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entitled 'Depot Maintenance: Improved Strategic Planning Needed to 
Ensure That Air Force Depots Can Meet Future Maintenance Requirements' 
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Report to the Subcommittee on Readiness, Committee on Armed Services, 
House of Representatives: 

United States Government Accountability Office: 
GAO: 

May 2010: 

Depot Maintenance: 

Improved Strategic Planning Needed to Ensure That Air Force Depots Can 
Meet Future Maintenance Requirements: 

GAO-10-526: 

GAO Highlights: 

Highlights of GAO-10-526, a report to the Subcommittee on Readiness, 
Committee on Armed Services, House of Representatives. 

Why GAO Did This Study: 

The Air Force’s maintenance depots provide critical support to ongoing 
operations around the world. Previously, the Department of Defense’s 
(DOD) increased reliance on the private sector for depot maintenance 
support, coupled with downsizing, led to a general deterioration in 
the capabilities, reliability, and cost-effectiveness of the military 
services’ depots. In March 2007, the Office of the Under Secretary of 
Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (OUSD (AT&L)) 
directed each service to submit a depot maintenance strategic plan and 
provided direction for the content of those plans. The Air Force 
issued two documents in response to this direction—a Strategy and a 
Master Plan. GAO used qualitative content analyses to determine the 
extent to which the Air Force’s collective plan addresses (1) key 
elements of a results-oriented management framework and (2) OUSD’s 
(AT&L) direction for the plan’s content. 

What GAO Found: 

While the Air Force plan focuses efforts on weapon system and 
equipment operational availability, it does not fully address the 
elements of a results-oriented management framework, nor does it 
clearly link information between the plan’s two component documents. GAO
’s prior work has shown that seven elements of a results-oriented 
management framework are critical for comprehensive strategic 
planning. The plan fully addresses one of these elements by including 
a mission statement that summarizes the Air Force depots’ major 
functions and operations, but it partially addresses or does not 
address the remaining six elements. For example, while the plan 
describes goals for the depots’ mission-related functions, it does not 
provide time frames to achieve them. Additionally, the plan does not 
discuss any factors beyond the Air Force’s control that could affect 
its ability to achieve the plan’s goals nor does it identify how the 
Air Force will evaluate its programs and use the results of such 
evaluations to adjust the plan’s long-term goals and strategies to 
achieve desired levels of performance. Moreover, the content of the 
plan’s two component documents are not clearly linked to one another. 
For example, the goals listed in the Strategy are not clearly repeated 
in the Master Plan, and the Master Plan includes goals that are unrelated 
to depot maintenance. Nor does the Master Plan clearly align its 
content to the five long-term goals described in the Strategy. The 
plan does not fully address the elements of a results-oriented 
management framework and the plan’s two documents are not clearly 
linked to one another in part because of weaknesses in oversight. 
Specifically, although OUSD (AT&L) established an oversight body, 
which included senior representatives from OUSD (AT&L) and the 
services, to review the services’ plans, this body did not review the 
plan. Also, the Air Force did not establish an oversight mechanism to 
review its plan. The plan’s weaknesses may limit the Air Force’s 
ability to use its plan as a tool to meet future challenges. 

In addition, the Air Force plan is not fully responsive to OUSD’s 
(AT&L) direction to the services that was designed to provide the 
services with a framework to meet future challenges. OUSD (AT&L) 
directed the services to address 10 specific issues in four general 
areas: logistics transformation, core logistics capability assurance, 
workforce revitalization, and capital investment. The plan partially 
addresses 8 of these issues and does not address the remaining two. 
For example, while the plan notes that the Air Force is partnering 
with local universities and technical schools to provide training to 
reengineer existing employees’ skills, the plan does not address Air 
Force actions to identify new and emerging skill requirements, as 
directed. Furthermore, the plan does not discuss any benchmarks to 
evaluate the adequacy of investment funding, as directed. As discussed 
for the elements of a results-oriented management framework, the plan 
does not fully respond to OUSD (AT&L)’s direction for the plan’s 
content in part because of weaknesses in oversight in both OUSD (AT&L) 
and the Air Force. The plan’s shortcomings may limit the Air Force’s 
assurance that its depots are postured and resourced to meet future 
maintenance challenges. 

What GAO Recommends: 

GAO is recommending that the Air Force revise its plan to fully and 
explicitly address all elements of a results-oriented management 
framework, show clear linkages between the two components of the plan, 
and fully and explicitly address OUSD (AT&L) direction; and both OUSD 
(AT&L) and the Air Force develop and implement oversight procedures to 
review revisions of the plan. DOD concurred with our recommendations. 

View [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-10-526] or key 
components. For more information, contact Jack Edwards at (202) 512-
8246 or edwardsj@gao.gov. 

[End of section] 

Contents: 

Letter: 

Background: 

The Plan Does Not Fully Address All Elements of a Results-Oriented 
Management Framework: 

The Plan Does Not Fully Respond to OUSD (AT&L)'s Direction Designed to 
Meet Future Challenges: 

Conclusions: 

Recommendations for Executive Action: 

Agency Comments and Our Evaluation: 

Appendix I: Scope and Methodology: 

Appendix II: GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments: 

Related GAO Products: 

Tables: 

Table 1: Air Force Depots, Locations, Principal Work, Workload, and 
Number of Personnel: 

Table 2: The Extent to Which the Air Force's Depot Maintenance 
Strategic Plan Addresses the Elements of a Results-Oriented Management 
Framework: 

Table 3: The Extent to Which the Air Force's Depot Maintenance 
Strategic Plan Addresses OUSD (AT&L)'s Direction: 

Table 4: Organizations Contacted to Obtain Information Related to the 
Air Force's Depot Maintenance Strategic Plan: 

[End of section] 

United States Government Accountability Office: 
Washington, DC 20548: 

May 14, 2010: 

The Honorable Solomon Ortiz: 
Chairman: 
The Honorable J. Randy Forbes: 
Ranking Member: 
Subcommittee on Readiness: 
Committee on Armed Services: 
House of Representatives: 

The Air Force's three maintenance depots provide equipment repair and 
sustainment services that are critical to supporting ongoing 
operations around the world. Prior to the onset of military operations 
in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Department of Defense's (DOD) increased 
reliance on the private sector for depot maintenance support--coupled 
with declining budgets, downsizing, and consolidations as a result of 
previous Base Realignment and Closure Act (BRAC) decisions--led to a 
decline in maintenance workloads for the depots and contributed to the 
general deterioration of capabilities, reliability, and cost- 
effectiveness of military depots. Downsizing efforts also affected the 
depots' abilities to obtain investments in facilities, equipment, and 
human capital to support their long-term viability and to ensure that 
they remained a key resource for repair of new and modified systems. 
In 2001, DOD identified performance-based logistics[Footnote 1] as its 
preferred support strategy, further increasing reliance on contractors 
to support many of its weapon systems. 

In 2003 and again in 2006, the House Armed Services Committee 
encouraged DOD to develop a comprehensive depot maintenance strategy. 
[Footnote 2] In March 2007, the Office of the Under Secretary of 
Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (OUSD (AT&L)) issued 
DOD's depot maintenance strategic plan, which articulated the 
department's strategy for posturing and resourcing the depots to meet 
the national security and materiel readiness challenges of the 21st 
century. In March 2007, the Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of 
Defense for Logistics and Materiel Readiness, within OUSD (AT&L), 
directed each of the services to conduct strategic planning for depot 
maintenance and submit plans that focus on achieving DOD's strategy. 
[Footnote 3] In response, the Air Force published its Air Force Depot 
Maintenance Strategic Plan, known as the Strategy, in April 2008. In 
addition, it published the Air Force Depot Maintenance Master Plan, 
known as the Master Plan, in March 2009. According to Air Force 
officials, these two documents collectively respond to OUSD (AT&L)'s 
direction. DOD's 2007 Depot Maintenance Strategy and Implementation 
Plans also noted that the services would update their depot 
maintenance strategic plans no later than 6 months after the 
publication of an updated DOD depot maintenance strategic plan, which 
will be published within 6 months of the publication of the February 
2010 Quadrennial Defense Review Report.[Footnote 4] 

Our prior work has shown that organizations conducting strategic 
planning need to develop a comprehensive, results-oriented management 
framework to provide an approach whereby program effectiveness is 
measured in terms of outcomes or impact, rather than outputs, such as 
activities and processes.[Footnote 5] Such a framework includes seven 
critical elements: a comprehensive mission statement; long-term goals; 
strategies to achieve the goals; use of metrics to gauge progress; 
identification of key external factors that could affect the 
achievement of the goals; a description of how program evaluations 
will be used; and stakeholder involvement in developing the plan. In 
its March 2007 call for strategic plans, OUSD (AT&L) directed the 
services to address many of these same elements in their strategic 
plans. In addition, OUSD (AT&L) directed the services to address 10 
specific issues in four general areas: logistics transformation, core 
logistics capability assurance, workforce revitalization, and capital 
investment. OUSD (AT&L) officials told us that the direction in these 
four areas was designed to provide the services' plans with a 
framework to meet future challenges. 

