Department of Defense Food Service Program Needs Contracting and Management Improvements

PLRD-82-3: Published: Oct 20, 1981. Publicly Released: Oct 20, 1981.

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In view of the magnitude of the Department of Defense's Food Service Program and ever-rising food costs, GAO reviewed how well the program is working by visiting dining facilities at selected military installations.

The Department of Defense (DOD) and the military services do not have an effective common means of measuring contracting cost and performance and comparing contracted operations between military services, bases of the same service, and dining facilities on the same base. GAO also found indications that the food cost index, which is the basis for the budgetary control device known as the basic daily food allowance, may be higher than necessary to provide the specified daily quantities of meat and beverages. This generosity and the "use it or lose it" mentality encourages lax food accountability and fosters waste and abuse. Daily head counts of the number of people being fed, multiplied by the allowance, results in funding available for the food service operations. GAO also found problems in controlling the head counts and stopping unauthorized persons from eating free meals. In addition, GAO found that the program had weak and ineffective top-level management and direction. Further, because the funds to run the program come from a variety of appropriations, the DOD accounting systems do not segregate and accumulate overall food service costs. As a result, total program costs are not available. DOD recognized this problem over 10 years ago; however, it still has not solved it.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should establish a functional budget and accounting category entitled Food Service within DOD and the military services for segregating and accumulating total costs for the DOD Food Service Program.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should take actions to improve the internal control over food inventories and only allow access to dining facilities by authorized people.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD has conducted an extensive study and developed a legislative proposal, The Uniform Ration Law, which is supported by GAO and would satisfy the recommendation if passed by Congress.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should require the development of a food cost index which is based on the actual items and costs of food used by military dining facilities. This would mean not starting with the value of the old ration, but developing a new cost index based on the food that is actually served, considering nutritional requirements, customer preferences, food utilization patterns, and economic factors.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should take appropriate actions that will remind contracting officers that comprehensive preaward surveys of potential food service contractors should be made in sufficient detail to reveal potential problem areas and to identify marginal or unsatisfactory past contractor performance.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should take appropriate actions that will reemphasize the need to consider recent past experience as well as anticipated major personnel changes in preparing the estimates of the number of meals to minimize unrealistic contract bids and proposals, unprogramed cost increases, and contractor claims and disputes.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should take appropriate actions that will provide for retaining adequately documented inspection records supporting contract payments long enough to enable contract administrators and auditors to verify that the Government received the services paid for.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should take appropriate actions that will require that the current DOD efforts in developing and testing improved food service contract methods provide for: (1) uniform statements of work for full food service, dining facility attendants, and food preparation; (2) common units of measure (preferably the meal); (3) uniform meal volume adjustment formulas; (4) measurable performance standards; (5) inspection provisions requiring adequate documentation; and (6) equitable deduction rates for unacceptable contractor performance.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  8. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should develop and implement a management information system for the DOD Food Service Program that would include program costs, contract costs, and performance data.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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