Improved Data and Information Sharing Could Aid in DOD's Management of Ammunition Categorized for Disposal
GAO-15-538: Published: Jul 21, 2015. Publicly Released: Jul 21, 2015.
What GAO Found
The Department of Defense (DOD) maintains information on its excess, obsolete, and unserviceable conventional ammunition for the military services and shares this information on a limited basis with other government agencies, but its management of its conventional ammunition awaiting demilitarization and disposal (CAD) stockpile can be strengthened in two areas.
The Army uses its Logistics Modernization Program database to maintain consolidated information on ammunition in the CAD stockpile, but GAO found that records for some items do not include complete data on weight. Specifically, of 36,355 records in the database, 2,829 did not have assigned weights as of February 2015. Internal control standards state that an entity should have controls to ensure that all transactions are complete and accurately recorded. DOD officials stated they are trying to correct current records with missing data; however, the number of records without weight data has increased. For example, as of February 2015, the number of records with missing data had increased by more than 600 since 2012. Since DOD uses weight in determining, among other things, cost estimates for demilitarization projects and what ammunition to demilitarize, missing weight data can negatively impact its efforts to destroy the most ammunition possible with the resources available.
The military services have access to information on the CAD stockpile maintained in the Army's database and can search it for useable ammunition that could fill their requirements, but other government agencies do not and DOD does not have a systematic means for sharing such information. Federal internal control standards state that management should ensure there are adequate means of communicating with, and obtaining information from, external stakeholders. DOD officials told GAO that there have been instances of transfers of ammunition to other government agencies, but these have been done informally and on a limited basis. Without a systematic means for regularly sharing information on useable ammunition beyond DOD's needs, both DOD and other agencies may be missing opportunities to reduce costs related to demilitarization and ammunition procurement.
Open Burn Destruction of Ammunition
Why GAO Did This Study
DOD manages conventional ammunition that ranges from small arms cartridges to rockets, mortars, artillery shells, and tactical missiles. When a military service determines such ammunition is beyond its needs, obsolete, or unserviceable, it is offered to the other services and if not taken, transferred to the Army, which manages the CAD stockpile and takes actions to demilitarize and dispose of the ammunition in the stockpile. According to data provided by DOD officials, as of February 2015, the stockpile was about 529,373 tons. DOD estimates that from fiscal year 2016 to fiscal year 2020 it will add an additional 582,789 tons of conventional ammunition to this CAD stockpile.
Section 352 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015 included a provision that GAO review and report on the management of DOD's CAD stockpile.
This report assesses, among other things, the extent to which DOD has adequately maintained and shared information on excess, obsolete, and unserviceable ammunition for the military services. GAO reviewed applicable guidance and the military service ammunition databases; visited an Army depot that conducts ammunition demilitarization; and interviewed appropriate DOD officials.
What GAO Recommends
GAO recommends DOD develop a plan to identify and record missing weight data and develop a systematic means to share information on the stockpile with other government agencies. DOD agreed with GAO's recommendations.
For more information, contact Zina Merritt at (202) 512-5257 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recommendations for Executive Action
Comments: Officials with the Joint Munitions Command stated that they continually monitor the inventory and correct any erroneous or missing data, which includes weight data. However, they had not yet developed a plan specifically focused on correcting weight data for ammunition in the Conventional Ammunition Demilitarization (CAD) stockpile.
Recommendation: To improve the efficiency of DOD's conventional demilitarization efforts, including systematically collecting and maintaining key information about the items in its CAD stockpile and sharing information on excess items with other government agencies, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to improve the completeness and accuracy of information on the weight of items in the CAD stockpile--the key measure used by DOD to manage the conventional ammunition demilitarization operation--establish a plan to (1) identify and record, to the extent possible, the missing or inaccurate weight information for existing ammunition records in the CAD stockpile and (2) ensure that all items transferred to the CAD stockpile, including for example components removed from larger weapons and nonstandard ammunition, have the appropriate weight data.
Agency Affected: Department of Defense
Comments: As of August 2017, according to Department of Defense (DOD) officials, the department has made progress in developing a systematic process for sharing information on excess serviceable ammunition and plans, as GAO recommended in July 2015, but has not fully implemented that process. Specifically, the Army?s Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics signed a memorandum of understanding with the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) Disposition Services that established a process where DLA will assist the Army in transferring some excess DOD ammunition to federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. Annually, the Army will provide DLA with a list of available types and quantities of excess ammunition that is 7.62 millimeters and smaller. DLA Disposition Services will inform participating law enforcement agencies of the ammunition available, screen all requests received from law enforcement agencies, and forward all approved law enforcement agency requests to the Army. The Army will prepare all necessary issue documents; pack and ship, on a reimbursable basis, ammunition to law enforcement agencies identified by DLA; and notify DLA and law enforcement agencies of any changes in condition of the ammunition. DOD and DLA conducted a pilot of this process from November 2016 to June 2017 in which DOD, through DLA, shared information on excess small arms ammunition with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. As a result, DOD transferred 1,209,095 rounds of 5.56-millimeter ammunition and 200,000 rounds of 9-millimeter ammunition to federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. Since DOD was able to transfer this ammunition to another government agency, it does not have to pay to demilitarize (i.e. dispose of) the ammunition, which saved DOD about $60,000 in demilitarization costs. DOD officials stated that they are currently updating the Joint Conventional Ammunition Policies and Procedures (JCAPP) to formalize the procedures to accurately identify, execute, and track future transfers of excess small arms ammunition to federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. Once JCAPP is updated, this recommendation would be considered fully implemented.
Recommendation: To improve the efficiency of DOD's conventional demilitarization efforts, including systematically collecting and maintaining key information about the items in its CAD stockpile and sharing information on excess items with other government agencies, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to improve the visibility and awareness of serviceable excess ammunition in the CAD stockpile that could potentially be transferred to other government agencies, develop a systematic means to make information available to other government agencies on excess ammunition that could be used to meet their needs.
Agency Affected: Department of Defense