In September 2009, we issued a report on the Army's and Marine Corps' 
depot maintenance strategic plans.[Footnote 6] Subsequently, your 
office asked us to review the Air Force's and Navy's depot maintenance 
strategic plans to determine the extent to which these plans provide a 
comprehensive strategy for meeting future requirements. As agreed with 
your office, this report addresses two questions on the Air Force's 
strategic plan for depot maintenance: (1) To what extent does the Air 
Force's strategic plan for depot maintenance address key elements of a 
results-oriented management framework? and (2) To what extent does the 
Air Force's depot maintenance strategic plan address OUSD (AT&L)'s 
direction that was designed to provide a framework for the services to 
meet future challenges? We are issuing a separate report on the Navy 
depot maintenance strategic plan. The Related GAO Products section at 
the end of the report lists additional publications on related topics. 

We used the same set of methodological procedures to answer both 
questions, and each type of procedure was performed simultaneously for 
the two questions. Specifically, we reviewed the Air Force's depot 
maintenance strategic plan, which is composed of the Strategy and 
Master Plan. We evaluated the Air Force's plan using qualitative 
content analyses to compare information in it against criteria from 
the seven elements of a results-oriented management framework[Footnote 
7] and the 10 issues listed in the OUSD (AT&L) direction for depot 
maintenance strategic plans. To conduct these analyses, we first 
developed a data collection instrument that incorporated these two 
types of criteria. One team member then analyzed the plan using this 
instrument. To verify preliminary observations from this initial 
analysis, a second team member concurrently conducted an independent 
analysis of the plan. We compared the two sets of observations and 
discussed any differences. We reconciled the differences with the 
assistance of analysts from the team that was evaluating the Navy 
depot maintenance strategic plan. We met with Air Force officials to 
confirm our understanding of the plan and sought additional 
information where our preliminary analyses revealed that the plan 
partially addresses or does not address criteria. We also interviewed 
and obtained documentary evidence from relevant OUSD (AT&L) officials 
on its oversight of the services' plans. Additionally, we interviewed 
depot leaders and strategic planning personnel during site visits at 
two of the three Air Force depots to obtain first-hand information on 
issues the depots face. We also obtained data on workload and 
personnel from the Air Force and determined that these data were 
sufficiently reliable for our report. More detailed information on our 
scope and methodology is provided in appendix I. 

We conducted this performance audit from July 2009 through May 2010 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 of our audit objectives. 

Background: 

Depot maintenance is the materiel maintenance or repair requiring 
overhauling, upgrading, or rebuilding of parts, assemblies, or 
subassemblies, and the testing and reclamation of equipment, 
regardless of the source of funds for the maintenance or repair or the 
location at which the maintenance or repair is performed.[Footnote 8] 
The Air Force maintains three depots that are designed to retain, at a 
minimum, a ready, controlled source of technical competence and 
resources to meet military requirements. These depots work on a wide 
range of weapon systems and military equipment. Table 1 describes the 
location, principal work, workload, and number of personnel for each 
depot. 

Table 1: Air Force Depots, Locations, Principal Work, Workload, and 
Number of Personnel: 

Depot location: Hill Air Force Base, Ogden, Utah; 
Principal work: aircraft and major commodities: A-10, C-130, F-16; 
Landing gear, hydraulics, missiles, and software; 
Fiscal year 2010 workload estimates (in customer orders in billions of 
dollars): $1.38; 
Estimated number of personnel: 7,082. 

Depot location: Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; 
Principal work: aircraft and major commodities: KC-135, B-1, B-52, E-3; 
Engines, software, and instruments; 
Fiscal year 2010 workload estimates (in customer orders in billions of 
dollars): $2.46; 
Estimated number of personnel: 7,508. 

Depot location: Robins Air Force Base, Warner Robins, Georgia; 
Principal work: aircraft and major commodities: F-15, C-5, C-130, C-17; 
Avionics, electronic warfare, software; 
Fiscal year 2010 workload estimates (in customer orders in billions of 
dollars): $1.47; 
Estimated number of personnel: 7,473. 

Source: U.S. Air Force. 

[End of table] 

Depot maintenance activities are complex and require deliberate 
planning in order to efficiently and effectively meet future 
requirements. Our prior work has shown that organizations need 
effective strategic management planning in order to identify and 
achieve long-term goals.[Footnote 9] We have identified key elements 
that should be incorporated into strategic plans to help establish a 
comprehensive, results-oriented management framework:[Footnote 10] 

1. Mission statement: A statement that concisely summarizes what the 
organization does, presenting the main purposes for all its major 
functions and operations. 

2. Long-term goals: A specific set of policy, programmatic, and 
management goals for the programs and operations covered in the 
strategic plan. The long-term goals should correspond to the purposes 
set forth in the mission statement and develop with greater 
specificity how an organization will carry out its mission. 

3. Strategies to achieve the goals: A description of how the goals 
contained in the strategic plan are to be achieved, including the 
operational processes; skills and technology; and the human, capital, 
information, and other resources required to meet these goals. 

4. Use of metrics to gauge progress: A set of metrics that will be 
applied to gauge progress toward attainment of each of the plan's long-
term goals. 

5. Key external factors that could affect goals: Key factors external 
to the organization and beyond its control that could significantly 
affect the achievement of the long-term goals contained in the 
strategic plan. These external factors can include economic, 
demographic, social, technological, or environmental factors, as well 
as conditions or events that would affect the organization's ability 
to achieve its goals. 

6. Program evaluations: Assessments, through objective measurement and 
systematic analysis, of the manner and extent to which programs 
associated with the strategic plan achieve their intended goals. 

7. Stakeholder involvement in developing the plan: Consideration of 
the views and suggestions--solicited during the development of the 
strategic plan--of those entities affected by or interested in the 
organization's activities. 

In addition to our work on strategic planning, recent legislation has 
focused attention on DOD's and the military departments' maintenance 
strategies and plans. The National Defense Authorization Act for 
Fiscal Year 2009[Footnote 11] requires the Secretary of Defense to 
contract for a study, which among other things, will address DOD's and 
the military departments' life-cycle maintenance strategies and 
implementation plans on a variety of topics including: outcome-based 
performance management objectives, workload projection, workforce, and 
capital investment strategies. Additionally, the act requires that the 
study examine "the relevant body of work performed by the Government 
Accountability Office." OUSD (AT&L) officials told us that they expect 
the final report from this study to be delivered to Congress in 
December 2010. 

The Plan Does Not Fully Address All Elements of a Results-Oriented 
Management Framework: 

Air Force Plan Does Not Fully Address Elements of a Results-Oriented 
Management Framework and Lacks Clear Linkages in Planning Documents: 

While the Air Force plan focuses Air Force efforts on weapon system 
and equipment operational availability, it does not fully address the 
elements of a results-oriented management framework, nor does it 
clearly link information between the two planning documents. The Air 
Force plan fully addresses one of the seven elements, partially 
addresses four elements, and does not address the remaining two 
elements that our prior work has shown to be critical in a 
comprehensive strategic plan.[Footnote 12] Table 2 summarizes the 
extent to which the Air Force's depot maintenance strategic plan 
addresses the elements of a results-oriented management framework. 
Additionally, the plan's documents are not clearly linked to one 
another and the relationship between corresponding sets of information 
in the documents is sometimes not transparent. As a result of these 
weaknesses, the Air Force's ability to use its plan as a decision- 
making tool to meet future challenges may be limited. 

