Army Logistics Systems:

Opportunities to Improve the Accuracy of the Army's Major Equipment Item System

AIMD-98-17: Published: Jan 23, 1998. Publicly Released: Jan 23, 1998.

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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO reviewed the Army's Continuing Balancing System-Expanded (CBSX) logistics system, focusing on: (1) the primary causes for the numerous adjustments to correct discrepancies between the Army's CBSX system and its primary property book system; (2) whether the Army's ongoing improvement efforts will correct the causes of these discrepancies; and (3) whether the Army's current method of assessing CBSX accuracy, referred to as the rate, is adequate.

GAO noted that: (1) while the Army ensures that CBSX equipment balances accurately reflect the balances in its primary property book system twice a year, the Army does not identify the causes of adjustments made to CBSX balances to correct discrepancies; (2) GAO's analysis of the causes of CBSX adjustments has identified opportunities to correct process weaknesses and computer software problems that would reduce the number of adjustments and, consequently, increase the accuracy of CBSX throughout the year; (3) the Army does not have an effective process to ensure that equipment transactions from Army units are received by CBSX; (4) GAO's statistically projectable sample of adjustments made to CBSX to bring it into agreement with the Army's primary property book system, showed that over 40 percent of the adjustments were due to transactions not received by CBSX; (5) other reasons for adjustments included software errors and incorrectly posted transactions; (6) the lack of reconciliations performed between CBSX and unit property books, an outdated regulation, and incomplete training also were underlying factors that contributed to differences between CBSX and the primary property book system; (7) the Army's ongoing efforts to improve CBSX address some of the causes of adjustments such as those related to certain software errors and incorrectly posted transactions; (8) however, these efforts do not fully address property book transactions that were not received by CBSX, the largest cause of adjustments; (9) the Army also does not have an effective mechanism to measure CBSX performance; and (10) the Army-wide CBSX compatibility rate, the factor used to measure the extent to which CBSX and property book records agree, is overstated because it does not count all adjustments made to CBSX balances to correct discrepancies.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: LOGSA has now taken action to provide training at the Army Quartermaster School Warrant Officer Basic and Advanced courses and at major command Major Item Workshops which emphasizes the requirement that unit property book officers compare unit transaction data submissions with LOGSA reports of data receipts. In this training, LOGSA suggests that property book officers retain copies of the reports for a 2-year period, as is required for other property book supporting documents. LOGSA has also taken action to provide CBSX users an Error Status Report online immediately after users submit their CBSX transactions. As a result, submitters no longer have to wait for receipt of their monthly reports from LOGSA to correct erroneous transactions.

    Recommendation: To ensure that CBSX receives applicable SPBS-R transactions, the Secretary of the Army should ensure that the major commands require property book officers to, following each data transmission to CBSX: (1) compare the total number of SPBS-R transactions transmitted to the LOGSA confirmation of receipt; (2) investigate and resolve discrepancies; and (3) retain the confirmations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Army has suspended system changes to the Army's primary property book system pending development of the new Global Combat Support System-Army, which will contain a new supply and property management system that will replace the Army's primary property book system and will have completely new data screens and reports. System change requests and requirements have been submitted for incorporation into the new system. In addition, LOGSA has staffed a CBSX users help desk to provide timely assistance to property book officers and help them understand and correct problems, such as those identified in exception reports. The help desk is also given responsibility for addressing problems that, unless corrected, would adversely affect unit compatibility rates. LOGSA has published telephone numbers for the help desk on the LOGSA home page and in regulations and technical pamphlets.

    Recommendation: To ensure that CBSX receives applicable SPBS-R transactions, the Secretary of the Army should ensure that the Software Development Center, Fort Lee, adds a total line to the SPBS-R CBSX reportable transaction report to readily permit it to be matched to the CBSX receipt confirmation.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: LOGSA developed a CBSX help desk to provide timely assistance to unit property book officers. The help desk was given responsibility for addressing problems with CBSX output reports, including explaining error codes on exception reports. LOGSA has published telephone numbers for the CBSX Help Desk, depending on the type of problem being experienced by the property book officer, on the LOGSA internet home page and in AR 710-3 and LOGSA PAM 700-1. This information is also provided at the LOGSA and major command Major Item Training Workshops.

    Recommendation: To ensure that CBSX receives applicable SPBS-R transactions, the Secretary of the Army should ensure that LOGSA redesigns CBSX reports to unit property book officers to make them more user friendly, such as by providing exception reports with easily understood error codes.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Army has now implemented software changes to SPBS-R that will correct adjustments caused by valid transactions being incorrectly rejected as duplicate transactions with the completion of CBSX Improvement Plan Phase I.

