best practices, it 
determined that some features of the tool meet best practices while 
other features would benefit from further review. For example, the tool 
adheres to several best practices for a comprehensive and accurate cost 
estimate, such as frequent updates to the structure of COST and the 
data the tool uses to generate estimates. However, COST relies on GWOT 
obligation data that GAO has identified as being of questionable 
reliability. A thorough, independent review of COST against best 
practices could provide decision makers with information about whether 
the tool creates cost estimates for GWOT expenses that are well 
documented, comprehensive, accurate, and credible. 

To view the full product, including the scope and methodology, click on 
[hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-08-982]. For more 
information, contact Sharon L. Pickup, (202) 512-9619, pickups@gao.gov. 

[End of section] 

Contents: 

Letter: 

Results In Brief: 

Background: 

Services Vary in Their Reliance on COST to Develop GWOT Budget 
Estimates: 

COST Is Frequently Updated and Refined, but Could Benefit from a Review 
of Adherence to Best Practices: 

Conclusions: 

Recommendations for Executive Action: 

Agency Comments and Our Evaluation: 

Appendix I: Scope and Methodology: 

Appendix II: The 12 Steps of High-Quality Cost Estimating Mapped to 
Best Practice Criteria: 

Appendix III: An Example of DOD's GWOT Budget Estimate Process Using 
the Sustainment and Redeployment of the Troop Surge: 

Appendix IV: Comments from the Department of Defense: 

Appendix V: GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments: 

Tables: 

Table 1: Four Characteristics of a High-Quality, Reliable Cost 
Estimate: 

Table 2: Primary Sources of Data within COST from DOD Components: 

Table 3: Example of DOD Estimation for Operations in Support of GWOT: 

Table 4: Non-COST estimates for Army Operation and Maintenance Costs: 

United States Government Accountability Office: 

Washington, DC 20548: 

September 15, 2008: 

Congressional Committees: 

Between the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and July 2008, 
Congress has provided about $800 billion to the Department of Defense 
(DOD) for domestic and overseas military operations in support of the 
Global War on Terrorism (GWOT).[Footnote 1] Over the years, DOD has 
used different approaches to request GWOT funding, including yearly 
emergency supplemental budget requests, amendments to prior 
supplemental requests, and requests included as part of the President's 
annual budget submission. GWOT budget requests have increased from $14 
billion for fiscal year 2002 to $189 billion for the total fiscal year 
2008 request. The DOD components responsible for carrying out 
activities in support of GWOT use various processes to develop budget 
requests for GWOT. DOD's financial management regulation for 
contingency operations[Footnote 2] and other guidance require military 
components to use a DOD-sponsored cost estimation tool, called the 
Contingency Operations Support Tool (COST), to develop cost estimates 
for the deployment and sustainment of military personnel and equipment 
for GWOT. This tool was constructed 10 years ago to develop estimates 
for smaller-scale contingency operations, such as peacekeeping 
operations and disaster relief operations, but is now being used to 
also develop a portion of cost estimates for the large-scale GWOT 
operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

While COST has the capability to develop an estimate for military 
personnel and operating costs, it does not have the capability to 
estimate other costs such as procurement, some reset-level[Footnote 3] 
maintenance of equipment, and certain contract costs. For the first few 
years of GWOT, COST-generated estimates for personnel and operating 
costs ranged from around 80 to 50 percent of the total budget request 
for GWOT for fiscal years 2003 to 2005, respectively. However, this 
COST-generated portion of the total has continued to decrease every 
year. For the fiscal year 2008 request submitted in February 2007, the 
COST-generated portion of the request was about 30 percent due to a 
significant increase in certain types of estimated costs, such as 
procurement and reset-related maintenance, which are outside the scope 
of COST. Estimates for these types of costs, or the remaining 70 
percent of the fiscal year 2008 request, are developed using other 
models and formulas, historical obligation data, and requests submitted 
by commanders. Each component submits its estimate for its GWOT budget 
request, including the COST-related portion for military personnel and 
operations needs and the portions developed by other means, to the 
Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller).[Footnote 4] 
These estimates are reviewed and revised by the DOD Comptroller and the 
Office of Management and Budget before they are submitted to Congress. 

Because federal guidelines are limited on the processes, procedures, 
and practices for ensuring credible cost estimates, we reviewed 
existing best practices and developed the Cost Assessment Guide to fill 
that gap.[Footnote 5] The best practices identified in our guide were 
compiled from a thorough review of relevant legislation, regulations, 
policy, and guidance for the criteria that most pertained to cost 
estimating. Our guide defines cost estimation as the process of using 
established methods and valid data to estimate the future costs of a 
program based on what is known today, such as the use of COST to 
develop a portion of GWOT budget requests. DOD and the Office of 
Management and Budget have issued the majority of guidance and 
regulations regarding cost estimating, and the best practices in our 
guide were compiled from these and other sources. The characteristics 
of high-quality cost estimation support a process that is well 
documented, comprehensive, accurate, and credible. 

Over the past several years, we have conducted a series of reviews 
under the authority of the Comptroller General examining the funding 
and reported obligations for operations in support of GWOT. We have 
previously reported that there are reliability concerns regarding DOD's 
reported GWOT obligations, and problems exist with transparency over 
certain costs. We have made a series of recommendations to the 
Secretary of Defense intended to improve the transparency and 
reliability of DOD's reporting of GWOT obligations and to adjust GWOT 
funding requests.[Footnote 6] DOD has implemented many of these prior 
recommendations and continues to improve its cost reporting efforts. 
Because of broad congressional interest in issues related to GWOT, we 
prepared this report under the Comptroller General's authority to 
conduct evaluations on his own initiative. Due to increasing budget 
requests for DOD's ongoing operations in support of GWOT and to assist 
members of Congress in their oversight role as they consider future 
GWOT funding, we evaluated DOD's efforts to develop its GWOT budget 
requests. Specifically, we assessed (1) how DOD uses COST and other 
processes to develop GWOT budget requests and (2) what actions DOD has 
taken to ensure COST adheres to best practices for cost estimation. 

To examine how DOD uses COST and other processes to develop budget 
requests for GWOT, we met with key officials from the DOD Comptroller, 
the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and various service officials from the Air 
Force, Army, Marine Corps, and Navy to understand their use of COST to 
develop estimates for the deployment and sustainment of troops and 
equipment and about other processes used to develop portions of GWOT 
budget requests that are outside the scope of COST, such as procurement 
and certain types of contracts. We also obtained their perspectives on 
their experiences using COST and other processes to develop a cost 
estimate for yearly emergency GWOT budget requests or amendments to 
those requests. We interviewed representatives from the Institute for 
Defense Analyses (IDA)--the contractor that developed and maintains 
COST--to understand the development, function, and role of 
COST.[Footnote 7] We reviewed DOD guidance and regulations as well as 
COST-related documents such as briefings and the COST training manual. 
We also analyzed an example of how the cost estimate for the operations 
portion of an amendment to a yearly GWOT supplemental request was 
developed. To assess the actions DOD has taken to ensure COST adheres 
to best practices for cost estimation, we reviewed COST-related 
documents, such as the manual for COST use and financial management 
regulations. Our Cost Assessment Guide provides best practices for cost 
estimating processes. We interviewed DOD and service officials and 
representatives from IDA about steps that have been taken to improve 
COST's effectiveness and functionality. Finally, we analyzed documents 
and testimonial evidence from DOD officials and IDA representatives and 
compared this information to the four characteristics of high-quality 
cost estimation. While we did not conduct a full assessment of COST 
against best practices, we identified some features of the tool that 
either met best practices or appeared to not meet best practices. 

We conducted this performance audit from July 2007 through September 
2008 in accordance with generally accepted government auditing 
standards. Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit 
to obtain sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable 
basis for our findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. 
We believe that the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for 
our findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. 

Results In Brief: 

While the military services use COST as part of their process to 
develop a GWOT budget request, the Army relies more on the estimate 
resulting from COST than the other services, which significantly adjust 
the results of COST to reflect estimates they generate outside of COST. 
These estimates are based on historical obligation data and other 
information, which they believe is more representative of future GWOT 
budget needs. DOD's financial management regulation and other guidance 
require the components to use COST to develop an estimate for the 
deployment and sustainment of military personnel and equipment for 
ongoing operations in support of GWOT, and the guidance additionally 
provides certain parameters and assumptions to be used in the tool. 
While all the services use COST to develop an initial estimate, Air 
Force, Marine Corps, and Navy budget officials stated that they alter 
the results of the tool to match information provided by lower level 
commands and historical obligation data that they believe are more 
accurate than the COST-generated estimate. These officials report that 
the required process of using COST to develop cost estimates is 
duplicative to their preferred process of using historical obligation 
data and other information better suited to their specific service to 
develop a GWOT budget request. For example, they stated that while COST 
better represents Army ground forces than the unique characteristics of 
the other forces, the tool has not been refined to be as effective for 
estimating certain needs for their service's mission. These officials 
also mentioned that COST is better suited for developing estimates for 
small-scale, short-duration contingency operations than for the lengthy 
deployments and sustainment phases associated with a large campaign 
such as GWOT. For the remaining types of funding needs that are outside 
the scope of COST, such as procurement and certain contracts, DOD 
guidance or regulations do not prescribe set processes for estimating 
these types of costs. As a result, all military services rely primarily 
on needs assessments developed by commanders and historical obligation 
data to develop estimates for these types of costs. 