Table 2: The Extent to Which the Air Force's Depot Maintenance 
Strategic Plan Addresses the Elements of a Results-Oriented Management 
Framework: 

Elements: 1. Mission statement; 
Degree plan addresses element: overview and examples: 
Addresses: The plan includes a results-oriented mission statement that 
covers at least a 5-year time frame. The mission statement says that 
the Air Force's overarching mission for its depots is to "ensure that 
the Air Force weapon systems and equipment are operational and 
available to support the Air Force's mission." 

Elements: 2. Long-term goals; 
Degree plan addresses element: overview and examples: 
Partially addresses: The plan identifies five goals related to the 
depots' industrial base, workforce, facilities, partnering agreements, 
and transformation efforts; however, it does not specify the time 
frames for achieving these goals. For example, while the Air Force 
plan identifies maintaining a highly qualified, technically competent, 
and professional workforce in the future as one of its depot 
maintenance goals, it does not specify interim goals or the time frame 
for achieving this goal. 

Elements: 3. Strategies to achieve the goals; 
Degree plan addresses element: overview and examples: 
Partially addresses: The plan generally discusses the Air Force's 
strategies to achieve its depot maintenance goals; however, it does 
not fully describe the resources required to achieve the goals. For 
example, the plan discusses a general strategy that involves processes 
for mission assignment, strategic source of repair, depot source of 
repair, and core capability determination in order to ensure a 
responsive organic industrial base. It does not, however, fully 
describe the resources such as capital, the number and mix of military 
and civilian personnel, and emerging technologies required to execute 
this strategy. 

Elements: 4. Use of metrics to gauge progress; 
Degree plan addresses element: overview and examples: 
Partially addresses: The plan includes measurable life-cycle 
performance metrics that Air Force officials told us were intended to 
indirectly gauge progress toward achieving each of the plan's long-
term goals; however, the plan does not describe how these metrics 
directly correspond to each long-term goal, desired levels for each, 
or how they will be used to evaluate each goal. For example, while the 
plan identifies metrics to assess overall depot performance such as 
the quality defect rate, it does not describe how the measurement of 
the quality defect rate would be applied to gauge progress toward any 
long-term goal. 

Elements: 5. Key external factors that could affect goals; 
Degree plan addresses element: overview and examples: 
Does not address: The plan does not identify any key external factors 
beyond the Air Force's control that could affect its ability to 
achieve its goals. In contrast, Air Force officials have acknowledged 
elsewhere external factors that could affect depot maintenance. In 
2007, for example, the Secretary and Chief of Staff of the Air Force 
discussed in a congressional hearing the harsh environments in which 
the Air Force is currently operating, including the heat and sand in 
the deserts of Iraq. 

Elements: 6. Program evaluations; 
Degree plan addresses element: overview and examples: 
Does not address: The plan does not describe program evaluations the 
Air Force may use to assess performance against the plan's goals and 
strategies. Previously, we reported that program evaluations are 
important because they help to ensure the validity and reasonableness 
of goals and strategies, identify factors likely to affect 
performance, and identify appropriate strategies to meet unmet goals. 

Elements: 7. Stakeholder involvement in developing the plan; 
Degree plan addresses element: overview and examples: 
Partially addresses: Many offices within the Air Force collaboratively 
developed its depot maintenance strategic plan; however, depots 
officials indicated that they were not involved in all aspects of the 
development of the plan, even though their depots must carry out 
actions described in the plan. Stakeholder input was solicited 
primarily from the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force 
for Installations, Environment, and Logistics; the Office of the 
Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition; the Office of 
the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Air Force for Logistics, 
Installations and Mission Support; and the Air Force Materiel Command. 

Source: GAO analysis of the Air Force plan. 

Note: The Air Force published its Depot Maintenance Strategic Plan and 
its Depot Maintenance Master Plan in response to OUSD (AT&L)'s 
direction to the services. Accordingly, we analyzed both documents in 
our evaluation of the Air Force plan. 

[End of table] 

The Plan Fully Addresses One Element: Depot Maintenance Mission: 

The plan's depot maintenance mission statement fully addresses one of 
seven elements of a results-oriented management framework. The 
comprehensive mission statement summarizes the Air Force depots' 
overarching purpose and addresses their major functions and 
operations. In prior reports on strategic planning, we have noted that 
a mission statement is important because it provides focus by 
explaining why an organization exists and what it does.[Footnote 13] 
The Air Force depots' overarching purpose, as identified in the plan, 
is to "ensure that Air Force weapon systems and equipment are 
operational and available to support the Air Force's mission." This 
mission statement is results-oriented and corresponds with the more 
general department-wide mission statement in DOD's Depot Maintenance 
Strategy and Implementation Plans, which states that the mission of 
DOD depots is to meet the national security and materiel readiness 
challenges of the 21st century. 

The Plan Partially Addresses Four Elements: Goals, Strategies, 
Metrics, and Stakeholder Involvement: 

The Air Force's plan partially addresses four of the results-oriented 
management framework elements: long-term goals; strategies to achieve 
the goals; use of metrics to gauge progress; and stakeholder 
involvement in developing the plan. With regard to the long-term 
goals, the plan includes five: 

* maintain a responsive organic industrial base, 

* ensure a highly qualified, technically competent, and professional 
workforce, 

* provide facilities necessary to support existing and projected depot 
maintenance workloads, 

* maintain robust public-and private-sector capabilities by leveraging 
partnering, and: 

* transform depot processes through continuous process improvement and 
logistics transformation. 

While the plan includes these goals, it does not specify interim 
goals, and it does not specify the time frames for monitoring and 
achieving the long-term goals. For example, the plan discusses the 
goal of leveraging public-private partnerships to maintain robust 
public-and private-sector relationships and ensure access to 
complementary dual depot maintenance capabilities; however, it does 
not identify interim goals or time frames for achieving this 
partnering goal. 

Similarly, the plan discusses the Air Force's strategies to achieve 
its five long-term goals, but does not address the resources that will 
be needed to achieve them. For example, the plan identifies a strategy 
to achieve its infrastructure goal. Specifically, the plan states that 
the Air Force will make capital investments in its depots in order to 
provide them with the state of the art, environmentally compliant, 
efficiently configured, and properly equipped facilities to support 
existing and projected depot maintenance workload. However, needed 
resources--such as capital, equipment, and technology--are not 
specified to facilitate implementation of this strategy. 

While the plan includes some metrics, it does not discuss any metrics 
that directly assess the degree to which the depots are achieving the 
plan's goals. The plan discusses general life-cycle performance 
metrics to assess overall depot performance. Air Force officials told 
us that these metrics indirectly gauge progress toward achieving each 
of the plan's five long-term goals. For example, the plan discusses a 
quality defect rate metric, which measures the variance between 
quality deficiency reports and the quality defect rate standard, but 
the plan does not describe how the depots would measure or use the 
metric to gauge progress toward achieving one or more of the plan's 
long-term goals. Air Force officials explained that a performance 
problem indicated by any of its metrics would lead the Air Force to 
monitor overall performance and then identify the relevant area (e.g., 
workforce) contributing to the problem. These officials told us that 
the Air Force would then adjust performance in the relevant area to 
achieve the corresponding goal. However, this indirect process is not 
discussed in the plan. Moreover, the plan does not discuss the desired 
levels for each of these metrics. 

While the Air Force involved many relevant stakeholders in the 
development of its depot maintenance strategic plan, it did not 
involve depot officials directly in all aspects of the process. The 
Air Force developed its plan primarily by using inputs from the 
following stakeholders: 

* the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for 
Installations, Environment, and Logistics; 

* the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for 
Acquisition; 

* the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Air Force for 
Logistics, Installations and Mission Support; and: 

* Air Force Materiel Command. 

