Building Partner Capacity:

DOD Should Improve Its Reporting to Congress on Challenges to Expanding Ministry of Defense Advisors Program

GAO-15-279: Published: Feb 11, 2015. Publicly Released: Feb 11, 2015.

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johnsoncm@gao.gov

 

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What GAO Found

The Department of Defense (DOD) has expanded the Global Ministry of Defense Advisors (MODA) program more slowly than planned. It had 2 advisors in the field in Kosovo and Montenegro for most of fiscal year 2014, short of its goal of deploying 12 advisors by the end of fiscal year 2014. DOD deployed advisors to 2 additional countries just before the end of fiscal year 2014 (see figure). According to DOD officials, reasons it has taken longer than expected to expand globally include delays in the country approval process and with advisor recruitment and training.

Existing and Planned Global MODA Locations

Existing and Planned Global MODA Locations

DOD has met most but not all legislative requirements for the MODA program. As required by the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2012, DOD obtained concurrence on its proposed deployments from the Department of State (State). DOD's most recent annual report to Congress included 4 of the 6 required elements, but did not include information on the cost or duration of each Global MODA deployment, which could help Congress assess the value of the program in relation to other capacity-building efforts (see figure). Additionally, DOD has not provided information on the program's performance, such as linking actual performance to goals. Although DOD is not required by law to include this information, GAO has previously reported that such information can be useful to decision makers. Finally, DOD has not updated the policy for the program as required in the NDAA for Fiscal Year 2014.

Global MODA Reporting Requirements in DOD's Fiscal Year 2013 Annual Report

Existing and Planned Global MODA Locations

Note: Excludes MODA Afghanistan

Why GAO Did This Study

In 2012, Congress authorized DOD to create a program to assign civilian DOD employees as advisors to foreign ministries of defense. DOD created the Global MODA program, an expansion of a program started in Afghanistan in 2010, which partners DOD civilian experts with foreign defense and security officials to build core competencies in key areas such as strategy and policy, human resources management, acquisition and logistics, and financial management. The NDAA, as amended, required that DOD (1) obtain concurrence on the program from the Secretary of State; (2) provide an annual report to Congress including 6 elements on the status of the program; and (3) update the policy for the program. Congress also required GAO to report on the effectiveness of the program.

GAO assessed (1) DOD's progress in expanding MODA globally and (2) the extent to which DOD met NDAA requirements. GAO reviewed MODA program plans, reports, and other documents and interviewed DOD and State officials in Washington, D.C., as well as in Kosovo and Montenegro—the locations to which the first 2 advisors were deployed.

What GAO Recommends

GAO recommends that DOD (1) include all required information in its annual reports to Congress; (2) consider providing Congress with additional information on the program's performance; and (3) develop a time frame for updating the policy for the MODA program. DOD concurred with these recommendations.

For more information, contact Charles Michael Johnson, Jr. at (202) 512-7331 or johnsoncm@gao.gov.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Open

    Comments: In May 2016, DOD said that the MoDA program drafted a performance management framework which will establish program goals, objectives, and performance indicators to assess progress and measure results. However, as of October 2017, DOD had not provided evidence that the framework had been implemented.

    Recommendation: To help improve implementation and oversight of the MODA program, the Secretary of Defense should consider providing additional performance information to Congress on the extent to which DOD is achieving its advisor assignments and program expansion relative to its goals.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD concurred with our recommendation and in January 2015, officials stated that DOD would include this information in their 2015 annual report. In May 2016, a DOD official demonstrated to GAO that this information was indeed included in the department's 2015 annual report for the MODA program.

    Recommendation: To help improve implementation and oversight of the MODA program, the Secretary of Defense should take steps to ensure that DOD includes all required elements, including information on the cost and duration of each Global MODA advisor assignment, in its future annual reports to Congress.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD concurred with our recommendation and in its January 2015 comments on GAO's draft report, stated it was in the process of drafting a Directive and Instruction on Defense Institution Building, which would update the policy for the Ministry of Defense Advisors program. DOD further stated that it planned to complete these documents by the end of Fiscal Year 2015. In May 2016, a DOD official demonstrated to GAO that the Directive on Institution Building was signed by the Deputy Secretary of Defense on January 26, 2016, thereby establishing a policy for the MODA program.

    Recommendation: To help improve implementation and oversight of the MODA program, the Secretary of Defense should establish a time frame for updating the required policy for the MODA program.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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