DOD 'Total Force Management'--Fact or Rhetoric?

FPCD-78-82: Published: Jan 24, 1979. Publicly Released: Jan 24, 1979.

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In addressing the need for competent management of the Department of Defense (DOD) work force, GAO found that each service has developed its own manpower systems and policies; consequently, the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) has not issued a clearly defined total force policy. This report assesses DOD ability to manage in the most cost-effective way all available manpower resources, which include active and reserve military, civilian, and contractor personnel. GAO made this review because the importance of effective manpower management cannot be overstated in view of rising personnel costs. A well-defined total force policy implementing total force management could help Defense managers achieve maximum force readiness at minimum cost.

The Air Force is the only service with a total force management system; the Army and Navy have only recently started to develop a total force management system. OSD could more effectively monitor and evaluate the total force if accurate and standard information were available. OSD presently depends on the services for its access to military and civilian information, but this information is often inaccurate and incomplete.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed

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

    Matter: When formulating DOD legislation and making DOD authorization and appropriation decisions, Congress should consider the interrelationships between available manpower resources and the impact its decisions may have on DOD ability to manage the total force in the most cost-effective manner.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

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

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should take the lead in developing with the services a comprehensive total force policy which includes all manpower resources. The policy should define: (1) the objectives of total force management; (2) the manpower elements of the total force and their respective peacetime and wartime roles; (3) manpower systems that provide for integrated management; and (4) the contributions of host nations' manpower in determining U.S. manpower requirements. The Secretary should prescribe guidance to help the services manage the total force, as follows: (1) the services need to provide a balance between determining manpower requirements and the ability to acquire the desired mix; (2) factors influencing short-and long-term manpower requirements; (3) methodology to determine manpower requirements; (4) cost elements to be used in figuring manpower; (5) the need for cost-benefit analyses in examining manpower mix alternatives; (6) measures of improved capability over the current force and methods of effecting that capability; (7) clarification of criteria used to decide between performing in-house or contracting out for products and services; and (8) the information needed by OSD to evaluate service requests.

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