Defense Management:

High-Level Leadership Commitment and Actions Are Needed to Address Corrosion Issues

GAO-07-618: Published: Apr 30, 2007. Publicly Released: Apr 30, 2007.

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Corrosion can have a deleterious effect on military equipment and infrastructure in terms of cost, readiness, and safety. Recognizing this concern, the Bob Stump National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2003 required the Department of Defense (DOD) to designate an official or organization to oversee and coordinate efforts to prevent and mitigate corrosion. Recently, the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2006 directed GAO to examine the effectiveness of DOD's corrosion prevention and mitigation programs. In addition, GAO evaluated the extent to which DOD has incorporated corrosion prevention planning in acquiring weapon systems. GAO reviewed strategy documents, reviewed corrosion prevention planning for 51 recent major weapon system acquisitions, and interviewed DOD and military service officials.

DOD continues to have problems that hinder progress in implementing its corrosion prevention and mitigation strategy. While it has created a Corrosion Policy and Oversight Office, that office lacks the ability to oversee and coordinate its efforts throughout DOD, as envisioned by Congress. For example, DOD's office does not review all of the services' proposed funding requests for corrosion programs, even though it is required to do so, because DOD has not directed the services to provide such information and none of the services has a designated official or office to oversee and coordinate servicewide corrosion activities. Without comprehensive reviews of the services' corrosion-related programs and proposed funding requests, the office cannot fulfill its oversight and coordination role. DOD has made some progress in identifying corrosion cost impacts, but it has not identified readiness and safety impacts. It recently completed corrosion cost impact studies for Army ground vehicles and Navy ships, identifying an estimated $4.5 billion in annual corrosion costs. Although the studies provided potentially useful data for reducing these costs, DOD has not developed an action plan to apply these data to developing corrosion prevention and mitigation strategies. Without an action plan, it could miss opportunities to achieve long-term cost savings. DOD has not yet developed results-oriented metrics, although GAO has previously recommended that it do so. Without top DOD and service leadership commitment to address these issues, corrosion prevention and mitigation will remain elusive goals and opportunities to reduce costs, enhance readiness, and avoid safety problems will be lost. Most of the weapon system acquisition programs GAO reviewed had not incorporated key elements of DOD corrosion prevention guidance. GAO found that only 14 of the 51 programs reviewed had both corrosion prevention plans and advisory teams, as encouraged in the DOD guidance. The primary reason most programs did not have these two elements is that they are not mandatory. As a result, these programs may be missing opportunities to prevent and mitigate corrosion.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Starting with FY09 and FY10 budget cycles, DoD will use cost studies to make an impact. DOD Corrosion Prevention and Mitigation Policy Working Integrated Product Teams will select and fund corrosion research projects using the cost studies as well as other relevant documents.

    Recommendation: To ensure that DOD does not miss opportunities for achieving long-term corrosion cost savings, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics to develop an action plan for using the information contained in the Army ground vehicle and Navy ship segments of DOD's cost impact study. This plan should be completed as expeditiously as possible and be updated in time to support the fiscal year 2009 budget request. This plan should include information on corrosion cost areas having the highest priority and a strategy for reducing these costs. DOD should develop comparable action plans for the information to be derived from cost segments completed in the future.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DoD Instruction 5000.67, dated 1/25/08, titled, "Prevention and Mitigation of Corrosion on DoD Military Equipment and Infrastructure", addresses this recommendation. Specifically, paragraphs 5.2.1 and 5.2.2 apply.

    Recommendation: To ensure that DOD's Corrosion Office provides oversight and coordination of the services' proposed funding requests for corrosion prevention and mitigation programs, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force to designate a corrosion official or a corrosion office within each service that is responsible for corrosion prevention and mitigation, and that the responsibilities of this official or office include identifying the annual funding requirements for corrosion prevention and mitigation efforts throughout the service.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DoD Instruction 5000.67, dated 1/25/08, titled "Prevention and Mitigation of Corrosion on DoD Military Equipment and Infrastructure" addresses this recommendation. Specifically, paragraphs 1.3.2,4.5 and 5.1.3 apply.

    Recommendation: To ensure that DOD's Corrosion Office provides oversight and coordination of the services' proposed funding requests for corrosion prevention and mitigation programs, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics to require the military services to provide comprehensive data about their annual funding requirements for corrosion prevention and mitigation efforts to the DOD Corrosion Office, before annual funding requests are sent to Congress.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DoD Instruction 5000.67, dated 1/25/08, titled, "Prevention and Mitigation of Corrosion on DoD Military Equipment and Infrastructure", addresses this recommendation. Specifically, paragraphs 1.3.3, 1.3.4, 4.4, 5.2.4 and 5.2.4.1.1

    Recommendation: To improve DOD's ability to avoid or limit corrosion problems experienced by weapon systems, the Secretary of Defense should require major defense acquisition programs to prepare a corrosion prevention plan and establish a corrosion prevention advisory team as early as possible in the acquisition process.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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