Highlights of a Report on Staffing and Organization of Top-Management Headquarters in the Department of Defense

FPCD-76-35A: Published: Jul 6, 1976. Publicly Released: Jul 6, 1976.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Defense's (DOD) top-management headquarters to determine the size and decisionmaking processes of the Offices of the Secretaries of Defense, the Army, Navy, Air Force, the Army Chief of Staff, Chief of Naval Operations, Air Force Chief of Staff, and Marine Corps. GAO surveyed about 1,000 offices employing approximately 14,000 people.

The large number of organizations performing the same type of activities provides insights into potential redundancies for further consolidations and or cutbacks. These insights are the key to an alternative to across-the-board headquarters' reductions. Difficulties in identifying areas in which reductions should be made arise through organizational peculiarities and inconsistent reporting of headquarters strength. The current method of defining management headquarters relates to the primary mission of an organization, such as policy development. An estimated 14 percent of Defense headquarters' personnel were required to work on congressional requests for information in fiscal year 1975. This effort cost about $54.9 million. DOD reporting requirements have been permitted to expand without effective controls, so that military departments spend $850 million annually to produce reports and related information. The various Secretaries have circumvented the formal control system and established their own reporting requirements. This has resulted in redundant and inconsistent data which required extensive amounts of additional work to produce.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Matter: Congress should require DOD to determine the total workload and the cost of responding to congressional requests for information.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should adopt a functional analysis technique similar to the Air Force's to streamline all DOD headquarters and should support the effort to streamline the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) elements. He should strengthen the authority of the OSD Information Control Office by tightening current policies and procedures to comply with the established information control systems and by having this group report directly to the Deputy Secretary of Defense rather than the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Comptroller). To comply with the requirements for authorizing reports and the development of accurate cost estimates, the Secretary should: (1) reevaluate the military manpower training information needs and consider consolidating the defense manpower requirements report and the military training report data into budget backup data; (2) establish a single standardized training database which will most economically meet all users' needs; (3) require that enlisted personnel bonus management data be processed in the established information control system; and (4) limit data required from the military departments to the minimum needed for OSD to formulate, supervise, and evaluate policy. In addition, the Secretary should establish a long-term goal for all DOD components to achieve an accurate accounting of management headquarters personnel to account for headquarters personnel on the basis of type of work performed. Finally, the Secretary should establish thresholds which clarify OSD decision points in service program review and evaluation and strongly endorse the role of the service secretaries as the managers of their departments. Except for those programs which require cross-service management, the Secretary should limit participation of the various elements within OSD to formulation and evaluation of DOD-wide policy and supervision of efficient policy extension.

    Agency Affected:


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