Civil Military Programs:

Stronger Oversight of the Innovative Readiness Training Program Needed for Better Compliance

NSIAD-98-84: Published: Mar 12, 1998. Publicly Released: Mar 12, 1998.

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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO reviewed the Department of Defense's (DOD) training projects that support nondefense activities, focusing on the: (1) extent, nature, and cost of civil military projects; (2) consistency of DOD's guidance on the Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) Program with statutory requirements; (3) conformity of selected projects to statutory requirements, especially those dealing with military training; and (4) effectiveness of the Office of the Secretary of Defense's (OSD) and service secretaries' oversight of such projects.

GAO noted that: (1) DOD does not know the full extent and nature of the IRT program because some project information is not consistently compiled and reported; (2) furthermore, although DOD knows the amount of supplemental funds spent on the program, it does not know the full cost of the program because the services and components do not capture those costs, which are absorbed from their own appropriations; (3) available records indicate that at least 129 projects were conducted in fiscal year (FY) 1997 and that most of these were engineering, infrastructure, or medical projects; (4) the DOD directive for civil military projects is consistent with the statutory requirements for such projects; (5) specifically, it reiterates the statutory requirements and provides further delineation of how the projects are to be selected and implemented; (6) the directive does not, however, provide any additional guidance for military organizations to use in meeting the statutory requirement that the provision of assistance not result in a significant increase in the cost of training; (7) the six projects GAO reviewed generally met the statutory requirements; (8) for example, the benefitting organizations were eligible for the assistance and the provision of assistance did not interfere with units' or individuals' military functions; (9) however, while the statute requires that individuals providing assistance perform tasks directly related to their military specialties, GAO found that in two cases some individuals' tasks were not directly related to their specialties; (10) thus, it appeared that the goal of completing a project took priority over the goal of providing valid military training; (11) in addition, GAO could not determine whether the assistance had resulted in a significant increase in the cost of training for any of the six projects because DOD has established no basis for making such a determination; (12) OSD has provided limited and inconsistent oversight of IRT projects and the delivery of support and services under them; (13) for the most part, OSD limited oversight to those projects that received supplemental program funding; (14) even for those projects, OSD did not always follow its own processes for ensuring that statutory requirements for civil military projects were met and did not have procedures in place to ensure that military organizations were not providing assistance that significantly increased training costs; and (15) the service secretaries have not established any additional formal oversight procedures.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Program guidance was revised to reflect that OSD will not approve incomplete applications and that a memorandum of agreement is an essential part of project approval. OSD officials told GAO that they are complying with these oversight procedures.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should take action to manage the IRT program to comply with the oversight procedures that have been established. Specifically, when projects require supplemental IRT funding, sponsors should have submitted applications with the required information and OSD and the sponsoring organizations should have developed memorandums of agreement.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: OSD officials told GAO that they have completed action on this recommendation. They provided a copy of the revised guidance which requires the preparation and submission of after-action reports within a designated time frame for all projects.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should take action to manage the IRT program to comply with the oversight procedures that have been established. Specifically, DOD's directive should be clarified to explicitly require the preparation and submission of after-action reports within a designated time frame for all projects, not just those requiring supplemental IRT funding.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: OSD officials told GAO that they have completed action on this recommendation. They provided a copy of guidance directing the service secretaries to define what constitutes an increase in the cost of training and what represents a significant increase associated with IRT projects. The guidance also provides instructions on setting out the costs for joint projects.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should establish guidance for making cost determinations for joint projects and directing the service secretaries to define what constitutes an increase in the cost of training and what represents a "significant increase" in training costs associated with IRT projects.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: OSD officials told GAO that they have completed action on this recommendation. They provided a copy of the FY1999 application for IRT projects. This application provides a clear indication that such a determination has been made.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should modify OSD program oversight procedures to ensure that a determination has been made as to whether an increase in training costs is significant.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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