Chemical and Biological Defense:

Improved Risk Assessment and Inventory Management Are Needed

GAO-01-667: Published: Sep 10, 2001. Publicly Released: Sep 28, 2001.

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The Department of Defense (DOD) believes it is increasingly likely that an adversary will use chemical or biological weapons against U.S. forces to degrade superior U.S. conventional warfare capabilities, placing servicemembers' lives and effective military operations at risk. To reduce the effects of such an attack on military personnel, DOD has determined the quantity of chemical and biological protective suits, masks, breathing filters, gloves, boots, and hoods that are needed based on projected wartime requirements. DOD's assessment process is unreliable for determining the risk to military operations. DOD's 2000 report is inaccurate because it includes erroneous inventory data and wartime requirements. Inadequate inventory management is an additional risk factor because readiness can be compromised by DOD's inventory management practices, which prevent an accurate accounting of the availability or adequacy of its protective equipment.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD guidance was presented to the services in late 2001 on the risk methodology to be used for the Chemical and Biological Defense Logistics Support Plan and Annual Report to the Congress. This guidance stipulated that risk was to be: (1) based on complete ensemble and current inventory quantities and (2) calculated for each service. A chart showing the results of risk assessment based on this methodology was included in the draft FY 2002 Logistics Support Plan, but not in the FY 2002 Annual Report because service requirements were not ready in time. However, the FY 2002 Annual Report mentioned the importance of using the new risk assessment methodology, and this and a corresponding chart were included beginning in FY 2003.

    Recommendation: To improve DOD's ability to accurately assess the level of risk and readiness for operations in a contaminated environment, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics to issue and implement guidance requiring each service to evaluate its risk on the basis of current inventory numbers of complete ensembles against wartime requirements.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD's response to this recommendation was the development of the Joint Total Asset Visibility Reporting Warehouse (JTAVRW), which became operational to accept Service data on protective ensemble components in October 2004. The JTAVRW now provides asset visibility over the Service protective ensemble inventories and all Services are currently reporting data from sites around the globe into the system. The JTAVRW will be used to support the data required by the Annual Report to the Congress except for masks.

    Recommendation: To improve DOD's ability to accurately assess the level of risk and readiness for operations in a contaminated environment, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics to implement a fully integrated inventory management system to manage chemical and biological defense equipment and use it to prepare (1) the required annual report to Congress and (2) the annual Logistics Support Plan on chemical and biological defense.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Between May 2002 and October 2004, DLA implemented various improvements to its inventory management systems regarding the development of data fields to show contract, lot number, and shelf life of chemical and biological defense items. This was followed by the implementation of a joint, integrated inventory management system (the Joint Total Asset Visibility Reporting Warehouse) that became operational for accepting Service data on protective ensemble components in October 2004. This system has the capability to determine protective ensemble readiness based on shelf life, production lot, and contract number.

    Recommendation: To improve DOD's ability to accurately assess the level of risk and readiness for operations in a contaminated environment, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics to establish data fields in the inventory management system to show the contract, lot number, and expiration date of shelf life items.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In its data call for the FY 2002 Logistics Support Plan, which provides the basis for both the Chemical and Biological Defense Logistics Support Plan and the Annual Report to the Congress, DOD modified the reporting instructions so that inventory quantities that are physically on hand are reported separately from quantities of items that are on contract with funds committed, but not yet delivered. Data was partially reported in this fashion in the FY02 Annual Report to Congress, and fully reported beginning with the FY 2003 report.

    Recommendation: To improve DOD's ability to accurately assess the level of risk and readiness for operations in a contaminated environment, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics to cease counting equipment as on hand before delivery from the contractor.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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