Defense Infrastructure:

DOD Should Improve Reporting and Communication on Its Corrosion Prevention and Control Activities

GAO-13-270: Published: May 31, 2013. Publicly Released: May 31, 2013.

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What GAO Found

The Department of Defense (DOD) has invested more than $68 million in 80 projects in fiscal years 2005 through 2010 to demonstrate new technology addressing infrastructure-related corrosion, but project managers have not submitted all required reports on the results of these efforts to the Corrosion Policy and Oversight Office (Corrosion Office). The DOD Corrosion Prevention and Mitigation Strategic Plan requires project managers to submit a final report when a project is complete, and submit a follow-on report within two years after the military department implements the technology. As of November 2012, GAO found that project managers had not submitted final reports for 50 of the 80 projects (63 percent) funded in fiscal years 2005 through 2010. Also, project managers had not submitted follow-on reports for 15 of the 41 projects (37 percent) funded in fiscal years 2005 through 2007. GAO found that the Corrosion Office’s tracking system lacks key information to help ensure that project managers meet reporting requirements. Furthermore, the Corrosion Office is not fully exercising its authority to identify and implement options or incentives to address funding and other reasons given for not meeting reporting milestones. Also, GAO found inconsistency among the military departments’ Corrosion Control and Prevention Executives’ (Corrosion Executives) in holding project managers accountable for submitting the required reports. Without effective actions to ensure timely submission of final and follow-on reports, decision makers may be unaware of potentially useful technologies to address corrosion.

The Corrosion Office maintains records on its infrastructure-related corrosion projects, including initial and reassessed return-on-investment estimates, for internal and external reporting, such as in DOD’s annual budget report to Congress. GAO found that the Corrosion Office’s records showed updates to the initial estimates for the proposed projects, but the office has not consistently updated its records to show the reassessed estimates included in the follow-on reports. Specifically, GAO found that the Corrosion Office did not update data in its records for 5 of 25 projects (20 percent) with completed follow-on reports. Federal internal control standards require agencies to use internal controls to provide assurance that they have reliable financial and other reports for internal and external use. Without accurate and timely data, Congress and DOD managers may not have reliable information on the estimated return on investment as they oversee corrosion projects.

DOD’s Corrosion Executives use mechanisms, such as briefings and site visits, to collect and disseminate information on corrosion-control activities in their departments; however, GAO found that slightly more than half of public works officials interviewed at 32 installations were unaware of DOD’s corrosion-related offices and resources. Under federal statute, Corrosion Executives are tasked with coordinating corrosion activities in their departments. GAO found that many relevant service officials interviewed did not receive key corrosion-control information because their Corrosion Executives do not have targeted communication strategies and accompanying action plans. Without a strategy and action plan, managers of facilities and infrastructure may not have access to all available information on efficient methods for corrosion prevention and control.

Why GAO Did This Study

According to DOD, corrosion can significantly affect the cost of facility maintenance and the expected service life of DOD facilities. While corrosion is not always highly visible, it can lead to structural failure, loss of capital investment, and environmental damage. In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed DOD’s corrosion prevention and control program for facilities and infrastructure. In this report, GAO assessed the extent that DOD (1) met reporting requirements, (2) maintained accurate return-on-investment data in its records, and (3) fully informed relevant officials of its corrosion-control efforts. GAO reviewed DOD policies and plans, met with corrosion-control officials, and visited and interviewed officials at 32 installations.

What GAO Recommends

GAO recommends five actions to improve DOD’s project reporting and tracking, the accuracy of its return-on-investment data, and its communication with stakeholders on corrosion-control activities for facilities and other infrastructure. DOD partially concurred with three recommendations and did not agree with two. DOD plans to implement a web-based tracking tool to improve data timeliness and standardization, among other actions. GAO continues to believe that its recommendations to improve project reporting are warranted, that the Corrosion Office should use its existing authorities to identify and implement other incentives for project managers to meet reporting milestones and that DOD should revise its guidance so that Corrosion Executives would assist with the oversight of project reporting.

For more information, contact James R. McTigue Jr. at (202) 512-7968 or mctiguej@gao.gov.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In December 2013, in response to our recommendation, DOD reported that the Corrosion Policy and Oversight Office was developing a web-based tracking tool that would enable all parties involved in projects (The Corrosion Policy and Oversight Office, Military Department Corrosion Control and Prevention Executives, and project managers) to input and extract project related data. On June 23, 2014, DOD reported that the Corrosion Policy and Oversight Office developed the web-based tracking tool to the beta test stage. However, according to the Corrosion Policy and Oversight Office officials, the funding level required to obtain and sustain the software certifications needed to make this tool accessible to all parties prevented the web-based tracking tool from being fully developed. As a result, DOD reported that the Corrosion Policy and Oversight Office developed an Access database which is the single, authoritative source for all project related information including revised reporting deadlines for final and follow-on reports. This information will be provided to the Military Department Corrosion Control and Prevention Executives and Project Managers during yearly interim progress reviews. The Corrosion Policy and Oversight Office officials stated that they believe this action meets the intent of this GAO recommendation and considers this action closed. GAO agrees that this action addresses our recommendation and should result in increased timeliness and standardization of project data to include revised reporting deadlines for final and follow-on reports.