DOD has taken steps to improve the performance and reliability of COST; 
however, COST could benefit from an independent review of the tool's 
adherence to best practices for high-quality cost estimation. For 
example, COST has been refined many times over the past several years 
and cost factors are routinely updated in an effort to use the most 
current information available to develop an estimate. However, COST has 
not been assessed against best practices for cost estimation to 
determine whether COST can provide high-quality estimates that are well 
documented, comprehensive, accurate, and credible. While we did not 
undertake a full assessment of COST against best practices, during the 
course of our review we identified some features of the tool that meet 
best practices, as well as other features that would benefit from 
further review. For example, the tool meets several best practices that 
help create a comprehensive and accurate cost estimate, such as 
frequent updates to the structure of COST and the data that COST uses 
to generate estimates. However, while COST appears to largely encompass 
the types of costs that are incurred to deploy and sustain Army ground 
forces and their related equipment, it does not comprehensively or 
accurately estimate some costs for the other services. The tool also 
relies on GWOT obligation data that we have previously identified as 
being of questionable reliability. DOD Comptroller officials stated 
they are confident in the tool's ability to provide reasonable 
estimates because COST is frequently updated. However, COST has not 
been independently verified as an effective tool for the estimation of 
GWOT costs. Based on our Cost Assessment Guide, we believe that a 
thorough, independent review of COST against best practices could 
provide decision makers with information about whether the tool creates 
a cost estimate for GWOT expenses that is well documented, 
comprehensive, accurate, and credible. 

To ensure that the DOD budget requests for GWOT are based on a sound 
cost estimation process, we recommend that the Secretary of Defense 
direct the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) to arrange for an 
independent review of COST. Furthermore, based on the results of such a 
review and taking into consideration how each service presently uses 
COST, we also recommend that the Secretary of Defense direct the Under 
Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) to consider options for refining 
COST, determine the appropriate items or types of costs for which COST 
should be used, and identify methods to be used when COST is not 
appropriate. In written comments on a draft of this report, DOD agreed 
with both of our recommendations. In addition, DOD provided technical 
comments which we have incorporated as appropriate. DOD's comments and 
our evaluation of them are discussed in detail in a later section of 
this report and the department's comments are reprinted in appendix IV. 

Background: 

Cost estimation is a difficult process that requires both data and 
judgment, and seldom, if ever, are estimates precise--the goal is to 
find a "reasonable" estimate of future needs. Cost estimates are 
necessary for government programs for many reasons: for example, to 
support decisions about whether to fund one program over another, 
develop annual budget requests, or evaluate resource requirements at 
key decision points. As discussed in our Cost Assessment Guide, 
developing a good cost estimate requires stable program requirements, 
access to detailed documentation and historical data, well-trained and 
experienced cost analysts, a risk and uncertainty analysis, and the 
identification of a range of confidence levels. The guide also outlines 
12 steps for a high-quality cost estimation process,[Footnote 8] which 
are to: 

* Define the estimate's purpose: 

* Develop the estimating plan: 

* Define the program: 

* Determine the estimating approach: 

* Identify ground rules and assumptions: 

* Obtain the data: 

* Develop the point estimate: 

* Conduct sensitivity analysis: 

* Conduct risk and uncertainty analysis: 

* Document the estimate: 

* Present estimate to management for approval: 

* Update the estimate to reflect actual costs and changes. 

It is important that cost estimators and independent organizations 
validate that all cost elements are credible and can be justified by 
acceptable estimating methods, adequate data, and detailed 
documentation. Hence, in addition to the 12 steps of a high-quality 
cost estimation process, the guide also describes four best practice 
characteristics of a high-quality, reliable estimate generated by a 
sound cost estimation process. Specifically, the estimate should be 
well documented, comprehensive, accurate, and credible. Table 1 
describes these characteristics in more detail. Adherence to these best 
practices can help ensure that a cost estimation process provides a 
reasonable estimate of how much it will cost to accomplish all tasks 
related to a program and that the estimate is traceable, accurate, and 
reflects realistic assumptions. 

Table 1: Four Characteristics of a High-Quality, Reliable Cost 
Estimate: 

Characteristic: Well documented; 
Description: Thoroughly documented, including source data and 
significance, clearly detailed calculations and results, and 
explanations of why particular methods and references were chosen. Data 
can be traced to their source documents. 

Characteristic: Comprehensive; 
Description: Enough detail to ensure that cost elements are neither 
omitted nor double counted. All cost- influencing ground rules and 
assumptions are detailed in the estimate's documentation. 

Characteristic: Accurate; 
Description: Unbiased, not overly conservative or overly optimistic, 
and based on an assessment of most likely costs. Few, if any, 
mathematical mistakes are present and those that are present are minor. 

Characteristic: Credible; 
Description: Any limitations of the analysis because of uncertainty or 
bias surrounding data or assumptions are discussed. Major assumptions 
are varied and other outcomes are recomputed to determine how sensitive 
they are to changes in the assumptions. Risk and uncertainty analysis 
are performed. Estimate's results are cross-checked and an independent 
cost estimate is developed to determine whether other estimation 
methods produce similar results. 

Source: GAO. 

[End of table] 

Appendix II presents the 12 steps of a high-quality cost estimation 
process mapped to the four characteristics of reliable, high-quality 
estimates. 

Because DOD's cost estimates for military operations in Bosnia during 
the 1990s were consistently well below the actual costs, DOD contracted 
with IDA to develop a tool to assist in developing preliminary and 
detailed cost estimates for contingency operations. By 1998, IDA had 
developed the first version of COST. The tool generates a cost estimate 
for a contingency operation on the basis of type of mission, duration, 
operational tempo or intensity, number of personnel and equipment, 
transportation needs, subsistence for personnel, and the originating 
and destination site. Accordingly, the tool contains data relating to 
geographic locations, military unit types, military equipment types, 
management and cost factors, and adjustment factors pertaining to 
climate, terrain, and operational intensity. Formulas within the tool 
draw on these data and user-defined inputs, such as the number of 
personnel or equipment and duration of operations, to develop cost 
estimates for many types of costs associated with contingency 
operations from predeployment to reconstitution, up to 250 line items 
or types of costs depending on the operation in question. The tool 
cannot estimate every type of cost that might be incurred for a 
contingency operation. Rather, it can only estimate certain incremental 
costs from the personnel, personnel support, operating, and 
transportation cost categories. However, some types of costs within 
those categories--such as depot-level maintenance of equipment and 
certain contracts, as well as all costs in the investment cost 
category, including procurement and military construction--are outside 
the scope of COST's estimating capabilities. 

Military components, including the services, are primary sources of 
data for the tool. Table 2 illustrates the primary sources of data from 
each component that uses COST to develop estimates for GWOT budget 
requests.[Footnote 9] Cost factors and management factors are key types 
of data that the tool uses to develop estimates. Cost factors function 
as variables in the tool, and a few examples are hardship duty pay, 
cost for operating and support of a ship, or average cost per ton mile 
for equipment airlift. Cost factors are developed from four main 
sources; DOD databases of record, service models for various statistics 
such as Air Force flying hours, DOD's Cost of War reports, and other 
information provided by the service budget offices. Management factors 
include information such as the average metric tons per person of 
materiel for deployment or redeployment of the monthly flying hours of 
aircraft. 

Table 2: Primary Sources of Data within COST from DOD Components: 

Military component: Army; 
Data source: Army Force and Organization Cost Estimating System Model. 

Military component: Army; 
Data source: Army Cost and Factors Handbook. 

Military component: Army; 
Data source: Operating and Support Management Information System (part 
of DOD's Visibility and Management of Operating and Support Costs). 

Military component: Air Force; 
Data source: Air Force Portal. 

Military component: Air Force; 
Data source: Air Force Instruction 65-503. 

Military component: Navy; 
Data source: Navy Visibility and Management of Operating and Support 
Costs. 

Military component: Navy; 
Data source: Navy Budget Office. 

Military component: Marine Corps; 
Data source: I Marine Expeditionary Force. 

Military component: Navy; 
Data source: II Marine Expeditionary Force. 

