Army Management:

Need to Reassess Risk and Resources for Inspecting Ceremonial Rifles

GAO-01-967: Published: Sep 28, 2001. Publicly Released: Sep 28, 2001.

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William M. Solis
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Since the 1920s, the Army's Ceremonial Rifle Program has lent obsolete or condemned rifles to veterans' organizations for funerals and other ceremonies. The M-1 is the only rifle currently authorized for this purpose. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2000 authorized the Secretary of the Army to conditionally loan or donate M-1 rifles and required that GAO review and report on the Secretary's exercise of authority under the amended law. The Army issued an interim change to its regulation governing the Ceremonial Rifle Program that partially addresses the Secretary's authority under the law. This interim change addresses (1) the number of rifles that may be provided and (2) the security, safety, and accountability over provided rifles. From the time the law was amended in October 1999 through March 2001, the Army reported providing 232 organizations with 2,054 rifles and had 937 open requests for 8,395 rifles. The Army estimates that it has provided more than 300,000 rifles under the Ceremonial Rifle Program since the program's inception.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD concurred with this recommendation. The Army regulation (AR) 700-131, Loan and Lease of Army Material revised the regulation to include the changes that have been proposed by the AMC as a result of their risk assessment. They said that the regulation was finalized and returned to the Army publishing Directorate on November 1, 2003.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to take the actions necessary to finalize the revision of Army regulations implementing the amended law.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The U.S. Army Materiel Command (AMC) has completed the risk assessment recommended in the subject audit, and has provided the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff with a proposal for mitigating the risk of the misuse of rifles provided under the ceremonial rifle provisions of AR 700-131. The AMC's proposal contains procedures for completing, at current levels of funding, an inventory of all sites where ceremonial rifles are stored within 3 years.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to take the actions necessary to reassess the potential risk associated with the misuse of rifles provided under the program relative to the current time frame and funding that have been allocated to complete the inspections. On the basis of this assessment, the Secretary of the Army should determine if actions are needed to expedite the inspections.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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