Defense Logistics:

Enhanced Policy and Procedures Needed to Improve Management of Sensitive Conventional Ammunition

GAO-16-202: Published: Feb 16, 2016. Publicly Released: Feb 16, 2016.

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MerrittZ@gao.gov

 

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What GAO Found

The military services maintained accountability (i.e., accurate records) of Security Risk Category (SRC) I conventional ammunition at 11 sampled locations within the continental United States; however, GAO identified gaps in some service-level guidance and procedures for how SRC I ammunition is accounted for across locations. GAO identified instances in which the Navy and Army had taken actions to enhance the accountability of the physical inventories of SRC I ammunition, such as the Army evaluating its methodology to ensure contractors with SRC I ammunition in their custody submit documentation to verify completion of inventories. However,

  • GAO identified 55 SRC I ammunition items that were in the physical custody of the Air Force—though owned by the Army or Marine Corps—but accountability was not maintained in any service's system of record while at the Air Force location. Department of Defense (DOD) policy requires that the DOD component having physical custody of materiel maintain accountability in its records regardless of the owner, but the Air Force's guidance requires that ammunition owned by other services be tracked only in a “non-accountable” program. If the Air Force does not revise its guidance to require that accountability be maintained regardless of ownership, the Air Force and the owning service will not have complete records of management of the ammunition and the owning service will not have full assurance that accountability was maintained.
  • GAO found that Army and Marine Corps guidance does not specify a time frame for receipting shipments of SRC I ammunition. Records showed that 12 of 21 shipments to Army depots and 5 of 30 shipments to Marine Corps locations were receipted more than 2 business days after truck arrival. Until Army and Marine Corps officials finalize and implement guidance on required time frames for receipting SRC I ammunition, officials cannot reasonably assure accountability for all shipped SRC I ammunition.

The military services have not consistently ensured timely, complete, and accurate information to maintain full visibility of SRC I ammunition in the continental United States. For example, 93 of 1,008 shipments GAO examined were not entered in DOD's Defense Transportation Tracking System (DTTS) at the time of departure. Also, 9 of 104 shipments GAO examined in more detail had inaccurate controlled inventory item codes and were not identified in DTTS as SRC I shipments. The Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command and the military services have not collaboratively determined the specific information required for the military services to ensure timely data entry into DTTS. Further, the military services, with the aid of the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, have not conducted analysis of the completeness and accuracy of data entered into DTTS by shippers on SRC I ammunition shipments. Until these actions are taken, the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command will not have full visibility of shipments of SRC I ammunition and the military services will not be well positioned to improve their oversight of the timeliness, completeness, and accuracy of data entered in DTTS.

Why GAO Did This Study

DOD manages a stockpile of more than 226,000 SRC I missiles and rockets in the continental United States. SRC I conventional ammunition, which refers to nonnuclear, portable missiles and rockets in a ready-to-fire configuration, is managed as a higher risk than other conventional ammunition and serves as a potential threat if it were obtained by unauthorized individuals or groups.

Senate Report 113-176 (2014) included a provision for GAO to review aspects of DOD's management of SRC I ammunition. This report addresses the extent to which the military services have maintained (1) accountability and (2) visibility (i.e., access to accurate information) of SRC I ammunition in the continental United States. GAO reviewed DOD and military service policies, regulations, and guidance on physical inventories and shipping of SRC I ammunition; conducted visits at a non-generalizable sample of 11 military service locations selected based on inventory size and number of shipments of SRC I ammunition; interviewed officials; and analyzed data on SRC I on-hand assets as of April 30, 2015, and on non-generalizable samples of SRC I shipments from November 1, 2013, to April 30, 2015.

What GAO Recommends

GAO recommends that DOD revise and finalize guidance and improve the timeliness, completeness, and accuracy of information to maintain full accountability and visibility of SRC I ammunition. DOD concurred with all six recommendations and identified specific steps it has already taken as well as plans to address them.

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

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Open

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

    Recommendation: To ensure the accountability and protection of SRC I ammunition, in accordance with DOD policy, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to revise guidance to clarify that accountability for all SRC I ammunition items in the Air Force's custody--regardless of ownership--should be maintained in the Air Force's system of record.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Open

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

    Recommendation: To ensure the Army and Marine Corps record the receipt of shipped SRC I ammunition in their accountability systems, and in accordance with DOD policy, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to finalize and implement guidance that addresses the required time frame for receipting SRC I ammunition at the depot level.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Open

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

    Recommendation: To ensure the Army and Marine Corps record the receipt of shipped SRC I ammunition in their accountability systems, and in accordance with DOD policy, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Commandant of the Marine Corps to finalize and implement guidance that addresses the required time frame for receipting SRC I ammunition at Marine Corps locations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Open

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

    Recommendation: To ensure the Army retains accountability of SRC I ammunition in an in-transit status, consistent with DOD policy, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to evaluate and identify actions to enable the Army to retain accountability for in-transit items until acknowledgment of receipt.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  5. Status: Open

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

    Recommendation: To help improve visibility and tracking of SRC I ammunition shipments, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of the military departments and the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, through the Commander of the U.S. Transportation Command, to collaboratively determine the specific information required for the military services to ensure timely data entry into DTTS, in accordance with the Defense Transportation Regulation.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  6. Status: Open

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

    Recommendation: To help improve the completeness and accuracy of data provided by the military services to the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command in accordance with federal internal control standards, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of the military departments, with the aid of the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, to conduct analysis of the completeness and accuracy of the data entered into DTTS.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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