Air Force depot officials said they were not involved in all aspects 
of the development of the plan, even though their depots are directly 
affected by the plan. For example, depot officials indicated that they 
had limited or no involvement in the development of the Strategy. 

The Plan Does Not Address Two Elements: Key External Factors and 
Program Evaluations: 

The Air Force's plan does not address two of the results-oriented 
management framework elements: key external factors and program 
evaluations. The plan does not identify any key factors external to 
the Air Force and beyond its control that could significantly affect 
the achievement of its five long-term goals. Our prior work on 
developing a results-oriented management framework reported that 
external economic, demographic, social, technical, or environmental 
factors may influence whether an organization achieves its goals. 
[Footnote 14] Moreover, we noted that a strategic plan should describe 
each such factor and indicate how it could affect achievement of the 
plan's goals. Even though the Air Force plan did not describe any such 
factors, Air Force officials have acknowledged elsewhere external 
factors that could affect depot maintenance. For example, in 2007, the 
Secretary and Chief of Staff of the Air Force described the harsh 
environments the Air Force is currently operating in--including the 
heat and sand in Iraq's deserts--during testimony before the House 
Armed Services Committee. Further, obtaining technical data rights 
from private-sector manufacturers is another example of external 
factors not identified in the plan that could affect depot 
maintenance.[Footnote 15] Depot officials told us that technical data 
are sometimes not directly available to the depots and that without 
them their work is more challenging. 

Similarly, the plan does not identify how the Air Force will evaluate 
its programs and use the results of these evaluations to adjust the 
plan's long-term goals and strategies to achieve desired levels of 
performance. The plan indicates that the Air Force must continuously 
validate and update its depot maintenance strategic plan to meet 
operational depot maintenance requirements; however, the plan does not 
describe the method to conduct this process. 

The Lack of Clear Linkage in the Plan's Two Documents May Limit the 
Plan's Usefulness: 

The content of the Air Force depot maintenance Strategy and Master 
Plan are not clearly linked to one another, which may make the 
collective plan difficult to use as a decision-making tool. OUSD 
(AT&L) instructed each service to publish its depot maintenance 
strategic plan in a single depot maintenance-specific document or as 
an integral part of one or more documents having a broader scope. Air 
Force officials told us that they intended the Strategy to provide the 
strategic vision for Air Force depot maintenance and the Master Plan 
to complement the Strategy by providing the details for executing the 
strategic vision. 

We found that the linkage of information in the plan's two documents 
was not always clear. For example, the goals listed in the Strategy 
are not clearly repeated in the Master Plan, and the Master Plan 
includes goals that are unrelated to depot maintenance. For example, 
one goal the Master Plan includes is to improve the strategic 
acquisition of capabilities to ensure warfighters have the weapons and 
equipment needed to defend the United States. In addition, the Master 
Plan does not clearly align its content to the five long-term goals 
described in the Strategy. Although a table in an appendix to the 
Master Plan provides some information indicating how the content of 
the Strategy and Master Plan are aligned, the appendix does not 
clarify how the two documents are linked to one another or how they 
are used as a collective plan. An Air Force official acknowledged the 
weaknesses in the linkages between the plan's two documents and said 
that they intend to ensure effective alignment of the plan's documents 
in future versions of the plan. 

Additionally, Air Force officials told us that they chose not to 
include information in the plan that was already contained in external 
documents. For example, they told us that other Air Force documents 
(such as Air Force budget documents and the servicewide strategic 
plan) address key external factors that could affect the achievement 
of the plan's goals. The Air Force plan, however, does not refer to 
these external documents. Without clear linkages between the two 
primary planning documents and other related documents, the Air Force 
may have limited utility of its plan as a decision-making tool to meet 
future challenges. 

OUSD (AT&L) and the Air Force Did Not Use Effective Oversight 
Mechanisms to Systematically Evaluate the Plan: 

OUSD (AT&L) Did Not Employ an Effective Oversight Mechanism to 
Evaluate the Plan: 

OUSD (AT&L) did not use an effective oversight mechanism to 
systematically evaluate the Air Force's plan to determine whether it 
fully addresses all needed elements. DOD's Depot Maintenance Strategy 
and Implementation Plans states that the Depot Maintenance Working 
Integrated Process Team[Footnote 16] would monitor the development and 
subsequent execution of the services' depot maintenance strategic 
plans on a continuing basis. However, that team did not review any of 
the services' plans. OUSD (AT&L) officials representing the Assistant 
Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Maintenance Policy and Programs 
told us that, in practice, the Integrated Process Team did not assume 
responsibility for oversight of the plan, but instead monitored 
selected issues that the services' plans describe, such as the 
implementation of some specific process improvement initiatives. The 
Maintenance Policy and Programs officials told us that they reviewed 
the Air Force plan through a process consisting of informal meetings 
and conversations with service representatives. These OUSD (AT&L) 
officials told us that, through their review, they found that the Air 
Force plan was a "good first start" but did not address all needed 
elements. However, Air Force officials told us that they were not 
informed that the plan did not fully address elements of a results- 
oriented management framework nor were they asked to revise the plan. 
Additionally, Maintenance Policy and Programs officials were unable to 
provide us with documentation of their review of the Air Force plan. 

The Air Force Lacked an Effective Oversight Mechanism to 
Systematically Evaluate the Plan: 

At the time the Air Force developed its plan, it lacked an effective 
oversight mechanism to help ensure that its plan fully addresses the 
elements of a results-oriented management framework and that the 
plan's two documents are clearly linked to one another. Air Force 
headquarters officials responsible for the plan did not review the 
Strategy or the Master Plan to ensure that these documents fully 
address the elements of a results-oriented management framework. 
Furthermore, the Air Force headquarters officials did not provide 
direction to the Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC)--the office 
responsible for the Master Plan--on strategic planning elements that 
should be incorporated in the Master Plan. Also, AFMC officials told 
us that they received no instruction to submit the Master Plan to 
another Air Force office or other oversight body for review. Since the 
development of the current plan, the Air Force developed the Depot 
Maintenance Strategic Planning Integrated Process Team in June 2008 to 
improve its future depot maintenance strategic plans. According to the 
team's charter, this process will be used to validate and update the 
depot maintenance strategic plan and help align the Strategy and 
Master Plan with one another and with DOD's Depot Maintenance Strategy 
and Implementation Plans. Moreover, while the Air Force conducts 
monthly reviews of depot maintenance programs and they told us that 
these reviews help provide oversight of the plan's implementation, 
these reviews do not assess the progress in achieving the plan's long-
term goals. 

While Air Force officials responsible for the plan acknowledged some 
of the plan's incomplete information, they told us that they believe 
the plan more fully addresses the results-oriented management 
framework elements than our analysis reflects. According to these 
officials, although the plan does not address some elements 
explicitly, they are implied in the plan's discussion of various 
initiatives and processes and experienced professionals involved in 
Air Force depot maintenance would be able to recognize these elements. 
However, because the plan does not explicitly address these elements, 
they may not be clear to individuals not involved in developing the 
plan. 

The Plan Does Not Fully Respond to OUSD (AT&L)'s Direction Designed to 
Meet Future Challenges: 

While the Air Force depot maintenance strategic plan describes many 
initiatives and programs important to the Air Force depots, it is not 
fully responsive to OUSD (AT&L)'s direction to the services that was 
designed to provide the services with a framework to meet future 
challenges. Specifically, the plan does not fully address logistics 
transformation, core logistics capability assurance, workforce 
revitalization, and capital investment--the four areas that OUSD 
(AT&L) directed each service, at a minimum, to include in its plan. 
Within these four general areas are 10 issues that OUSD (AT&L) also 
identified. The Air Force's plan partially addresses 8 and does not 
address the remaining 2. Table 3 summarizes our evaluation of the 
extent to which the Air Force plan addresses each of the 10 issues. 

