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GAO’s Defense Capabilities and Management Team

Posted on March 28, 2014
Update (6/12/15): This post has been updated to incorporate recent examples of work and impact. GAO’s workforce is organized largely by subject area, with most employees working in 1 of 14 mission teams. Today we’ll be putting the spotlight on the Defense Capabilities and Management (DCM) team, which supports congressional oversight of the Department of Defense (DOD) as it modernizes to meet a broad array of threats in the 21st century. Reports DCM reports cover 7 issue areas: 1. Defense Infrastructure 2. Force Structure and Readiness 3. Homeland Defense & Emerging Threats and Capabilities
  • This area focuses on DOD’s missions to defend the homeland, assist civil authorities in response to catastrophic events, combat terrorism, conduct cyber operations, combat weapons of mass destruction, conduct intelligence in support of military operations, and maintain the nation’s strategic nuclear capability. The topics of recent work include medical countermeasures against biological threats and regional missile defense.
4. Strategic Human Capital Management 5. Logistics Supprt
  • Our logistics work is concentrated in 4 main areas within DOD: inventory management, weapon systems maintenance and sustainment, materiel distribution, and operational energy. Recent reports include one on Defense Inventory.
6. Defense Business Operations 7. Military Operations and Warfighter Support Impact In fiscal year 2014, DCM’s work identified $7.7 billion in financial benefits for the federal government as well as other efficiencies. Directors from DCM testified at 4 congressional hearings and contributed to 2 other hearings. Also, DCM reported on DOD issues such as military housing, sexual assault in the military, medical care, cybersecurity, and operational contract support in Iraq and Afghanistan. DCM teams conduct field work domestically and around the world; anywhere that federal dollars follow the Department of Defense. A Closer Look at a DCM report: Accounting for Missing Persons from Past Conflicts Defense Report Graphic

Image excerpted from GAO-13-619

DOD reports that more than 83,000 persons are missing from past conflicts in Vietnam, Korea, the Cold War, the Persian Gulf, and World War II. Between 2000 and 2012, DOD accounted for an average of 72 missing persons per year. In 2009, Congress mandated DOD to increase its capability and capacity such that it could account for at least 200 missing persons annually by 2015. We reviewed DOD’s ability to meet the mandate and found that longstanding leadership weaknesses and a fragmented organizational structure undermined its efforts. We made nine recommendations, such as examining options to reorganize; improving planning, guidance, and criteria to prioritize cases; and sustaining communication.
  • Questions on the content of this post? Contact the Managing Director of DCM, Cathleen Berrick, at
  • Comments on GAO’s WatchBlog? Contact
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