    Recommendation: To correct software problems in CBSX and SPBS-R causing incompatibilities between the two systems, the Secretary of the Army should ensure that LOGSA proceeds with its planned modification to CBSX to correct the adjustments that were caused by valid transactions being incorrectly rejected as duplicate transactions.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Software changes to eliminate incompatibilities between CBSX and SPBS-R are no longer necessary because of the development and fielding of the Global Combat Support System-Army (GCSSA). GCSSA integrates the Army's property book and other systems into a single database with common programming language and operating environment and thus eliminates any data incompatibilities.

    Recommendation: To correct software problems in CBSX and SPBS-R causing incompatibilities between the two systems, the Secretary of the Army should ensure that the Software Development Center, Fort Lee, adds edits to SPBS-R software to prevent: (1) SPBS-R from reporting incorrect activity address codes for unit transfer transactions; and (2) incorrect reversal transactions.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Army has now implemented a software change to the SPBS-R that will identify instances where units submit catalog beginning balances for items that have an existing balance in CBSX with the completion of CBSX Improvement Plan Phase I.

    Recommendation: To correct software problems in CBSX and SPBS-R causing incompatibilities between the two systems, the Secretary of the Army should ensure that LOGSA adds edits to CBSX software to identify instances where units submit catalog beginning balances for items that have an existing balance in CBSX.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: LOGSA developed a CBSX Standing Operating Procedure manual that documents the verification process LOGSA analysts should use and explains the importance of maintaining accurate unit file data in the CBSX Customer Information Control File.

    Recommendation: To prevent inaccurate transactions from being posted to unit accounts in CBSX by LOGSA, the Secretary of the Army should ensure that, prior to LOGSA modifying data in CBSX, LOGSA proceeds with its planned implementation of an approval and documentation process which should include coordinating with applicable units before making changes to unit balances.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  8. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: LOGSA published and distributed the LOGSA User's Guide for CBSX to provide guidance and enhance user understanding of CBSX reporting. The User's Guide explains CBSX reports on unit property book submissions and how to use the reports to correct identified problems. The Guide also recommends that units use the LOGSA reports to follow up on identified errors. The Guide further recommends retaining the CBSX reports for two years. Per Army Headquarters officials, these instructions are also presented to students at the Army Quartermaster Center and School and are included in briefings given at the LOGSA and MACOM Major Item Training Workshops. LOGSA Help Desk personnel also assist property book officers understand and reconcile adjustments made to their units CBSX balances.

    Recommendation: To improve the transaction audit trail and enhance unit understanding of CBSX reporting, the Secretary of the Army should ensure that LOGSA updates Army Regulation 710-3, Asset and Transaction Reporting System, to require units to: (1) verify their confirmations of receipt and research and resolve any difference; (2) reconcile differences between property books and CBSX and investigate reasons for adjustments; (3) retain property book transaction records (including receipt confirmations) relating to CBSX to determine the causes of adjustments and support the reconciliation; (4) review the monthly reports they receive from LOGSA; and (5) follow up on transactions that were rejected by CBSX.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  9. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In May 1998, Army Headquarters issued a message to all major commands directing that command personnel place additional emphasis on CBSX reporting accuracy. The message stressed training property book officers in CBSX reporting requirements. The Army Quartermaster School has added CBSX topics to the property book officer training curriculum. The National Guard Bureau Professional Education Center in Arkansas also added similar CBSX and property book training to its curriculum. Also, follow-up efforts have been conducted to see that as many property book personnel as possible receive adequate training on reporting procedures and property book operations. Further, LOGSA developed a CBSX Users' Guide to provide better guidance and reference information.

    Recommendation: To improve the transaction audit trail and enhance unit understanding of CBSX reporting, the Secretary of the Army should ensure that the major commands require that all property book officers using SPBS-R, including those assigned to medical and Reserve units, successfully complete SPBS-R training.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  10. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Army has expanded logistics school curricula to provide emphasis on CBSX reporting. Also, LOGSA's annual conference now provides a special workshop on CBSX reporting and analysis. In addition, LOGSA has now developed a CBSX User's Guide for property book officers that explain the importance of reporting transactions to CBSX and how to analyze CBSX confirmations and periodic reports.

    Recommendation: To improve the transaction audit trail and enhance unit understanding of CBSX reporting, the Secretary of the Army should ensure that the Army Quartermaster Center and School revises the SPBS-R training to include how to analyze CBSX confirmations and monthly reports.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  11. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Army has developed a training video that stresses the importance of maintaining accurate unit equipment balances in CBSX and now provides strong encouragement to property book personnel to attend LOGSA's annual training conference. The annual conferences are attended by hundreds of property book personnel from units located around the world. Further, as an alternative to videotaped training, LOGSA established a help desk that is responsible for providing necessary on the spot training and other assistance. The Army has also tasked the central collection activities at Army installations with providing assistance and training to property book personnel.

