Military Depots:

Actions Needed to Improve Poor Conditions of Facilities and Equipment That Affect Maintenance Timeliness and Efficiency

GAO-19-242: Published: Apr 29, 2019. Publicly Released: Apr 29, 2019.

Multimedia:

  • GAO: Poor Conditions at Military DepotsVIDEO: Poor Conditions at Military Depots
    The average condition of facilities at most U.S. military depots is poor, and the average age of depot equipment is past its expected useful life. GAO looked at the condition of depots and the services’ efforts to develop depot optimization plans.

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Diana Maurer
(202) 512-9627
maurerd@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

Military Depots: Services Need to Take Actions to Improve Poor Condition of Facilities and Equipment That Affect Maintenance Timeliness and Efficiency

DOD operates 21 depots that maintain, overhaul, and repair complex weapons systems and equipment.

We found

The facility conditions were poor at most depots

Depot equipment was generally older than its expected service life

Declining performance over the last 10 years at most depots reduced the availability of weapons systems for training and operations

The military services can't determine how much of the decline is due to facility and equipment problems

While the services have started planning to improve depots as required, we recommended they track maintenance delays and incorporate key goals and performance metrics into their plans.

This depot drydock allows maintainers to work on the hull of a submarine.

Submarine in drydock

Submarine in drydock

Multimedia:

  • GAO: Poor Conditions at Military DepotsVIDEO: Poor Conditions at Military Depots
    The average condition of facilities at most U.S. military depots is poor, and the average age of depot equipment is past its expected useful life. GAO looked at the condition of depots and the services’ efforts to develop depot optimization plans.

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Diana Maurer
(202) 512-9627
maurerd@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

What GAO Found

The condition of facilities at a majority of the Department of Defense's (DOD) depots is poor and the age of equipment is generally past its useful life, but the services do not consistently track the effect that these conditions have on depot performance. Twelve of the 21 depots GAO reviewed––more than half––had “poor” average facility condition ratings (see figure). Some facilities also serve functions for which they were not designed, reducing their efficiency. In addition, the average age of depot equipment exceeded its expected useful life at 15 of the 21 depots. These factors contributed, in part, to a decline in performance over the same period. From 2007 to 2017, performance at the depots generally declined, reducing the availability of the weapon systems repaired for training and operations. Optimizing facilities and equipment at the depots can improve their maintenance efficiency. For example, the Navy estimates that its shipyard optimization effort will save over 325,000 labor days per year, which would allow an additional submarine overhaul annually. However, the services lack data on the effect that facilities and equipment conditions have on maintenance delays, hindering DOD's ability to effectively target investments to the highest priorities.

Summary of Facilities, Equipment, and Performance at 21 Service Depots

Summary of Facilities, Equipment, and Performance at 21 Service Depots

DOD and the services' approach for managing investments to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its depots lacks elements important to addressing key challenges. The services have efforts underway to complete their plans by February 2019 to address their depots' facility and equipment needs. However, GAO found that these plans are preliminary and will not include key elements, such as analytically-based goals; results-oriented metrics; a full accounting of the resources, risks, and stakeholders; and a process for reporting on progress. Addressing the poor conditions at DOD's 21 depots will cost billions and require sustained management attention over many years. However, the DOD office responsible for depot policy does not monitor or regularly report on depot improvement efforts to DOD decision makers and Congress. Until DOD and the services incorporate these key elements into the management approach for their depot investments, they risk continued deterioration of the depots, hindering their ability to meet the Secretary of Defense's goals for improving readiness and reducing operating and support costs.

Why GAO Did This Study

The military services' 21 depots maintain the readiness of critical weapon systems such as ships, aircraft, and tanks needed for military operations. The condition of depot facilities and equipment directly affects the timeliness of maintenance and the readiness of the weapon systems they repair. The services have invested over $13 billion in the depots from fiscal year 2007 to fiscal year 2017.

Senate Report 115-125 included a provision for GAO to examine the services' investment in and performance of their depots. GAO evaluated (1) the condition of depot facilities and equipment, their relationship to depot performance, and the services' tracking of the relationship to depot performance and (2) the extent to which DOD and the services have developed an approach for guiding depot investments to address key challenges. GAO also provides an overview summary for each depot. GAO reviewed data from fiscal years 2007 through 2017 on depot investment, performance, and the age and condition of facilities and equipment; reviewed agency guidance; and interviewed DOD, service, and depot officials.

What GAO Recommends

GAO is making 13 recommendations to improve data collection on the effect of facilities and equipment condition on depot performance, and develop plans that incorporate key elements to guide depot investments. DOD concurred with 12 recommendations, but did not agree to monitor and report on depot investments. We continue to believe monitoring and reporting will enhance DOD's efforts to improve its depots.

For more information, contact Diana Maurer at (202) 512-9627 or maurerd@gao.gov.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should ensure that Army Materiel Command establishes measures for its depots to track facility or equipment conditions that lead to maintenance delays. (Recommendation 1)

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should ensure that Army Materiel Command implements tracking of the measures for identifying when facility or equipment conditions lead to maintenance delays at each Army depot. (Recommendation 2)

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Navy should ensure that Naval Sea Systems Command and the Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers establish measures for their depots to track facility or equipment conditions that lead to maintenance delays. (Recommendation 3)

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Navy should ensure that Naval Sea Systems Command and the Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers implement tracking of the measures for identifying when facility or equipment conditions lead to maintenance delays at each Navy depot. (Recommendation 4)

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  5. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Air Force should ensure that Air Force Materiel Command establishes measures for its depots to track facility or equipment conditions that lead to maintenance delays. (Recommendation 5)

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  6. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Air Force should ensure that Air Force Materiel Command implements tracking of the measures for identifying when facility or equipment conditions lead to maintenance delays at each Air Force depot. (Recommendation 6)

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  7. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Commandant of the Marine Corps should ensure that Marine Corps Logistics Command establishes measures for its depots to track facility or equipment conditions that lead to maintenance delays. (Recommendation 7)

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  8. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Commandant of the Marine Corps should ensure that Marine Corps Logistics Command implements tracking of the measures for identifying when facility or equipment conditions lead to maintenance delays at each Marine Corp depot. (Recommendation 8)

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  9. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should ensure that Army Materiel Command incorporates in its depot optimization plan, key results-oriented elements including analytically-based goals, results-oriented metrics, identification of required resources, risks, and stakeholders, and regular reporting to decision makers on progress. (Recommendation 9)

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  10. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Navy should ensure that Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers incorporates in its depot optimization plan, key results-oriented elements including analytically-based goals, results-oriented metrics, identification of required resources, risks, and stakeholders, and regular reporting to decision makers on progress. (Recommendation 10)

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  11. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Air Force should ensure that Air Force Materiel Command incorporates in its depot optimization plan, key results-oriented elements including analytically-based goals, results-oriented metrics, identification of required resources, risks, and stakeholders, and regular reporting to decision makers on progress. (Recommendation 11)

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  12. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Commandant of the Marine Corps should ensure that Marine Corps Logistics Command incorporates in its depot optimization plan, key results-oriented elements including analytically-based goals, results-oriented metrics, identification of required resources, risks, and stakeholders, and regular reporting to decision makers on progress. (Recommendation 12)

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  13. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should ensure that the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Sustainment develops an approach for managing service depot investments that includes management monitoring and regular reporting to decision makers and Congress on progress. (Recommendation 13)

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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