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    Subject Term: "Aircraft maintenance"

    5 publications with a total of 16 open recommendations including 1 priority recommendation
    Director: Zina Merritt
    Phone: (202) 512-5257

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that DOD's biennial core reporting procedures align with the reporting requirements in Section 2464 and each reporting agency provides accurate and complete information, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics to update DOD's guidance--in particular DOD Instruction 4151.20--to require future Biennial Core Reports to include instructions to the reporting agencies on how to (1) report additional depot workload performed that has not been identified as a core requirement, (2) accurately capture inter-service workload, (3) calculate shortfalls, and (4) estimate the cost of planned workload.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To increase the transparency of future Biennial Core Reports, Congress should consider amending 10 USC 2464 to require DOD to include information such as (1) workload shortfalls at lower-level categories; (2) executed workload in similar categories that could be used to mitigate shortfalls; (3) progress on implementing mitigation plans; (4) data reported at the first-level category of the work breakdown structure, except for when shortfalls are identified; (5) explanations for first-level categories (i.e., Special Interest Items and Other) of the work breakdown structure; and (6) whether the core requirements reported in the previous Biennial Core Report have been executed.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we determine what steps the Congress has taken, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Cary Russell
    Phone: (202) 512-5431

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that annual training plans are aligned with the Air Force's stated goals to ensure that its forces can successfully achieve missions across a broad range of current and emerging threats, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to comprehensively reassess the assumptions underlying its annual training requirements--including, but not limited to, the total annual training requirements by aircraft, the criteria for designating aircrews as experienced or inexperienced, and the mix between live and simulator training--and make any appropriate adjustments in future training plans.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Air Force has taken steps to address this recommendation. As of August 2017, Air Force officials identified a recently completed study, as well as an ongoing study, intended to reassess the assumptions underlying its annual training requirements for fighter aircrews. For example, Air Force officials stated a study was completed in August 2017 reassessing the criteria for designating aircrews as experienced or inexperienced for 4th generation fighter aircraft. In addition, Air Force officials stated that there is an ongoing study to define the optimum mix of annual training requirements for fighter aircrews. These officials stated that an initial briefing of the study results will be provided to Air Force senior leaders in September 2017. Completion of these studies and the corresponding adjustments to annual training requirements should help the Air Force ensure that their training plans are aligned to achieve a range of missions for current and emerging threats as recommended by GAO in its September 2016 report.
    Recommendation: To improve the Air Force's ability to consistently monitor training results and better position it to allocate resources to address factors that limit the effectiveness of training, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to establish desired learning objectives and training support elements needed to accomplish the training expectations in its annual Ready Aircrew Program tasking memorandums, and develop a process to collect data to assess the effectiveness of annual training against these features.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of August 2017, no executive action has been taken. When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To improve the Air Force's ability to develop the capabilities needed to meet its virtual training needs, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to continue to refine its planning for virtual training to incorporate the desirable characteristics of a comprehensive strategy, including developing a risk-based investment strategy that identifies and prioritizes capability needs and includes a time line for addressing them.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Air Force has taken steps to address this recommendation. As of August 2017, Air Force officials stated that the service is in the process of updating its Air Force Operational Training Infrastructure 2035 Flight Plan. This plan will be accompanied by an infrastructure funding strategy and classified supplement. These officials stated that among these three documents the Air Force will incorporate all of the desirable characteristics of a comprehensive strategy. Air Force officials estimate that these documents will be finalized in the fall of 2017. Completion of these documents should help the Air Force incorporate the desirable characteristics of a comprehensive strategy and better enable the Air Force to acquire virtual training devices based on sound requirements and priorities, as recommended by GAO in its September 2016.
    Director: Dillingham, Gerald L
    Phone: (202) 512-28334

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance FAA's risk-based approach for oversight of repair stations, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration to develop and implement a process in Flight Standards for incorporating into SAS the volume of critical maintenance that each U.S. airline contracts to repair stations.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: FAA did not concur with this recommendation. In July 2017, GAO confirmed that FAA does not plan to implement the recommendation because the agency believes the subjective nature of volume of work makes it an ineffective risk indicator. While FAA does not specifically assess volume of work as a primary factor in determining risk at repair stations, the agency does monitor many risks factors as primary risk indicators. Many of these risk indicators are associated with important aspects of work volume such as high workforce turnover; changes in management; rapid growth or downsizing; changes in aircraft complexity/programs; financial conditions; age of fleet and increases in aircraft discrepancies. FAA considers these factors and the criticality of a specific maintenance action on the safe operation of an aircraft to be primary risk indicators.
    Recommendation: To enhance FAA's risk-based approach for oversight of repair stations, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration to develop and implement an evaluative process with measurable performance goals and measures to determine the effectiveness of SAS as the SMS safety assurance component.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2017, GAO confirmed that FAA plans to develop overall program goals and metrics as part of the next implementation phase of its new Safety Assurance System. These metrics are expected to be fully developed based on the final design of the new system and the program requirements identified, which is scheduled to be completed in December 2017.
    Director: Cary Russell
    Phone: (202) 512- 5431

