Federal Actions Needed To Retain Essential Defense Rail Service

PLRD-83-73: Published: May 20, 1983. Publicly Released: May 20, 1983.

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Henry W. Connor
(202) 275-4141
contact@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

GAO examined the Department of Defense's (DOD) and the Department of Transportation's (DOT) efforts to: (1) maintain minimum levels of rail service at defense installations; and (2) identify and correct rail deficiencies.

Despite the conclusions of a DOD study which determined that the condition of network and branch rail lines was satisfactory for national defense, GAO found that the number of military installations confronted with the potential loss of rail service is growing and that there may be a need for congressional action to ensure that minimum essential rail service is retained for mobilization needs. Although DOD is spending millions of dollars to improve rail capabilities at its installations, DOD cannot be assured that the rail network will move the required defense materiel and equipment during mobilization. GAO believes that the case-by-case basis by which DOD presently solves its maintenance service problems on branch lines could prove costly and ineffective in the long run. GAO also believes that DOD must determine the minimum amount of rail capability needed and routinely explore the alternatives and their costs with DOT. GAO found that: (1) the data on transportation movement capability reported by installations contained conflicting information; (2) some planned projects, if funded, would result in capabilities beyond what the services estimate would be needed during mobilization; and (3) a DOD concept of using motor convoys as a method of moving equipment has not been subject to extensive analysis and testing. Consequently, its feasibility and practicality for long distance transportation during mobilization are uncertain.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD and DOT met on November 22, 1983, to reevaluate national rail policy versus defense rail needs. DOT policy and DOD needs proved mutually supportive. The minimum network important to DOD was identified, as were abandonment options, costs, and impact. Funding was determined to be adequate.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should explore the options for retaining the minimum essential rail service to defense installations with mobilization missions and develop a comprehensive policy to ensure such service is retained. This policy should address issues such as: (1) alternatives and their costs to meet defense mobilization movement needs; (2) minimal essential rail service needs; (3) the amount of funding required to ensure this minimal level; and (4) the need for any legislative changes to ensure that essential rail services to installations are retained. The Secretary should also establish milestones for these actions and alert the appropriate congressional committees if existing statutes or policies would adversely affect completion of these actions.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD and DOT met on November 22, 1983, to reevaluate national rail policy versus defense rail needs. DOT policy and DOD needs proved mutually supportive. The minimum network important to DOD was identified, as were abandonment options, costs, and impact. Funding was determined to be adequate.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should explore the options for retaining the minimum essential rail service to defense installations with mobilization missions and develop a comprehensive policy to ensure such service is retained. This policy should address issues such as: (1) alternatives and their costs to meet defense mobilization movement needs; (2) minimal essential rail needs; (3) amount of funding required to ensure this minimal level; and (4) need for any legislative changes to ensure essential rail services to installations are retained. The Secretary should also establish milestones for these actions and alert the appropriate congressional committees if existing statutes or policies would adversely affect completion of these actions.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Parts one and three of this recommendation were completed and verified. The Construction Engineering Laboratory completed its study of the types of rail needed and provided this information to Forces Command. Actions to prioritize and justify rail repair projects are in process. The Laboratory study is being used in conjunction with deployment plans to identify and upgrade rail facilities.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should: (1) modify DOD reporting requirements to ensure that defense installations accurately report their outloading and receiving capabilities to meet peacetime and mobilization movement needs and identify the key constraining factors; (2) establish procedures to ensure rail maintenance projects are appropriately justified and cost-effective; and (3) reevaluate the feasibility and practicality of DOD movement criteria to include road marching vehicles for distances up to 800 miles.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Sep 22, 2016

Sep 21, 2016

Sep 19, 2016

Sep 12, 2016

Sep 8, 2016

Sep 7, 2016

Sep 6, 2016

Aug 25, 2016

Looking for more? Browse all our products here