Print this page

Defense > 1. Army Workforce Planning

To address potential overlap between two Army information systems that support workforce planning for weapon system maintenance, manufacturing, and other industrial operations, the Army should increase leadership attention to the issue and establish a fully developed and documented approach for completing a timely assessment of unnecessary overlap, which could lead to millions of dollars in annual savings.

Why This Area Is Important

Both the Army Workload and Performance System (AWPS) and the Logistics Modernization Program (LMP) are information systems that support various industrial operations within the Army Materiel Command (AMC).[1] The Army has spent over $90 million on AWPS from its inception in 1996 through fiscal year 2013 and plans to spend approximately $35.6 million to maintain the system between fiscal years 2014 and 2018. AWPS was developed to address systemic deficiencies in the Army's civilian manpower requirements determination process.[2] The system produces management reports and decision support tools intended to assist the Army in linking its industrial workload demands to its workforce requirements at AMC industrial sites. To produce management reports, AWPS relies primarily on data from LMP. 

LMP, an enterprise resource planning system that supports AMC industrial operations, was deployed to industrial sites during three phases beginning in 2003. LMP was developed to replace two major AMC legacy information systems—the Commodity Command Standard System and the Standard Depot System. By providing a single source of data and integrated decision-making tools, LMP was expected to increase efficiencies in AMC operations, such as buying and managing spare and repair parts and conducting depot-level maintenance. The Army spent approximately $1.4 billion on LMP through fiscal year 2012, and its total life-cycle cost from fiscal years 2000 through 2026 is expected to be more than $4 billion. Development for a major upgrade to LMP is currently under way.

[1]AMC is the Army's principal provider of materiel readiness—technology, acquisition support, materiel development, logistics power projection, and sustainment—to Army forces. AMC oversees Army industrial activities, such as maintenance depots and manufacturing arsenals, that overhaul, modernize, upgrade, and produce weapons systems.

[2]The Army Audit Agency reported in 1992 and 1994 that the Army did not know its workload and thus could neither justify personnel needs and budgets nor improve productivity and efficiency.  The Army subsequently determined that it had a material weakness, under the Federal Managers' Financial Integrity Act, with determining institutional personnel requirements without an analysis of the workload. AWPS was part of the Army's plans for addressing this material weakness.


What GAO Found

The Army has begun to assess whether unnecessary overlap exists between AWPS and LMP and has begun its assessment by initiating data collection and analysis efforts. However, its overall progress—including the development of a business case analysis—has been limited, due primarily to the absence of senior-level leadership involvement and attention and the lack of a fully developed and documented approach for conducting the assessment, including an established milestone for completing it. GAO has found that overlap among government programs or activities can lead to unnecessary duplication and can result in unnecessary costs and less efficient and effective services.[1]

GAO reported in February 2014 that the AMC Commanding General and Deputy Commanding General directed in December 2012 that a plan be developed to "sunset," or retire, AWPS and transition its functionality to another system, such as LMP. According to officials, AMC initiated this effort as a result of feedback provided by industrial sites indicating that overlap existed between LMP and AWPS. In response, a project team was established within AMC and started meeting in February 2013.[2] The project team is determining the extent to which software functionality currently provided by AWPS could be provided by LMP—either through LMP’s existing functionality or through the expansion of functionality in the planned major upgrade of LMP.  Also included in the assessment is the use of locally developed tools that some industrial sites have developed on their own to carry out AWPS functions. Project team members told GAO that their efforts could result in a recommendation to reduce AWPS usage or eliminate the system.

GAO also reported in February 2014 that the project team (1) identified specific actions that were needed to complete the assessment, such as holding a design workshop to determine what AWPS functionality can be provided by LMP or another tool, and developing a business case analysis; (2) received a demonstration on the current functionality provided by AWPS and LMP; and (3) conducted a survey of Army personnel with an AWPS account to collect information on how they use the system. GAO reviewed consolidated survey responses from 7 of 15 AMC sites collected by the project team and found there was potential for some overlap between AWPS and LMP. Army officials plan to conduct further analysis of the survey responses. GAO's February 2014 findings are consistent with its past work, which has also shown the potential for overlap between the AWPS and LMP systems.

