Defense Management:

Comprehensive Strategy and Annual Reporting Are Needed to Measure Progress and Costs of DOD's Global Posture Restructuring

GAO-06-852: Published: Sep 13, 2006. Publicly Released: Sep 13, 2006.

Additional Materials:

Contact:

John H. Pendleton
2025124402
contact@gao.gov

 

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

The Department of Defense's (DOD) Integrated Global Posture and Basing Strategy calls for a comprehensive restructuring of U.S. forces overseas. DOD's planned changes will require billions of dollars to implement at a time when DOD is supporting operations in Iraq and realigning domestic bases. As requested, GAO examined (1) the extent to which DOD has articulated a global posture strategy that has the characteristics necessary to guide its efforts and to achieve desired results and (2) the challenges that could affect DOD's implementation of its strategy and the mechanisms DOD has in place to inform Congress of its overall progress in achieving global posture goals.

DOD has articulated its global posture strategy in four principal documents, but these documents fully address only three of the six characteristics that GAO's prior work has identified as useful components of an effective strategy. Specifically, DOD's strategy documents state the purpose, scope, and methodology for changing its global posture; define the problems its strategy is directed against; and describe how the strategy is to be integrated with related strategies. However, the documents do not fully address other important characteristics such as performance metrics to measure intended improvements in operational effectiveness and service members' quality of life; sources of funding for implementing global restructuring initiatives; or methods of resolving conflicts that may arise during implementation. In the absence of a comprehensive strategy that addresses important characteristics such as performance measures, Congress will lack sufficient information to evaluate funding requests and assess whether the strategy is improving operational capabilities, quality of life, and alliances as intended. Ongoing negotiations between the United States and host nations, evolving cost estimates, and difficulties establishing service management and funding responsibilities for new overseas sites contribute to the complexity and uncertainty of DOD's overseas restructuring effort. In addition, DOD has not established a comprehensive and routine process to keep Congress informed on its progress dealing with these issues and the overall status of implementing the strategy. First, negotiations between the United States and host nations continue to evolve, causing periodic adjustments to the pace and scope of DOD's plans and making it difficult to determine the overall status of this effort. Second, DOD's initial cost estimate of $9 billion to $12 billion will continue to change, reflecting uncertainties such as those related to host-nation negotiations and burden-sharing, and total costs may be understated. Third, DOD has not yet fully determined how it will allocate responsibilities for managing and funding its planned worldwide network of smaller operating sites to the services, and therefore, it is still uncertain who will manage these sites and how they will be paid for. DOD has not established a comprehensive, routine method of informing Congress of ongoing changes to the strategy and its total costs. Reliable and timely information about the full costs, activities, and outputs of federal programs is important as Congress makes decisions about allocating resources in an environment of competing demands. DOD has not established a comprehensive and periodic reporting process because DOD officials believe that current congressional briefings and reporting requirements, which largely focus on military construction requirements, provide Congress with sufficient information. However, these existing reports do not provide comprehensive information on total costs, overall progress, or changes to DOD's plan. Without a periodic reporting process focused on overall progress and costs, Congress may not be well positioned to evaluate funding requests for implementing the strategy.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Matter for Congressional Consideration

    Matter: The Congress may wish to consider requiring that DOD report annually on the status and costs of its plans to implement global basing initiatives to ensure that it has more comprehensive and routine information to guide it in overseeing this important effort. Congress may wish to require that DOD include in such a report all the elements of an effective national strategy--such as performance metrics--as well as the status of host-nation negotiations, the evolving costs of global posture initiatives, and a process for assigning management responsibility for operating and funding the locations DOD is planning in its worldwide network of sites.