Military component: Special Operations Command (SOCOM); 
Data source: SOCOM. 

Military component: All; 
Data source: Defense Finance and Accounting Service. 

Military component: All; 
Data source: Defense Health Program. 

Military component: All; 
Data source: Transportation Command. 

Military component: All; 
Data source: Joint Operation Planning and Execution System. 

Source: GAO analysis of DOD and IDA provided information. 

[End of table] 

Services Vary in Their Reliance on COST to Develop GWOT Budget 
Estimates: 

The services use COST as required as part of their process to develop a 
GWOT budget request, but the degree to which each service relies on the 
COST results differs. Both DOD officials and IDA representatives state 
that COST is better suited for Army ground forces and was primarily 
intended to develop incremental[Footnote 10] personnel and operations 
cost estimates for operations with discreet phases and time frames. 
They noted it was not built to estimate costs for the long-term nature 
and broad scope of activities and needs related to operations such as 
GWOT. Therefore, service officials report varying degrees of confidence 
in the tool's functionality and accuracy for their specific service. 
The Army relies on COST's results when developing estimates related to 
personnel and operations, while Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps 
officials often rely more on historical obligation data and other 
information than the COST-generated estimates. COST does not currently 
have the capability to estimate other types of costs, such as 
procurement, most equipment maintenance, and some contract costs. As a 
result, all the services develop this portion of GWOT budget requests 
using historical obligation data and other information. 

Use of COST Is Required as Part of DOD's GWOT Budget Request Process: 

DOD components are required to use COST as part of the GWOT budget 
request process. The DOD financial management regulation that provides 
financial policy and procedures for small-, medium-, and large-scale 
campaign level military contingency operations requires that COST be 
used to develop a cost estimate for the deployment of military 
personnel and equipment. The regulation further states that the DOD 
Comptroller will issue specific guidance providing factors and cost 
criteria necessary to develop an estimate, and that the COST estimate 
will address the funding requirements for operations and maintenance 
and military personnel costs. The DOD Comptroller issues guidance that 
directs the development of a fiscal year's GWOT budget request. This 
guidance specifically directs the use of COST to calculate operations 
costs related to GWOT, and also provides information guiding COST use, 
such as the level and intensity of operations to be assumed. Much of 
the guidance details the type and level of detail that must be provided 
in supporting materials that should accompany components' estimated 
GWOT budget requests. 

COST does not develop estimates for items that are not attributable to 
the deployment or sustainment of personnel and equipment, such as 
procurement, most types of equipment maintenance, and certain major 
contracted needs and services. As discussed later, the services must 
use other processes to develop this portion of their GWOT budget 
requests. Neither DOD Comptroller guidance nor DOD financial management 
regulations prescribe the use of any particular method of developing 
estimates for these categories. A 2006 memo from the Deputy Secretary 
of Defense expanded allowable costs for GWOT in several categories, 
especially reset-related procurement and equipment 
maintenance.[Footnote 11] These types of costs accounted for about 70 
percent of the total GWOT budget request for fiscal year 2008, which is 
a significant increase over previous years. Due to this increase in 
costs outside the tool, the COST-related portion of GWOT budget 
requests fell from about 80 percent to about 30 percent of the total, 
although the amount of the COST-generated estimate remains stable at 
between $40 billion and $55 billion per year. 

The Army Relies More on COST to Develop Personnel and Operations 
Estimates, but the Other Services Rely on Their Own Estimates: 

The Army uses COST as intended by relying on the tool to generate an 
estimate for many personnel and operations costs for GWOT budget 
requests. During the Army's development of an estimate using COST, 
minor adjustments to COST's standard settings are made to better match 
realities on the ground. For example, an official developing an 
estimate in COST might reduce the costs for the transportation of 
equipment if a unit will be using equipment already in theater instead 
of taking equipment with them. DOD officials and IDA representatives 
stated that COST is better suited for Army ground forces; therefore, 
the Army relies on the final estimate developed by COST and submits 
this information to the DOD Comptroller as part of its GWOT budget 
request. About 40 to 45 percent of the Army's final GWOT budget 
requests are typically for the operation and maintenance category of 
appropriations, and an Army budget office official stated that the 
majority of this portion is estimated by COST. Army officials further 
stated that COST is an effective tool for cost estimation because it is 
frequently updated with cost data the Army submits to IDA. An Army 
model and database that contain cost information for personnel and 
equipment are the sources for much of the Army-related data used by 
COST and also are primary sources for developing the Army's base budget 
requests. 

The Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy all fulfill the requirement to 
develop an estimate for their respective service's personnel and 
operations funding requirements for GWOT using COST; however, these 
services significantly alter the COST results to match estimates they 
have developed outside COST, using historical obligation data and other 
information. Officials from the Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy 
budget offices reported various concerns regarding the functionality 
and accuracy of COST as reasons for relying more on historical 
obligation data and other information. Several budget officials from 
each of these services reported that COST routinely overestimated some 
costs. As a result, most of the changes they make to COST results, 
based on historical obligation data, are decreases in the amount 
estimated by COST. For example, a service budget official stated that 
for one fiscal year's GWOT budget request, the total COST-developed 
estimate was $100 million more than the estimate developed by the 
service for the same types of costs using historical obligation data. 
Specifically, COST overestimated transportation costs by about $275 
million, while underestimating certain personnel support costs by about 
$200 million, among other discrepancies. Navy officials stated that 
COST often overestimated some types of transportation costs and the 
results had to be manually adjusted to match historical obligation data 
or other information. Similarly, Marine Corps officials reported that 
most adjustments they make to the COST output result in a decrease of 
the estimate. An Air Force budget official stated that COST 
overestimated some transportation costs by about $1 billion in a prior 
year's estimate, while other costs were not captured and therefore 
underestimated. While these discrepancies were adjusted prior to 
submission as a GWOT budget request, this official stated that an IDA 
representative had since suggested strategies to develop a more 
accurate transportation estimate in future uses of the tool. 
Furthermore, a Navy official stated that COST is unable to project 
certain costs associated with civilians, and hence might underestimate 
the total costs due to this exclusion. For example, the official stated 
that COST does not automatically estimate costs for civilian support 
positions associated with an operational unit, such as a ship or ground 
unit. Aside from accuracy concerns, officials from the Air Force, 
Marine Corps, and Navy reported that COST and the cost breakdown 
structure that forms the basis of COST's organization and resulting 
estimations better represent Army ground forces than the unique 
characteristics of the other forces. Navy officials stated that COST 
automatically estimates food, ice, and water for all units because 
deployed ground forces require these items. However, the Navy funds 
these items for sailors on deployed ships through base budget funding 
because these costs are incurred regardless of a ship's location. The 
tool has not been refined to accurately estimate these costs; 
therefore, Navy officials must manually remove these types of costs 
from an estimate for GWOT funding. Several service officials stated 
that, because of the limitations to COST, the required process of using 
COST to develop a cost estimate was duplicative of their preferred 
method of using historical obligation data and other information better 
suited to their specific service to develop a GWOT budget request. 

Service officials stated that COST is a useful tool for estimating 
costs for small-scale and short-duration operations or for situations 
for which information is unknown or new, such as the recent troop surge 
or for other general rough-order-of-magnitude estimates produced early 
in operation planning while options are being weighed by decision 
makers. However, officials stated the tool does not perform as well for 
estimating costs for the lengthy deployment and sustainment phases 
associated with a large campaign such as GWOT. Furthermore, COST is not 
able to estimate all costs associated with GWOT. 

Military Services Use Other Methods to Determine Cost Estimates for 
Procurement, Most Equipment Maintenance, and Some Contract Costs: 

Because COST does not have the capability to estimate costs such as 
procurement, reset-related equipment maintenance, and contracted needs 
and services, service budget officials report using historical 
obligation data, other models and formulas, and other information, such 
as deployment information, to estimate these costs. Reset-related 
procurement estimates for GWOT are devised in multiple ways. For 
example, to estimate costs to procure new equipment to replace lost or 
damaged equipment, officials stated that incident reports are tracked 
to provide information on how many pieces of equipment are needed to 
replace battle losses. For procurement to replace equipment that has 
reached the end of its useful life because of GWOT's higher operating 
tempo, formulas, based on historical data, provide information on the 
normal extent of wear and tear for certain types of equipment, and wear 
above the normal extent is attributed to GWOT.[Footnote 12] Most types 
of equipment maintenance are not estimated by COST, such as 
intermediate-and depot-level maintenance; therefore the services again 
rely on historical obligation data to develop estimates for the GWOT- 
related costs. For example, Army logistics officials track the units 
that are scheduled for redeployment and develop estimates for the cost 
of resetting a particular unit's equipment based on the type of brigade 
the unit is part of, such as a heavy brigade combat team or Stryker 
brigade combat team, and the average cost of resetting that type of 
brigade unit developed from historical obligation data, adjusted for 
inflation. For other items outside the scope of COST--such as the 
Logistics Civil Augmentation Program costs for the Army, intelligence 
needs, and contracts for other needs such as linguists--functional 
experts within each service provide the service budget offices with 
information to develop estimates. This information is based on contract 
task orders or needs assessments developed by in-theater commanders. 
For example, in-theater commanders submit requests for additional 
linguists to Army intelligence officials, and the estimated cost for 
these linguists is developed based on historical costs for the same 
type of linguist. Army budget officials stated that contracting costs, 
including the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program, linguist, and 
security services, are one of the most expensive cost categories that 
falls outside of COST. Officials from all services stated that, after 
many years of ongoing operations in support of GWOT, they believe few 
requirements are truly unknown or based on emerging needs, so therefore 
they are comfortable relying on historical obligation data and other 
information to develop estimates for these types of costs. For an 
example of how DOD develops a GWOT budget request and the use of COST 
and other methods of developing an estimate, see appendix III. 

