Depot Maintenance:

Improved Strategic Planning Needed to Ensure That Army and Marine Corps Depots Can Meet Future Maintenance Requirements

GAO-09-865: Published: Sep 17, 2009. Publicly Released: Sep 17, 2009.

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Zina Dache Merritt
(202) 512-8365
contact@gao.gov

 

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

The Army and Marine Corps maintenance depots provide critical support to ongoing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and are heavily involved in efforts to reset the force. The Department of Defense (DOD) has an interest in ensuring that the depots remain operationally effective, efficient, and capable of meeting future maintenance requirements. In 2008, in response to direction by the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), the Army and the Marine Corps each submitted a depot maintenance strategic plan. Our objective was to evaluate the extent to which these plans provide comprehensive strategies for meeting future depot maintenance requirements. GAO determined whether the plans were consistent with the criteria for developing a results-oriented management framework and fully addressed OSD's criteria.

The depot maintenance strategic plans developed by the Army and Marine Corps identify key issues affecting the depots, but do not provide assurance that the depots will be postured and resourced to meet future maintenance requirements because they do not fully address all of the elements required for a comprehensive, results-oriented management framework. Nor are they fully responsive to OSD's direction for developing the plans. While the services' strategic plans contain mission statements, along with long-term goals and objectives, they do not fully address all the elements needed for sound strategic planning, such as external factors that may affect how goals and objectives will be accomplished, performance indicators or metrics that measure outcomes and gauge progress, and resources required to meet the goals and objectives. Also, the plans partially address four issues that OSD directed the services, at a minimum, to include in their plans, such as logistics transformation, core logistics capability assurance, workforce revitalization, and capital investment. Army and Marine Corps officials involved with the development of the service strategic plans acknowledged that their plans do not fully address the OSD criteria, but they stated that the plans nevertheless address issues they believe are critical to maintaining effective, long-term depot maintenance capabilities. The Army's and Marine Corps' plans also are not comprehensive because they do not provide strategies for mitigating and reducing uncertainties in future workloads that affect the depots' ability to plan for meeting future maintenance requirements. Such uncertainties stem primarily from a lack of information on (1) workload that will replace current work on existing systems, which is expected to decline, and (2) workload associated with new systems that are in the acquisition pipeline. According to depot officials, to effectively plan for future maintenance requirements, the depots need timely and reliable information from their major commands on both the amounts and types of workloads they should expect to receive in future years. Depot officials told us that the information they receive from their major commands on their future workloads are uncertain beyond the current fiscal year. Officials cited various factors that contribute to these uncertainties, such as volatility in workload requirements, changing wartime environment, budget instability, and unanticipated changes in customer orders. In addition, depot officials said that they are not involved in the sustainment portion of the life cycle management planning process for new and modified systems. No clear process exists that would enable them to have input into weapon system program managers' decisions on how and where new and modified systems will be supported and maintained in the future. Unless they are integrated in this planning process, these officials said, the depots will continue to have uncertainties about what capabilities they will need to plan for future workloads and what other resources they will need to support new and modified weapon systems.

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

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: To provide greater assurance that the military depots will be postured and resourced to meet future maintenance requirements, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army and the Commandant of the Marine Corps to fully address all elements needed for a comprehensive results-oriented management framework, including those elements partially addressed in the current plans---such as the approaches for accomplishing goals and objectives, stakeholder involvement, external factors that may affect how goals and objectives will be accomplished, performance goals that are objective, quantifiable, and measurable, resources needed to meet performance goals, performance indicators used to measure outcomes and gauge progress, and an evaluation plan that monitors goals and objectives.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Since the issuance of the report, the Army and Marine Corps have participated in working sessions with the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Maintenance Policy and Programs to develop individual strategic plans and respond to the department's goals for the DOD Depot Maintenance Strategic Plan. On May 29, 2013, the Army G-4 Logistics, in collaboration with the U.S. Army Materiel Command, issued its organic industrial base strategic plan (2012-2022), which outlines how government-owned depots will transition in the next 10 years. The plan contains goals and objectives for improving, modernizing, and sustaining the depots; the approaches for accomplishing goals and objectives; the resources needed to sustain funding; stakeholder involvement; and a strategic assessment to evaluate and monitor the goals and objectives. The plan, however, does not contain quantifiable and measurable resources needed to meet the goals, or performance indicators to measure outcomes and progress. The Marine Corps is currently developing its depot maintenance strategic plan and expects to submit a copy to the Office of the Secretary of Defense by October 15, 2013. According to the Marine Corps, the strategic plan will include information from the January 2012 Enterprise Lifecycle Maintenance Program Order, which provides a methodology for sustaining and expanding depot-level maintenance activities using planning, programming, budgeting, and execution processes.