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In its Committee Report accompanying the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, 2008 (Senate Report 110-85--to accompany S. 1645, June 18, 2007), the Senate Committee on Appropriations directed DOD to provide an updated report on the Global Defense Posture initiative. In the next year's Committee Report, the Congress made this update an annual requirement. In that second-year Committee Report accompanying the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriation Bill, 2009 (Senate Report 110-428--to accompany S. 3301, July 28, 2008), the Senate Committee on Appropriations stated that they were making this an annual requirement because of "continued concern over the possibility of changes to the global defense posture." DOD must now submit a report each year through fiscal year 2014.

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: To facilitate DOD's management and implementation of its global basing strategy and to establish a clear and routine method of informing Congress of significant changes to the strategy and progress in achieving its goals, the Secretary of Defense should develop a periodic reporting process that summarizes to Congress the above information, includes progress in achieving performance goals, and complements but does not duplicate information contained in DOD's annual comprehensive master plans for overseas military infrastructure.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD has submitted, and will be required to submit through fiscal year 2014, an annual Global Defense Posture report to Congress. This reporting requirement was established in response to GAO's Matter for Congressional Consideration.

    Recommendation: To facilitate DOD's management and implementation of its global basing strategy and to establish a clear and routine method of informing Congress of significant changes to the strategy and progress in achieving its goals, the Secretary of Defense should establish a process to prioritize, assign management responsibility for, and fund the network of operating locations DOD is planning.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In February 2008, DOD established the Global Posture Executive Council to be the first formal governance body responsible for facilitating posture decisions and overseeing the assessment and implementation of posture plans. The Executive Council and the supporting Global Posture Integration Team include senior and staff-level representatives, respectively, from OSD offices and Joint Staff directorates, the combatant commands, the services, and the State Department. As we reported in July, 2009, the Executive Council has contributed to DOD decisions on significant posture-related matters, such as the location of the U.S. Africa Command headquarters and global mobility infrastructure. We believe DOD's actions to establish these global posture governance organizations were responsive to the intent of our recommendation.

    Recommendation: To facilitate DOD's management and implementation of its global basing strategy and to establish a clear and routine method of informing Congress of significant changes to the strategy and progress in achieving its goals, the Secretary of Defense should periodically update DOD's estimate of the total cost to implement the global basing strategy and identify the extent to which these costs are included in DOD's future years defense program.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD has now submitted two annual Global Posture reports to Congress (October, 2008 and October, 2009) that includes updated military construction cost information, and recognizes that capturing the cost of military construction funding alone does not reflect the full cost of changes to the Global Defense Posture. To this end, DOD has established a requirement for Combatant Commands and military Services to provide credible cost estimates for global posture initiatives, including host nation contributions, personnel costs, and infrastructure estimates associated with global posture initiatives in their respective areas of responsibility. We believe these actions are responsive to the intent of our recommendations.

    Recommendation: To facilitate DOD's management and implementation of its global basing strategy and to establish a clear and routine method of informing Congress of significant changes to the strategy and progress in achieving its goals, the Secretary of Defense should summarize the status of host-nation negotiations and annually update DOD's global basing strategy to reflect changes resulting from these negotiations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD has now submitted two annual Global Posture reports to Congress (October, 2008 and October, 2009) that provides the status of host nation negotiations and updates to the basing strategy.

    Recommendation: To facilitate DOD's management and implementation of its global basing strategy and to establish a clear and routine method of informing Congress of significant changes to the strategy and progress in achieving its goals, the Secretary of Defense should develop an updated strategy document that includes the six characteristics of an effective national strategy as discussed in this report, including performance measures and metrics for assessing progress in achieving stated goals.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD took no action. It stated that the recommended strategy framework, with some modification, may serve as a helpful implementation tool in the future, but it does not necessitate updating the global defense posture strategy. DOD stated that the strategy outlined in the 9/04 report to Congress was not intended to serve as a formal, comprehensive management mechanism for posture changes. DOD stated that performance metrics, while critical to assessing progress, would more logically fit in an implementation plan, not a broad strategy document.

    Jul 31, 2014

    Jul 30, 2014

    Jul 28, 2014

    Jul 17, 2014

    Jul 14, 2014

    Looking for more? Browse all our products here