COST Is Frequently Updated and Refined, but Could Benefit from a Review 
of Adherence to Best Practices: 

DOD has taken steps to improve the performance and reliability of COST; 
however, COST could benefit from a review of the tool's adherence to 
best practices for high-quality cost estimation as outlined in our Cost 
Assessment Guide. Revisions have been made to the tool to improve its 
performance, and frequent updates are made to the data used by the 
tool. However, a review of COST according to the best practices for 
cost estimation could provide decision makers with information on the 
extent to which the tool generates reliable estimates and identify 
opportunities for improvement. Our guide defines high-quality cost 
estimates as well documented, comprehensive, accurate, and credible. 
While we did not undertake a full assessment of COST against best 
practices, during the course of our review we identified features of 
COST's estimation process that meet best practices and other features 
that would benefit from further review. For example, COST adheres to 
several best practices for a comprehensive and accurate cost estimate, 
such as frequent updates to the structure of COST and the data that 
COST uses to generate estimates. While COST appears to largely 
encompass the types of costs that are incurred to deploy and sustain 
Army ground forces and their related equipment, COST may not 
comprehensively and accurately estimate costs for the other services. 
COST also relies on GWOT obligation data from DOD's Supplemental and 
Cost of War Execution Reports that we have identified as being of 
questionable reliability, and DOD is taking steps to improve.[Footnote 
13] These might be areas for which a thorough and full review of the 
tool could improve the resulting estimates that are used to develop 
GWOT budget requests. 

COST Revised and Frequently Updated in an Effort to Improve 
Effectiveness: 

IDA has made changes to the structure of COST, either at the request of 
the DOD Comptroller or the services, or on its own initiative, and has 
refined the tool many times over the past several years to improve 
functionality or performance. Recent refinements to COST included 
changes that provide the ability to alter the percentage of officer and 
enlisted personnel within a unit and the types of diagnostic and 
summary reports that the tool can create. A 3-year development effort 
culminated in June 2007 with the release of a new version of COST 
supported by new software and hardware that increased functionality and 
performance. This new version allows the user to simultaneously develop 
estimates for multiple operations within the same contingency. The 
services and others frequently submit new information for tool updates. 
For example, components are asked to submit updated cost factor data 
prior to the development of any request for supplemental emergency 
funding. Additionally, the DOD Comptroller has asked IDA to review the 
inputs, assumptions, and processes the services used to generate COST 
estimates for GWOT budget requests since fiscal year 2005. The reviews 
revealed issues that were consistent across the services or significant 
enough to warrant attention in future use of COST. For example, a 
review found that COST users estimated an excessive use of airlift for 
the movement of cargo with no scheduled cargo for the return flight. 
Additionally, a review identified confusion regarding the use of 
different operational tempo factors and pay offsets. IDA consolidated 
these and other issues identified in the review of fiscal years 2007 
and 2008 into a lessons learned briefing and checklist to assist the 
services as they use COST in the development of future GWOT budget 
requests. 

COST Could be Assessed for Adherence to Cost Estimation Best Practices: 

While DOD has taken steps to revise and update COST to improve 
effectiveness, COST has not been assessed according to best practices 
for cost estimation that define reliable, high-quality cost estimates. 
A review of regulations, guidance, and best practices for cost 
estimation and best practices established by professional cost 
analysts, and compiled in our Cost Assessment Guide, identified four 
characteristics of high-quality, reliable cost estimates.[Footnote 14] 
As shown in table 1, cost estimates should be well documented, 
comprehensive, accurate, and credible. DOD Comptroller officials stated 
they are confident in the tool's ability to provide reasonable 
estimates because COST is frequently updated. However, neither DOD, nor 
any other entity, has assessed COST and its resulting cost estimates 
against these best practices. While we did not perform a full 
assessment of COST against best practices, during the course of our 
work we identified some features of COST that meet best practices for 
cost estimation and other areas that could benefit from further review. 

* Well Documented: A well documented cost estimate is based on data 
that have been gathered from actual historical costs and technical 
experts, analyzed for cost drivers, and collected from primary sources. 
These best practices appear to be met by COST. Additionally, any 
adjustments made to COST's standard settings are flagged and must be 
accompanied by an explanatory note that details why information was 
changed, and these situations are reviewed by DOD Comptroller 
officials. Furthermore, best practices also require that previous cost 
factors and data are stored after updates so that an estimation process 
is repeatable and can be later verified. The newest version of COST 
does have this capability and IDA maintains records of cost factors and 
other data. However, best practices also require that data used in a 
model should be traced back to the source documentation and any 
normalization steps should be documented. The services are responsible 
for ensuring data are reliable and neither IDA nor DOD, including the 
services, traces all data back to the source documents. Additionally, 
IDA officials stated that unusually high or low data might be removed 
and no record of these actions would be kept, and best practices 
require that these sorts of steps should be documented. Further review 
could reveal if these or other areas might need more work to ensure the 
estimate is well documented. 

* Comprehensive: Estimates for personnel and operations costs developed 
by COST appear to meet several, but not all, of the criteria for 
comprehensive cost estimates. For example, the cost breakdown 
structure, which defines the cost elements within COST and forms the 
foundation of formulas within the tool, has more than three levels of 
detail, the structure is updated as changes occur, and each element is 
defined in a cost breakdown structure dictionary included in the 
financial management regulation for contingency operations. These steps 
are all considered best practices for a comprehensive cost estimate. 
However, our analysis of the cost breakdown structure in the financial 
management regulation revealed that there are some errors and 
ambiguities in the structure's definitions that might allow for double 
counting of costs.[Footnote 15] Furthermore, while COST appears to 
largely encompass the types of costs that are incurred to deploy and 
sustain Army ground forces and their related equipment, it may not 
comprehensively estimate some of the types of costs incurred by the 
other services. For example, COST does not develop an estimate for the 
costs of certain Navy ground support units, such as intelligence, that 
are not associated with a naval fleet. Moreover, COST is not used by 
the Air Force to develop estimates for the cost of transporting people 
in non-combat situations, such as the transport of military or civilian 
personnel from the International Zone to a forward operating base, for 
example. An Air Force official stated that this is because the tool 
automatically assumes that any flying hour-related expenses are 
operational or combat-related and these costs should instead be 
attributed to transportation-related expenses. Further review could 
identify cost data or formulas within the tool that could be refined to 
better suit the other services or might reveal some types of costs for 
which COST should not be used to develop an estimate. Additionally, the 
tool does not comprehensively estimate all GWOT costs, such as 
procurement and many types of equipment maintenance. The GWOT cost 
estimate presented in appendix III illustrates the revisions made to 
COST results and the types of costs that were estimated outside of COST 
for a particular estimate that was to be comprised primarily of 
military personnel and operations costs. 

* Accurate: Similarly, the tool's estimates appear to meet some, but 
not all, of the best practices for accuracy. For example, an accurate 
estimate should be based on cost factors that reflect updates and 
changes. IDA does ask the components to submit updated cost factors, 
which are sometimes based on historical obligation data, prior to every 
run of the tool for a fiscal year's GWOT request, but the components 
are not required to update the factors. IDA reviews the cost factor 
submission to ensure general consistency across years, but the services 
and other components that submit data are ultimately responsible for 
the data and are not required to validate the data prior to their 
inclusion into the tool. According to IDA representatives, IDA does not 
validate the data sources or obtain assurances that the data submitted 
are reliable, because this requirement is not included in its contract 
with DOD. The services do not validate all data submitted to IDA for 
updates, nor do they submit updates for all factors that need updating. 
Additionally, some cost factors are developed from the Cost of War 
reports and other data are compared against these reports as a 
validation check. These practices might benefit from review since our 
previous work has raised concerns about the reliability of reported 
GWOT obligation data. For example, we have reported that there is a 
lack of transparency over certain obligations in the Cost of War 
reports and we have identified inaccuracies in these reports. 
Consequently, we were unable to ensure that DOD's reported obligations 
for GWOT are complete, reliable, and accurate, and believe that they 
should therefore be considered approximations. However, we acknowledge 
that DOD has taken steps to address our recommendations and the 
department has several initiatives underway to further improve the 
reliability of GWOT obligation data. Additionally, according to service 
officials, many adjustments to COST results for transportation and 
other types of costs are made to decrease estimates. This raises 
concerns regarding the accuracy or applicability of some data in COST. 

