Small Arms Parts:

Poor Controls Invite Widespread Theft

NSIAD-94-21: Published: Nov 18, 1993. Publicly Released: Nov 18, 1993.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Army and the Army National Guard's controls over small arms parts within the military supply system.

GAO found that: (1) many thefts and attempted thefts of small arms parts have occurred over the past 5 years; (2) the common factor in these thefts has been the involvement of military personnel; (3) military small arms parts are readily available to the public at gun shows, and it is likely that these small parts are stolen property; (4) thefts are undetected because of inadequate management, physical security, and computer system controls that hide thefts; (5) at the six sites reviewed, key supply and repair duties are not separated, requisitions for repair parts are not reviewed on a regular basis, and inventory documentation is incomplete; (6) serious vulnerabilities in computer system controls have enabled military personnel to steal parts; and (7) adequate security and system controls are essential to ensure total system integrity from origination of source documents through final disposition of products.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), the U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM) and the National Guard Bureau (NGB) reported that corrective actions are in place for all deficiencies noted during the GAO audit. Validation from NGB was completed in August 1994 with a Command Logistics Review Team visit to the Michigan Army National Guard. TRADOC reports that the Fort Benning installation supply warehouse is operating under a waiver condition due to facility shortcomings. FORSCOM reports all corrective actions are in place and have been validated.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to ensure that the deficiencies GAO found at each of the six sites are corrected.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Army systems are developed with DOD approval of requirements. As improved technology becomes available, better security features are added to minimize the potential for illegal manipulation of systems. When the Army Standard Automated Retail Supply System-1-Interim transitions to off-the-shelf hardware in the fourth quarter of FY 1994, the problems associated with system password control and automatic logoff will be corrected. Furthermore, the Small Arms Task Force's Business Action Plan, approved by the Army Vice Chief of Staff on December 6, 1994, recommended automation changes that would improve the management of ordering and controlling small arms parts. The Task Force will track and validate required actions taken by responsible agencies.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to ensure that adequate controls and safeguards are built into the computer systems used for ordering and controlling repair parts at the retail level, such as controlling and updating the password system.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In November 1993, the Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Plans provided written guidance to Army major command Provost Marshals and the Chief, National Guard Bureau, reemphasizing the need for physical security inspections on installations with small arms repair activities. Compliance with physical security requirements was an element of the special inspection conducted by the Army Inspector General. Finally, in January 1994, the Army directed commanders to incorporate small arms parts surveillance into their command inspection program.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to direct local commanders to reemphasize the importance of maintaining physical security over small arms parts and all government property and ensure that minimum procedures are being followed.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Significant efforts have been undertaken through a multidisciplinary Small Arms Task Force (Army). A comprehensive Business Action Plan was approved on December 6, 1994, and monitoring is planned by the Task Force. In January 1994, the Army issued a message directing commanders to enforce existing logistics and physical security policy on small arms parts. Inspections by the Army Inspector General assessed, among other things, policy compliance in this area. The Command Logistics Review Team of the Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics has also made this area an item of special interest during its fiscal year (FY) 1994 assistance visits to the field. The Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics also published a "stewardship alert" message in January 1994 highlighting the findings, recommendations, and corrective actions pertaining to the GAO report and emphasizing security and accountability of small arms parts.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to enforce the existing regulations governing small arms parts and other equipment at all levels of the supply and repair systems.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The review of the thoroughness and validity of the Financial Managers' Financial Integrity Act annual feeder statements by the 6 active Army and National Guard units specified in the GAO report has been completed by the Army. The NGB concluded that feeder statements submitted by its 3 states were not thorough and provided adequate support for those conditions. This review, along with expanded reporting of the problem in the Army's FY 1993 Annual Statement and the ongoing efforts of the Small Arms Task Force, have resulted in an increased emphasis on the control of small arms parts in these 6 units, their parent organizations, and throughout the Army.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to examine the thoroughness and validity of the Federal Managers' Financial Integrity Act reports submitted by various units.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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