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of Training and Crew Size on Surface Force Material Readiness' which 
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United States Government Accountability Office: 
Washington, DC 20548: 

July 7, 2011: 

Congressional Committees: 

Subject: Military Readiness: Navy's Report to Congress on the Impact 
of Training and Crew Size on Surface Force Material Readiness: 

Since 2000, the Navy has undertaken a number of initiatives to achieve 
greater efficiencies and reduce costs. For example, it reduced the 
workforce requirements for some of its ships and transitioned away 
from instructor-led training programs to more computer-based training. 
In June 2010, we reported[Footnote 1] the Navy lacked a firm 
analytical basis for some of the reductions it made to ship crew sizes 
and therefore could not be assured it had appropriately sized its 
crews to maintain material readiness and accomplish necessary tasks 
aboard its ships. We also reported the Navy lacked outcome-based 
performance measures to evaluate the impact of changes to training on 
trainees' job performance, knowledge, skills, and abilities once they 
report to their ships and therefore could not fully determine the 
effectiveness of the training changes it implemented and whether 
further adjustments were necessary. We recommended the Navy validate 
the underlying assumptions and standards it uses to calculate 
workforce requirements and, as necessary, based on this assessment, 
reevaluate its cruiser and destroyer workload requirements. We also 
recommended the Navy develop additional metrics to measure the 
effectiveness of its training. The Navy concurred with our 

Citing our previous work and other sources, the House Armed Services 
Committee has expressed concern about the material readiness of the 
Navy's surface combatant ships. In House Report 111-491, which 
accompanied a proposed bill for the Fiscal Year 2011 National Defense 
Authorization Act (H.R. 5136), the committee directed the Secretary of 
the Navy to submit a report that describes: 

* the impact that changes in training and reductions in crew size have 
had on the material readiness of its ships, including: 

- the ships' ability to perform required maintenance tasks and pass 
required inspections; 

- any projected effects on the lifespan of individual ships; and: 

- any effects on overall reported readiness; 

* the methodology, including metrics, that the Navy used to make this 
assessment, and based on the results, any adjustments in training and 
manning that the Navy plans to make to address its findings; and: 

* the steps the Navy has taken to establish a stringent tool-control 
program, through appropriate commands, for all surface combatant ships 
similar to the tool-control program that exists for aviation 
squadrons, and describe the funding required to implement such a 
program.[Footnote 2] 

The Navy issued its report to Congress in February 2011.[Footnote 3] 

In addition, the House report directed GAO to provide a briefing to 
the Senate and House Armed Services committees that assesses the 
completeness of the Navy's report and describes the status of actions 
taken by the Navy to establish the tool-control program; and submit a 
follow-on report to the congressional defense committees that assesses 
the reasonableness of the Navy's methodology and conclusions and the 
impact of the tool-control program. 

In April 2011, we provided a briefing to the Senate and House Armed 
Services committees on the completeness of the Navy's report and the 
status of the tool-control program. We found that the Navy's report 
addressed or partially addressed each of the mandated reporting 
requirements. In addition, we found that the Navy had established a 
limited program to control certain types of equipment, but it had not 
established a stringent tool-control program for all of its surface 
combatant ships similar to the tool-control program that exists for 
aviation squadrons.[Footnote 4] According to the Navy's report and our 
interviews with Navy officials, the Navy had not implemented such a 
program for three primary reasons: 

* Safety--the primary reason for the aviation tool-control program is 
the concern that loose tools on a flight deck could lead to personnel 
injury or death. Misplaced tools on a ship do not generally pose the 
same dangers to personnel. 

* Cost--a misplaced tool on a flight deck could get drawn into an 
aircraft engine, which could lead to catastrophic failure that could 
cost the Navy millions of dollars. Misplaced tools on ships do not 
generally pose the same risk. 

* Practicality--the large number and wide distribution of tools 
required for the maintenance and repair of surface ships makes it 
impractical to track the location of all tools at all times. 

