Defense Management:

Additional Information Needed to Improve Military Departments' Strategies for Corrosion Prevention and Control

GAO-13-379: Published: May 16, 2013. Publicly Released: May 16, 2013.

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Zina Dache Merritt
(202) 512-5257
merrittz@gao.gov

 

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What GAO Found

The military departments' Corrosion Control and Prevention Executives (Corrosion Executives) coordinated with the Department of Defense's (DOD) Corrosion Policy and Oversight Office (Corrosion Office) on reviews of their respective strategic plans. GAO's prior work has found that linking the goals of component organizations to departmental strategic goals is a practice that, if consistently applied, should improve the usefulness of plans to decision makers. However, the military departments varied in the extent that their strategic plans show clear linkage to the 10 goals and objectives included in the DOD Corrosion Prevention and Mitigation Strategic Plan. The Army's strategic plan showed clear linkage to all 10 of the goals and objectives. The Air Force's plan clearly linked to half of the goals and objectives and the Navy's plan clearly linked to 3 of the goals and objectives. GAO's review of the military departments' strategic plans found no inconsistencies with DOD Instruction 5000.67, which establishes policy, assigns responsibilities, and provides guidance for managing programs to prevent or mitigate corrosion. Without consistency or a clear linkage between the strategic plans of the military departments and the overarching goals and objectives in DOD's strategic plan, the military departments' strategies may not ensure that DOD achieves its overarching goals and objectives.

The military departments' strategic plans included or partially included the 6 key characteristics that aid in the development and implementation of a comprehensive strategic plan, but the military departments' plans do not fully include some associated elements for comprehensive strategic plans--such as performance measures. In prior work, GAO identified 6 characteristics and 31 associated elements that comprehensive strategic plans should include. The Army plan fully included 2 of the 6 characteristics related to problem definition and risk assessment--problems and threats the strategy is directed towards--and also integration of the strategy (i.e., how a strategy relates to other strategies). The Navy plan fully included 1 of the 6 characteristics related to the problem definition and risk assessment. The Air Force partially included all 6 of the characteristics. For example, the Air Force plan described some, but not all, aspects of the characteristic on organizational roles, responsibilities, and coordination--who will be implementing the strategy, what their roles will be compared to others, and mechanisms for them to coordinate their efforts. However, none of the military departments' plans included the elements on outcome-related performance measures used to gauge results or the limitations on performance measures. Of the 31 associated elements, the Army fully included 24 elements in its strategic plan; the Air Force, 8; and the Navy, 9. By relying on strategic plans that do not fully include the elements--such as performance measures--the military departments may not identify and communicate important information to corrosion stakeholders and decision makers to monitor and assess the departments' progress in preventing and mitigating corrosion.

Why GAO Did This Study

Corrosion costs DOD billions of dollars annually by taking critical systems out of action and creating safety hazards. Recognizing the need for coordinated corrosion prevention and control efforts and planning, House Report 112-78 directed the military departments to develop corrosion prevention strategies that support the DOD Corrosion Prevention and Mitigation Strategic Plan. The House Report directed GAO to evaluate the long-term strategies developed by the Corrosion Executive of each military department and to report the findings to both the Senate Armed Services Committee and the House Armed Services Committee. GAO assessed the extent to which the military departments (1) coordinated with the Corrosion Office to ensure consistency of their strategic plans with DOD's overarching goals and objectives and conformity with DOD Instruction 5000.67; and (2) included characteristics of a comprehensive strategic plan in their respective plans. GAO reviewed relevant legislation, the corrosion prevention strategic plans of DOD and the military departments, and interviewed DOD corrosion officials.

What GAO Recommends

GAO is making two recommendations to improve future updates of the military departments’ strategic plans for corrosion prevention and control. DOD did not concur with the recommendations. DOD stated that the military departments’ plans linked to overarching goals and objectives and disagreed with the criteria GAO used to assess the plans. GAO continues to believe that these recommendations are valid as discussed in the report.

For more information, contact Zina Merritt at (202) 512-5257 or merrittz@gao.gov.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Open

    Comments: Both the Army and the Air Force are working on updates to their respective Strategic Plans to prevent and mitigate corrosion. According to agency officials, the updates are due to be finalized near the end of 2014. The Navy updated its Strategic Plan in January 2014. The Navy has historically updated its Strategic Plan every January, so we are awaiting revisions from the other services before reviewing the Navy's newest plan and any revisions.

    Matter: To ensure that the military departments' future strategic plans to address corrosion demonstrate consistency and a clear linkage to DOD's corrosion goals and objectives, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of the Air Force and Navy to direct the Corrosion Executives to include in their next update of their strategic plans clear linkage to DOD's overarching goals and objectives as described in DOD's strategic plan.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Open

    Comments: The Air Force Corrosion Control and Prevention Executive stated that the Air Force is working on an update to its Strategic Plan and the revised plan is due to be finalized near the end of 2014.

    Recommendation: To ensure that the military departments' strategic plans to address corrosion include key characteristics of a comprehensive strategic plan, the Secretaries of the Army, Air Force, and Navy should direct the Corrosion Executives to develop and include all six key characteristics of a comprehensive strategic plan, including but not limited to elements relating to performance measures.

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

  2. Status: Open

    Comments: The Navy submitted an updated Strategic Plan with its Annual Report in January. Since the Army and Air Force are working on revisions to their respective strategic plans, we are awaiting finalization of those revisions so that we can review all three plans simultaneously.

    Recommendation: To ensure that the military departments' strategic plans to address corrosion include key characteristics of a comprehensive strategic plan, the Secretaries of the Army, Air Force, and Navy should direct the Corrosion Executives to develop and include all six key characteristics of a comprehensive strategic plan, including but not limited to elements relating to performance measures.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy

  3. Status: Open

    Comments: The Army Corrosion Control and Prevention Executive stated that the Army is working on an update to its Strategic Plan and the revised plan is due to be finalized sometime near the end of 2014.

    Recommendation: To ensure that the military departments' strategic plans to address corrosion include key characteristics of a comprehensive strategic plan, the Secretaries of the Army, Air Force, and Navy should direct the Corrosion Executives to develop and include all six key characteristics of a comprehensive strategic plan, including but not limited to elements relating to performance measures.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

 

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