Depot Maintenance:

Improved Strategic Planning Needed to Ensure That Navy Depots Can Meet Future Maintenance Requirements

GAO-10-585: Published: Jun 11, 2010. Publicly Released: Jun 11, 2010.

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The Navy's depots provide critical maintenance support to operations around the world. The Department of Defense's (DOD) increased reliance on the private sector for depot maintenance support coupled with downsizing led to a deterioration of depots' capabilities and cost increases. In 2007, the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) directed each service to submit a depot maintenance strategic plan and provided direction for the content of those plans. The 2007 U.S. Navy Depot Maintenance Strategic Plan contained a separate plan for each of five functional areas and an executive summary. GAO used qualitative content analyses to determine the extent to which two of the plans address (1) elements of a results-oriented management framework and (2) OSD's direction for the plan's content. GAO examined the plans for Navy aviation (NAVAIR) and ships (NAVSEA), which account for 94 percent of Navy depot workload.

While the Navy's plans for aviation and shipyard depot maintenance focus efforts on weapon system and equipment availability, they do not fully address the elements of a results-oriented management framework. GAO's prior work has shown that seven elements of a results-oriented management framework are critical for comprehensive strategic planning. The NAVAIR and NAVSEA plans both fully address one of the elements by including mission statements that summarize their depots' major functions and operations, but the plans partially address or do not address the other six elements. For example, even though the plans describe goals for the depots' mission-related functions, they do not specify interim milestones or time frames for achieving the goals. Additionally, the plans include some measurable warfighter support metrics to gauge progress toward achieving the NAVAIR and NAVSEA plans' long-term goals; however, the plans do not describe how these metrics directly correspond to each long-term goal, desired levels for each, or how they will be used to evaluate each goal. Further, the Navy does not have an integrated Navy-wide depot maintenance strategic plan, but instead uses an overarching executive summary that does not have clear linkages to the separate plans and has the weaknesses resulting from the separate plans' missing or limited information on some elements. The NAVAIR and NAVSEA plans do not fully address these concerns because of weaknesses in oversight. Although OSD established an oversight body, which included senior representatives from OSD and the services, to review the services' plans, this body did not review the plans. Also, the Navy did not establish an oversight mechanism to review its plans. The plans' weaknesses may limit the Navy's ability to use its plan as a tool to meet future challenges effectively and efficiently. In addition, the NAVAIR and NAVSEA plans are not fully responsive to OSD's direction to the services that was designed to provide the services with a framework to meet future challenges. OSD directed the services to address 10 specific issues in four general areas: logistics transformation, core logistics capability assurance, workforce revitalization, and capital investment. Both plans partially address 8 of these issues and do not address the remaining 2. For example, both plans discuss management approaches for integrating public- and private-sector depot sources, but the plans are silent with regard to integrating joint, interservice, or multinational depot capabilities. The plans do not discuss the methods for estimating the amount of workload or the projected effects on depot workload caused by weapon system retirements and locating weapon systems at specific installations. The plans do not fully respond to OSD's direction for the plans' content in part because of weaknesses in oversight in both OSD and the Navy. As a result, these weaknesses could additionally limit the Navy's efforts to posture and resource its depots to meet future maintenance challenges.

Status Legend:

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  • 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 Navy depots will be postured and resourced to meet future maintenance requirements, and to revise the Navy's depot maintenance strategic plan, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Navy to fully and explicitly address the four critical areas of logistics transformation, core logistics capability assurance, workforce revitalization, and capital investment, consistent with Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (OUSD, AT&L) criteria.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD has not yet implemented depot maintenance strategic planning recommendations in GAO-10-585 but expects to implement recommendations by December 2013. The Navy is working with OSD in developing a new strategic depot maintenance planning framework. OSD expects to finalize the framework by the end of calendar year 2013 at which time they will provide us a copy of the framework. Team will followup in October 2013 to obtain a status of this effort.

    Recommendation: To provide greater assurance that Navy depots will be postured and resourced to meet future maintenance requirements, and to revise the Navy's depot maintenance strategic plan, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Navy to develop and implement procedures to review revisions of the depot maintenance strategic plan to ensure they fully address all key elements of a results-oriented management framework, explicitly address any OUSD (AT&L) direction for the plans, and periodically assess progress and corrective actions to the extent needed in meeting the plans' goals.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: To provide greater assurance that Navy depots will be postured and resourced to meet future maintenance requirements, and to revise the Navy's depot maintenance strategic plan, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Navy to fully and explicitly address the four critical areas of logistics transformation, core logistics capability assurance, workforce revitalization, and capital investment, consistent with Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (OUSD, AT&L) criteria.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: To provide greater assurance that Navy depots will be postured and resourced to meet future maintenance requirements, and to revise the Navy's depot maintenance strategic plan, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Navy to demonstrate clear linkages among plans should the Navy continue to submit individual depot maintenance strategic plans instead of a single Navy-wide plan.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD has not yet implemented depot maintenance strategic planning recommendations in GAO-10-585 but expects to implement recommendations by December 2013. The Navy is working with OSD in developing a new strategic depot maintenance planning framework. OSD expects to finalize the framework by the end of calendar year 2013 at which time they will provide us a copy of the framework. Team will followup in October 2013 to obtain a status of this effort.

    Recommendation: To provide greater assurance that Navy depots will be postured and resourced to meet future maintenance requirements, and to revise the Navy's depot maintenance strategic plan, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Navy to fully and explicitly address all elements needed for a comprehensive results-oriented management framework, including those elements that we have identified as partially addressed or not addressed in the current plan.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD has not yet implemented depot maintenance strategic planning recommendations in GAO-10-585 but expects to implement recommendations by December 2013. The Navy is working with the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) in developing a new strategic depot maintenance planning framework. OSD expects to finalize the framework by the end of calendar year 2013 at which time they will provide us a copy of the framework. We will continue to monitor and follow up in October 2013 to obtain a status of this effort.

    Recommendation: To provide greater assurance that Navy depots will be postured and resourced to meet future maintenance requirements, and to revise the Navy's depot maintenance strategic plan, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Navy to develop and implement procedures to review revisions of the depot maintenance strategic plan to ensure they fully address all key elements of a results-oriented management framework, explicitly address any OUSD (AT&L) direction for the plans, and periodically assess progress and corrective actions to the extent needed in meeting the plans' goals.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD has not yet implemented depot maintenance strategic planning recommendations in GAO-10-585 but expects to implement recommendations by December 2013. The Navy is working with OSD in developing a new strategic depot maintenance planning framework. OSD expects to finalize the framework by the end of calendar year 2013 at which time they will provide us a copy of the framework. Team will followup in October 2013 to obtain a status of this effort.

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