Reserve Officers' Training Corps:

Less Need for Officers Provides Opportunity for Significant Savings

NSIAD-91-102: Published: May 6, 1991. Publicly Released: May 13, 1991.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO examined the military services' Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) programs.

GAO found that: (1) due to reductions in officer end strength, Air Force and Army ROTC programs have produced over 9,000 more graduates than needed since 1987; (2) the Navy averted large-scale overproduction of officers by making adjustments to its officer candidate school; (3) to reduce the number of ROTC enrollees in officer schools, both the Air Force and Army released graduates from their military service obligations and delayed graduates' entry into active duty; (4) neither the Air Force nor Army developed a comprehensive plan to efficiently meet reduced needs, and both services will continue to incur additional costs associated with producing too many ROTC graduates; (5) all three services maintained unproductive ROTC units that met congressional criteria for closure; (6) of the 630 ROTC units, 65 were below minimum enrollment guidelines as of fiscal year 1990; (7) the Department of Defense (DOD) did not oversee ROTC program productivity and closure decisions to ensure that services complied with closure guidelines; and (8) DOD lacked a standard cost-reporting system for ROTC.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Matter for Congressional Consideration

    Matter: Because DOD has not aggressively closed unproductive ROTC units, Congress may wish to fund the services' ROTC programs at levels lower than requested. Reductions could be based on the percentage of unproductive units in each service.

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Each of the military services reduced funding for their ROTC programs in fiscal year (FY) 1992 and in future year defense plans.

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: In the next annual assurance statement, the Secretary of Defense should identify, as a material weakness, the lack of compliance with congressional committee guidance on unit closures.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD determined that the retention of non-viable ROTC units was not a significant material weakness for inclusion in the annual assurance statement. This determination was based on the fact that no unit viability specification, typically included in annual Defense Appropriation bill language, had been issued since 1988. Unit viability criteria will be included in a revised DOD regulation.

    Recommendation: To increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the services' ROTC programs, the Secretary of Defense should require the services' secretaries to amend their regulations on unit closures to specify an objective formula that assigns relative weights to the various productivity factors.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Issuance of DOD Directive 1215.8 will require subsequent revision of service regulations. Such revisions of service regulations are expected to be accomplished within 1 year after issuance of the DOD directive. Service regulations are expected to be revised by May 1994.

    Recommendation: To increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the services' ROTC programs, the Secretary of Defense should revise the DOD directive on unit closures. The revision should: (1) define the term productive unit; (2) provide criteria needed to enable objective analyses of the quantitative and qualitative factors to be considered in making closure decisions; and (3) require that deviations below the congressionally established enrollment guideline be adequately justified and reported.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense is preparing a revised DOD Directive 1215.8, which will address unit viability, including annual production and justification for retention of non-viable units. The directive was published in August 1993.

    Recommendation: To ensure that the services meet their future needs for ROTC officers as efficiently as possible, the Secretary of Defense should suspend the requirement for officer basic training for the Army's individual ready reserve (IRR) members until those officers are needed to serve on active duty or in reserve or National Guard units. To accomplish this objective, the Secretary should seek temporary relief from the legislative requirement that provides for this training. The Secretary should also consider whether the involuntary release of ROTC participants offers the Army greater advantages than placing those people in IRR.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: According to a legal opinion issued by the Assistant General Counsel for Personnel and Health, elimination or reduction of initial officer basic training for newly commissioned ROTC graduates assigned to the IRR would violate the direction of 50 U.S.C. Appendix 456(D)(1).

    Recommendation: To ensure that the services meet their future needs for ROTC officers as efficiently as possible, the Secretary of Defense should develop and implement a comprehensive strategy to ensure that ROTC resources are used and distributed as efficiently as possible within the framework of all sources of new officers, including the service academies and officer candidate programs. This strategy should address the total program enrollment, the types and quantities of technical skills needed, the scholarship and non-scholarship mix, the number of units, unit staffing, headquarters staffing, and other program elements. Such a strategy should create a framework for meeting service goals cost-effectively and should include analyses of external factors affecting the program.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD is developing a comprehensive strategy that will address the appropriate contribution of each of the principal sources of officers to annual commissions. This strategy will be included in revised DOD Directive 1215.8, which was published in August 1993.

    Recommendation: Because of DOD continued failure to develop and implement and regain top management attention for standardized cost reporting for ROTC, the Secretary of Defense should identify the lack of a standardized cost-reporting system for ROTC as a material weakness in the next annual assurance statement.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The lack of a standardized cost-reporting system for ROTC was identified as a material weakness in the 1991 annual assurance statement.

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