* Credible: Many of the best practices associated with a credible cost 
estimate require sensitivity analysis, risk and uncertainty analysis, 
and a comparison against an independent cost estimate to be 
performed.[Footnote 16] Sensitivity analysis has been performed to 
understand cost drivers and this type of analysis can be performed 
during estimate development as characteristics of the operation change. 
However, IDA representatives stated that risk analysis is unnecessary 
since the largest sources of risk stem from the changing and 
unpredictable nature of warfare and policy changes that also cannot be 
predicted. Additionally, uncertainly analysis can assess the impact 
that the variability of certain unknown factors will have on resulting 
estimates. For example, uncertainty analysis of possible fuel price 
changes could result in various cost scenarios that might occur 
depending on future fuel prices. Finally, cost results should be 
compared to an independent cost estimate which is another best practice 
for a credible cost estimation process. A Joint Staff or other official 
will often develop a COST estimate to compare against an estimate 
developed by a service official to ensure the appropriate assumptions 
were used. A thorough assessment against best practices would reveal if 
these or other areas might need more work to ensure the estimate is 
sufficiently credible. 

Conclusions: 

Estimating needs and costs that will occur in the future is not an 
exact science, and the use of cost estimation tools or historical 
obligation data, along with other factors, can be reasonable means of 
projecting future costs. However, due to the significant and ever- 
increasing size of GWOT budget requests, every attempt should be made 
to ensure that a cost estimation process is sound. COST has been used 
to generate hundreds of billions of dollars in budget requests for GWOT 
over the past several years and the services are required to use it. 
While the tool and underlying data have been refined and updated, 
COST's overall effectiveness for estimating GWOT costs has not been 
assessed. Best practices criteria to measure COST's extent of 
sufficient documentation, comprehensiveness, accuracy, and credibility 
could provide additional information about the tool's effectiveness at 
generating high-quality cost estimates and steps of the process that 
could be further improved. Without a thorough review of COST according 
to these best practices, decision makers within both DOD and Congress 
cannot be assured that estimates generated by the tool are developed 
using valid data and sound processes. Officials from across DOD and the 
services report that COST performs well for predicting budget needs for 
ground forces and for small-scale operations of short duration, or for 
situations in which detailed information is unknown. However, in light 
of service officials' concerns that COST does not perform as well for 
their needs and might generate estimates that are too high in certain 
areas, it is important that DOD review the applicability of COST for 
all of the services or investigate ways in which to make the tool 
better suit the needs of all the services. 

Recommendations for Executive Action: 

To ensure that DOD budget requests for GWOT are based on a sound cost 
estimation process, we recommend that the Secretary of Defense direct 
the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) to: 

* Arrange for an independent review of COST against best practices for 
cost estimation. 

Based on that review, and taking into consideration how each service 
uses COST, we recommend that the Secretary of Defense direct the Under 
Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) to: 

* Consider options for refining COST, determine the appropriate items 
or types of costs for which COST should be applied, and identify 
methods to be used when COST is not appropriate. 

Agency Comments and Our Evaluation: 

In written comments on a draft of this report, DOD agreed with both of 
our recommendations for executive action. These written comments 
additionally provided examples of steps DOD has taken or plans to take 
that it considers actions that address aspects of our recommendations. 
Also, DOD provided us with technical comments which we incorporated in 
the report where appropriate. DOD's comments are reprinted in appendix 
IV. 

DOD agreed with our recommendation that the DOD Comptroller arrange for 
an independent review of the Contingency Operations Support Tool (COST) 
against best practices for cost estimation. In its comments on this 
recommendation, DOD agreed with the concept of an independent review of 
the tool against best practices, and further noted that the Air Force 
Studies and Analyses Agency (AFSAA) conducted a review of COST's use in 
developing cost estimates for the air war over Serbia. This review 
compared the tool's output against the actual reported costs compiled 
by the Defense Finance and Accounting Service. DOD stated that the 
recommendations for improvement identified in the review were 
incorporated into the tool. While the review and the incorporation of 
its recommendations into the tool are positive steps, the review did 
not assess COST's use in estimating the broad scope of costs that are 
associated with a large-scale campaign such as GWOT. For example, the 
scope of the AFSAA review of COST was limited to the 3-month air war 
over Serbia and primarily reviewed costs of the Air Force. Furthermore, 
the AFSAA review was not a thorough review against best practices for 
cost estimation, which requires cost estimates to be well documented, 
comprehensive, accurate, and credible. Therefore, we continue to 
recommend that an independent and thorough review of the tool against 
best practices for cost estimation be pursued. This type of review 
would include an assessment of the risk and uncertainty associated with 
the inputs to the tool and the accuracy of the underlying equations and 
data the tool relies on to estimate costs. DOD additionally stated that 
(1) COST's factors, processes, and algorithms are updated as needed and 
the tool is updated to reflect changes to congressionally determined 
factors, such as military pay rates, and (2) COST relies on many of the 
same service-specific cost factors that are used during the development 
of baseline budgets. While we acknowledge in this report that factors 
and other aspects of the model are regularly updated, these actions are 
a check for accuracy by the users of the data and our recommendation 
specifically calls for an independent review of COST. Finally, DOD 
stated that, due to our recommendation, the DOD Comptroller will issue 
guidance that will be incorporated into DOD's financial management 
regulation that includes a process for updating COST to ensure it 
reflects the most current budgetary assumptions and a process for 
evaluating the functionality of the model to determine if adjustments 
are needed. As this revision of the financial management regulation has 
not been finalized, we did not assess this planned action. However, 
this positive step, once completed, should be taken into account as 
part of an independent and thorough review of COST against best 
practices for cost estimation. 

DOD agreed with our recommendation that, based on an independent 
review, it should consider options for refining COST, determine the 
appropriate items or types of costs for which COST should be applied, 
and identify methods to be used when COST is not appropriate. In its 
comments, DOD stated that it uses every opportunity to refine and 
improve the COST model, such as the multi-level review of COST results 
and assumptions during the development of GWOT budget requests. 
Additionally, changes to COST are made based on training sessions and 
feedback from COST users. Finally, DOD stated that an extensive review 
process is in place for each non-COST line item of GWOT budget 
requests. While we did not assess the process DOD uses to review non- 
COST line items, our report acknowledges that DOD has refined and 
updated COST many times as information has changed and the needs of the 
department have evolved. However, we reiterate our view that the tool 
should be subject to an independent review, and COST should be further 
refined based on the findings of that review, as needed. 

We are sending copies of this report to other interested congressional 
committees; the Secretary of Defense; the Under Secretary of Defense 
(Comptroller), and the Director, Office of Management and Budget. 
Copies of this report will also be made available to others upon 
request. In addition, this report will be available at no charge on the 
GAO Web site at [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov]. 

If you have any questions regarding this report, please contact Sharon 
Pickup at (202) 512-9619 or pickups@gao.gov. Contact points for our 
Offices of Congressional Relations and Public Affairs may be found on 
the last page of this report. GAO staff who made major contributions to 
this report are listed in appendix V. 