This report (1) describes the Navy's methodology for developing its 
report to Congress and the information presented in its report on 
conclusions and adjustments the Navy is making to training and manning 
and (2) assesses the reasonableness of the Navy's methodology and 
conclusions. As agreed with your staff, because the Navy has not 
implemented a stringent tool-control program as envisioned in the 
House report, we were not able to assess its impact and therefore are 
not addressing the topic in this report. 

In assessing the reasonableness of the Navy's methodology and 
conclusions, we reviewed prior GAO work and other sources to identify 
criteria, including generally accepted research standards and other 
principles that define a sound and complete quality study. On the 
basis of this review, we identified specific criteria that were 
relevant to the Navy's report, which were whether (1) the methodology 
supported accomplishing the objectives; (2) conclusions and 
recommendations were supported by analysis; and (3) data were verified 
and validated. With respect to data, the criteria suggests that data 
reliability assessments are essential to gathering and evaluating 
information needed to make a determination to use certain data. 
Examples include determining the accuracy and completeness of data, 
and using proper caveats to describe any data limitations. We used 
these criteria for our assessment. 

We also interviewed the Navy officials who were responsible for 
drafting the Navy's report to discuss how the report to Congress was 
prepared and the types of data used. Additionally, we obtained and 
reviewed the Fleet Review Panel report on Surface Force Readiness, 
[Footnote 5] which, according to Navy officials, was a key source 
document that was used to develop the Navy's report to Congress. We 
compared the findings, conclusions, and recommendations in the Fleet 
Review Panel report to the information in Navy's report to Congress. 
Finally, we reviewed a report on ship material readiness that was 
released the same month as the Navy's report to Congress to determine 
whether the findings and conclusions of the two reports were 
consistent. This second report was authored by the Naval Sea Systems 
Command, Surface Warfare Directorate, which is responsible for the 
maintenance and modernization of all the Navy's nonnuclear surface 
ships.[Footnote 6] We did not independently assess the validity of the 
various sources of data used to develop the Navy's report to Congress. 

We conducted this performance audit from February 2011 to June 2011, 
in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. 
Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain 
sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for our 
findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe 
that the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our 
findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. 

The Navy's Methodology Involved Drawing on Existing Studies and Data: 

The Navy's methodology for producing its report consisted of assigning 
responsibility for the report to the Fleet Readiness Division, which 
searched for sources of information to address the reporting 
requirements outlined in House Report 111-491, assembled the 
information from the sources that appeared to be relevant to training 
and manning readiness, and finally, vetted the Navy's report through a 
variety of Navy organizations and through the Navy's chain-of-command. 

To prepare its report to Congress, the Navy assigned responsibility to 
officials from its N43 office, the Fleet Readiness Division. These 
officials reviewed and assembled information from a variety of sources 

* total manning numbers and Navy Enlisted Classification distributions; 

* training changes relative to maintenance skill sets; 

* historical data from the Navy's Board of Inspection and Survey 
(which conducts material inspections of ships every 5 years), referred 
to as INSURV inspections; 

* readiness trends from the Defense Readiness Reporting System-Navy 
(which reports the readiness of Navy forces and the supporting 
infrastructure to accomplish designed and assigned missions); and: 

* findings and recommendations from the Fleet Review Panel on Surface 
Force Readiness.[Footnote 7] 

Drawing on this information, N43 officials assembled the report 
documenting the impact of changes in training and manning on ship 
readiness, conclusions, and proposed actions. For example: 

* On the basis of its report describing the impact of manning and 
training, the Navy's report to Congress noted the same general points 
cited in the Fleet Review Panel and the Naval Sea Systems Command 
report on ship material readiness. Specifically, the report stated 
that decisions made by the Navy over the past decade to increase 
efficiencies throughout the fleet, such as eliminating some training 
courses and shifting to more computer-based training resulted in crews 
arriving on board their ships not fully ready to perform apprentice- 
level maintenance actions and contribute effectively to existing 
material demands. In addition, it stated that the decreased manning 
aboard the Navy's surface combatant ships due to the optimal manning 
initiative, which removed sailors from ships through efficiency 
initiatives, contributed to declines in material readiness and an 
unmanageable workload burden on crews. The report also noted a growing 
backlog in ship maintenance due, in part, to reduction of personnel at 
the Navy's shore-support facilities, such as regional maintenance 
centers. In its report, the Navy listed some of the metrics it uses to 
track the material readiness of its ships, as well as shipboard 
manning and training. These metrics included historical data from the 
Navy's Board of Inspection and Survey, readiness trends from the 
Defense Readiness Reporting System-Navy, and broader metrics of 
training and manning trends, which the Navy's report states are 
monitored on a monthly basis. 

