Confusion Over Validity and Effects of Purported Petty Officer Shortage

NSIAD-84-30: Published: Jun 27, 1984. Publicly Released: Jul 2, 1984.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the validity and effects of a purported shortage of petty officers in the Navy, focusing on: (1) the Navy's longstanding claim of a shortage; and (2) Navy plans to increase the number of petty officers.

GAO found that: (1) the Navy determined that a shortage of petty officers existed because it had more lower-grade enlisted personnel and fewer petty officers than it believed it needed; and (2) confusion was generated because the Navy failed to clearly define the shortage before congressional hearings. In addition, GAO found that: (1) the Navy's determinations of its manpower needs are not derived from objective measures; (2) the purported shortage has no effect on combat readiness or mission capability; (3) plans to increase the number of petty officers would be costly; and (4) the benefits of such an increase are not known.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Navy's revised Manpower Policies Manual, OPNAVINST 1000.16F, published on August 12, 1986, defines enlisted programmed authorizations (EPA) and provides guidelines on EPA development, use, and limitations. An accomplishment report will be prepared following the implementation of another recommendation, which calls for the use of these guidelines in statements to Congress.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Navy should develop and issue written guidelines for the enlisted programmed authorizations. At a minimum, the guidelines should explain what they are, how they are developed and revised, their uses, and their limitations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Navy's presentations of its petty officer shortfalls have been more detailed and definitive; however, the data sources used often have not been identified. Because statements about petty officer shortfalls will increase in fiscal year 1989, there is a need for clarity in presentations and identification of data source groups. The Navy does not intend to take any further corrective action.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Navy should clearly identify the sources of all data used in calculations of enlisted personnel needs, authorizations, and shortages in all presentations of manpower and personnel issues to Congress.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy

 

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