Military Readiness:

Congress Needs Better Tools for Effective Oversight

T-NSIAD-98-124: Published: Mar 18, 1998. Publicly Released: Mar 18, 1998.

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GAO discussed the Department of Defense's (DOD) process for assessing and reporting on military readiness, focusing on: (1) what corrective action DOD has taken to improve its readiness assessment system; (2) whether military readiness reports provided quarterly to Congress effectively support congressional oversight; and (3) whether further improvements are needed to DOD's process.

GAO noted that: (1) over the last few years, DOD has taken action to improve readiness assessment; (2) DOD has made technical enhancements to the Status of Resources and Training System (SORTS)--the automated system it uses to assess readiness at the unit level; (3) DOD also has established two forums--the Joint Monthly Readiness Review and the Senior Readiness Oversight Council--for evaluating readiness from a joint and strategic perspective; (4) however, SORTS remains the basic building block for readiness assessment, and inherent limitations to this system, such as its inability to signal impending changes in readiness and its imprecise ratings for unit resources and training, may be reflected in reviews at the joint and strategic levels; (5) DOD's quarterly reports to Congress, which are based on information provided to the Senior Readiness Oversight Council, provide only a vague description of readiness deficiencies and planned remedial actions; consequently, in their present form they are not as effective as they could be as a congressional oversight tool; (6) DOD is required to expand on these reports beginning in October 1998 by adding indicators mandated by Congress; (7) GAO has concerns about DOD's current plans for implementing this expanded reporting requirement; (8) for example, current plans do not present a clear picture of how the additional readiness will be incorporated into the quarterly report; (9) GAO's work has identified two areas in which DOD can improve its readiness reporting to Congress; (10) DOD should provide more specific descriptions and supporting information for the key readiness deficiencies and planned remedial actions identified in its quarterly report; and (11) DOD can make improvements to its current plans for adding readiness indicators to the quarterly report.

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