    Recommendation: To improve accountability for reporting the results of corrosion-control demonstration projects affecting DOD infrastructure, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics should direct the Director of the Office of Corrosion Policy and Oversight to take steps to enhance reporting and project tracking, such as noting the reasons why project management offices missed a reporting deadline and including any revised reporting deadlines for final and follow-on reports.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Office of the Secretary of Defense: Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD non-concurred with this recommendation. On July 24, 2013, DOD officials reported that prior positive incentives of additional funding to complete project reports were largely ineffective. Negative incentives such as penalizing future project submittals from project offices that fail to submit on-time reports would be contrary to program objectives of reducing the impact of corrosion on DoD weapon systems and infrastructure by dis-incentivizing potential technological improvements. These official further stated that while program management offices occasionally miss reporting milestones, they have generally done an excellent job of project execution and are committed to meeting their reporting obligations.

    Recommendation: To improve the military departments' submission of completed reports for infrastructure-related corrosion-control demonstration projects at prescribed milestones, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics should direct the Director of the Office of Corrosion Policy and Oversight to use the office's existing authority to identify and implement possible options or incentives for addressing the various funding, personnel, and other reasons cited by project management offices for not meeting reporting milestones.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Office of the Secretary of Defense: Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics

  3. Status: Open

    Comments: On July 24, 2013, DOD reported that it non-concurred with our recommendation. DOD reported that the Military Department Corrosion Control and Prevention Executives are given the freedom to manage their programs in the most efficient and effective manner for their respective departments. Additionally, DOD reported that the Corrosion Control and Prevention Executives know the reporting requirements and are working closely with the Corrosion Policy and Oversight Office and the project managers to ensure reports are submitted in accordance with the DoD Corrosion Prevention and Mitigation Strategic Plan. Therefore, DOD reported that further guidance is not necessary as the requirements are already clearly stated in the DoD Corrosion Prevention and Mitigation Strategic Plan. Our audit work showed that DOD's strategic plan and guidance do not define a role for the Corrosion Executives in assisting the Corrosion Office in the project reporting process. Our recommendation was intended to fortify the role of Corrosion Executives in ensuring that project management offices within the Corrosion Executives' respective military departments submit project reports as required in the strategic plan. We continue to believe that the Corrosion Executives could provide the additional management oversight necessary to strengthen corrosion project reporting. In May 2016, the Senate Armed Services Committee informed us that it have included language in its National Defense Authorization Act Bill for fiscal year 2017. Specifically, the language reads: SEC. 312. REVISION OF GUIDANCE RELATED TO CORROSION CONTROL AND PREVENTION EXECUTIVES. Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, in coordination with the Director of Corrosion Policy and Oversight, shall revise corrosion-related guidance to clearly define the role of the corrosion control and prevention executives of the military departments in assisting the Office of Corrosion Policy and Oversight in holding the appropriate project management office in each military department accountable for submitting the report required under section 903(b)(5) of the Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009 (Public Law 110-417; 10 U.S.C. 2228 note) with an expanded emphasis on infrastructure, as required in the long-term strategy of the Department of Defense under section 2228(d) of title 10, United States Code. As of October 2016, legislation was not passed.

    Recommendation: Further, to provide greater assurance that the military departments will meet reporting milestones for future projects, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics--in coordination with the Director of the Office of Corrosion Policy and Oversight-- should revise corrosion-related guidance to clearly define a role for the military departments' Corrosion Control and Prevention Executives to assist the Office of Corrosion Policy and Oversight in holding their departments' project management offices accountable for submitting infrastructure-related reports in accordance with the DOD Corrosion Prevention and Mitigation Strategic Plan.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Office of the Secretary of Defense: Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In December 2013, in response to our recommendation, officials from the Corrosion Policy and Oversight Office reported that they were developing a web-based tracking tool that would enable all parties involved in projects (The Corrosion Policy and Oversight Office, Military Department Corrosion Control and Prevention Executives, and project managers) to input and extract project related data, including return-on-investment estimates. On June 23, 2014, the Corrosion Policy and Oversight Office reported that the web-based tracking tool was developed to the beta test stage. However, according to these officials, the funding level required to obtain and sustain the software certifications needed to make this tool accessible to all parties prevented the web-based tracking tool from being fully developed. As a result, the Corrosion Policy and Oversight Office developed an Access database which is the single, authoritative source for all project related information including revised reporting deadlines for final and follow-on reports. This information will be provided to the Military Department Corrosion Control and Prevention Executives and Project Managers during yearly interim progress reviews. The Corrosion Policy and Oversight Office officials stated that they believe this action meets the intent of this GAO recommendation and considers this action closed. GAO agrees that this action addresses our recommendation and should result in increased timeliness and more accurate data on the projects' return-on-investment estimates.

