Naval Ship Donation:

Existing Procedures Inadequate for the Use of Additional Evaluation Criteria

NSIAD-97-180: Published: Aug 15, 1997. Publicly Released: Aug 15, 1997.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the facts surrounding the donation of the U.S.S. Missouri to the U.S.S. Missouri Memorial Association, focusing on the: (1) process of applying for the ship; (2) evaluation criteria and weighting used to evaluate the applications; and (3) use of the criteria and weighting in the selection process.

GAO noted that: (1) the Navy began the donation process for the U.S.S. Missouri in the same manner as prior donations, by requesting financial and technical information from the applicants and working with applicants to help ensure that their applications would satisfy the Navy's financial and technical requirements; (2) subsequently, the Navy decided that, with respect to the U.S.S. Missouri, additional evaluation criteria, "historical significance" and "public affairs benefits to the Navy," were needed to assist the Secretary of the Navy in making the donation decision among four of five applicants that met the Navy's financial and technical requirements; (3) this was the first time such additional criteria were used in any donation selection process; (4) while the donation process appears to have been impartially applied, and all applicants were provided the same information on the additional criteria at the same time, the Navy did not do a good job in communicating its additional requirements to the applicants; (5) specifically, applicants were not told: (a) what the relative importance of the evaluation criteria was in the process (the added criteria actually represented 75 percent of the donation award weight); (b) what the added evaluation criteria meant; or (c) how well already submitted applications met the added criteria; (6) these factors were particularly important because the Navy's evaluation teams were told to base their scoring only on the information contained in the applications; (7) as a result, the Navy evaluation teams found that the applications had limited information that could be applied against the added criteria; (8) according to some applicants, had they known that the additional criteria carried so much weight, they would have revised their applications; (9) what appears to have been an otherwise open process with clear communications and frequent interaction between the Navy and the applicants for the U.S.S. Missouri was not with respect to the additional two criteria; (10) the Secretary of the Navy, by statute, has broad discretion in making ship donation decisions; (11) the Navy's existing donation application procedures are designed for assessing applicants in terms of their financial and technical capabilities to move and sustain a vessel; and (12) when additional criteria beyond financial and technical requirements are used and applicants are asked to submit information to address them, existing application procedures do not provide guidance on how the Navy should proceed.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Navy's position is that there is already in place a process that maximizes both communication and flexibility.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Navy should establish written procedures to require that, whenever the Navy decides to ask applicants to submit information to address additional criteria, the Navy communicate to applicants, at the earliest possible date, necessary information that, at a minimum, includes the criteria that will be used to evaluate the applications, the relative importance of the criteria in the final selection, and clear definitions of what the criteria mean.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Navy says it already established a process to work with donation applicants to resolve the issues which arise during the application process. The Navy agrees to continue to communicate to prospective applicants the areas the Navy will analyze to determine whether the applicant is eligible to receive a donated ship.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Navy should establish written procedures to require that, whenever the Navy decides to ask applicants to submit information to address additional criteria, the Navy work with applicants to increase the likelihood that applications will adequately address the additional criteria, as has been the Navy's practice in the financial and technical areas.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy

 

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