Key Issues > Duplication & Cost Savings > GAO's Action Tracker > Prepositioning Programs (2011-07)
defense icon, source: [West Covina, California] Progressive Management, 2008

Defense: Prepositioning Programs (2011-07)

Improved joint oversight of the Department of Defense's prepositioning programs for equipment and supplies may reduce unnecessary duplication.

Action:

The Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, in coordination with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to strengthen the Department of Defense's (DOD) joint oversight of its prepositioned stocks through such actions as clarifying lines of authority and reporting between the joint preposition working group and other components within DOD.

Progress:

The Department of Defense (DOD) has taken some actions to clarify lines of authority and reporting between the joint prepositioned working group and other components within DOD, as GAO recommended in May 2011 (GAO-11-647), and as required by legislation passed in December 2013; but its efforts to strengthen joint oversight of service prepositioned-stock programs are incomplete. GAO reported in May 2011 that the Global Prepositioned Materiel Capabilities Working Group—established in 2008 to provide oversight of services’ prepositioning programs, among other things—had met only sporadically and had not addressed many of the prepositioning oversight duties specified in its charter. In September 2013, GAO reported that DOD had not improved joint oversight of its prepositioning programs, and that DOD was considering changes to its instruction on war reserve materiel policy to eliminate the working group. In 2014, DOD officials stated that they decided to reaffirm the working group’s purpose rather than eliminate it.

Also, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014, enacted in December 2013, required that the Secretary of Defense maintain a Strategic Policy and develop a plan for implementing the policy that establishes a coordinated joint-military service approach for DOD’s prepositioned stock programs to maximize efficiencies across the department. In December 2016, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff issued guidance that its office coordinate with the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics in establishing the Global Pre-positioned Materiel Capabilities Working Group and provide oversight of the services’ prepositioning programs, but this instruction does not clarify lines of authority between the working group and the services.  Subsequently, DOD issued in March 2017 its Pre-positioned War Reserve Materiel (PWRM) Strategic Policy, but in July 2017, GAO reported that the Strategic Policy does not address 5 of the 6 required elements from section 321 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2014, including a coordinated joint-military service approach for DOD’s prepositioned stocks. DOD also submitted a “Strategic Implementation Plan” for managing its prepositioned stocks to the Senate and House Committees on Appropriations and Armed Services in October 2017. However, the Strategic Implementation Plan also does not clarify lines of authority between the working group and the services. GAO continues to maintain that an increased emphasis on joint program management and oversight of prepositioned stocks could reduce unnecessary duplication and achieve cost savings and efficiencies.

Implementing Entity:

Department of Defense

Action:

The Secretary of Defense should direct the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretaries of the military services to synchronize at a department-wide level, as appropriate, the services' prepositioning programs so that they include updated requirements and maximize efficiency in managing prepositioned assets and activities across the department to reduce unnecessary duplication.

Progress:

The Department of Defense (DOD) has taken some actions but has not synchronized at a department-wide level the services’ prepositioning programs as GAO recommended in May 2011. In May 2011, GAO reported that DOD had limited department-wide guidance that would help ensure that its prepositioning programs accurately reflect national military objectives, such as those included in the National Defense Strategy and the National Military Strategy. Subsequently, in September 2013, GAO reported that DOD had not made progress on this issue and suggested that Congress require DOD to develop overarching strategic guidance, along with an Implementation Plan, to integrate and synchronize the services' prepositioning programs department-wide. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2014 required DOD’s Strategic Policy for prepositioned materiel and equipment to include a framework for joint departmental oversight that reviews and synchronizes the services’ prepositioning strategies to minimize potentially duplicative efforts and maximize efficiencies in prepositioned material and equipment across the department. Subsequently, DOD issued in March 2017 its Pre-positioned War Reserve Materiel (PWRM) Strategic Policy, but in July 2017, GAO reported that the Strategic Policy does not address 5 of the 6 required elements from section 321 of the NDAA for fiscal year 2014 including a coordinated joint-military service approach for DOD’s prepositioned stocks. DOD also submitted a “Strategic Implementation Plan” for managing its prepositioned stocks to the Senate and House Committees on Appropriations and Armed Services in October 2017. However, the Strategic Implementation Plan does not specifically synchronize the services' prepositioning programs so that they include updated requirements and maximize efficiency in managing prepositioned assets and activities across the department. Without such synchronization, DOD may not be able to fully recognize efficiencies and minimize potentially duplicative efforts in its prepositioned stocks programs. 

Implementing Entity:

Department of Defense

Action:

The Secretary of Defense should direct the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy to develop strategic guidance that includes planning and resource priorities, linking the department's current and future needs for prepositioned stocks to evolving national defense objectives.

Progress:

The Department of Defense (DOD) implemented this action. In March 2017, DOD issued its Pre-positioned War Reserve Materiel (PWRM) Strategic Policy. The Strategic Policy requires the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy to develop and coordinate planning and resource requirements, such as those found in DOD’s Guidance for Employment of the Force and the Defense Planning Guidance, so that war materiel and prepositioned war reserve material are appropriately linked to desired capabilities in support of the national defense strategy. In addition, the Strategic Policy requires the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics and the DOD component heads to maintain guidance that includes component-specific requirements for planning and resourcing priorities to address current and future requirements for maintaining prepositioned stocks optimally. This guidance meets the intent of GAO’s recommendations and may improve DOD's ability to recognize efficiencies and minimize potentially duplicative efforts in its prepositioned stocks programs.  

Implementing Entity:

Department of Defense
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    • Cary Russell
    • Director, Defense Capabilities and Management
    • russellc@gao.gov
    • (202) 512-5431