    Recommendation: To ensure that Congress, DOD and officials of the military departments' infrastructure-related corrosion activities have the most complete and up-to-date information, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics should direct the Director of the Office of Corrosion Policy and Oversight to take actions to ensure that its records reflect complete, timely, and accurate data of the projects' return-on-investment estimates.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Office of the Secretary of Defense: Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In December 2013, DOD reported that while neither the Corrosion Policy and Oversight Office nor the Air Force Corrosion Control and Prevention Executive are in the Air Force installations' chain of command, the Corrosion Policy and Oversight Office would take responsibility for ensuring that information on the DOD Corrosion Program, including training opportunities and outcomes of corrosion projects, is available to all relevant Air Force officials including the Air Force Corrosion Control and Prevention Executives and Air Force installation level personnel via publication in appropriate media. DOD further reported that during the next review cycle the Corrosion Policy and Oversight Office would evaluate the Air Force's corrosion prevention and control strategic plans and, where appropriate, recommend that they adequately address the flow of key information. On June 23, 2014, DOD reported that each of the Military Department strategic plans for corrosion prevention and control addresses the issue of communication to some degree. Specifically, DOD reported that the Air Force corrosion prevention and control strategic plan was last issued in 2012 and was under revision. Additionally, DOD reported that, in direct response to our recommendation the Director of the Corrosion Policy and Oversight Office, in concert with the Military Department Corrosion Control and Prevention Executives and Deputy Under Secretary of Defense(Energy, Installations and Environment)--formerly Installations and Environment--has compiled extensive information regarding corrosion control for facilities and infrastructure and deployed it on the Whole Building Design Guide website (http://www.wbdg.org/resources/cpcsource.php). The Whole Building Design Guide website is a primary information resource for facilities and infrastructure design, construction, and maintenance personnel across the Department of Defense, other government agencies, and industry. DOD also reported that other specific activities, such as the tri-annual Corrosion Forums and the biennial DOD Corrosion Conferences hosted by Corrosion Policy and Oversight Office, would also address the flow of key information. The Corrosion Policy and Oversight Office believes this meets the intent of our recommendation and considers this action closed. We agree that these actions have addressed the intent of our recommendation. Corrosion Policy and Oversight Office's efforts, to include relevant corrosion prevention and control information on the Whole Building Design Guide website, along with presenting the information during its corrosion forums and conferences, will ensure that service managers of facilities and other infrastructure will have access to all information and resources for dealing with corrosion and are aware of the most effective and efficient methods for corrosion control.

    Recommendation: To ensure that all relevant infrastructure officials receive pertinent corrosion information, the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force departments should direct their assistant secretaries responsible for acquisitions, technology and logistics to require the military departments' Corrosion Control and Prevention Executives--in coordination with their installation management commands and in consultation with the Office of Corrosion Policy and Oversight--to develop a targeted communication strategy and an accompanying action plan for their departments to ensure the timely flow of key information to all relevant service officials, particularly to officials at the installation level, about corrosion-control activities and initiatives, such as training opportunities and outcomes of the infrastructure-related corrosion projects.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Air Force