* The Navy makes several conclusions, including that: 

- there are many aspects to ship material readiness, with training and 
manning as two parts of the holistic material readiness picture; 

- changes in training and reductions in crew size over the past decade 
have had a detrimental effect on the overall readiness of the surface 

- actions are needed in the areas of training and manning to help 
improve the overall material readiness of the surface combatant ships; 

- once implemented, the combination of improved shipboard manning, 
additional shore-based billets, training improvements and other 
material readiness initiatives not addressed in the report to Congress 
will improve material readiness. 

* In addressing the adjustments it is making to improve material 
readiness, the Navy's report to Congress presents several actions that 
are completed, in process, or planned. For example, the report states 
that the Navy has already made organizational changes. Specifically, 
the report notes that Naval Sea Systems Command directed the creation 
of the Surface Warfare Directorate and a Deputy Directorate for 
Readiness. These two entities will manage the complete life-cycle 
support for all nonnuclear surface ships and address material 
readiness challenges. The Navy's report also noted planned actions to 
improve training and manning. The Navy stated it has already begun to 
implement changes in training such as an enhanced material readiness 
course at the Surface Warfare Officer School. Additionally, the Navy 
plans to increase the number of critical billets in optimally manned 
ships by 1,120 billets in fiscal years 2012 and 2013, and create 285 
additional shore billets to reestablish the sea-shore flow between 
ship and intermediate-level maintenance organizations and to provide 
skilled craftsmen when sailors return to surface ships. Further, the 
report added that future budgets would include additional manpower to 
support the Fleet's regional maintenance centers. 

According to the N43 officials who developed the report, the report 
was reviewed by the Chief of Naval Operations and several other Navy 
offices including Naval Sea Systems Command, Fleet Forces Command, and 
the Naval Education and Training Command. 

While the Navy's Methodology and Conclusions Are Generally Reasonable, 
Additional Steps Would Have Enhanced the Report: 

The Navy used a reasonable methodology in preparing its report to 
Congress; however it did not perform sufficient analysis to verify the 
information used to support its conclusions and recommendations. 

Specifically, the Navy's methodological approach of relying on 
existing information and subject-matter experts supported 
accomplishing the report's objectives of describing the impact of 
training and manning changes on ship readiness, and related 
conclusions and recommendations. By reviewing and drawing upon 
published reports such as the Fleet Review Panel report and existing 
databases such as Defense Readiness Reporting System-Navy, and using 
reviewers knowledgeable about the subject matter, the Navy gathered 
relevant information on the status of ship readiness and insights on 
training and manning issues being experienced on board surface 

While the Navy reached specific conclusions and related 
recommendations in its report, it did not perform any independent 
analysis to verify source information, including taking steps to 
assess the reliability of any data. According to N43 officials 
involved in preparing the report, they reviewed the various source 
documents previously mentioned and extracted information to include in 
the Navy report, but did not do any independent analysis to confirm 
the validity of the data or the conclusions referenced in the source 
documents. As a result, the Navy's report did not include any 
discussion of data limitations or caveats to any of the information it 
presented, including its conclusions and recommendations. 