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics to establish a strategic policy that incorporates key elements of leading practices for sound strategic management planning, such as a mission statement and long-term goals, to inform the military services' plans for retrograde and reset to support overseas contingency operations and to improve DOD's response to section 324 of the NDAA for Fiscal Year 2014.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: This recommendation remains open because we found in our review of DOD's second update (GAO-17-530R) that DOD has not established a strategic policy for retrograde and reset consistent with leading practices on sound strategic management planning. Nor has DOD, as of June 2017, selected an appropriate organization to lead the effort on developing such a policy. We continue to believe that our recommendation remains valid because without a strategic policy for retrograde and reset that incorporates key elements of strategic management planning, DOD cannot ensure that its efforts to develop retrograde and reset guidance provide the necessary strategic planning framework to inform the military services' implementation plans for retrograde and reset. A necessary first step, as DOD has indicated and as we stated in our May 2016 report, is the selection of an appropriate organization to lead the development of the policy.
    Recommendation: To enhance the accuracy of budget reporting to Congress, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, in coordination with the DOD Comptroller, to develop and require the use of consistent information and descriptions of key terms regarding retrograde and reset in relevant policy and other guidance.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: This recommendation remains open because we found in our review of DOD's second update (GAO-17-530R) that DOD has not developed and required the use of consistent information and descriptions of key terms regarding retrograde and reset in policy and guidance. Thus, descriptions of retrograde and reset still vary, and the services use the same terms differently. In its written comments on our report, DOD partially concurred with our recommendation and stated that the Financial Management Regulation had recently been updated to include the definitions of both reset and retrograde that will be used to estimate and report Overseas Contingency Operations costs starting in Fiscal Year 2018, referencing the chapter on Contingency Operations. However, contrary to the department's claim, as of April 2017, the Financial Management Regulation chapter regarding Contingency Operations has not been updated since September 2007.21 An official we met with from the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) told us that this office will be updating DOD's Financial Management Regulation to include the expanded definition of reset. According to this official, however, the updated Financial Management Regulation will likely not include a definition for retrograde. As we reported in May 2016, major operations typically involve retrograde. However, the chapter of the DOD Financial Management Regulation specific to contingency operations does not provide a definition of retrograde or include any information describing how retrograde costs should be considered or calculated. We continue to believe that if DOD does not ensure the use of consistent terms--especially retrograde and reset--and descriptions in policy and other departmental documents used to inform budget estimates on retrograde and reset, Congress may not receive the consistent and accurate information that it needs to make informed decisions concerning retrograde and reset.
    Recommendation: To improve Army, Navy, and Air Force planning, budgeting, and execution for retrograde and reset efforts, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force to develop service-specific implementation plans for retrograde and reset that incorporate elements of leading practices for sound strategic management planning, such as strategies that include how a goal will be achieved, how an organization will carry out its mission, and the resources required to meet goals.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: This recommendation remains open because we found in our review of DOD's second update (GAO-17-530R) that the Army, Navy, and Air Force have not yet developed implementation plans for the retrograde and reset of their equipment, according to service officials. As previously discussed, in May 2016 we recommended that the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force develop service-specific implementation plans for retrograde and reset that incorporate elements of leading practices for sound strategic management planning. In its response to our recommendation, DOD partially concurred, stating that the department would determine the appropriate Principal Staff Assistant to lead the development and application of service-related implementation plans. However, as of June 2017, DOD has not identified a lead for this effort. We continue to believe that Army, Navy, and Air Force service-specific implementation plans that articulate goals and strategies for retrograde and reset of equipment, among other things, are important and that reset-related maintenance costs may not consistently be tracked, and resources and funding for retrograde and reset may not be consistently or effectively budgeted for and distributed within each service. For this reason, we continue to believe that our prior recommendation remains valid and reinforces the need for DOD to establish a strategic policy consistent with leading practices on sound strategic management planning to guide and inform the services' plans.
    Director: Cary Russell
    Phone: (202) 512-5431

