DOD accounts for nearly half of the federal government’s discretionary spending. And its costs are growing. DOD plans to invest $574 billion to field 78 major defense programs, including the F-35, and military health care costs are expected to increase to about $70 billion by 2028.
(Excerpted from GAO-17-369)Yet DOD remains one of the few federal entities that cannot accurately account for and reliably report its spending or assets. We’ve made 79 recommendations in this area since 2011—72 of which are still unaddressed, including 52 priority recommendations. 4. Manage human capital DOD relies on a skilled and diverse workforce to carry out its mission. It plans to spend nearly $180 billion dollars in fiscal year 2017 on pay and benefits for its military personnel, and about $70 billion for its civilian employees—which is half of its total budget.
(Excerpted from GAO-17-369)However, DOD lacks some staff with critical skills—such as cyber and engineering. It is also unclear if it has the right mix of military, civilian, and contractors in its workforce. The Department needs to complete a workforce assessment and improve its estimates of labor costs—in addition to addressing dozens of recommendations we’ve made since 2011 in this area. 5. Streamline business operations DOD spends billions of dollars each year on business systems and contractors’ services for financial management, supply chain and support infrastructure, and, of course, acquiring weapon systems. We found that the department needs to improve its business practices so that it can reduce overhead and free up resources for higher priorities. This is a longstanding challenge that DOD has not yet made much progress on. We continue to track what it is doing to address 38 open recommendations we’ve made since 2011 on how to improve in this area—including 8 priority recommendations. Next steps To address each of these 5 areas will require sustained leadership, enhanced strategic planning, improved management controls, and better ways to manage and control costs. We’ve made thousands of concrete, actionable recommendations to DOD over the years on how it could improve in these areas—78 of which are priority recommendations that require immediate action. Moreover, over half of our high risk areas—agencies or programs that are at high risk for fraud, waste, abuse, or mismanagement—are at least partially controlled by DOD. To learn more about the hurdles DOD faces, and what it can do about them, check out our new comprehensive report.