Although the project team has made progress in some areas, its overall progress has been limited.  For example, the project team’s charter to guide its operations remains incomplete, team meetings have not been held regularly, milestones for some key actions—such as developing a business case analysis—have not been established, and some milestones for other actions have been missed. Progress on the Army's assessment of AWPS has been limited due to the absence of senior-level leadership attention and involvement. The project team leader works in the AMC personnel office and has provided management from that office with updates on the team’s progress; however, other team members work in other AMC offices and do not officially report to either the team leader or the personnel office. Team members cited this existing leadership structure as a factor contributing to the team’s limited progress. Project team members stated that other than an update provided in June 2013 to an AMC committee overseeing LMP implementation, no senior-level AMC manager or committee has requested an update on the team’s progress in conducting its assessment. Best practices have shown that sustained leadership attention and involvement can help organizations make lasting changes and achieve positive results. In addition, these best practices indicate that a strong and stable team responsible for managing change is also essential to ensure that the effort receives the attention it needs to be sustained and successful.[3]

Additionally, the team’s progress has been limited due to the lack of a fully developed and documented approach, including an established milestone for completing the assessment. GAO reported in February 2014 that the project team had not fully developed and documented its assessment approach. In addition, neither the original December 2012 tasking nor the project team itself had established a completion date for the assessment. Standards for Internal Controls call for proper documentation of evaluation processes.[4] In addition, GAO’s prior work on best practices for project schedules has shown that a well-planned schedule—with milestones for completing activities—is a fundamental management tool that can help government programs use public funds effectively by specifying when work will be performed in the future and measuring program performance against an approved plan.[5]

The absence of senior-level AMC leadership involvement and attention, as well as the lack of a fully developed and documented approach for conducting the assessment, including an established milestone for completing it, increases the risk that the Army will not complete its efforts to identify and eliminate potentially unnecessary overlap between AWPS and LMP.

[1]See GAO, Government Operations: Opportunities to Reduce Potential Duplication in Government Programs, Save Tax Dollars, and Enhance Revenue, GAO‑11‑318SP(Washington, D.C.: Mar. 1, 2011).

[2]According to the draft charter for the project team, the team was tasked to prepare a plan to sunset AWPS but the functionality of the system must remain available to users. The AWPS project team’s efforts will include determining the feasibility of implementing AWPS requirements into an existing enterprise resource planning tool, determining budgetary needs and legislative change requirements, and identifying a funding source.

[3]GAO, Results-Oriented Cultures: Implementation Steps to Assist Mergers and Organizational Transformations, GAO‑03‑669(Washington, D.C.: July 2, 2003).

[4]GAO, Internal Control Management and Evaluation Tool, GAO‑01‑1008G(Washington, D.C.: Aug. 2001).

[5]GAO, GAO Schedule Assessment Guide: Best Practices for Project Schedules, GAO‑12‑120G(Washington, D.C.: May 2012).

Actions Needed

To complete the Army's assessment of potential unnecessary overlap between AWPS and LMP and to ensure that a sound business decision is made on how to most cost-effectively provide AWPS functionality, GAO recommended in February 2014 that the Secretary of the Army direct the Commanding General, AMC, take the following two actions:

  • Identify a senior-level AMC manager or committee to provide increased leadership involvement and attention of the project team's efforts, to include ensuring that a strong and stable team exists for managing change.
  • Establish a fully developed and documented approach for the team's assessment, including a milestone for completing it.

Timely and effective actions on these recommendations should improve the Army's ability to support industrial operations in the most efficient and cost-effective manner by minimizing unnecessary overlap between these two information systems. Furthermore, implementation of these recommendations may enable the Army to avoid spending millions of dollars annually on AWPS.

How GAO Conducted Its Work

The information contained in this analysis is based on findings from the products listed in the related GAO products section. GAO reviewed prior GAO reports that discuss AWPS and LMP and that outline best practices to effectively manage change, achieve positive results, and establish project schedules. GAO also met with officials from AMC headquarters and the AWPS program management office to discuss the efforts of the AMC project team in the assessment of potential overlap. GAO obtained and analyzed documentation, including survey responses from AWPS users, related to these efforts. GAO reviewed some aspects of the  project team’s methodology for conducting its assessment—such as preliminary data collection efforts—but did not evaluate other aspects because the Army had not yet fully developed and documented them at the time of GAO’s February 2014 review.

Table 1 in appendix IV lists the programs GAO identified that might have opportunities for cost savings.

Agency Comments & GAO Contact

GAO requested comments from the Army on the February 2014 report on which this analysis is based, but none were provided. In addition, GAO provided a draft of this report section to the Army for review and comment.  The Army did not provide comments on this issue.

For additional information about this area, contact Zina D. Merritt at (202) 512-5257 or

Related Products

Explore Other Areas

Jump to another area below related to this mission.