Signed by: 

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

List of Congressional Committees: 

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

The Honorable Kent Conrad: 
Chairman: 
The Honorable Judd Gregg: 
Ranking Member: 
Committee on the Budget: 
United States Senate: 

The Honorable Daniel K. Inouye: 
Chairman: 
The Honorable Thad Cochran: 
Ranking Member: 
Subcommittee on Defense: 
Committee on Appropriations: 
United States Senate: 

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

The Honorable John M. Spratt, Jr.: 
Chairman: 
The Honorable Paul Ryan: 
Ranking Member: 
Committee on the Budget: 
House of Representatives: 

The Honorable John P. Murtha: 
Chairman: 
The Honorable C.W. Bill Young: 
Ranking Member: 
Subcommittee on Defense: 
Committee on Appropriations: 
House of Representatives: 

[End of section] 

Appendix I: Scope and Methodology: 

To assess how the Department of Defense (DOD) uses the Contingency 
Operations Support Tool (COST) and other processes to develop Global 
War on Terror (GWOT) budget requests, we reviewed and analyzed relevant 
documents and interviewed key DOD and service officials and 
representatives from the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA). 
Documents that we used for our review included, but were not limited 
to, (1) relevant DOD directives, instructions, and memoranda related to 
budgeting processes; (2) DOD financial management regulations that 
provide policy and procedures for contingency operations; (3) DOD 
guidance for the preparation and submission of requests for incremental 
funding for GWOT; and (4) service budget office guidance for the 
preparation and submission of GWOT budget requests. We obtained 
testimonial evidence from officials representing the Office of the 
Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) and the Joint Staff regarding 
the processes used to develop GWOT budget requests and the role of COST 
in that process. Specifically, we obtained their perspectives on COST's 
effectiveness and accuracy, as well as the processes employed to 
develop estimates for costs that are outside the scope of the tool's 
estimating capabilities. We similarly interviewed key service officials 
in the financial management or budget office responsible for developing 
GWOT cost estimates for contingency operations in the Air Force, Army, 
Marine Corps, and Navy to understand their experiences using COST 
during the development of prior years' GWOT budget requests, including 
strengths and weaknesses of the tool. We additionally interviewed 
service officials that were identified as functional experts for the 
types of costs that must be estimated outside of the tool, such as 
procurement, reset-level equipment maintenance, and intelligence needs. 
We discussed what processes they use to develop estimates for these 
types of costs. We attended several briefings regarding COST presented 
by IDA and attended training sessions on the tool. We interviewed IDA 
representatives about the tool and reviewed numerous briefings about 
COST's use in cost estimation, the structure of the tool, and the 
tool's development. Finally, in order to understand how DOD developed 
an actual GWOT budget request and the use of COST and other methods to 
develop that estimate, we asked DOD to demonstrate how an estimate was 
developed for a case study, which was the $6.3 billion estimate for 
military operations that was included as part of DOD's October 2007 
$42.3 billion amendment to the Fiscal Year 2008 GWOT supplemental 
request for emergency funding. We chose this example as our case study 
because it was a recent estimate and was assumed to be comprised 
primarily of military personnel and operations costs, due to the 
description of this estimate in the justification document for the 
amendment to the Fiscal Year 2008 GWOT budget request.[Footnote 17] DOD 
provided the initial and approved estimate for this request by service 
and by appropriation category. We discussed this estimate with DOD and 
service officials, including the assumptions and processes that were 
used to develop this estimate, the reasons for changes between the 
initial and approved estimates, and the types of costs estimated by 
COST or outside of COST. We did not validate the assumptions used to 
generate this estimate or the data DOD presented in this example. 

To assess what actions DOD has taken to ensure COST adheres to best 
practices for cost estimation, we reviewed applicable best practices 
and compared DOD's efforts against those best practices we found to be 
consistently associated with reliable, high-quality cost 
estimation.[Footnote 18] We reviewed DOD guidance regarding 
requirements for the verification, validation, and accreditation of 
tools and simulations used by DOD. We reviewed documents obtained from 
DOD and IDA and had discussions with DOD officials and IDA 
representatives about COST; for example, we reviewed numerous briefings 
about COST and the training manual that documents the tool's 
specifications, development, and use in detail. We interviewed DOD 
Comptroller and IDA representatives about improvements and updates that 
have been made to COST and the purpose of those updates. We obtained 
testimonial evidence from DOD Comptroller officials and IDA 
representatives about the steps to develop COST and the processes that 
surround the tool's use as part of developing a GWOT budget request, 
and identified steps that appeared to meet certain criteria of 
established best practices and those that appeared to warrant further 
review. We did not perform a full review of COST against all best 
practices, but presented examples of how the tool meets certain best 
practices to provide some context to decision makers about what might 
be considered strengths of the tool and we highlighted some areas that 
might benefit from a full and independent review of COST. These 
examples are meant to serve as illustrative detail to provide more 
information to decision makers, but should not be considered the 
results of a complete, thorough, and independent review of the tool. 

We conducted this performance audit from July 2007 through September 
2008 in accordance with generally accepted government auditing 
standards. Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit 
to obtain sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable 
basis for our findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. 
We believe that the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for 
our findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. 

[End of section] 

Appendix II: The 12 Steps of High-Quality Cost Estimating Mapped to 
Best Practice Criteria: 

Characteristic: Well documented: * The estimate is thoroughly 
documented, including source data and significance, clearly detailed 
calculations and results, and explanations for choosing a particular 
method or reference; 
* Data have been traced back to the source documentation; 
* A technical baseline description is included; 
* All steps in developing the estimate are documented, so that a cost 
analyst unfamiliar with the program can recreate it quickly with the 
same result; 
* All data sources for how the data were normalized are documented; 
* The estimating methodology and rationale used to derive each cost 
breakdown structure element's cost are described in detail; 
Related step: Define the estimate's purpose; 
Define the program; 
Identify ground rules and assumptions; 
Obtain the data; 
Document the estimate; 
Present estimate to management. 

Characteristic: Comprehensive: * The estimate's level of detail ensures 
that cost elements are neither omitted nor double counted; 
* All cost- influencing ground rules and assumptions are detailed; 
* The cost breakdown structure is defined and each element is described 
in a cost breakdown structure dictionary; 
Related step: Develop the estimating plan; 
Determine the estimating approach. 

Characteristic: Accurate: * The estimate is unbiased, not overly 
conservative or overly optimistic, and based on an assessment of most 
likely costs; 
* It has few, if any, mathematical mistakes; 
those it has are minor; 
* It has been validated for errors like double counting and omitted 
costs; 
* It has been compared to the independent cost estimate for 
differences; 
* Cross-checks have been made on cost drivers to see if results are 
similar; 
* The estimate is timely; 
* It is updated to reflect changes in technical or program assumptions 
and new phases or milestones; 
* Estimates are replaced with the earned value management estimate at 
completion and the independent estimate at completion from the 
integrated earned value management system; 
Related step: Develop the point estimate; 
Update the estimate to reflect actual costs and changes. 

Characteristic: Credible: * Any limitations of the analysis because of 
uncertainty or biases surrounding data or assumptions are discussed; 
* Major assumptions are varied and other outcomes recomputed to 
determine how sensitive outcomes are to changes in the assumptions; 
* Risk and uncertainty analysis is performed to determine the level of 
risk associated with the estimate; 
* The results are cross-checked and an independent cost estimate is 
developed to determine if other estimating methods produce similar 
results; 
Related step: Conduct sensitivity analysis; 
Conduct risk and uncertainty analysis. 

Source: GAO. 

[End of table] 

[End of section] 

Appendix III: An Example of DOD's GWOT Budget Estimate Process Using 
the Sustainment and Redeployment of the Troop Surge: 

To better understand how the Department of Defense (DOD) develops a 
Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) budget request and the use of the 
Contingency Operations Support Tool (COST) and other methods of 
developing an estimate, we asked DOD to demonstrate how the services 
used COST and other methods to develop the $6.3 billion budget estimate 
for military operations that was included as part of DOD's October 2007 
$42.3 billion amendment to the fiscal year 2008 GWOT supplemental 
request for emergency funding. DOD justification materials for the 
amendment describe this $6.3 billion portion as needed to support the 
continued sustainment and redeployment of the five Army brigades and 
two Marine Corps infantry battalions that were considered part of the 
troop surge.[Footnote 19] This portion of the amendment was also 
requested to support the simultaneous deployment of combat support 
forces augmenting these combat forces and other costs related to the 
presence of the troop surge. Table 3 presents DOD's estimate for this 
$6.3 billion portion of the amendment meant to fund additional 
operations, broken into the COST-generated portion and the portion that 
was estimated by other means. Typically, service budget officials 
develop cost estimates for GWOT, but officials stated that time 
constraints for this specific estimate required that Joint Staff and 
DOD Comptroller officials develop the initial estimate using both COST 
and other processes outside of COST as necessary. After discussions 
with service budget officials, and the September 10, 2007, testimony of 
the Commander of the Multi-National Force-Iraq before Congress, the 
estimates were revised. This is reflected in the approved estimate for 
each service, again broken into the COST portion and the "non-COST" 
portion. Each service's estimate is further broken down into estimates 
for Military Personnel appropriations and Operation and Maintenance 
appropriations. 

Table 3: Example of DOD Estimation for Operations in Support of GWOT: 

Dollars in millions. 

Army Total; 
Initial Estimate: COST Estimate: $4,107; 
Initial Estimate: Non-COST Estimate: $775; 
Initial Estimate: Total Estimate: $4,882; 
Approved Estimate: COST Estimate: $3,918; 
Approved Estimate: Non-COST Estimate: $1,837; 
Approved Estimate: Total Estimate: $5,755. 

