Prepositioned Stocks:

DOD Has Addressed Required Reporting Elements but Needs to Develop a Department-wide Policy and Joint Service Approach

GAO-16-418: Published: Apr 15, 2016. Publicly Released: Apr 15, 2016.

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What GAO Found

The Department of Defense (DOD), in its fiscal year 2014 annual report on prepositioned stocks, explicitly addressed all of the 12 reporting elements enumerated in section 2229a of Title 10. However, for the element requiring DOD to report funding for reconstituting any prepositioned stock shortfalls, GAO identified limitations in the quality of information DOD provided on costs for completely reconstituting prepositioned stocks. Further, GAO found that risks which DOD cited in its report were not supported by risk assessments, as required by DOD war reserve materiel policy. GAO also found that, based on the DOD joint service guidance definition of prepositioned stock, certain types of this materiel were excluded from DOD's report. The inclusion of information that identifies which types of prepositioned stocks were excluded, and where more complete information resides, would assist Congress in determining the sufficiency of DOD's prepositioned stocks. DOD officials agreed that in future annual prepositioned stock reports they could identify omitted prepositioned stock information and indicate where that information resides.

DOD has made limited progress in developing a department-wide strategic policy and implementation plan to support a coordinated joint-military service approach for managing its prepositioned stock programs. DOD has not yet submitted that policy and implementation plan to Congress, as required by statute, and has not set a timeline for completing them. Without a timeline for completing a strategic policy and joint-military service approach, DOD will not be able to provide decision makers with needed information for taking corrective action. GAO cannot review the strategic policy and implementation plan, as mandated, because these documents have not been finalized, but GAO will continue to monitor DOD's progress and review them when the documents become available.

The capability of U.S. operational forces to deploy is largely met through sealift, airlift, and pre-positioned stocks—collectively known as the strategic mobility triad—shown in the figure below.

Prepositioned Stocks as Part of DOD's Strategic Mobility

Prepositioned Stocks as Part of DOD's Strategic Mobility

Why GAO Did This Study

DOD prepositions stocks--such as combat vehicles and repair parts--at locations around the world to prepare forces quickly for conflicts when needed. Section 2229a of Title10 includes a provision for DOD to report annually on its prepositioned stocks, and for GAO to review DOD's report and provide Congress additional information on any issues identified. This report addresses the extent to which (1) DOD's fiscal year 2014 report addressed the 12 statutorily required elements; and (2) DOD has made progress in developing a department-wide strategic policy and a coordinated joint military-service approach for managing prepositioned stock programs. GAO analyzed DOD's report and other readiness reporting data, reviewed DOD guidance, and interviewed cognizant officials.

What GAO Recommends

Congress should consider directing DOD to set a timeline for completing a department-wide strategic policy and joint-service implementation plan for its prepositioned stock programs. GAO included this matter because DOD did not agree with GAO's recommendation to set a timeline, stating that it plans to periodically communicate its progress to Congress. GAO also recommended that DOD, in its annual report, (1) address limitations in reconstitution funding data; (2) clarify guidance on risk assessments; and (3) indicate where prepositioned stock information omitted from the report can be found. DOD concurred or partially concurred with these recommendations. GAO continues to believe that its findings and recommendations are valid as discussed in this report.

For more information, contact Cary Russell at (202) 512-5431 or russellc@gao.gov.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In Senate Report 114-255 accompanying the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2017, Congress directed the Secretary of Defense to submit to the defense committees no later than September 1, 2016, a timeline by which it will complete the Department-wide directive and implementation plan, and to include in the timeline the major steps DOD plans to take in implementing the plan, with target dates for accomplishing each of them that can be used to monitor progress and report results.

    Matter: Congress should consider directing the Secretary of Defense to set and submit to the congressional defense committees, within a specified time frame, a timeline by which DOD will complete the department-wide strategic policy and joint-service implementation plan, and that it include in the timeline the major steps DOD plans to take, with target dates for accomplishing each of them that can be used to monitor progress and report results. The development and submission to Congress of such a timeline should help ensure that DOD can fully address the provisions of section 321 of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2014.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, DOD has not included any language in its annual prepositioning report that addresses this recommendation.

    Recommendation: As part of their ongoing efforts to strengthen oversight and improve the overall quality of information included in DOD's annual prepositioning reports in order to provide congressional decision makers with complete and relevant information, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, in coordination with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to disclose in the report the fact that reconstitution funding data are current as of the end of the fiscal year, identify significant changes reported in these data from year to year, and provide explanations as to the reasons for the changes.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, DOD has not updated its DODI 3110.06 War Reserve Policy document.

    Recommendation: As part of their ongoing efforts to strengthen oversight and improve the overall quality of information included in DOD's annual prepositioning reports in order to provide congressional decision makers with complete and relevant information, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, in coordination with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in its planned update to its War Reserve Materiel Policy document, to add language to clarify when and how risk assessments should be performed.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, DOD has not included in its annual report a secton that identifies omitted prepositioned stock information and where that information can be found.

    Recommendation: As part of their ongoing efforts to strengthen oversight and improve the overall quality of information included in DOD's annual prepositioning reports in order to provide congressional decision makers with complete and relevant information, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, in coordination with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to include in the annual prepositioned stock report a section that identifies omitted prepositioned stock information and indicates where that information can be found.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In March 2017, DOD issued its strategic policy for prepositioning programs and in July 2017, established a timeline of September 30, 2017 for completing the implementation plan.

    Recommendation: To monitor progress and help build momentum in developing a department-wide strategic policy and a coordinated joint-military service approach for managing its prepositioned stock program, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, in coordination with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to establish a timeline by which to complete the development of a department-wide strategic policy and joint-service implementation plan for prepositioned stock programs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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