Management of DOD's Shelf-Life Program--Better, but Still in Need of Improvement

PLRD-82-84: Published: May 25, 1982. Publicly Released: May 25, 1982.

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GAO reviewed the management of the Department of Defense (DOD) Shelf-Life Program which covers supply items with inventories valued at about $1 billion.

Since the last review, DOD has appointed an Administrator with overall responsibility for the Shelf-Life Program, and DOD has taken other initiatives to improve program management. GAO found that the ability of the Administrator and other interested parties to evaluate the program's effectiveness is hampered because a critically needed management reporting system has not been implemented. Such a critically needed management reporting system intended to overcome this problem has been allowed to slip far beyond its originally anticipated completion date. This reporting system would significantly enhance the Shelf-Life Program Administrator's capability to fulfill his responsibilities. One of the primary goals of the DOD Shelf-Life Program is to minimize the risk of shelf-life expiration before issuance, that is to keep disposal of shelf-life material to a minimum. Inconsistent and ineffective management practices continue to impair the shelf-life program. Other continuing problems exist because: (1) inventory control points (ICP) make many errors when designating items for inclusion in the program; (2) the Air Force storage activities do not apply shelf-life management controls to many items designated for shelf-life management by non-Air-Force ICP's; (3) military storage activities have not corrected longstanding deficient shelf-life management practices, although these deficiencies have been reported many times.

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 direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Manpower, Reserve Affairs and Logistics) to make sure the shelf-life management reporting system is implemented without further delay.

    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 direct the Secretary of the Air Force and the Administrator of the Shelf-Life Program to jointly evaluate the costs and benefits the Air Force's policy of not employing intensive management procedures for many items designated as shelf-life items by various ICP's. If the Air Force policy is cost effective, it should be adopted DOD-wide; if not, the Air Force should abandon the policy.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

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

    Recommendation: To improve the accuracy of shelf-life designations assigned by ICP's, the Secretaries of the military services and the Director of the Defense Logistics Agency should require their ICP's to implement formal programs to: (1) thoroughly review contractor recommendations regarding the shelf life of items entering the supply system; and (2) periodically reevaluate assigned shelf-life designations of items in the supply systems to validate the need for continued shelf-life controls.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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