DOD Service Academies:

Improved Cost and Performance Monitoring Needed

NSIAD-91-79: Published: Jul 16, 1991. Publicly Released: Jul 26, 1991.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the management and the operations of three Department of Defense (DOD) service academies, focusing on the: (1) academies' cost-reporting systems; (2) academic programs; (3) assignment, performance, and retention of academy graduates; and (4) effectiveness of external oversight.

GAO found that: (1) in fiscal year (FY) 1989, the reported costs per graduate were $228,500 at the Military Academy, $153,200 at the Naval Academy, and $225,500 at the Air Force Academy, and were 3 to 4 times more expensive than the average cost per graduate from the Reserve Officer Training Corps scholarship program and 8 to 15 times more expensive than an Officer Candidate School or Officer Training School graduate; (2) since no uniform guidance existed regarding academy cost-reporting, academies' financial reports were erroneous and did not include all relevant costs, resulting in an understatement of costs by a total of about $37 million for FY 1989; (3) many military instructors at the academies lacked the academic credentials and the teaching experience of their civilian counterparts at comparable institutions; (4) the military status of instructors made them subject to duty rotation, contributing to continuous faculty turnover and an annual influx of inexperienced teachers; (5) the considerable time demands of military and physical training left students with inadequate time to pursue academic excellence; (6) although academy graduates tend to stay in the service longer and progress at a faster rate than other officers, less than half of the academy graduates stayed in the service for a full career, and were represented in disproportionate numbers at flag rank; and (7) DOD and the services lack an effective system for overseeing academy management and operations.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The ASD (FM&P) Directorate of Accessions Policy has been made the focal point.

    Recommendation: To strengthen the oversight of the service academies, the Secretary of Defense should establish a focal point within OSD to routinely monitor the academies from a DOD perspective.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD did not agree that the system needs reevaluation and it does not intend to act on this recommendation.

    Recommendation: To strengthen the oversight of the service academies, the Secretary of Defense should evaluate alternative means of providing external oversight and advice to the academies.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

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

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the services to develop the means to assess the effectiveness of the academies' programs. Program effectiveness measures would also be applicable to the other officer commissioning programs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD is conducting its own review of these issues.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the academies to report what they are doing to address the issues of faculty credentials, faculty turnover, and student time demands.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD agreed and directed the academies to report this data beginning at the end of FY 1992.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the academies to annually report their staffing levels and capital investment costs in addition to their operating costs and cost-per-graduate.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD has developed revised guidance.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Comptroller, Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), to assist the academies in developing appropriate guidance for uniform reporting of all costs that the academies incur.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD agreed to direct the increased audit and IG attention.

    Recommendation: To strengthen the oversight of the service academies, the Secretary of Defense should direct the service secretaries to ensure that audit agencies and inspectors general give more frequent attention to the service academies.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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