Force Structure:

Army's Annual Report on Modularity Progress Needs More Complete and Clear Information to Aid Decision Makers

GAO-13-183R: Published: Jan 16, 2013. Publicly Released: Jan 16, 2013.

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What GAO Found

In its fiscal year 2012 report, the Army included information that responded to some of the statutory reporting requirements, but did not include required information on the risks associated with, and mitigation strategies for, any shortfalls in key enabler personnel and equipment and a schedule for meeting personnel and equipment needs. The report included, among other things, an assessment of the status of key enabler personnel and equipment and information on assessments of modular force capabilities. However, the Army did not present the information it included in a way that clearly demonstrated the extent of progress toward meeting modular force requirements. While not explicitly required by law, there were also a number of ways in which the Army could have presented the information to better demonstrate the extent of progress toward meeting modularity requirements. For example, the Army could have provided more explicit comparisons with prior years to demonstrate the trend toward meeting key enabler equipment and personnel requirements, but instead presented limited data for only one year. Army officials agreed that some of the required information was omitted and that some of the information could have been presented in a manner to more clearly demonstrate the extent of progress. A key reason for the limitations in presentation, according to the officials in charge of compiling the report, was that the various offices tasked with providing information needed to respond to the statutory requirements used their own judgment about the amount and format of information they included, which resulted in inconsistencies in the level of detail provided and the degree to which information was explained. Further, the Army did not ensure that performance information was reported in a consistent manner and that all issues were addressed and sufficiently explained by providing guidance on the level and type of detail required or taking steps to ensure the information was clear and consistent. To be useful, performance information must meet users' needs for completeness, accuracy, consistency, and ease of use. Without guidance on how information should be reported to ensure the collection of more complete and clear information, the Army's future annual reports may not provide clear and complete information that is useful to congressional decision makers.

Why GAO Did This Study

The Army considers its modular force transformation, which began in 2004, the most extensive restructuring it has undertaken since World War II. The foundation of the modular force is the modular brigade combat team. A primary goal of the restructuring effort was to increase the number of available brigade combat teams to meet operational requirements while maintaining combat effectiveness equal to or better than previous division-housed brigades. Restructuring the Army from a division-based force to one with the smaller modular brigade combat team as the standard combat unit has required an investment in "key enabler" equipment and personnel. "Key enabler" equipment and personnel--including those used for embedded combat support functions such as military intelligence, reconnaissance, and logistics--are defined as equipment and personnel that make a modular force or unit as capable as or more capable than the non-modular force or unit it replaced.

The Ike Skelton National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011, which amended the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007, directed the Army to report annually on its progress in fulfilling the key enabler requirements of its modular units and in repairing, recapitalizing and replacing items used in support of overseas contingency operations. Specifically, the law required the Army to include, among other things, a comparison of the authorized level of key enabler equipment with the level of such equipment on hand and planned purchases; an identification of the risks associated with shortfalls, as well as mitigation strategies for addressing those risks; and the results of Army assessments of modular force capabilities. The law also directed us to review the report and to provide information and recommendations deemed to be appropriate in light of our review. The Army issued its fiscal year 2012 report in May 2012. In reviewing the Army's fiscal year 2012 report, we evaluated the extent to which the Army included information in response to the statutory reporting requirements and demonstrated progress in meeting modular force requirements.

In our review of the Army's fiscal year 2012 report on progress in fulfilling modularity requirements, we reviewed the reporting requirement enacted by section 323 of the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007, as amended by section 332 of the Ike Skelton National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011. The current requirements are set out in a note following 10 U.S.C. 229. To determine the extent to which the Army included information in response to the statutory reporting requirements and demonstrated progress in meeting modular force requirements, two GAO analysts independently reviewed the fiscal year 2012 report, comparing it with each element required by the law and determining whether each required reporting element was included. In the case of any conflicting determinations, a third GAO analyst adjudicated the difference. To gain a full understanding of the elements included in the annual report and to discuss the methodology used for collecting information and reporting on the Army's progress toward modular restructuring, we met with Army officials knowledgeable about compiling information for the report, key enabler personnel and equipment, equipment reset, doctrine, and force structure changes. We also reviewed the Army's fiscal year 2011 report on progress in fulfilling modularity requirements to determine the extent to which the report could be compared with the fiscal year 2012 report to determine the extent of progress in fulfilling modularity requirements between fiscal years 2011 and 2012.

What GAO Recommends

To better provide Congress with information needed to conduct oversight and make decisions on programs and funding, we recommend that the Secretary of the Army provide guidance on the level and type of detail needed to each office within the Army responsible for providing information to officials compiling the annual report on the Army’s progress in meeting modular force requirements. Such guidance should at a minimum ensure that future reports provide comparisons with information from prior years to identify trends and therefore the extent of progress made in fulfilling modular force requirements; identify specific lessons learned and link them to key modifications made to modular forces; identify key doctrinal changes made and their significance to the modular forces; use a consistent definition of “key enabler” equipment and personnel, consistent with the statutory definition, throughout the report; and include both active and reserve component information throughout the report.

For more information, contact John H. Pendleton at (404) 679-1816 or pendletonj@gao.gov.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Army generally concurred with our recommendation that additional, and more detailed, information could have added clarity to its annual report on the Army's progress in meeting modular force requirements. Since our report was issued, Army officials stated that, in preparing the fiscal year 2013 modularity report, they followed our recommendation that the Army provide guidance to the offices responsible for compiling the report. The Director of the Army Staff sent a memorandum in March 2013 to Army staff that outlined the coordination process for preparing the fiscal year 2013 report, identifying each office responsible for providing information for the report. In addition, Army officials coordinating the report held meetings with each office early in the process to ensure they complied with the mandated language. Additionally, the Army provided the offices with a list of the key enabler items to report on rather than letting them interpret what to report. As a result, in April 2014 we reported that the Army's fiscal year 2013 report had generally met the legislative requirements and improved on the previous fiscal year's report. These efforts may provide congressional decision makers with a clearer understanding of the extent to which the Army has made progress in meeting modular force requirements, meeting the intent of our recommendation.

    Recommendation: To better provide Congress with information needed to conduct oversight and make decisions on programs and funding, the Secretary of the Army should provide guidance on the level and type of detail needed to each office within the Army responsible for providing information to officials compiling the annual report on the Army's progress in meeting modular force requirements. Such guidance should at a minimum ensure that future reports provide comparisons with information from prior years to identify trends and therefore the extent of progress made in fulfilling modular force requirements; identify specific lessons learned and link them to key modifications made to modular forces; identify key doctrinal changes made and their significance to the modular forces; use a consistent definition of "key enabler" equipment and personnel, consistent with the statutory definition, throughout the report; and include both active and reserve component information throughout the report.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

 

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