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In December 2013, DOD reported that while neither the Corrosion Policy and Oversight Office nor the Navy Corrosion Control and Prevention Executive are in the Navy and Marine Corps installations' chain of command, the Corrosion Policy and Oversight Office would take responsibility for ensuring that information on the DOD Corrosion Program, including training opportunities and outcomes of corrosion projects, is available to all relevant Navy and Marine Corps officials including the Navy Corrosion Control and Prevention Executives and Navy and Marine Corps installation level personnel via publication in appropriate media. DOD further reported that during the next review cycle the Corrosion Policy and Oversight Office would evaluate the Navy's corrosion prevention and control strategic plans and, where appropriate, recommend that they adequately address the flow of key information. On June 23, 2014, DOD reported that each of the Military Department strategic plans for corrosion prevention and control addresses the issue of communication to some degree. Specifically, DOD reported that the Navy's latest corrosion prevention and control strategic plan that was published on 30 September 2013 contains a specific goal (Goal 5) that addresses ''communication with all levels of internal and external stakeholders.'' Additionally, DOD reported that, in direct response to our recommendation the Director of the Corrosion Policy and Oversight Office, in concert with the Military Department Corrosion Control and Prevention Executives and Deputy Under Secretary of Defense(Energy, Installations and Environment)--formerly Installations and Environment--has compiled extensive information regarding corrosion control for facilities and infrastructure and deployed it on the Whole Building Design Guide website (http://www.wbdg.org/resources/cpcsource.php). The Whole Building Design Guide website is a primary information resource for facilities and infrastructure design, construction, and maintenance personnel across the Department of Defense, other government agencies, and industry. DOD also reported that other specific activities, such as the tri-annual Corrosion Forums and the biennial DOD Corrosion Conferences hosted by Corrosion Policy and Oversight Office, would also address the flow of key information. The Corrosion Policy and Oversight Office believes this meets the intent of our recommendation and considers this action closed. We agree that these actions have addressed the intent of our recommendation. Corrosion Policy and Oversight Office's efforts to include relevant corrosion prevention and control information on the Whole Building Design Guide website, along with presenting the information during its corrosion forums and conferences, will ensure that service managers of facilities and other infrastructure will have access to all information and resources for dealing with corrosion and are aware of the most effective and efficient methods for corrosion control.

    Recommendation: To ensure that all relevant infrastructure officials receive pertinent corrosion information, the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force departments should direct their assistant secretaries responsible for acquisitions, technology and logistics to require the military departments' Corrosion Control and Prevention Executives--in coordination with their installation management commands and in consultation with the Office of Corrosion Policy and Oversight--to develop a targeted communication strategy and an accompanying action plan for their departments to ensure the timely flow of key information to all relevant service officials, particularly to officials at the installation level, about corrosion-control activities and initiatives, such as training opportunities and outcomes of the infrastructure-related corrosion projects.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In December 2013, DOD reported that while neither the Corrosion Policy and Oversight Office nor the Army Corrosion Control and Prevention Executive are in the Army installations' chain of command, the Corrosion Policy and Oversight Office would take responsibility for ensuring that information on the DOD Corrosion Program, including training opportunities and outcomes of corrosion projects, is available to all relevant Army officials including the Army Corrosion Control and Prevention Executives and Army installation level personnel via publication in appropriate media. DOD further reported that during the next review cycle the Corrosion Policy and Oversight Office would evaluate the Army's corrosion prevention and control strategic plans and, where appropriate, recommend that they adequately address the flow of key information. On June 23, 2014, DOD reported that each of the Military Department strategic plans for corrosion prevention and control addresses the issue of communication to some degree. Specifically, DOD reported that the Army corrosion prevention and control strategic plan was last issued in 2012 and was under revision. Additionally, DOD reported that, in direct response to our recommendation the Director of the Corrosion Policy and Oversight Office, in concert with the Military Department Corrosion Control and Prevention Executives and Deputy Under Secretary of Defense(Energy, Installations and Environment)--formerly Installations and Environment--has compiled extensive information regarding corrosion control for facilities and infrastructure and deployed it on the Whole Building Design Guide website (http://www.wbdg.org/resources/cpcsource.php). The Whole Building Design Guide website is a primary information resource for facilities and infrastructure design, construction, and maintenance personnel across the Department of Defense, other government agencies, and industry. DOD also reported that other specific activities, such as the tri-annual Corrosion Forums and the biennial DOD Corrosion Conferences hosted by Corrosion Policy and Oversight Office, would also address the flow of key information. The Corrosion Policy and Oversight Office believes this meets the intent of our recommendation and considers this action closed. We agree that these actions have addressed the intent of our recommendation. Corrosion Policy and Oversight Office's efforts, to include relevant corrosion prevention and control information on the Whole Building Design Guide website, along with presenting the information during its corrosion forums and conferences, will ensure that service managers of facilities and other infrastructure will have access to all information and resources for dealing with corrosion and are aware of the most effective and efficient methods for corrosion control.

    Recommendation: To ensure that all relevant infrastructure officials receive pertinent corrosion information, the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force departments should direct their assistant secretaries responsible for acquisitions, technology and logistics to require the military departments' Corrosion Control and Prevention Executives--in coordination with their installation management commands and in consultation with the Office of Corrosion Policy and Oversight--to develop a targeted communication strategy and an accompanying action plan for their departments to ensure the timely flow of key information to all relevant service officials, particularly to officials at the installation level, about corrosion-control activities and initiatives, such as training opportunities and outcomes of the infrastructure-related corrosion projects.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

 

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