Based on our prior work and review of the source documents, we found 
examples where limitations in certain data exist or differences in 
data occurred. For example, in its report, the Navy stated that it 
relied on historical data from INSURV inspections as a source of 
information in assessing the impact of training and crew size 
reductions on ship material readiness. It also refers to INSURV data 
as an indicator of readiness trends. Specifically, it states that the 
Navy is taking steps to reverse the downward trend in material 
readiness and ensure that the expected service life of surface 
combatant ships is not affected. Citing INSURV inspection data for the 
period of 2008 to 2010, which shows a decrease in the percentage of 
unsatisfactory inspections, the Navy notes that a positive trend is 
occurring. However, in our June 2010 report on Navy training and 
manning, which includes INSURV inspection data over a similar period 
of 2 years, we concluded that "because of the relatively small number 
of inspections each year, it is not possible to draw the conclusion 
that the last 2 years of data from the Navy's independent board of 
inspection and survey (INSURV) represents a trend."[Footnote 8] 

In addition, the Navy outlined specific actions that it is taking or 
plans to take to address the declines in readiness due to manning and 
crew changes, which, in some cases, differ from the actions 
recommended in the Fleet Review Panel. For example, while the Fleet 
Review Panel report and the Navy's report both stipulate that 
additional sailors are needed aboard the Navy's surface combatant 
ships, the two reports concluded different numbers of personnel should 
be added. However, the Navy's report did not caveat its 
recommendations including providing additional context or rational for 
why its proposed actions differed from other studies. 

We are not making recommendations in this correspondence. 

Agency Comments: 

DOD was provided a copy of a draft of this report for review, but did 
not have comments. 

We are sending copies of this report to the appropriate congressional 
committees; the Secretary of Defense; and the Secretary of the Navy. 
This report will also be available at no charge on our Web site at 

Should you or your staff have any questions concerning this report, 
please contact me at (202) 512-9619 or Contact points 
for our Offices of Congressional Relations and Public Affairs may be 
found on the last page of this report. Key contributors to this report 
are listed in enclosure I. 

Signed by: 

Sharon L. Pickup: 
Defense Capabilities and Management: 


List of Committees: 

The Honorable Carl Levin:
The Honorable John McCain:
Ranking Member:
Committee on Armed Services:
United States Senate: 

The Honorable Daniel Inouye:
The Honorable Thad Cochran:
Ranking Member:
Subcommittee on Defense:
Committee on Appropriations:
United States Senate: 

The Honorable Howard McKeon:
The Honorable Adam Smith:
Ranking Member:
Committee on Armed Services:
House of Representatives: 

The Honorable C.W. "Bill" Young:
The Honorable Norman Dicks:
Ranking Member:
Subcommittee on Defense:
Committee on Appropriations:
House of Representatives: 

[End of section] 

Enclosure I: GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments: 

GAO Contact: 

Sharon L. Pickup, (202) 512-9619 or 

Staff Acknowledgments: 

In addition to the contact named above, key contributors to this 
report were Michael Ferren (Assistant Director), Cynthia Grant, Nicole 
Harms, James Krustapentus, Mary Jo LaCasse, and Joanne Landesman. 

[End of section] 


[1] GAO, Military Readiness: Navy Needs to Reassess Its Metrics and 
Assumptions for Ship Crewing Requirements and Training, [hyperlink,] (Washington, D.C.: June 9, 

[2] See H.R. Rep. No. 111-491, at 261-262 (2010). 

[3] Department of the Navy, Report to Congress: Impact of Training and 
Crew Size on Surface Force Material Readiness (Washington, D.C.: 
February 2011). 

[4] The Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, had 
established a controlled equipage program for its surface ships but 
this program only tracks high-cost and sensitive items, not the full 
range of shipboard tools. 

[5] Fleet Review Panel, Final Report, Fleet Review Panel of Surface 
Force Readiness (Feb. 26, 2010). 

[6] Naval Sea Systems Command, The "Bridge" to the Fleet: Material 
Readiness Key to Warships Ready for Tasking (Feb. 15, 2011). 

[7] In September 2009, the Commanders of U.S. Pacific Fleet and U.S. 
Fleet Forces directed Vice Admiral Balisle, USN-Ret., to convene and 
lead a Fleet Review Panel to assess surface force readiness in the 
areas of manning, training, and maintenance and to recommend 
corrective actions. The Fleet Review Panel issued its report in 
February 2010. 

[8] GAO, Military Readiness: Navy Needs to Reassess Its Metrics and 
Assumptions for Ship Crewing Requirements and Training, [hyperlink,] (Washington, D.C.: June 9, 

[End of section] 

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