Table 3: The Extent to Which the Air Force's Depot Maintenance 
Strategic Plan Addresses OUSD (AT&L)'s Direction: 

Logistics transformation: 

OUSD (AT&L)-directed issues: 1. Future roles and capabilities 
envisioned for the depots and how these capabilities will be 
quantified and measured; 
Degree plan addresses issues: overview and examples: 
Partially addresses: The plan notes that the future role of the depots 
will continue to be ensuring that Air Force weapon systems are 
operational and available to support the Air Force's missions, but the 
plan does not describe the future capabilities (e.g., maintenance, 
repair, overhaul) the Air Force envisions for the depots or how those 
capabilities would be quantified or measured. 

OUSD (AT&L)-directed issues: 2. Actions being taken to transform 
depots into the envisioned future capability; 
Degree plan addresses issues: overview and examples: 
Partially addresses: The plan discusses continuous process improvement 
initiatives, such as the High Velocity Maintenance program, but it 
does not identify changes (e.g., to the structure or organization of 
the depots) that would be necessary to carry out these transformations. 

OUSD (AT&L)-directed issues: 3. Management approaches for integrating 
various depot capabilities, including public-and private-sector 
sources, joint, inter-service, and multinational capabilities; 
Degree plan addresses issues: overview and examples: 
Partially addresses: The plan describes management approaches for 
integrating public-and private-sector depot sources, but not for 
integrating joint, inter-service, and multinational capabilities. For 
public-and private-sector sources, the plan states that partnering 
with the private sector to ensure access to complementary or dual 
depot maintenance capabilities is an integral element of the Air Force 
depot strategy. 

Core logistics capability assurance: 

OUSD (AT&L)-directed issues: 4. Actions being taken or contemplated to 
(1) identify core requirements upon program initiation, (2) ensure 
that depot source of repair decisions are made upon program 
initiation, (3) encourage the formation of public-private 
partnerships, and (4) identify and rectify core capabilities 
deficiencies; 
Degree plan addresses issues: overview and examples: 
Partially addresses: The plan addresses three of the four elements of 
this issue. For example, to describe actions to identify core 
requirements, the plan states that the Air Force uses the biennial 
core computation process to generate core requirements. However, the 
plan does not address actions to rectify core capability deficiencies. 

OUSD (AT&L)-directed issues: 5. Methods used for workload estimating 
and projected effects of weapon system retirements and bed-down (i.e., 
the act or process of locating aircraft at a particular base); 
Degree plan addresses issues: overview and examples: 
Partially addresses: The plan describes a process in which Air Force 
organizations, such as the Centralized Asset Management Office, 
provide input into the workload review process and that the workload 
review process determines future depot workload. However, the plan 
does not discuss the projected effects of weapon system retirements, 
despite Air Force plans to substantially reduce its fleet of older 
fighter aircraft, such as the F-15 and F-16. 

Workforce revitalization: 

OUSD (AT&L)-directed issues: 6. Reengineering strategies: Actions 
being taken to identify new skill requirements and reengineer existing 
employees' skills to satisfy new capability requirements; 
Degree plan addresses issues: overview and examples: 
Partially addresses: The plan notes that the Air Force is partnering 
with local universities and technical schools to provide training to 
reengineer existing employees' skills, but it does not address Air 
Force actions to identify new and emerging skill requirements. 

OUSD (AT&L)-directed issues: 7. Replenishment requirements: Methods 
used for forecasting workforce replenishment requirements, including 
data on projected annual losses due to retirements and projected 
annual new hire requirements; 
Degree plan addresses issues: overview and examples: 
Does not address: The plan does not discuss the methods the Air Force 
uses to forecast the number of depot employees it will need to replace 
in the near and longer term. Additionally, the plan does not include 
data on the Air Force's projected annual personnel losses or the 
associated new hire requirements. 

OUSD (AT&L)-directed issues: 8. Replenishment strategies: Management 
approach for developing and implementing replenishment strategies, 
including a description of the actions being used to recruit and train 
new employees; 
Degree plan addresses issues: overview and examples: 
Partially addresses: The plan discusses actions the depots are now 
taking to train employees. For example, the plan discusses a 
university and vocational school partnership to train some depot 
employees. However, the plan does not articulate any new Air Force-
wide approach to recruit or replenish its depot employees. 

Capital investment: 

OUSD (AT&L)-directed issues: 9. Benchmarks used for evaluating the 
adequacy of investment funding and the basis for selecting the 
benchmark; 
Degree plan addresses issues: overview and examples: 
Does not address: The plan does not discuss any benchmarks for 
evaluating the adequacy of investment funding or the basis for 
selecting the benchmarks. While the plan states that the Air Force 
will continue making an annual capital investment of at least 6 
percent of revenue to sustain its infrastructure, it does not discuss 
whether this level of investment is sufficient. 

OUSD (AT&L)-directed issues: 10. Methods for quantifying current 
capabilities, current and projected deficiencies, and the capabilities 
that planned investment will provide, including the method for 
prioritizing needed investments and quantitative data on projected 
funding for facilities and equipment; 
Degree plan addresses issues: overview and examples: 
Partially addresses: The plan states that the Air Force targets its 
investments to the highest priority needs to support the warfighter. 
While the plan also discusses an infrastructure investment 
prioritization process, it does not describe the method for 
prioritizing needed investments. Similarly, the plan states that the 
Air Force invests in facility restorations and modernizations and 
discusses the Capital Purchase program for equipment, restoration, and 
modernization programs for facilities, transformation initiatives, and 
military construction. However, the plan does not present quantitative 
data on the projected funding (or shortfalls) for facilities and 
equipment. 

Source: GAO analysis of the Air Force plan. 

Note: The Air Force published its Strategy and its Master Plan in 
response to OUSD (AT&L)'s direction to the services. Accordingly, we 
analyzed both documents in our evaluation of the Air Force plan. 

[End of table] 

As discussed for the elements of a results-oriented management 
framework, OUSD (AT&L) and the Air Force did not identify missing or 
partially addressed issues because neither used effective oversight to 
help ensure that OUSD (AT&L)'s direction for developing the plan was 
carried out. Among other things, DOD's Depot Maintenance Strategy and 
Implementation Plans states that the DOD strategy will ensure that DOD 
is postured to meet the national security and materiel readiness 
challenges of the 21st century. However, at present, information 
missing from the Air Force plan may limit the service's assurance that 
its depots are postured and resourced to meet future maintenance 
requirements. 

The Plan Partially Addresses the Three Logistics Transformation Issues: 

The Air Force plan partially addresses each of the three logistics 
transformation issues that OUSD (AT&L) directed the services to 
discuss in their plans. In this area, OUSD (AT&L) directed the 
services to discuss the future roles and capabilities of the depots, 
transformation actions, and approaches for integrating various depot 
capabilities in their plans. 

The plan generally discusses the future roles of the depots, but it 
does not discuss projected future capabilities of the Air Force depots 
or how those capabilities will be measured. The plan states that the 
general role of the depots is to ensure Air Force weapon systems and 
equipment are operational and available to support the Air Force's 
missions. However, the plan is silent on the depots' future 
capabilities despite changes that DOD had planned to make to the Air 
Force's force structure. For example, the February 2006 Quadrennial 
Defense Review Report noted that DOD had planned to reduce the number 
of Air Force B-52 aircraft by about 40 percent to 56.[Footnote 17] 

Additionally, the plan partially addresses actions the Air Force is 
taking to transform its depots. For example, the plan discusses 
continuous process improvement initiatives such as the High Velocity 
Maintenance program, in which the Air Force expects to schedule depot 
maintenance for aircraft more frequently but for shorter periods. 
However, the plan does not discuss how the Air Force intends to change 
the structure or organization of its depots to transform them to 
achieve the Air Force vision of the depots' future capabilities. 

Moreover, the plan partially addresses the management approach for 
integrating various depot maintenance capabilities, including public- 
and private-sector sources, as well as joint, inter-service, and 
multinational capabilities. To address public-and private-sector 
sources, the plan states that partnering with the private-sector to 
ensure access to complementary or dual depot maintenance capabilities 
is an integral element of the Air Force strategy. However, the plan 
does not discuss the management approach for integrating joint, inter- 
service, or multinational capabilities. Because the plan does not 
discuss the approach for integrating these capabilities, it is unclear 
if the Air Force is positioned to reduce redundancies and take 
advantage of potential cost-saving measures. 