Military Personnel; 
Initial Estimate: COST Estimate: 731; 
Initial Estimate: Non-COST Estimate: 0; 
Initial Estimate: Total Estimate: 731; 
Approved Estimate: COST Estimate: 705; 
Approved Estimate: Non-COST Estimate: (961); 
Approved Estimate: Total Estimate: (256). 

Operation & Maintenance (O&M); 
Initial Estimate: COST Estimate: 3,376; 
Initial Estimate: Non-COST Estimate: 775; 
Initial Estimate: Total Estimate: 4,151; 
Approved Estimate: COST Estimate: 3,213; 
Approved Estimate: Non-COST Estimate: 2,798; 
Approved Estimate: Total Estimate: 6,011. 

Navy Total; 
Initial Estimate: COST Estimate: $92; 
Initial Estimate: Non-COST Estimate: $0; 
Initial Estimate: Total Estimate: $92; 
Approved Estimate: COST Estimate: $96; 
Approved Estimate: Non-COST Estimate: $100; 
Approved Estimate: Total Estimate: $196. 

Military Personnel; 
Initial Estimate: COST Estimate: 10; 
Initial Estimate: Non-COST Estimate: 0; 
Initial Estimate: Total Estimate: 10; 
Approved Estimate: COST Estimate: 10; 
Approved Estimate: Non-COST Estimate: 30; 
Approved Estimate: Total Estimate: 40. 

O&M; 
Initial Estimate: COST Estimate: 83; 
Initial Estimate: Non-COST Estimate: 0; 
Initial Estimate: Total Estimate: 83; 
Approved Estimate: COST Estimate: 87; 
Approved Estimate: Non-COST Estimate: 69; 
Approved Estimate: Total Estimate: 156. 

Marine Corps Total; 
Initial Estimate: COST Estimate: $25; 
Initial Estimate: Non-COST Estimate: $0; 
Initial Estimate: Total Estimate: $25; 
Approved Estimate: COST Estimate: $146; 
Approved Estimate: Non-COST Estimate: $163; 
Approved Estimate: Total Estimate: $309. 

Military Personnel; 
Initial Estimate: COST Estimate: 6; 
Initial Estimate: Non-COST Estimate: 0; 
Initial Estimate: Total Estimate: 6; 
Approved Estimate: COST Estimate: 25; 
Approved Estimate: Non-COST Estimate: 163; 
Approved Estimate: Total Estimate: 188. 

O&M; 
Initial Estimate: COST Estimate: 19; 
Initial Estimate: Non-COST Estimate: 0; 
Initial Estimate: Total Estimate: 19; 
Approved Estimate: COST Estimate: 121; 
Approved Estimate: Non-COST Estimate: 0; 
Approved Estimate: Total Estimate: 121. 

Air Force Total; 
Initial Estimate: COST Estimate: $103; 
Initial Estimate: Non-COST Estimate: $0; 
Initial Estimate: Total Estimate: $103; 
Approved Estimate: COST Estimate: $19; 
Approved Estimate: Non-COST Estimate: $25; 
Approved Estimate: Total Estimate: $44. 

Military Personnel; 
Initial Estimate: COST Estimate: 11; 
Initial Estimate: Non-COST Estimate: 0; 
Initial Estimate: Total Estimate: 11; 
Approved Estimate: COST Estimate: 4; 
Approved Estimate: Non-COST Estimate: 0; 
Approved Estimate: Total Estimate: 4. 

O&M; 
Initial Estimate: COST Estimate: 92; 
Initial Estimate: Non-COST Estimate: 0; 
Initial Estimate: Total Estimate: 92; 
Approved Estimate: COST Estimate: 15; 
Approved Estimate: Non-COST Estimate: 25; 
Approved Estimate: Total Estimate: 40. 

SOCOM; 
Initial Estimate: COST Estimate: $10; 
Initial Estimate: Non-COST Estimate: $0; 
Initial Estimate: Total Estimate: $10; 
Approved Estimate: COST Estimate: $7; 
Approved Estimate: Non-COST Estimate: $0; 
Approved Estimate: Total Estimate: $7. 

Total Defense-Wide; 
Initial Estimate: COST Estimate: $4,337; 
Initial Estimate: Non-COST Estimate: $775; 
Initial Estimate: Total Estimate: $5,112; 
Approved Estimate: COST Estimate: $4,186; 
Approved Estimate: Non-COST Estimate: $2,125; 
Approved Estimate: Total Estimate: $6,311. 

Source: DOD. 

[End of table] 

As shown in table 3, the Army's estimate of nearly $5.8 billion 
comprises the majority of the $6.3 billion total estimate. COST- 
generated estimates for military personnel or operation and maintenance 
did not change significantly for the Army from its initial estimate to 
the approved final estimate. Substantial changes were made, however, to 
the portions of the estimate that are outside the scope of COST. Army 
budget officials reported that the large decrease in requested military 
personnel funding was due to lower mobilization levels than originally 
predicted, adjusted overstrength levels, and reduced permanent change 
of station and subsistence costs. The COST portion for both military 
personnel and operations for the Army decreased slightly from the 
initial to the approved estimate. Army budget officials reported that 
the approximately $2 billion increase in operation and maintenance 
costs that was derived outside of COST was due to force protection and 
other equipment or services needed to support the troop surge and the 
additional operations performed by surge troops. Table 4 provides more 
details on these costs. 

Table 4: Non-COST estimates for Army Operation and Maintenance Costs: 

Operation and Maintenance Cost Estimated: Force protection; 
Amount Estimated: $255. 

Operation and Maintenance Cost Estimated: Theater maintenance support; 
Amount Estimated: 763. 

Operation and Maintenance Cost Estimated: Communications support; 
Amount Estimated: 198. 

Operation and Maintenance Cost Estimated: Predeployment training; 
Amount Estimated: 447. 

Operation and Maintenance Cost Estimated: CONUS based support; 
Amount Estimated: 70. 

Operation and Maintenance Cost Estimated: Detainee operations; 
Amount Estimated: 251. 

Operation and Maintenance Cost Estimated: Linguistics and intelligence 
support; 
Amount Estimated: 200. 

Operation and Maintenance Cost Estimated: LOGCAP; 
Amount Estimated: 242. 

Operation and Maintenance Cost Estimated: Subsistence transportation; 
Amount Estimated: 373. 

Total Non-COST Estimate; 
Amount Estimated: $2,798. 

Source: Army. 

Note: Total may not add due to rounding. 

[End of table] 

Similarly, major adjustments were made to the non-COST portions of the 
Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy estimates for either military 
personnel costs, operation and maintenance costs, or both appropriation 
categories, depending on the service. These changes were due to changed 
assumptions regarding deployment and specialized needs. For example, 
the Navy's non-COST personnel estimate was increased for costs 
associated with permanent change of station and active duty for special 
work needs. The Marine Corps increased its non-COST personnel request 
by $163 million in anticipation of increased requirements for reserve 
and Individual Ready Reserve activations to active duty. The 
adjustments to the Marine Corps and Air Force COST-generated portions 
were likewise substantial. The Marine Corps' increase for personnel 
costs reflected in the COST-attributed portion reflects an anticipated 
increase in counter-insurgency operations in Afghanistan, while the Air 
Force estimate was refined to exclude a KC-10 and the Air National 
Guard and Air Force Reserve personnel that would accompany the KC-10. 
From this case study, it is clear that changing the assumptions 
regarding the deployment of personnel and equipment can have 
substantial impact on the COST-related portion of a GWOT budget 
request. Also, significant changes were made to the non-COST portion of 
the request, which in this example increased from $775 million to about 
$2.1 billion, including the nearly $1 billion offset in Army personnel 
cost estimates. The information regarding the non-COST portion of this 
example reveals the significance and size of estimates generated 
outside the tool, even in a situation where the majority, if not all, 
of the costs would be assumed to be related to personnel and 
operations. 

We did not validate any of the data DOD presented in the above 
discussion, or any of the assumptions or other information used by DOD 
to develop this estimate. 

[End of section] 

Appendix IV: Comments from the Department of Defense: 

Under Secretary Of Defense: 
1100 Defense Pentagon: 
Washington DC 20301-1100: 

August 29, 2008: 

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

Enclosed is the Department of Defense (DoD) response to the Government 
Accountability Office (GAO) Draft Report GAO-08-982, Defense Budget: 
"Independent Review is Needed to Ensure DOD's Use of Cost Estimating 
Tool for Contingency Operations Follows Best Practices" dated July 28, 
2008. 

The Department concurs with comment on both of the recommendations for 
executive action and has taken action to address them. Thank you for 
the opportunity to provide the Department's response to GAO's 
recommendations. 

