Force Structure:

Ship Rotational Crewing Initiatives Would Benefit from Top-Level Leadership, Navy-wide Guidance, Comprehensive Analysis, and Improved Lessons-Learned Sharing

GAO-08-418: Published: May 29, 2008. Publicly Released: May 29, 2008.

Additional Materials:

Contact:

John H. Pendleton
(404) 679-1816
contact@gao.gov

 

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

The Navy faces affordability challenges as it supports a high pace of operations and increasing ship procurement costs. The Navy has used multiple crews on some submarines and surface ships and has shown it to increase a ship's operational availability. GAO was asked to evaluate the extent to which the Navy, for ship rotational crewing, has (1) employed a comprehensive management approach, (2) developed and implemented guidance, (3) systematically collected, analyzed data, and reported findings, and (4) systematically collected and used lessons learned. To conduct this work, GAO analyzed Department of Defense (DOD) and Navy documentation and best practices for transformation, conducted focus groups, and interviewed DOD and Navy officials.

Rotational crewing represents a transformational cultural change for the Navy. While the Navy has provided leadership in some rotational crewing programs, the Navy has not fully established a comprehensive management approach to coordinate and integrate rotational crewing efforts across the department and among various types of ships. GAO's prior work showed that sound management practices for implementing transformational programs include ensuring top leadership drives the change and dedicating an implementation team. The Navy has not assigned clear leadership and accountability for rotational crewing or designated an implementation team to ensure that rotational crewing receives the attention necessary to be effective. Without a comprehensive management approach, the Navy may not be able to lead a successful transformation of its crewing culture. The Navy has promulgated crew exchange instructions for some types of ships that have provided some specific guidance and increased accountability. However, the Navy has not developed an overarching instruction that provides high-level guidance for rotational crewing initiatives and it has not consistently addressed rotational crewing in individual ship-class concepts of operations. Defense best practices hold that key aspects of a concept of operations include how a set of capabilities may be employed to achieve objectives and identifies by whom, where, and how it is to be accomplished. The Navy has conducted some analyses of rotational crewing; however, it has not developed a systematic method for analyzing, assessing and reporting findings on the potential for rotational crewing on current and future ships. Despite using a comprehensive data-collection and analysis plan in the Atlantic Fleet Guided Missile Destroyer Sea Swap, the Navy has not developed a standardized data-collection plan that would be used to analyze all types of rotational crewing, and life-cycle costs of rotational crewing alternatives have not been evaluated. The Navy has also not adequately assessed rotational crewing options for future ships. As new ships are in development, DOD guidance requires that an analysis of alternatives be completed. These analyses generally include an evaluation of the operational effectiveness and estimated costs of alternatives. In recent surface ship acquisitions, the Navy has not consistently assessed rotational crewing options. In the absence of this, cost-effective force structure assessments are incomplete and the Navy does not have a complete picture of the number of ships it needs to acquire. The Navy has collected and disseminated lessons learned from some rotational crewing experiences; however, some ship communities have relied on informal processes. The Atlantic Sea Swap initiative used a systematic process to capture lessons learned. However, in other ship communities the actions were not systematic and did not use the Navy Lessons Learned System. By not systematically recording and sharing lessons learned from rotational crewing efforts, the Navy risks repeating mistakes and could miss opportunities to more effectively implement crew rotations.

Matters for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Congress has not taken action on this matter.

    Matter: Because DOD disagreed with our recommendations dealing with assigning clear leadership, establishing an implementation team, developing and promulgating overarching guidance, and improving the use of lessons learned, Congress may wish to consider requiring the Secretary of Defense to direct the Secretary of the Navy to assign clear leadership and accountability for managing rotational crewing efforts.

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Congress has not taken action on this matter.

    Matter: Because DOD disagreed with our recommendations dealing with assigning clear leadership, establishing an implementation team, developing and promulgating overarching guidance, and improving the use of lessons learned, Congress may wish to consider requiring the Secretary of Defense to direct the Secretary of the Navy to establish an overarching implementation team to provide day-to-day management oversight of rotational crewing efforts, coordinate and integrate efforts, and apply their results to the fleet.