The Plan Partially Addresses Both Core Logistics Capability Assurance 
Issues: 

The Air Force plan partially addresses both core logistics capability 
assurance issues. For one of the two issues, the plan partially 
addresses the OUSD (AT&L) direction to discuss actions taken or 
contemplated to (1) identify core requirements upon program 
initiation, (2) ensure that depot source of repair decisions are made 
upon program initiation, (3) encourage the formation of public-private 
partnerships, and (4) identify and rectify core capability 
deficiencies. The plan describes tools the Air Force uses to identify 
core requirements including processes, models, and guidance.[Footnote 
18] For example, the plan states that the Air Force uses the biennial 
core computation process and other tools to generate Air Force core 
requirements. To address OUSD (AT&L)'s direction to discuss depot 
source of repair decisions, the plan states that the Air Force uses 
the strategic source of repair process, the source of repair 
assignment process, and the depot maintenance inter-service processes. 
[Footnote 19] The plan also discusses public-private partnerships and 
states that AFMC and the depots intend to develop a standard process 
for public-private partnerships to ensure compliance with DOD and Air 
Force directives on public-private partnerships.[Footnote 20] To 
address OUSD (AT&L) direction to discuss actions to identify and 
rectify core deficiencies, the plan notes that if core target 
shortfalls exist, the depots will provide plans to mitigate the risk 
but, the plan does not explain how the Air Force will do so. 
Furthermore, the plan does not discuss concerns we have previously 
reported on DOD's biennial core computation process. For example, we 
reported in 2009 that the Air Force used a method for calculating core 
capability deficiencies that differed from the method used by the 
other services and that officials from the Office of the Secretary of 
Defense said that the Air Force approach was not appropriate.[Footnote 
21] 

For the second of the two core logistics capability assurance issues, 
estimating depot workload is partially addressed in the Air Force 
plan. To address the depot maintenance workload estimating portion of 
this issue, the plan describes a process in which Air Force 
organizations, such as the Centralized Asset Management Office, 
provide input into the workload review process. The plan goes on to 
state that the workload review process determines future depot 
workload. However, the Air Force plan does not discuss the OUSD (AT&L) 
direction to address the projected effects of weapon system 
retirements or bed-down (i.e., the act or process of locating aircraft 
at a particular base). However, the Air Force plans to substantially 
reduce some portions of its fleet. In May 2009, the Air Force 
announced that it would accelerate the retirement of 249 older 
aircraft, including 112 F-15s and 134 F-16s. While these retirements 
will affect the workload at the Air Force depots at Warner-Robins, 
Georgia, and Ogden, Utah, the Master Plan issued 2 months earlier does 
not include any information on the planned changes. Moreover, the plan 
does not discuss new aircraft that will replace those being retired, 
the future workload estimates associated with any potential 
replacement aircraft, or the processes that will be used to determine 
which facilities will obtain any new work. 

The Plan Partially Addresses Two of the Workforce Revitalization 
Issues but It Does Not Address the Third Issue in This Area: 

The Air Force plan partially addresses both reengineering and 
replenishment strategies but does not contain information on the OUSD 
(AT&L)-directed workforce replenishment requirements. Regarding the 
reengineering strategies issue, the plan discusses actions the Air 
Force is taking to reengineer its existing employees' skills to 
satisfy new capability requirements, but it does not discuss actions 
the service is taking to identify new skill requirements. To address 
reengineering existing employees' skills, the plan indicates that the 
depots are partnering with local universities and technical schools to 
provide training. However, it does not directly address the Air Force 
actions to identify new skill requirements. Instead of providing 
details on new skill requirements, the plan makes a general statement 
that the Air Force's workforce skill capabilities are continuously 
assessed to determine future training and skill requirements. 
Likewise, it is silent on specific actions the Air Force is taking to 
carry out this assessment. 

The plan does not discuss the method the Air Force will use to 
forecast workforce replenishment requirements, nor the quantitative 
data needed to project annual hires as well as losses due to 
retirements and other reasons. Although the plan discusses a manpower 
and capability program that determines the required personnel for 
future work, the plan does not follow the OUSD (AT&L) direction to 
discuss the methods or sources of quantitative data the Air Force uses 
to determine turnover and the timing of the turnover. 

To address the replenishment strategies issues, the plan describes 
actions the Air Force is taking to train employees, but it does not 
discuss how the Air Force is recruiting new employees, nor does it 
discuss a comprehensive management approach for establishing and 
implementing an employee replenishment strategy. The plan discusses, 
for example, a university and vocational school partnership program to 
train depot employees. However, it is silent on the Air Force's 
recruiting methods (e.g., for hard to fill types of positions) and any 
servicewide employee replenishment strategy. 

The Air Force plan's limited and missing information for the three 
issues in the workforce revitalization area is noteworthy in the 
context of our previous findings on the DOD depot maintenance 
workforce and in the context of information in the OUSD (AT&L)'s 
document directing the services to provide the plans. In 2003, we 
reported that DOD faced significant management challenges in 
succession planning to maintain a skilled workforce at its depot 
maintenance facilities.[Footnote 22] Among other challenges, we 
reported that relatively high numbers of civilian workers at 
maintenance depots were nearing retirement age. DOD's Depot 
Maintenance Strategy and Implementation Plans makes a similar point. 
It states that DOD's depot maintenance community, like the rest of the 
federal government, faces increasing numbers of retirements as the 
"baby boom" generation reaches retirement eligibility. It goes on to 
state that the retirement-eligible population within the depot 
maintenance workforce and forecasted annual retirements are expected 
to increase annually for the remainder of the decade. This dynamic--
coupled with the highly skilled nature of some depot maintenance work 
and the length of time required to train new employees--creates 
hiring, training, and retention challenges. Without a discussion that 
acknowledges these and other such workforce challenges, it is unclear 
how well the Air Force is positioned to optimally address the 
challenges that its depots face. 

The Plan Partially Addresses One Capital Investment Issue but Does Not 
Address the Other: 

The Air Force plan partially addresses the capital investment issue of 
quantifying current capabilities but does not address the other issue--
capital investment benchmarks. Neither the benchmarks for evaluating 
the adequacy of investment funding nor the Air Force's basis for 
selecting the benchmarks are in the Air Force's plan despite OUSD 
(AT&L)'s direction to address this issue. Even though the plan does 
not address benchmarks, it notes that the Air Force intends to 
continue making an annual capital investment of at least 6 percent of 
revenue, as required by law, to sustain depot infrastructure 
requirements.[Footnote 23] Moreover, an OUSD (AT&L) official mentioned 
that the Air Force's citing of the 6 percent capital investment should 
be seen as addressing the benchmark issue. 

The plan partially addresses the issues pertaining to the methods for 
quantitatively articulating these concerns: current capabilities, 
current and projected deficiencies, and the capabilities that planned 
investment will provide. The plan notes that the Air Force targets its 
investments to the highest priority needs to support the warfighter. 
While the plan also discusses an infrastructure investment 
prioritization process, it does not describe the method for 
prioritizing needed investments. Similarly, the plan notes that the 
Air Force invests in facility restorations and modernizations and 
discusses the Capital Purchase Program for equipment, restoration, and 
modernization programs for facilities, transformation initiatives, and 
military construction. However, the plan does not present quantitative 
data on the projected funding (or shortfalls) for facilities and 
equipment. 

Capital investment in DOD depots has been an issue of concern in our 
prior work. For example, in 2001, we reported that capital investments 
in depot plant equipment had declined sharply in the mid-1990s as a 
result of defense downsizing and depot closures and 
consolidations.[Footnote 24] As a result of DOD's lack of capital 
investment, its depots did not keep up with the latest technologies. 
In subsequent years, funding levels increased as the services 
recognized the need to modernize their depots. 