Sincerely,

Signed by: 

for: 

Tina W. Jonas: 

Enclosure: 
As stated: 

Department of Defense Comments: 
GAO CODE 351074/GAO-08-982: 

"Defense Budget: Independent Review is Needed to Ensure DoD's Use of 
Cost Estimating Tool for Contingency Operations Follows Best 
Practices": 

Department Of Defense Comments To The Recommendations: 

Discussion: 

* The GAO report outlined two recommendations for executive action. 
* The Department of Defense concurs with comment on both items for 
executive action. 
* In addition. technical comments are provided in response to the draft 
report. 

Recommendation 1 :The Secretary of Defense direct the USD(C) to 
"arrange for an independent review of the Contingency Operations 
Support Tool [COST] against best practices for cost estimation." 

DoD Comment To Recommendation 1: Concur with comment. 

* The Department concurs with the concept of an independent review of 
the COST model against best practices for cost estimation. In fact, the 
Air Force Studies and Analyses Agency (AFSAA) conducted such a review 
in 2004 in their report titled "Contingency Operations Support Tool 
Evaluation: The Air War over Serbia." The report includes a comparison 
of the model output to actual reported costs compiled by Defense 
Finance and Accounting Service. Many of the issues that AFSAA 
articulated within the report were incorporated by the Department 
resulting in improvements in the model. 

* On an annual, informal, basis, the Services' provide recommendations 
for improvements to the model that would better meet the needs of each 
individual Service. The factors, processes, and algorithms are updated 
to reflect the most recent assumptions for each Service, as required. 
Consistent with the intent of GAO's recommendation and effective 
immediately, the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) has issued 
guidance that will be incorporated in the Financial Management 
Regulation. The guidance includes a process for updating the COST model 
to ensure it reflects the most current budgetary assumptions and a 
process for evaluating the functionality of the model to determine if 
adjustments are needed 

* In addition, the COST model is updated to reflect congressionally 
determined factors such as military personnel pay-rates as those 
legislative changes become law. All of these procedures bolster the 
continual update and refinement of the model. 

* Finally each Service uses models to varying degrees to create and 
review cost factors for their baseline budgets. The COST model uses 
many of these same factors. The Services have procedures in place to 
validate their models. These validated factors serve as the basis for 
the Services' baseline budgets and are the foundation upon which 
supplemental requirements are developed.

Recommendation 2: The Secretary of Defense direct the USD(C) to 
"consider options for refining COST, determine the appropriate items or 
types of costs for which COST should be applied, and identify methods 
to be used when COST is not appropriate." 

DoD Comment To Recommendation 2: Concur with comment. 

* The Department uses every opportunity to refine and improve the COST 
model for comprehensiveness and accuracy. For example, during a 
supplemental build OSD Comptroller, the Joint Staff; Institute for 
Defense Analyses and Service personnel review the model results and 
critique assumptions, factors, and outputs of the COST model. The 
results of the review are used to adjust the Supplemental amounts and 
for initiating improvements to the COST model. 

* In addition, annual training involving all COST users is conducted 
before supplemental requests are developed. The feedback and exchange 
between the attendees (Services, OUSD(C), the Joint Staff and on 
occasion the Office of Management and Budget) has resulted in changes 
to the model that made it more useful and accurate. The COST model has 
proven itself to be a dynamic and adaptable tool that is used 
successfully by different organizations in DoD to create estimates for 
a variety of force deployments. 

* As for supplemental requirements that are not calculated in the COST 
model, the Department has developed an extensive review process for 
each non-COST line item. Each Service must submit all non-COST model 
items to OUSD(C) at the line items level of detail which are then 
compared to historical execution and/or anticipated operational needs. 
Only those line items that are fully justified are included in the 
supplemental request.

[End of section] 

Appendix V: GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments: 

GAO Contact: 

Sharon Pickup, (202) 512-9619 or pickups@gao.gov: 

Acknowledgements: 

In addition to the contact named above, Ann Borseth (Assistant 
Director), Grace Coleman, Susan Ditto, Linda Keefer, Lonnie McAllister 
II, Lisa McMillen, Charles Perdue, Suzanne Perkins, Karen Richey, and 
Karen Werner made key contributions to this report. 

[End of section] 

Footnotes: 

[1] After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the President 
announced a global war on terrorism requiring the collective 
instruments of the entire federal government to counter the threat of 
terrorism. Ongoing military and diplomatic operations overseas, 
especially in Iraq and Afghanistan, constitute a key part of GWOT. 
These operations involve a wide variety of activities, such as 
combating insurgents, civil affairs, capacity building, infrastructure 
reconstruction, and training military forces of other nations. 

[2] DOD, Financial Management Regulation, 7000.14-R, vol. 12, ch. 23 
(September 2007). 

[3] A January 2007 DOD memorandum defines reset as actions to restore 
units to a desired level of combat capability, including maintenance 
and supply activities that restore and enhance equipment that was 
destroyed, damaged, stressed, or worn out beyond economic repair due to 
combat operations by repairing, rebuilding, or procuring replacement 
equipment. 

[4] For the purpose of this report, we refer to the Office of the Under 
Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) as the DOD Comptroller. 

[5] GAO, Cost Assessment Guide: Best Practices for Estimating and 
Managing Program Costs, GAO-07-1134SP (Washington, D.C.: July 2007). 

[6] GAO, Global War on Terrorism: DOD Needs to Take Action to Encourage 
Fiscal Discipline and Optimize the Use of Tools Intended to Improve 
GWOT Cost Reporting, GAO-08-68 (Washington, D.C.: Nov. 6, 2007). 

[7] The Institute for Defense Analyses is a federally funded research 
and development center that developed and maintains COST under a 
contract with DOD. 

[8] The 12 steps of the cost estimating process are iterative and can 
sometimes be accomplished in varying order or concurrently. 
Additionally, the analysis, presentation, and updating of the estimate 
can lead to repeating previous steps. 

[9] For this review, we did not assess the reliability of any of these 
data sources nor did we assess the appropriateness of these data 
sources for the purposes of GWOT cost estimation. 

[10] The term "incremental costs" means those directly attributable 
costs that would not have been incurred if it were not for the 
operation. 

[11] Deputy Secretary of Defense Memorandum Ground Rules and Process 
for Fiscal Year 2007 Spring Supplemental (Oct. 25, 2006). 

[12] During the course of this review, we did not validate or assess 
the appropriateness or effectiveness of the processes the services use 
to estimate reset-related funding needs. We have reported that the Army 
and Marine Corps cannot be assured that their reset strategies will 
sustain equipment availability for units deployed in or preparing to 
deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan while meeting ongoing operational 
requirements and also that the Army and Marine Corps did not report 
detailed reset expenditures within the procurement accounts in a way 
that confirms that funds appropriated for reset were obligated and 
expended for reset. See GAO, Defense Logistics: Army and Marine Corps 
Cannot Be Assured That Equipment Reset Strategies Will Sustain 
Equipment Availability While Meeting Ongoing Operational Requirements, 
GAO-07-814 (Washington, D.C.: Sept. 19, 2007). 

[13] See GAO, Global War on Terrorism: DOD Needs to Improve the 
Reliability of Cost Data and Provide Additional Guidance to Control 
Costs, GAO-05-882 (Washington, D.C.: Sept. 21, 2005), Global War on 
Terrorism: Fiscal Year 2006 Obligation Rates Are Within Funding Levels 
and Significant Multiyear Procurement Funds Will Likely Remain 
Available for Use in Fiscal Year 2007, GAO-07-76 (Washington, D.C.: 
Nov. 13, 2006), and GAO-08-68. 

[14] See GAO-07-1134SP and OMB, Guidelines and Discount Rates for 
Benefit-Cost Analysis of Federal Programs, Circular No. A-94 Revised 
(Washington, D.C.: Oct. 29, 1992). 

[15] For example, two categories are defined as including costs related 
to the logistics civil augmentation program (LOGCAP): both the category 
for facilities and base support and a separate category for LOGCAP. DOD 
stated in its technical comments regarding a draft of this report that 
this issue has been reviewed and is currently under revision. 

[16] Sensitivity analysis can identify key elements that drive cost and 
provide information to decision makers regarding the potential for cost 
increases and reasons for increases. Risk and uncertainty analysis 
assess the variability in the cost estimate. Specifically, uncertainty 
analysis provides perspective on the potential variability of the 
estimate should facts, circumstances, and assumptions change. 

[17] DOD, Fiscal Year 2008 Global War on Terror Amendment (October 
2007). 

[18] GAO, Cost Assessment Guide: Best Practices for Estimating and 
Managing Program Costs, GAO-07-1134SP (Washington, D.C.: July 2007). 

[19] In late January 2007, the President announced a "surge" strategy 
in Iraq, providing for the deployment of an additional 30,000 troops to 
support stability operations. He also announced the deployment of 
additional personnel to Afghanistan to provide increased security 
against an anticipated insurgent offensive. 

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