Defense Logistics:

Actions Needed to Overcome Capability Gaps in the Public Depot System

GAO-02-105: Published: Oct 12, 2001. Publicly Released: Oct 12, 2001.

Additional Materials:

Contact:

David R. Warren
(202) 512-8412
contact@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

The Department of Defense's (DOD) policy and practices for developing core depot maintenance capabilities are creating gaps between actual capabilities and those needed for future national defense emergencies and contingencies. If the existing policy is not clarified and current practices continue, the military depots will not have the equipment, facilities, and trained personnel to provide logistics support on many of the weapon systems and related equipment for military use in the next five to 15 years. Although DOD intends for its depots to have these capabilities, actual practices are much different. Core policy does not adequately take into consideration future systems repair needs and the impact of retiring systems on developing capabilities. Furthermore, the practices of individual services hinder the establishment of future core capabilities and management oversight. Additional investments in new facilities, equipment, and workforce training and revitalization have been limited for some time. Finally, there is no strategic plan and associated service implementation plans to create and sustain a viable depot maintenance capability.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Amendments offered to the House and Senate, 2003, Defense Authorization bills would have amended 10 U.S.C. 2464 by expanding the definition of core logistics functions from maintenance and repair to include acquisition logistics, supply management, and other logistics functions. In June 2002, the Under Secretary of Defense wrote Congress that the Department understood that the objective intended by these amendments was to maintain the full range of logistics capabilities necessary to support current and future essential weapon systems over their entire life cycle. He stated that DOD has, and plans to retain, sufficient supply, maintenance and repair, and logistics program management capabilities to sustain essential military equipment over its life cycle with the appropriate mix of government, contractor, and partnering work forces. The Under Secretary further wrote that these skills will be documented through the ongoing core competency review, through implementation of the Future Logistics Enterprise initiative, and with supporting policies. The defense bill amendments were subsequently withdrawn with the expectation that the intent of the amendments, and GAO's earlier recommendation, will be achieved through these other means espoused by DOD.

    Matter: Congress may wish to review the coverage of 10 U.S.C. 2464 as it relates to non-maintenance logistics activities such as supply support, transportation, and engineering, and if it deems it appropriate, clarify the law.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD issued its core policy and methodology report in October 2001. Its new proposed model for computing core requirements includes a forward look at new systems and links core requirements to the defense budgeting system. A joint working group formed in May 2002, to review proposed methodology which, according to DOD officials, addresses GAO's recommendation to the Department. The Services were requested to perform trial runs with results expected later in the year. If tests are successful, the methodology will be formalized as revised policy. In May 2004, the Department implemented a new core policy which includes information on developing core capability requirements and the source of repair process.

    Recommendation: To enhance the management of core logistics capabilities, particularly for depot maintenance, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, in conjunction with the appropriate military services activities, to take the following actions. Revise depot maintenance core policy to include a forward look to incorporate future systems and equipment repair needs when developing core capability requirements and a direct link to the source of repair process. Revise depot maintenance core implementation procedures and practices to (1) establish criteria for determining what it means to have a capability in military depots to perform maintenance on mission essential systems in support of national defense emergencies and contingencies; (2) prohibit the use of the risk assessment to the extent it results in the inclusion of private-sector capability within identified core capabilities; (3) clarify the use of the adjustment factor and other elements of the computation methodology; and (4) link core requirements to the budget process to ensure adequate funding of core support workload requirements.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD said the revised core policy and methodology described in its October 2001 report, will be the primary driver for the amounts and types of workloads performed by the depots. A joint working group is evaluating proposed revisions to core policy and the standard method for computing requirements. The Services are conducting tests. Upon issuance of revised core policy, the Services will be tasked to develop depot maintenance strategic plans to address this recommendation. The Department reported in May 2004, that strategic planning was ongoing within the services and that an over-arching Congressional mandated Strategic Plan is due by November 1, 2004.

    Recommendation: To enhance the management of core logistics capabilities, particularly for depot maintenance, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, in conjunction with the appropriate military services activities, to establish expedited milestones for developing strategic and related implementation plans for the use of military depots that would identify desired short- and long-term core capabilities and associated capital investments and human capital needs. These plans at a minimum should (1) delineate workloads to be accomplished in each service's depots, other services' depots, by contractors at their own sites, and at government sites; (2) discuss the role of in-house maintenance capability as an element of each service's ability to respond to national defense emergencies and contingencies; (3) identify infrastructure improvements designed to operate more efficiently; and (4) address human capital needs and the specific actions that will be taken to meet them.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD did not concur with this report recommendation, stating that it has not identified any core logistics capabilities beyond those associated with depot maintenance and repair, as that term is defined in 10 U.S.C. 2460. However, in response to amendments offered on the 2003 Defense Authorization Bills, the Under Secretary of Defense said that the Department understood that the objective intended by these amendments was to maintain the full range of logistics capabilities necessary to support current and future essential weapon systems over their entire life cycle. He stated that DOD has, and plans to retain, sufficient supply, maintenance and repair, and logistics program management capabilities to sustain essential military equipment over its life cycle with the appropriate mix of government, contractor, and partnering work forces. The Under Secretary further wrote that these skills will be documented through the ongoing core competency review, through implementation of the Future Logistics Enterprise initiative, and with supporting policies. The defense bill amendments were subsequently withdrawn with the expectation that the intent of the amendments, and GAO's earlier recommendation, will be achieved through these other means espoused by DOD.

    Recommendation: To enhance the management of core logistics capabilities, particularly for depot maintenance, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, in conjunction with the appropriate military services activities, to establish milestones and accountability for developing policies to identify core logistics capabilities for non-maintenance activities to ensure in-house retention of needed capabilities for an emergency.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Sep 22, 2016

Sep 21, 2016

Sep 19, 2016

Sep 12, 2016

Sep 8, 2016

Sep 7, 2016

Sep 6, 2016

Aug 25, 2016

Looking for more? Browse all our products here