Lack of Control and Feedback Hinders Army Manpower Management Improvements

FPCD-80-9: Published: Oct 31, 1979. Publicly Released: Oct 31, 1979.

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Using information and findings from previous reports, GAO evaluated the adequacy of the Army manpower management system to determine effectively its manpower needs, justify its manpower budget, and direct and monitor manpower use. Actions taken by the Army to correct some of its more significant problems were identified.

Although the Army has tried to solve some of its problems by consolidating many headquarters' manpower functions, it needs to establish an integrated and reliable system of controls from Army headquarters and feedback from field offices to correct the weaknesses that were found. Management responsibilities are fragmented and not clearly defined. The Army's decentralized management philosophy gives subordinate commands complete flexibility in managing resources. Because it has no common database for coordinating, budgeting, and evaluating manpower needs, the Army cannot properly prepare a zero-base budget. Total sources of labor, such as contract employees and deployable troops, are not considered in determining manpower requirements. As a result, headquarters cannot monitor the use of its total labor force or compare performance standards.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should design a manpower management system integrated at all organizational levels. The system should be designed to identify the functions and accountability of headquarters and commanders at each lower level so that information flows freely. Activities and functions should be tied together with common databases and reporting systems which are simple and can be adapted to meet the manpower and budgeting needs of managers at all levels. But it cannot merely consolidate existing functions. The Army should develop a long-range plan, and in preparing and carrying out the plan the Army should: involve top-level managers and use outside expertise when appropriate; make sure a headquarters organization has adequate support and staff to implement and monitor the plan; design management activities that use common data for operational and headquarters management as well as budget development; develop methods for determining detail manpower needs which are based on sound techniques, use accurate workload and manpower data, can directly relate manpower to workload, can be aggregated from detail to budget level, and are cost effective; make the best and most cost-effective use of active and reserve military, civilian, and contractor personnel; establish an officer career field for manpower managers and place more emphasis on developing and using civilian managers in both manpower and personnel; allocate sufficient staff to develop the database needed by manpower managers; evaluate audit agencies' recommendations; and make improvements which are best for the total manpower function rather than for each component of manpower management.

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