DOD Should Enhance Management of and Reporting on Its Global Train and Equip Program

GAO-16-368: Published: Apr 18, 2016. Publicly Released: Apr 18, 2016.

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Charles Michael Johnson, Jr
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What GAO Found

Funding Allocations for Global Train and Equip Projects by Fiscal Year

The Departments of Defense (DOD) and State (State) officials consistently considered four key security assistance project planning elements for fiscal year 2015 Global Train and Equip project proposals. However, project proposals did not always adhere to federal internal control standards for clearly documenting three of those elements—absorptive capacity, project assessment, and sustainment plans. For example, DOD did not require project proposal packages to document information about the recipient unit's absorptive capacity. In addition, assessments of recipient unit baseline capabilities did not always include all information required by agency guidance to facilitate project assessment. Lastly, 13 of 54 project proposals did not include required estimates of annual sustainment costs. The sharp increase in funding for program activities in fiscal year 2015, as shown in the figure above, heightens the importance of documenting consideration of key planning elements to provide decision makers sufficient information about recipient units' ability to use and sustain assistance. Moreover, incomplete baseline assessments may limit DOD's ability to conduct project assessments to inform future funding decisions.

DOD's Consideration and Documentation of Key Security Assistance Planning Elements for Fiscal Year 2015 Global Train and Equip Projects

DOD reporting on Global Train and Equip project assessments has not met statutory deadlines but identifies some progress in building partner nation capabilities. Despite a legal requirement to complete and submit to Congress annual assessments within 90 days of the end of each fiscal year, DOD's fiscal year 2013, 2014, and 2015 assessment reports were submitted up to 21 months late. Untimely reporting may limit decision makers' ability to use assessments to inform future project selection and sustainment decisions. DOD's assessments—which cover 28 percent of funds allocated in fiscal years 2006 through 2013—indicate some progress in building capability to combat terrorism and conduct stability operations. They also identify factors that challenge the achievement of project objectives such as proposal design and interpretation and equipment delivery and procurement. For example, one country received sniper spotting scopes that were too tall for use in a prone position, exposing the spotter.

Why GAO Did This Study

The United States has undertaken several efforts, including DOD's Global Train and Equip program, to build the capacity of its foreign partners to counter terrorism. Funding allocated for this program totals $2.3 billion since 2009. DOD and State select projects from proposals that use a standard planning template. Once projects are approved by DOD with concurrence from State, DOD submits congressional notifications that summarize certain aspects of each project.

The fiscal year 2015 National Defense Authorization Act included a provision for GAO to review the Global Train and Equip Program. This report examines (1) the extent to which DOD considered and documented consideration of key security assistance elements for fiscal year 2015 project proposals, and (2) the results that have been reported on the achievement of project objectives since fiscal year 2009. GAO analyzed agency data and program documents, and interviewed DOD and State officials in Washington, D.C., and at selected combatant commands and embassies.

What GAO Recommends

GAO is making two recommendations to enhance DOD's documentation and management of the Global Train and Equip program and one to ensure timely completion of required assessment reporting to Congress. DOD concurred with GAO's recommendations.

For more information, contact Charles Michael Johnson, Jr., at (202) 512-7331 or

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In commenting on the report, DOD concurred with the recommendation. In July 2016, DOD provided us with an updated version of the GTEP project proposal template to be used for fiscal year 2017, which included a specific section requesting information regarding partner nations' absorptive capacity.

    Recommendation: To improve management of and reporting on the Global Train and Equip program, the Secretary of Defense should take steps to require that information about the absorptive capacity of recipient units be documented in project proposal packages.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred with this recommendation in its official comment letter included as an appendix in GAO-16-368, published in May 2016. As of February 2018, DOD had not provided us evidence that they have taken steps to ensure project proposal packages include all requested documentation. GAO will continue to monitor relevant DOD efforts.

    Recommendation: To improve management of and reporting on the Global Train and Equip program, the Secretary of Defense should take steps to ensure that documentation requested in project proposal packages is complete.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Open

    Comments: At the time of our April 2016 report, DOD was required to complete annual assessment reports on the section 10 U.S.C. Section 2282 Global Train and Equip program. However, the Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) repealed the authorization for the Global Train and Equip program, including the annual reporting requirement, effective 270 days after the NDAA's enactment on December 23, 2016, or (September 19, 2017). In February 2017, DOD submitted its assessments for fiscal year 2016.

    Recommendation: To improve management of and reporting on the Global Train and Equip program, the Secretary of Defense should take steps to develop a process for improving the timely completion and submission of required assessment reports to Congress.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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