    Recommendation: To provide greater assurance that the military depots will be postured and resourced to meet future maintenance requirements, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army and the Commandant of the Marine Corps to fully address the four specific issues of logistics transformation, core capability assurance, workforce revitalization, and capitalization, consistent with OSD criteria provided to the services.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Army's May 2013 organic industrial base strategic plan (2012-2022) includes a strategic vision for ensuring core capabilities are established and sustained in response to Title 10, United States Code 2464 and includes a goal and objective for assessing core depot maintenance requirements. The plan also includes a strategic vision for maintaining an organic workforce that is equipped to meet both core and contingency requirements, and a goal and objective to establish and integrate a human capital investment plan that identifies strategies for right sizing the workforce with the necessary skills, knowledge, and abilities to meet future core competency requirements. In addition, the Army's organic industrial base strategic plan contains a strategic vision for prioritizing and resourcing capital investment improvements to modernize facilities in accordance with the Army Industrial Base Facility Recapitalization Plan. The strategic plan, however, contains very limited information on utilizing logistics transformation as part of its efforts to modernize industrial base facilities. The Marine Corps plans to incorporate logistics transformation, core capability assurance, workforce revitalization, and capitalization into its updated strategy and submit a copy to the Office of the Secretary of Defense by October 15, 2013.

    Recommendation: To provide greater assurance that the military depots will be postured and resourced to meet future maintenance requirements, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army and the Commandant of the Marine Corps to develop goals and objectives, as well as related strategic planning elements, aimed at mitigating and reducing future workload uncertainties. As part of this last effort, the Army and Marine Corps should develop a clear process for integrating the depots' input into the sustainment portion of the life cycle management planning process for systems in the acquisition pipeline.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Army organic industrial base strategic plan (2012-2011) includes a goal and objective to resolve current depot core sustaining workload shortfalls by initiating management controls to gain visibility over core requirements with actual executed workloads. The strategic plan also includes an industrial base integration strategy that sets forth several initiatives to establish complimentary capabilities between both the organic and commercial industrial base stakeholder and the implementation of a more comprehensive partnering database that will assess current and future decisions on major acquisition programs. The Marine Corps has been working on an improvement initiative to integrate sustainment efforts in the acquisition pipeline and issued in December 2009 an Enterprise Lifecycle Maintenance Program that integrates planning and coordination among Marine Corps stakeholders to ensure effective and efficient operations integration in the acquisition pipeline. The updated depot maintenance strategic plan will reflect this integrated process. While the Army and Marine Corps have taken some incremental steps to develop planning strategies and initiatives to address workload and sustainment issues and plans to foster relationships between organic and commercial industrial base stakeholders to enhance the sharing of capabilities and information needed for future decisions on major acquisition programs, both services have not fully addressed specific strategies for mitigating future workload uncertainties for new weapon systems that enter the defense inventory or key steps needed to ensure that the depots are fully integrated into the sustainment portion of the life cycle management planning process. Unless these issues are fully addressed, the Army and Marine Corps may continue to lose key opportunities to determine what capabilities are needed to plan for future workloads and what other resources are needed to support the sustainment of new weapon systems.

    Apr 18, 2014

    Apr 16, 2014

    Apr 11, 2014

    Apr 10, 2014

    Apr 9, 2014

    Apr 8, 2014

    Apr 3, 2014

    Looking for more? Browse all our products here