Air Force Depot Maintenance:

Management Changes Would Improve Implementation of Reform Initiatives

NSIAD-99-63: Published: Jun 25, 1999. Publicly Released: Jun 25, 1999.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO assessed the progress of the Air Force's depot maintenance reform initiatives to improve the efficiency and responsiveness of its industrial operations.

GAO noted that: (1) the Air Force is now implementing all three enhancement initiatives at its logistics centers, but the extent of implementation has varied; (2) the Air Force's plans established broad goals of increased operational efficiency and reduced costs, as well as an approach to implementing the initiatives; (3) however, the plans do not include specific criteria for determining that the initiatives are successfully achieving stated goals; (4) likewise, the Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC) did not establish clear and consistent measures to facilitate tracking progress and assessing the initiatives' success; (5) therefore, limited data are available to quantify the initiatives' success in achieving desired goals such as expediting repairs and reducing costs; and (6) to the extent data were available, they indicated mixed results.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Air Force is testing best commercial supply practices through prime vendor initiatives at its logistics centers. Based on an industrial prime vendor test that was completed in January 2002, the Air Force reported that solutions were being analyzed for three of the six primary constraints to effective supply management that already have been identified. Proposed solutions for the remaining three constraints have been identified and are being analyzed.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to require AFMC to refine and improve its implementation and management of the three reengineering initiatives by developing and implementing improved strategies for providing more effective supply support to depot maintenance customers, including the exploration of prime vendor or other best inventory management practices and agreements with the Air Force Supply Group and the Defense Logistics Agency.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In modernizing automated management information systems, the Air Force stated that its modernization is being done in accordance with the Clinger/Cohen Act guidelines and is being linked directly to support the three reengineering initiatives. Modernization of the G337 Inventory Tracking System reported as completed in February 2002. Deployment of DOD Contract Asset Visibility Program is scheduled for October 2004.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to require AFMC to refine and improve its implementation and management of the three reengineering initiatives by upgrading automated management information systems needed to support the initiatives in keeping with the Department of Defense and Clinger/Cohen Act requirements associated with acquiring information systems support and ensuring year 2000 compliance.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Air Force has recognized that developing a workforce that has multiple skills is a key to the future success of its depots. Its April 2000 report, "Sustaining the Sword," established a baseline for transitioning and shaping the future workforce that will be the centerpiece for managing human capital resources to meet future Air Force business needs. The plan is responsive to this recommendation in that it includes a strategic objective to develop a qualified, flexible workforce by 2005. Part of that objective is the developing of a multi-skilled workforce of employees to enable them to be more productive and responsive.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to require AFMC to refine and improve its implementation and management of the three reengineering initiatives by developing and implementing a transition plan to ensure sufficient numbers of trained multiskilled personnel are available to meet requirements and produce needed operational efficiencies.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Air Force has made its repair enhancement programs standard business processes at each of its air logistics centers. Air Force Instructions for the depot repair enhancement process were issued in March 2001. Instructions for the Aircraft Enhancement Program are expected to be finalized by December 2001. Compliance assistance visits to all three air logistics centers were completed in August 2001. The Air Force also has developed specific action plans to address any requests to deviate from the standard organizational structures and processes.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to require AFMC to refine and improve its implementation and management of the three reengineering initiatives by assessing progress in implementing the standardized organizational structures and processes and the extent to which they are achieving the objectives of better teamwork.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Air Force has met the intent of the recommendation by determining that the three reengineering initiatives will be applied to all items that have an active repair requirement. Items that will be included are those with a forecasted repair requirement, and those that are on a current work order.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to require AFMC to refine and improve its implementation and management of the three reengineering initiatives by determining the extent to which the enhancement initiatives should be applied to all reparable items to ensure optimum benefits.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Air Force states that an implementation plan is no longer necessary because the Air Force has completed the implementation phase of the reengineering project and are now in the compliance phase. Nonetheless, the Air Force has met the intent of this recommendation by developing criteria and metrics to evaluate the extent to which the three reengineering initiatives are successfully achieving stated goals and desired results.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to require AFMC to refine and improve its implementation and management of the three reengineering initiatives by developing an implementation plan that details the specific criteria for determining if the initiatives are successfully achieving stated goals and desired results.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: To avoid funding shortfalls, the Air Force has made a commitment to budget for the most accurate estimates of operating costs, including costs for implementing productivity initiatives and estimates of expected savings. To guard against premature reductions, the Air Force has taken the approach that operating accounts will not be reduced until reduced spending can be quantified. The Air Force believes that these actions are necessary to avoid budgeting for a higher level of expenses than will occur and needlessly diverting scarce resources from valid, high-priority Air Force requirements.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to require AFMC to refine and improve its implementation and management of the three reengineering initiatives by reassessing the extent to which costs have been fully identified and budgeted to avoid funding shortfalls and to ensure that operating funds are not prematurely reduced in anticipation of savings from the initiatives.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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