Military Aircraft:

Services Need Strategies to Reduce Cannibalizations

GAO-02-86: Published: Nov 21, 2001. Publicly Released: Dec 21, 2001.

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All military services routinely use cannibalization to maintain aircraft. The adverse effects of cannibalizations include (1) higher maintenance costs due to increased mechanics' workloads, (2) morale and personnel retention problems, and (3) taking expensive aircraft out of service for long periods of time. The services have many reasons for cannibalizing aircraft and strong incentives for continuing to do so. In the broadest sense, cannibalizations are done because of pressures to meet readiness and operational needs and because of shortcomings in the supply system. Although the services have undertaken steps to address logistics shortfalls, few specific strategies have been developed to reduce cannibalizations and the associated maintenance hours.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: In its written comments, the Department of Defense concurred with the intent of this recommendation to more accurately determine the extent of cannibalizations, the associated maintenance hours, and the specific reasons for the cannibalizations. According to the Department, an in-depth assessment of the impact of cannibalization has already been initiated. The Department said that the assessment will identify the causes and effects of cannibalization and will recommend improvements. The Department of Defense said this assessment will provide a basis for potential modifications to logistics management policies and strategies.

    Recommendation: To permit the Department of Defense and the services to more accurately determine the extent of cannibalizations the Secretary of Defense should direct the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force to establish standardized, comprehensive, and reliable cannibalization data-collection procedures and systems for cannibalizations. The procedures should require the accurate documentation of the number of cannibalizations, the associated maintenance hours, and the specific reasons for the cannibalizations. They should also require the services to identify any adverse effects of cannibalizations on maintenance costs and personnel.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2001, requires the Department of Defense to include information on the extent to which each of the services use cannibalizations in the reporting required by 10 U.S.C. 117. The Department commenced reporting under this requirement with the quarterly readiness report to Congress for the quarter ending June 30, 2001. Information concerning the number of maintenance hours associated with cannibalizations was not included in this report, nor has the Department agreed to include this information as a future reporting requirement.

    Recommendation: The 2001 Defense Authorization Act requires the Department of Defense to measure, on a quarterly basis, the extent of cannibalizations. The Secretary of Defense should require the services to measure and report the number of maintenance hours associated with cannibalizations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Department of Defense is conducting an assessment of the services' cannibalization processes including strategies for reducing unacceptably high cannibalization rates. This assessment will provide a basis for potential modifications to logistics resource management policies and strategies.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the services to develop strategies to reduce the number of maintenance hours spent on cannibalization, ensure that cannibalized aircraft do not remain grounded for long periods of time, and reduce the adverse effects of cannibalizations on maintenance costs and personnel. At a minimum, the strategies should include criteria to determine (1) which cannibalizations are appropriate, (2) cannibalization-reduction goals, and (3) the actions to be taken to meet those goals. The services must assign responsibility for ensuring that goals are being met and allocate resources for this purpose.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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