    6 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To help DOD develop an affordable sustainment strategy for the F-35, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisitions, Technology and Logistics to direct the F-35 Program Executive Officer to establish affordability constraints linked to, and informed by, military service budgets that will help guide sustainment decisions, prioritize requirements, and identify additional areas for savings by March 2015, at which point the Future Support Construct decision will be approved.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: DOD concurred with our recommendation and stated in April 2017 that the F-35 Program Executive Officer and the F-35 enterprise have expanded their collaborative effort to reduce F-35 operating and support (O&S) costs to ensure that they deliver affordable readiness for the F-35 fleet. In an effort to reduce overall O&S costs, the department has undertaken several initiatives. For example, according to DOD, as of January 2017, a program office "cost war room" initiative had reduced the 2012 F-35 annual cost estimate by $60.7 billion. Additionally, according to DOD, a Reliability and Maintainability Improvement Program has resulted in a $1.7 billion O&S cost avoidance through the program's life cycle. Other efforts are also under way that aim to help reduce O&S costs by better informing sustainment decision-making. While the department is taking steps to try to reduce overall O&S costs, the program has yet to develop affordability constraints linked to the military services' budgets. Without affordability constraints that are linked to military service budgets, it remains unclear the extent to which the military services can afford to operate and sustain the F-35 throughout its life cycle as currently planned.
    Recommendation: To help DOD address key risks to F-35 affordability and operational readiness, and to improve the reliability of its O&S cost estimates for the life cycle of the program, the Secretary of Defense should direct the F-35 Program Executive Officer, to enable DOD to better identify, address, and mitigate performance issues with the Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) that could have an effect on affordability, as well as readiness, to establish a performance-measurement process for ALIS that includes, but is not limited to, performance metrics and targets that (1) are based on intended behavior of the system in actual operations and (2) tie system performance to user requirements.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to DOD officials, the ALIS Integrated Product Team (IPT) is continuing to work with the Joint Program Office's Performance Based Logistics (PBL) team to further develop and refine appropriate metrics for inclusion into future sustainment contracts. Although DOD has made progress in developing performance metrics for ALIS, as of September 2017, DOD has yet to develop metrics that are based on intended behavior of the system and tie system performance to user requirements. Until this progression is made, this recommendation will remain open.
    Recommendation: To help DOD address key risks to F-35 affordability and operational readiness, and to improve the reliability of its O&S cost estimates for the life cycle of the program, the Secretary of Defense should direct the F-35 Program Executive Officer, to develop a high level of confidence that the aircraft will achieve its R+M goals, to develop a software reliability and maintainability (R+M) assessment process, with metrics, by which the program can monitor and determine the effect that software issues may have on overall F-35 R+M issues.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD has an R&M assessment process in place, but as of September 2017, had not developed a process that would focus directly on software reliability and maintainability. Until DOD develops a process more focused on software and its effects on overall R&M issues, this recommendation will remain open.
    Recommendation: To help DOD address key risks to F-35 affordability and operational readiness, and to improve the reliability of its O&S cost estimates for the life cycle of the program, the Secretary of Defense should direct the F-35 Program Executive Officer, to promote competition, address affordability, and inform its overarching sustainment strategy, to develop a long-term Intellectual Property (IP) Strategy to include, but not be limited to, the identification of (1) current levels of technical data rights ownership by the federal government and (2) all critical technical data needs and their associated costs.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD has still not developed an overall strategy that would identify data rights ownership, needs, and costs. As of September 2017, the program had taken some steps to develop an Intellectual Property Strategy, but has not identified all critical needs and their associated costs. Program office officials said that they are currently working with the prime contractor to develop a list of technical data requirements. Until this strategy is developed, this recommendation will remain open.
    Recommendation: To help DOD address key risks to F-35 affordability and operational readiness, and to improve the reliability of its O&S cost estimates for the life cycle of the program, the Secretary of Defense should direct the F-35 Program Executive Officer, to understand the potential range of costs associated with the JPO F-35 O&S cost estimate, to conduct uncertainty analyses on future JPO estimates.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of September 2017, DOD had not applied risk/uncertainty analyses to its cost estimates. Until it does so, this recommendation will remain open.
    Recommendation: To improve the reliability of the CAPE F-35 O&S cost estimate, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Director of CAPE, for future F-35 O&S cost estimates, to conduct uncertainty analyses to understand the potential range of costs associated with its estimates to reflect the most likely costs associated with the program.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to DOD officials, the Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE) has not updated its F-35 estimate subsequent to the release of GAO-14-778. Pending a major program change, CAPE will update the F-35 O&S estimate for the full-rate production decision point in the second quarter of fiscal year 2019. Until CAPE updates its F-35 estimate, we will not be able to determine if they will perform any uncertainty analyses on its cost estimate; therefore, this recommendation will remain open as of September 1, 2017.