Depot Maintenance:

Army Report Provides Incomplete Assessment of Depot-Type Capabilities

NSIAD-00-20: Published: Oct 15, 1999. Publicly Released: Oct 15, 1999.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Army's report on the proliferation of depot maintenance-type activities at non-depot facilities for completeness and adequacy, focusing on the: (1) the total amount of depot maintenance-type work conducted at local maintenance facilities and the cost efficiency of such work in view of the Army's overall requirements; and (2) plans for consolidating fragmented maintenance operations.

GAO noted that: (1) the Army's report did not sufficiently identify the extent of depot maintenance-type work performed at non-depot facilities; (2) the Army reported that 40 staff years of depot maintenance-type work was performed outside of the formal depot system by non-depot maintenance providers operating under special repair authorities; (3) however, other sources of information indicate that additional amounts of depot maintenance-type work and capabilities exist at various non-depot facilities; (4) further, the Army was unable to develop accurate and consistent estimates of its depot maintenance-type work because its reporting criteria are not consistent with the definition in 10 U.S.C. 2460, and management information systems and procedures are not equipped to assess the magnitude and cost-effectiveness of all maintenance and supply functions; (5) citing inadequate data on the subject, the Army's report did not make any recommendations for consolidating depot maintenance-type facilities to the public depots; (6) nonetheless, the report did outline a number of ongoing initiatives, and it recommended other actions to improve the management of information on facilities performing depot maintenance-type tasks; (7) these actions should provide some of the data and management improvements needed to support future consolidation recommendations; (8) although not specifically addressed in the Army's report, the Army has developed a draft strategic plan for its depot maintenance facilities; (9) however, key details for implementing many of the planned actions remain to be developed, including plans to assess the capabilities of and future requirements for the Army's maintenance support structure; (10) GAO identified a number of continuing challenges the Army faces in attempting to address the fragmentation of depot maintenance work and the proliferation of depot maintenance-type facilities; (11) key among them is the amount of depot maintenance-type capabilities controlled by major commands in the active Army and the Army National Guard; (12) for various reasons, these commands are reluctant to reduce their present capability for performing depot maintenance-type workloads; and (13) eliminating the fragmentation, duplication, and excess capacities within the Army's maintenance infrastructure--while implementing solutions that are best from a warfighting perspective and most cost-effective to the Army as a whole--represents a formidable challenge for Army leadership.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Army concurred with the recommendation and in January 2000 issued its Depot Maintenance Enterprise Strategic Plan. As recommended, the plan includes clarifying guidance that will enable the Army to better identify the magnitude and cost effectiveness of its depot maintenance system. The plan specifies that depot maintenance-type work is to be split between a variety of organizations and activities--including regular inhouse depots, private sector contractors, and military units in both the active duty and reserve components. Further, the strategic plan provides goals and timeliness for developing and implementing 20 individual action plans to improve the efficiency of the Army's combined depot maintenance operations to include a framework and schedule for the Army to begin managing its depot maintenance workload as a whole.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should require that the Secretary of the Army, in developing and implementing the Army's strategic plan for depot maintenance facilities, ensure that the strategic plans and tactical implementing plans identify requisite action items, timeframes, and funding requirements for improving the Army's information management systems to fully identify the magnitude and cost-effectiveness of depot maintenance-type work at various locations within the Army.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: To minimize the adverse impact from the proliferation of depot maintenance work conducted at field locations, the Army issued a July 1999 policy memorandum documenting its intentions to centrally manage all of its future depot maintenance workload assignments. Subsequently, in January 2000 the Army issued its Depot Maintenance Enterprise Strategic Plan which included goals, performance measures and clear timeframes for developing action plans to assess depot maintenance requirements from a national Army-wide perspective. As suggested, the strategic plan provides a framework for a single national maintenance manager to assess the capabilities of maintenance organizations under the active duty and reserve component forces and ultimately identify opportunities for consolidating and reducing unneeded maintenance infrastructure. As a part of its implementation of this plan, the Army is implementing a depot overhaul program intended to improve the capability of fielded systems that have not undergone major overhauls or upgrades in recent years. A side benefit of this program, which will mostly be performed in the inhouse depots, is the increased utilization of the inhouse depot system.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should require that the Secretary of the Army, in developing and implementing the Army's strategic plan for depot maintenance facilities, ensure that the strategic plans and tactical implementing plans establish: (1) clear timeframes and action plans for assessing requirements for the various types of depot maintenance facilities; and (2) plans for achieving necessary consolidations and reductions for excess capabilities.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Army's January 2000 Depot Maintenance Enterprise Strategic Plan includes goals, objectives and action plans for managing the Army's depot maintenance workload as a whole, in lieu of the previous management process which was fragmented between various organizational entities. In addition, the Strategic Plan provided goals and objectives for developing a requirements process that allows all customers, including those from the active duty and reserve components, to submit their requirements forecasts to a single organizational entity.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should require that the Secretary of the Army, in developing and implementing the Army's strategic plan for depot maintenance facilities, ensure that the strategic plans and tactical implementing plans incorporate the depot maintenance-type capabilities of both active and reserve components under the national maintenance program and assign the national maintenance manager with requisite responsibility and authority for depot maintenance capabilities in active and reserve components.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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