  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Congress has not taken action on this matter.

    Matter: Because DOD disagreed with our recommendations dealing with assigning clear leadership, establishing an implementation team, developing and promulgating overarching guidance, and improving the use of lessons learned, Congress may wish to consider requiring the Secretary of Defense to direct the Secretary of the Navy to develop and promulgate overarching guidance to provide the high-level vision and guidance needed to consistently and effectively manage, implement, and evaluate all rotational crewing efforts.

  4. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Congress has not taken action on this matter.

    Matter: Because DOD disagreed with our recommendations dealing with assigning clear leadership, establishing an implementation team, developing and promulgating overarching guidance, and improving the use of lessons learned, Congress may wish to consider requiring the Secretary of Defense to direct the Secretary of the Navy to develop overarching guidance to ensure the systematic collection and dissemination of lessons learned pertaining specifically to rotational crewing.

  5. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Congress has not taken action on this matter.

    Matter: Because DOD disagreed with our recommendations dealing with assigning clear leadership, establishing an implementation team, developing and promulgating overarching guidance, and improving the use of lessons learned, Congress may wish to consider requiring the Secretary of Defense to direct the Secretary of the Navy to incorporate components of the lessons-learned approach outlined in the Atlantic Fleet DDG Sea Swap Concept of Operations, including, among other things, establishing a lessons-learned team, developing a data-collection plan, and increasing use of the Navy Lessons Learned System.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD non-concurred with this recommendation. The Navy stated that it has clear leadership and accountability for the manning of ships and submarines within both operational and administrative chains of command and that additional organizational structure dedicated to rotational crewing is unnecessary and potentially counterproductive. As stated in GAO-08-418, while the Navy has administrative and operational management structures, there is not a designated leader to manage all rotational crewing efforts in the Department of the Navy. As a result, numerous separate rotational crewing efforts continue with little, if any, top-down leadership and coordination.

    Recommendation: To facilitate the successful transformation of the Navy's ship-crewing culture, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Navy to assign clear leadership and accountability for managing rotational crewing efforts.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD non-concurred with this recommendation. The Navy stated that it already exercises day-to-day management to support ship and submarine manning and training and that an implementation team is unnecessary and potentially counterproductive. As stated in GAO-08-418, without an implementation team, the Navy does not have a dedicated team or steering group that can devote focused attention, provide a communication structure, apply lessons learned, and execute other key practices that would build on its successful efforts and ensure consistent management of rotational crewing across the fleet.

    Recommendation: To facilitate the successful transformation of the Navy's ship-crewing culture, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Navy to establish an overarching implementation team to provide day-to-day management oversight of rotational crewing efforts, coordinate and integrate efforts, and apply their results to the fleet.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD non-concurred with this recommendation. The Navy stated that it has sufficient guidance in place to provide the high-level vision necessary to manage ship and submarine manning because the training and support of Sailors involved in rotational crewing are little different than those Sailors in the standard crewing process. As stated in GAO-08-418, crew exchange guidance and the execution of training and support for rotational crewing efforts can provide many unique challenges for sailors. Therefore, we continue to believe further action is warranted.

    Recommendation: To facilitate the successful transformation of the Navy's ship-crewing culture, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Navy to develop and promulgate overarching guidance to provide the high-level vision and guidance needed to consistently and effectively manage, implement, and evaluate all rotational crewing efforts.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD partially concurred with this recommendation and the Navy stated that when or if additional rotational crewing is warranted, the Navy will issue specific guidance, instructions, and/or concepts of operations. The Navy's June 2011 concept of operations for the Littoral Combat Ship includes a description of how rotational crewing will be employed and identifies specific crew swap employment and location considerations. Additionally, the Navy's March 2011 and April 2009 concepts of operations for the Joint High Speed Vessel and Sea-Based X-Band Radar Vessel respectively, include a description of how these ships will be manned by civilian mariners on a rotational basis.