Conclusions: 

OUSD (AT&L) officials told us that the primary intent of the OUSD 
(AT&L)'s direction was to provide a framework for the services to meet 
challenges in the future and that the issues identified in the four 
areas specified in the direction were designed to address those 
challenges. Further, DOD's Depot Maintenance Strategy and 
Implementation Plans states that each service will conduct depot 
maintenance strategic planning that focuses on achieving the DOD depot 
maintenance strategy and that the DOD strategy will ensure that DOD is 
postured to meet the national security and materiel readiness 
challenges of the 21st century. However, the Air Force's plan does not 
provide a comprehensive, results-oriented management framework to 
efficiently and effectively inform the Air Force's future decisions, 
nor does it fully respond to OUSD (AT&L)'s direction that was designed 
to provide a framework for the services to overcome four general areas 
of future challenges. Furthermore, the limited linkage of information 
in the Air Force's two planning documents may reduce the utility of 
the plan as a decision-making tool to meet future challenges. A 
primary reason for not fully addressing these framework elements and 
linkages in the plan was that OUSD (AT&L) and the Air Force did not 
have effective oversight mechanisms in place to promptly identify the 
incomplete information, communicate such findings to the plan 
developers, and monitor the revision of the plan to ensure that the 
limitations had been addressed. These concerns about the content, 
linkage, and oversight resulted in a plan that missed an opportunity 
to identify a more complete Air Force vision for the effective and 
efficient operation of its depots in the future. For example, had the 
Air Force identified and implemented systematic program evaluation and 
a thorough set of metrics to directly assess goal achievement, it 
would have additional tools for reacting in a timely manner to 
findings from the ongoing congressionally mandated study on depot 
capabilities. Most importantly, a comprehensive plan could have 
resulted in the Air Force having more assurance that its depots are 
viably positioned and have the maintenance workforce, equipment, 
facilities, and funds they need to meet current and future 
requirements. 

Recommendations for Executive Action: 

To provide greater assurance that Air Force depots will be postured 
and resourced to meet future maintenance requirements, we recommend 
that the Secretary of Defense direct the Secretary of the Air Force to 
take the following three actions to revise the Air Force's depot 
maintenance strategic plan: 

* Fully and explicitly address all elements needed for a comprehensive 
results-oriented management framework, including those elements that 
we have identified as partially addressed or not addressed in the 
current plan. 

* Demonstrate clear linkages among the depot maintenance strategic 
plan's component documents, should the Air Force decide to publish its 
revised plan in multiple documents. 

* Fully and explicitly address OUSD (AT&L)'s direction that provides a 
framework for the services to meet future depot maintenance challenges. 

To strengthen the oversight mechanism for depot maintenance strategic 
planning, we recommend that the Secretary of Defense direct the Under 
Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics and 
the Secretary of the Air Force to develop and implement procedures to 
review revisions of the depot maintenance strategic plan to ensure 
they fully address all key elements of a results-oriented management 
framework, explicitly address any OUSD (AT&L) direction for the plans, 
and periodically assess progress and corrective actions to the extent 
needed in meeting the plans' goals. 

Agency Comments and Our Evaluation: 

In oral comments on a draft of this report, DOD concurred with our 
four recommendations to provide greater assurance that Air Force 
depots will be postured and resourced to meet future maintenance 
requirements. 

The department concurred with our recommendation to direct the 
Secretary of the Air Force to revise the Air Force's depot maintenance 
strategic plan to fully and explicitly address all elements needed for 
a comprehensive results-oriented management framework. DOD stated that 
it will direct the Air Force and the other services to more clearly 
address all elements needed for a results-oriented strategy in the 
next OUSD (AT&L) request to services to update their depot maintenance 
strategic plans. 

DOD also concurred with our recommendation to direct the Secretary of 
the Air Force to revise the Air Force's depot maintenance strategic 
plan to demonstrate clear linkages among the plan's component 
documents, should the Air Force decide to publish its revised plan in 
multiple documents. In its response, DOD stated that it will direct 
the Air Force and the other services to more clearly demonstrate the 
linkages of the Air Force plan to the DOD depot maintenance strategic 
plan in the next OUSD (AT&L) request to the services to update their 
depot maintenance strategic plans. While the department concurred with 
our recommendation, it did not discuss directing the Air Force to more 
clearly demonstrate linkages among the Air Force plan's component 
documents, which was the focus of our recommendation. Therefore, DOD 
may need to take further action to explicitly direct the Secretary of 
the Air Force to more clearly demonstrate linkages among the Air Force 
plan's component documents, should the Air Force decide to publish its 
revised plan in multiple documents. 

The department also concurred with our recommendation to direct the 
Secretary of the Air Force to revise the Air Force's depot maintenance 
strategic plan to fully and explicitly address OUSD's (AT&L) direction 
that provides a framework for the services to meet future depot 
maintenance challenges. DOD stated that it will direct the Air Force 
and the other services to explicitly address the OUSD (AT&L) direction 
for depot maintenance strategic planning in the next OUSD (AT&L) 
request to the services to update to their depot maintenance strategic 
plans. 

Additionally, DOD concurred with our recommendation to direct the 
Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics 
and the Secretary of the Air Force to develop and implement procedures 
to review revisions of the depot maintenance strategic plan to ensure 
they fully address all key elements of a results-oriented management 
framework, explicitly address any OUSD (AT&L) direction for the plans, 
and periodically assess progress and corrective actions to the extent 
needed in meeting the plan's goals. In its response, DOD stated that 
it will direct the Air Force and the other services to explicitly 
address the procedures noted in our recommendation. DOD also said that 
OUSD (AT&L) would further develop a process to periodically assess 
progress and corrective actions to ensure the Air Force and the other 
services are meeting OUSD (AT&L) and their own plan's goals. 

DOD also provided technical comments that we have incorporated into 
this report where applicable. 

We are sending copies of this report to the Secretary of Defense and 
the Secretary of the Air Force. In addition, the report will be 
available at no charge on the GAO Web site at [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov]. 

If you or your staff have any questions concerning this report, please 
call me at (202) 512-8246 or edwardsj@gao.gov. Contact points for our 
Offices of Congressional Relations and Public Affairs may be found on 
the last page of this report. Key contributors to this report are 
listed in appendix II. 

Signed by: 

Jack E. Edwards: 
Director: 
Defense Capabilities and Management: 

[End of section] 

Appendix I: Scope and Methodology: 

In this report, we addressed two questions: (1) To what extent does 
the Air Force's depot maintenance strategic plan address key elements 
of a results-oriented management framework? and (2) To what extent 
does the Air Force's depot maintenance strategic plan address 
direction from the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for 
Acquisitions, Technology, and Logistics (OUSD (AT&L)) that was 
designed to provide a framework for the services to meet future 
challenges? We limited the scope of our analysis to the current Air 
Force depot maintenance strategic plan, which includes both the April 
2008 Air Force Depot Maintenance Strategic Plan and the March 2009 Air 
Force Depot Maintenance Master Plan. 

We used the same set of methodological procedures to answer both 
questions and each type of procedure was performed simultaneously for 
the two questions. For our analysis, we first reviewed relevant laws; 
Department of Defense (DOD) and Air Force regulations governing depot 
maintenance; and depot maintenance-related reports issued by agencies 
and organizations including GAO, DOD, the Logistics Management 
Institute, and RAND. We then used qualitative content analyses to 
compare the Air Force plan against criteria from the seven elements of 
a results-oriented management framework and the 10 issues listed in 
the OUSD (AT&L) direction for depot maintenance strategic plans. To 
conduct these analyses, we first developed a data collection 
instrument that incorporated these two types of criteria. One team 
member then analyzed the plan using this instrument. To verify 
preliminary observations from this initial analysis, a second team 
member concurrently conducted an independent analysis of the plan. We 
compared observations of the two analysts and discussed any 
differences. We reconciled the differences with the assistance of 
analysts from the team that was evaluating the Navy depot maintenance 
strategic plan. We subsequently met with Air Force officials to 
confirm our understanding of the plan and sought additional 
information where our preliminary analyses revealed that the plan 
partially addresses or does not address the criteria. We also 
interviewed and obtained documentary evidence from relevant OUSD 
(AT&L) officials regarding its oversight of the services' plans. We 
additionally interviewed depot leaders and strategic planning 
personnel during site visits at two of the three Air Force depots to 
obtain first-hand information on issues the depots face. We also 
obtained data on workload and personnel from the Air Force and 
determined that these data were sufficiently reliable for our report. 