    Recommendation: To improve the transaction audit trail and enhance unit understanding of CBSX reporting, the Secretary of the Army should ensure that the major commands enhance property book officer training by requiring ongoing and up-to-date CBSX training such as that provided by LOGSA's annual CBSX conference or, alternatively, LOGSA videotapes its annual CBSX conference and provide on-site training using this tape at Army units to train those unable to attend the CBSX conference.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  12. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: LOGSA's establishment of a CBSX help desk to provide technical assistance and training to property book officers via phone or electronic mail media fulfills the intent of the recommendation. Further, Army major commands have established central collection activities at major installations to provide training and assist property book officers in resolving CBSX reporting problems. The Army also included responsibilities of central collection activities in updates to AR 710-3.

    Recommendation: To improve the transaction audit trail and enhance unit understanding of CBSX reporting, the Secretary of the Army should ensure that LOGSA establishes a formal site visit program to conduct periodic assistance/training for property management personnel.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  13. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: LOGSA developed the Asset Management Division Standing Operating Procedure that describes procedures for LOGSA analysts to resolve differences between CBSX and SPBS-R unit identification and activity address codes. In addition, LOGSA established and is now operating a CBSX help desk to assist property book officers to resolve errors and other reporting problems. Property book personnel using the Army's Distribution Execution System now receive an error status report within a day of submitting transactions.

    Recommendation: To improve the effectiveness of LOGSA's plans to improve CBSX, the Secretary of the Army should ensure that LOGSA: (1) proceeds with the planned development of desk procedures to require LOGSA analysts to resolve differences between CBSX and SPBS-R unit identification and activity address codes; (2) requires its analysts to follow up on rejected transactions to ensure that they are corrected; and (3) modifies the Distribution Execution System to allow units to correct and resubmit rejected CBSX transactions.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  14. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: LOGSA has taken action to compute the compatibility rate based on all differences between property book and CBSX asset positions. LOGSA changed the method of computing unit compatibility rates by assigning a zero compatibility rate to any unit not submitting a validation date by the date required.

    Recommendation: To improve the effectiveness of CBSX performance measurement, the Secretary of the Army should ensure that LOGSA calculates the Army-wide CBSX compatibility rate based on all differences between property books and CBSX.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  15. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The intent of this recommendation was achieved through LOGSA's plans to establish and implement new logistics systems (i.e.; LIDB and GCSS-A, including the web-based property book). The replacement systems are being designed so that periodic reconciliations between central and local property data bases--and related performance measurement--will be unnecessary because all data will reside on central data systems.

    Recommendation: To improve the effectiveness of CBSX performance measurement, the Secretary of the Army should ensure that LOGSA proceeds with the planned implementation of additional CBSX performance measures and: (1) develops and implements CBSX performance indicators that measure LOGSA and Army unit abilities to successfully close in-transit transactions errors; and (2) provides results to Army major commands for their use in evaluating the property book function.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  16. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Army revised its logistics regulation (AR 710-3) to require more timely and accurate updates of CBSX data. Revisions include: (1) requiring Army units to transmit reportable property book transactions to CBSX on a weekly rather than monthly basis; and (2) establishing central collection activities at installations to oversee data submission processes. Further, LOGSA developed the ability to monitor unit CBSX transaction input and sends Army's major commands a monthly listing of non-submitters to enforce submission requirements. LOGSA also submits listings of non-submitters of semiannual reconciliation data to the major commands for enforcement action. As a result of Army's intensified management efforts, the number of Army units participating in the CBSX validation process has increased significantly, and the Army-wide CBSX compatibility rate has increased to 95.9 percent.

    Recommendation: To ensure that CBSX receives applicable Standard Property Book System-Redesign (SPBS-R) transactions, the Secretary of the Army should ensure that the Logistics Support Activity (LOGSA) establishes a standard SPBS-R reporting schedule and follow up on missing submissions.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  17. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The design of new logistics systems has resulted in the elimination of transaction submissions between separate logistic system databases. As a result, the intent of this recommendation has been achieved.

    Recommendation: To improve the effectiveness of CBSX performance measurement, the Secretary of the Army should ensure that the major commands include performance measurement data related to CBSX, such as the timeliness and accuracy of transaction submissions, in overall commander and property book officer performance criteria.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

 

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