Defense Inventory:

Depot Packing and Shipping Procedures

NSIAD-93-3: Published: Dec 7, 1992. Publicly Released: Jan 8, 1993.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Defense's (DOD) packaging and packing practices, focusing on: (1) the Defense Logistics Agency's (DLA) avoidance of unnecessary costs by consolidating shipments going to the same destination at the same time; (2) depots' efficiency and cost-effectiveness in packing and shipping supply items; and (3) the military services' recycling of discarded shipping materials.

GAO found that: (1) DLA routinely consolidated low priority orders when appropriate, but under DOD regulations, it could not consolidate the 11 percent of orders that had the highest priority; (2) one depot shipped items to specific installations at regular intervals in dedicated trucks and without regard to their priority level, which resulted in occasional delayed shipments of priority items and the early delivery of routine orders; (3) individual packing did not usually make delivery faster, since all orders for a particular destination tended to arrive at the same time; (4) customers believed that the use of single large containers for multiple orders would reduce lost or misdirected shipments; (5) one DLA depot estimated it could save $250,000 annually by consolidating high priority orders; (6) consolidation of the highest priority orders would have little effect on timeliness of delivery; (7) in general, DLA depots efficiently and cost-effectively packed and consolidated orders; (8) the Navy required that shipboard items be packed in fire-retardant containers, but most of the special containers were discarded before the items were taken aboard due to space limitations; (9) DLA depots regularly downgraded orders that did not require premium transportation to save money; (10) the Army's new supply system automatically added the code for premium transportation on high priority requisitions that did not have a specific delivery date; (11) DLA depots too often overpacked small single items; and (12) the services' emphasis on recycling shipping materials varied from required recycling to voluntary recycling to no recycling at all.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not 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 change the regulations to allow DLA depots to consolidate the highest priority orders going to the same customer on the same day.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Not 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 require the Secretary of the Navy to reassess the Navy's policy which requires fire retardant protection for all shipboard items.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Not 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 require the Secretary of the Army to take action, before the Standardized Army Retail Supply System is installed worldwide, to delete the system's automated procedure, which inserts a code for premium transportation when the customer requisition fails to state the date the materiel is needed.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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