Mission Item Essentiality:

An Important Management Tool for Making More Informed Logistics Decisions

PLRD-82-25: Published: Jan 13, 1982. Publicly Released: Jan 13, 1982.

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The military services could make more informed logistics decisions in determining peacetime and wartime requirements, allocating resources, and setting repair priorities by ensuring that the more essential items receive increased management attention and funding priorities. GAO previously reported on the need for considering essentiality in determining war reserve requirements and safety levels. In response, the Air Force advised that it had developed a coding system which linked item essentiality to mission essentiality. GAO made this review to determine the extent to which the system had been implemented, what benefits had resulted, and whether the system could be used by the other services.

The Air Force has taken the lead in developing an essentiality system, and the Department of Defense (DOD) issued a concept paper which generally adopted the Air Force's approach as a suggested model for the other services to follow. Although DOD is the prime mover behind the services developing an essentiality-based logistics system, it has allowed the services to proceed at their own pace and to use their own approach for developing such a system. As a result, the Army has done little to develop an essentiality-based logistics system, and the Navy has approached the system from the user level. The lack of a coordinated approach has resulted in each service approaching the objective from different directions and, based on the slow progress to date, it is questionable if the services will achieve the objective within the near future. GAO believes that a fragmented approach such as this is not likely to result in a uniform item essentiality system that will play a meaningful role in the requirements determination process at the wholesale inventory level.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should orchestrate the efforts of the services in developing and implementing an essentiality-based logistics system.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should establish milestones for accomplishment of each of the tasks identified in the concept paper and monitor the services' progress in achieving these milestones.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to develop essentiality coding criteria which would make the coding system more responsive and would permit the logistics system to better meet user needs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to develop essentiality coding criteria which would make the coding system more responsive and would permit the logistics system to better meet user needs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Air Force

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to regularly review the relationship between item essentiality and system essentiality to identify and reconcile inconsistencies in these relationships.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to regularly review the relationship between item essentiality and system essentiality to identify and reconcile inconsistencies in these relationships.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Air Force

 

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