    Recommendation: To ensure effective management, implementation, and evaluation of rotational crewing efforts, the Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces, should direct the development and promulgation of concepts of operations by all ship communities using or planning to use rotational crewing, that include a description of how rotational crewing may be employed and the details of by whom, where, and how it is to be accomplished, employed, and executed.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy: U.S. Fleet Forces

  5. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD partially concurred with this recommendation. In March 2010, the Navy stated that it had no plans for broad general application of rotational crewing to all ship classes; therefore, data collection is unnecessary. However, in March 2012, the Chief of Naval Operations stated before Congress that, in order to remain forward without increases to fleet size, the Navy will rely on both forward deployed forces and forward stationing and will continue to pursue innovative concepts for operating forward such as rotational crewing. He further stated that the Navy is studying options for rotational crewing as part of its force structure requirements assessment. As part of this assessment, we believe a comprehensive cost-effectiveness analysis of rotational crewing, including life-cycle costs, would help the Navy determine if rotational crewing alternatives would help meet operational objectives while maximizing return on investment.

    Recommendation: To ensure that the Navy assesses the potential of different rotational crewing alternatives for improving performance and reducing costs for ship classes, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Navy, under the purview of the implementation team, to develop a standardized, systematic method for data collection and analysis, assessment, and reporting on the results of rotational crewing efforts, including a comprehensive cost-effectiveness analysis that includes life-cycle costs, for all rotational crewing efforts.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD partially concurred with this recommendation. DOD agrees that all feasible crewing options should be considered during the concept refinement phase and therefore, for ships determined to have a potential advantageous rotational crewing application, it will assess and include this option among the alternatives reported by the Analysis of Alternatives. According to the Navy in March 2010, the possible advantages of using rotational crews on all new ship classes was studied during the concept refinement phase. Specifically, the SSBN(X) will be manned by a rotational crew using the proven SSBN dual crew model and the Sea-Based X-Band Radar Vessel and Joint High Speed Vessel will be manned by civilian mariners on a rotational basis.

    Recommendation: To ensure that the Navy assesses the potential of different rotational crewing alternatives for improving performance and reducing costs for ship classes, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Navy, under the purview of the implementation team, to require, as part of the mandatory analysis of alternatives in the concept refinement phase of the defense acquisition process, assessments of potential rotational crewing options for each class of surface ship in development, including full life-cycle costs of each crewing option.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  7. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD non-concurred with this recommendation. The Navy stated that it already uses lessons learned tools as part of rotational crewing and that further guidance to use these tools is not needed. As stated in GAO-08-418, without guidance to ensure collection and dissemination of lessons learned, the Navy unnecessarily risks repeating past mistakes and could miss opportunities to more effectively plan and conduct crew rotations.

    Recommendation: To ensure that the Navy effectively leverages lessons learned, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Navy to develop overarching guidance to ensure the systematic collection and dissemination of lessons learned pertaining specifically to rotational crewing.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  8. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD non-concurred with this recommendation. The Navy stated that procedures are already in place for crews, rotational and standard, to provide data to the chain of command to identify improvements. As stated in GAO-08-418, GAO found that in many cases the Navy's efforts were not systematic and did not use the Navy Lessons Learned System, and thus were not done consistently across all ship communities that use rotational crewing. Therefore, further action is warranted.

    Recommendation: To ensure that the Navy effectively leverages lessons learned, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Navy to incorporate components of the lessons-learned approach outlined in the Atlantic Fleet DDG Sea Swap Concept of Operations, including, among other things, establishing a lessons-learned team, developing a data-collection plan, and increasing use of the Navy Lessons Learned System.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  9. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Congress did not take action on this matter.

    Recommendation: Congress may wish to consider requiring the Secretary of Defense to direct the Secretary of the Navy to report to Congress on its progress when the President's budget for fiscal year 2010 is submitted to Congress.

    Agency Affected: Congress

 

Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Sep 19, 2014

Sep 18, 2014

Sep 10, 2014

Sep 9, 2014

Sep 8, 2014

Jul 31, 2014

Looking for more? Browse all our products here