Financial Management:

Air Force Budget Request Could Be Enhanced With More Complete Aircraft Data

AIMD-97-137R: Published: Aug 21, 1997. Publicly Released: Aug 21, 1997.

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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO compared aircraft quantity data contained in the logistical/financial system used by the Air Force for financial statement presentation with the number of aircraft displayed in the historical data in supporting documents accompanying the Air Force's budget submission.

GAO noted that: (1) there are significant differences between aircraft quantities disclosed in budget support documents and those used to produce financial statements; (2) the Air Force uses its Reliability and Maintainability Information System (REMIS), a mixed system, to develop the financial information on aircraft reported in the financial statements; (3) in reviewing these data, GAO found that the number of active aircraft in REMIS was substantially more than the aircraft disclosed in the budget submission; (4) REMIS showed that the Air Force had a total active inventory of about 6,000 aircraft as of May 1997; (5) in its budget submission for fiscal year (FY) 1997, the Air Force requested funds to operate and maintain about 5,000 aircraft; (6) accounting standards require that financial statements include information on all active aircraft; (7) the budget submission discloses what the Department of Defense terms primary aircraft; (8) historical and future years' data shown in the FY 1998 budget support documents also used primary aircraft as the principal basis for the Air Force's flying hour program; (9) Air Force officials stated that budget documents have historically disclosed only quantities for primary aircraft, because those quantities more directly relate to other important information, such as personnel levels and readiness, which affect the Air Force's flying hour program; (10) at the same time, as GAO has previously reported, there are costs associated with operating and maintaining backup and attrition aircraft; (11) complete aircraft information is important to the Congress as it determines the level of funding to provide through budget deliberations; (12) in its report on the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 1997, the Senate Committee on Armed Services directed that additional quantity data on aircraft categories be included in budget submissions; and (13) the Air Force could better link budget and financial information, an objective of the Chief Financial Officers Act, and improve the completeness and utility of Congressional budget justification documents, as called for by the Senate Committee on Armed Services, if actual active aircraft numbers for past years and projected active aircraft for future years were also disclosed in the budget documents.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD agreed with the recommendation and is providing exhibits to display total aircraft quantities in the budget estimates.

    Recommendation: The Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) should prepare and include new aircraft budget data exhibits, with the annual submission of documents supporting budget requests to appropriate Senate and House Committees, that display total active aircraft quantities for the previous fiscal year-end for active forces, as well as national guard and reserve components, for each aircraft type/model/series, including categories for mission aircraft, training aircraft, dedicated test aircraft, and other aircraft (with appropriate subcategories for primary, backup, and attrition reserve).

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller)

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The recommendation was incorporated into the FY 1999 Budget Estimate Submission and FYDP, as well as aircraft budget data exhibits. Total aircraft inventory quantities are now shown along with the primary aircraft quantities.

    Recommendation: The Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) should improve the disclosure of aircraft quantities in future annual budget submissions by modifying the format of Future Years Defense Program (FYDP) documents, as well as aircraft budget data exhibits required by volume 2 of the Department of Defense Financial Management Regulation, to include total numbers of active aircraft along with any presentations of primary aircraft quantities presented in FYDP documents or congressional backup books.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller)


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