The organizations we interviewed are listed in table 4. 

Table 4: Organizations Contacted to Obtain Information Related to the 
Air Force's Depot Maintenance Strategic Plan: 

DOD: 

* Office of the Assistant Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for 
Maintenance Policy and Programs, Arlington, Virginia. 

* Office of the Assistant Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for 
Materiel Readiness, Arlington, Virginia. 

Air Force: 

* Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for 
Installations, Environment, and Logistics, Arlington, Virginia. 

* Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Air Force for Logistics, 
Installations and Mission Support, Arlington, Virginia. 

* Air Force Materiel Command, Columbus, Ohio. 

* Ogden Air Logistics Center, Ogden, Utah. 

* Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. 

Other: 

* Joint Depot Maintenance Activities Group, Columbus, Ohio. 

* The Logistics Management Institute, Fairfax, Virginia. 

Source: GAO. 

[End of table] 

We conducted this performance audit from July 2009 through May 2010 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: GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments: 

GAO Contact: 

Jack E. Edwards, (202) 512-8246 or edwardsj@gao.gov: 

Staff Acknowledgments: 

Key contributors to this report were Sandra B. Burrell, Assistant 
Director; James P. Klein; Ron La Due Lake; Joanne Landesman; Brian 
Mazanec; Michael Willems; and Elizabeth Wood. 

[End of section] 

Related GAO Products: 

Depot Maintenance: Improved Strategic Planning Needed to Ensure That 
Army and Marine Corps Depots Can Meet Future Maintenance Requirements. 
[hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-09-865]. Washington, D.C.: 
September 17, 2009. 

Depot Maintenance: Actions Needed to Identify and Establish Core 
Capability at Military Depots. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-09-83]. Washington, D.C.: May 14, 2009. 

Depot Maintenance: DOD's Report to Congress on Its Public-Private 
Partnerships at Its Centers of Industrial and Technical Excellence 
(CITEs) Is Not Complete and Additional Information Would Be Useful. 
[hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-08-902R]. Washington, 
D.C.: July 1, 2008. 

Depot Maintenance: Issues and Options for Reporting on Military 
Depots. [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-08-761R]. 
Washington, D.C.: May 15, 2008. 

Depot Maintenance: Actions Needed to Provide More Consistent Funding 
Allocation Data to Congress. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-07-126]. Washington, D.C.: November 
30, 2006. 

DOD Civilian Personnel: Improved Strategic Planning Needed to Help 
Ensure Viability of DOD's Civilian Industrial Workforce. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-03-472]. Washington, D.C.: April 30, 
2003. 

[End of section] 

Footnotes: 

[1] Performance-based logistics refers to the purchase of performance 
outcomes, such as the availability of functioning weapon systems, 
through long-term support arrangements rather than the purchase of 
individual elements of support--such as parts, repairs, and 
engineering services. 

[2] H.R. Rept. No. 108-106, p. 304 (2003); H.R. Rept. No. 109-452, p. 
296 (2006). 

[3] OUSD (AT&L) outlined the military services' depot maintenance 
strategic planning responsibilities in its Report to Congress. See 
DOD, Depot Maintenance Strategy and Implementation Plans, part I-22 
through I-24 (Washington, D.C., March 2007). This document established 
OUSD (AT&L) criteria for the services' strategic plans. 

[4] DOD, Quadrennial Defense Review Report (February 2010). 

[5] GAO, Depot Maintenance: Improved Strategic Planning Needed to 
Ensure That Army and Marine Corps Depots Can Meet Future Maintenance 
Requirements, [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-09-865] 
(Washington, D.C.: Sept. 17, 2009). 

[6] [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-09-865]. 

[7] GAO, Managing for Results: Critical Issues for Improving Federal 
Agencies' Strategic Plans, [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO/GGD-97-180] (Washington, D.C.: Sept. 
16, 1997). 

[8] 10 U.S.C. § 2460. Depot-level maintenance and repair also includes 
all aspects of software maintenance classified by DOD as of July 1, 
1995, as depot-level maintenance and repair, and interim contractor 
support or contractor logistics support, to the extent that such 
support is for depot maintenance. Depot-level maintenance and repair 
does not include the procurement of major modifications or upgrades of 
weapon systems that are designed to improve program performance or the 
nuclear refueling of an aircraft carrier; however, a major upgrade 
program covered by this exception could continue to be performed by 
private-or public-sector activities. Depot-level maintenance also does 
not include the procurement of parts for safety modifications, but 
does include the installation of parts for that purpose. 

[9] [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO/GGD-97-180]. 

[10] OUSD (AT&L) directed each of the services to include many of 
these same elements in their depot maintenance plan. Specifically, 
OUSD (AT&L) directed the services to include a comprehensive mission 
statement; general goals and objectives; a description of how the 
goals and objectives are to be achieved; the metrics that will be 
applied to gauge progress toward attainment of each of the goals and 
objectives; an identification of those key factors external to the 
military service and beyond its control that could significantly 
affect the achievement of the general goals and objectives; and a 
description of the program evaluations used in establishing, 
monitoring, or revising the general goals and objectives. 

[11] Pub. L. No. 110-417, § 322 (2008). 

[12] [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-09-865]. 

[13] GAO, Agencies' Strategic Plans Under GPRA: Key Questions to 
Facilitate Congressional Review, [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO/GGD-10.1.16] (Washington, D.C.: May 
1997). 

[14] [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO/GGD-10.1.16]. 

[15] Technical data is recorded information used to define a design 
and to produce, support, maintain, or operate an item. 

[16] The Depot Maintenance Working Integrated Process Team is overseen 
by the Materiel Readiness Senior Steering Group, which consisted of 
senior representatives from OUSD (AT&L), the Joint Staff, the 
services, and the Defense Logistics Agency. It was replaced by the 
Maintenance Executive Steering Committee in December 2008. The 
Maintenance Executive Steering Committee consists of senior 
maintenance and logistics representatives throughout DOD and is 
intended to serve as a mechanism for the coordinated review of DOD 
maintenance policies, systems, programs, and activities. 

[17] DOD, Quadrennial Defense Review Report (February 2006). 

[18] Under 10 U.S.C. § 2464, DOD is required to identify and maintain 
within government-owned and operated facilities a core logistics 
capability, including the equipment, personnel, and technical 
competence required to maintain weapon systems identified as necessary 
for national defense emergencies and contingencies. 

[19] Depot source of repair is the process the department uses to 
select the most appropriate source for noncore depot maintenance 
repair. In making these decisions, DOD considers whether contractors 
or government personnel should perform the maintenance and how a 
service might obtain depot maintenance support from other services. 

[20] Public-private partnerships for depot-level maintenance are 
cooperative arrangements between a depot-level maintenance activity 
and one or more private-sector entities to perform DOD or defense-
related work, to utilize DOD depot facilities and equipment, or both. 

[21] GAO, Depot Maintenance: Actions Needed to Identify and Establish 
Core Capability at Military Depots, [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-09-83] (Washington, D.C.: May 14, 
2009). 

[22] GAO, DOD Civilian Personnel: Improved Strategic Planning Needed 
to Help Ensure Viability of DOD's Civilian Industrial Workforce, 
[hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-03-472] (Washington, D.C.: 
Apr. 30, 2003). 

[23] Section 2476 of Title 10 requires that each fiscal year the 
Secretary of each military department invest in the capital budgets of 
certain "covered depots" of that department a total amount equal to at 
least 6 percent of the average total combined workload funded at all 
of the depots of that military department for the 3 preceding fiscal 
years. 

[24] GAO, Defense Maintenance: Sustaining Readiness Support 
Capabilities Requires a Comprehensive Plan, [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-01-533T] (Washington, D.C.: Mar. 23, 
2001). 

[End of section] 

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