Prepositioned Stocks:

DOD Needs Joint Oversight of the Military Services' Programs

GAO-19-244: Published: Jan 31, 2019. Publicly Released: Jan 31, 2019.

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Contact:

Cary B. Russell
(202) 512-5431
russellc@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
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youngc1@gao.gov

The military services keep everything from rations to tanks at strategic locations around the world. Positioning supplies in advance can allow action without waiting for cargo to arrive.

Since 2005, we have found potential problems in the prepositioned stocks programs, which each service manages separately. DOD has fallen short of requirements to synchronize program management, and risks duplication of effort and inefficiency.

We found the services continue to manage the programs with little joint oversight.

We made 6 recommendations, including that DOD fully implement joint oversight of the programs and update Congress on its progress.

A ship that carries Marine Corps prepositioning stocks

This photo shows a docked ship.

This photo shows a docked ship.

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Cary B. Russell
(202) 512-5431
russellc@gao.gov

 

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

What GAO Found

The Department of Defense's (DOD) implementation plan for managing the military services' prepositioned stock programs does not fully address four of the seven elements required by the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2014. For example, DOD's plan did not include all information required by the NDAA, such as a complete list of the services' programs, information on how DOD would pursue key initiatives, or the resources required to implement the plan. DOD officials told GAO that they developed a plan without detail to allow the services to determine for themselves how to implement their programs. However, absent an implementation plan that fully addresses NDAA requirements, DOD continues to provide incomplete information to Congress on the department's prepositioned stock programs.

Since 2011 when Congress required DOD to take action and since 2005 when GAO first reported on the issue, DOD has not fully implemented a joint oversight approach for managing prepositioned stock programs (see figure).

Congressional Requirements and GAO Reporting Related to DOD's Limited Progress with the Joint Oversight of Prepositioned Stock Programs

Congressional Requirements and GAO Reporting Related to DOD's Limited Progress with the Joint Oversight of Prepositioned Stock Programs

DOD's recent approach for implementing joint oversight has been to update guidance documents and develop other efforts, such as a working group, but the services continue to manage their programs with little joint oversight. Without taking steps to fully implement joint oversight, including providing detailed information on how to achieve this in guidance and reviewing other efforts, DOD's management will continue to be fragmented and it risks duplication and inefficiencies among the services' programs. Moreover, updating Congress on DOD's progress would help assure decision makers that DOD intends to follow their direction in establishing joint oversight of prepositioned stock programs.

Why GAO Did This Study

The military services preposition stocks worth billions of dollars at strategic locations around the world to provide U.S. forces with critical assets before supply chains have been established. In the 2018 National Defense Strategy, DOD emphasized that prepositioned stocks provide key logistical support for the department's missions. For many years, GAO has identified the potential for duplication among the military services' prepositioned stock programs due to a fragmented management approach and limited joint oversight within DOD.

In the NDAA for Fiscal Year 2014, Congress required DOD to develop an implementation plan to manage prepositioned stock programs. DOD finalized its plan in August 2017. The act included a provision for GAO to review the plan and report on related issues. GAO assessed the extent to which (1) DOD's implementation plan addresses mandated reporting elements and (2) DOD has made progress in implementing a joint oversight approach for managing the services' prepositioned stock programs.

GAO compared the implementation plan and DOD's joint oversight approach with congressional requirements and federal standards for internal control and interviewed DOD officials.

What GAO Recommends

GAO is making six recommendations, including that DOD provide information required by the NDAA, fully implement joint oversight of prepositioned stock programs, and update Congress on progress made. DOD concurred with all of the recommendations.

For more information, contact Cary B. Russell, (202) 512-5431 or russellc@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 Defense should ensure that the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Sustainment, in coordination with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, issue a more detailed implementation plan or include implementation plan details in identified formal department-wide guidance to include an updated list to provide quality information, including all of DOD's prepositioned materiel and equipment programs. (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 Defense should ensure that the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Sustainment, in coordination with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, issue a more detailed implementation plan or include implementation plan details in identified formal department-wide guidance to include a detailed description of how DOD will implement the three key initiatives in the plan--policy, governance, and assessment--including clearly identifying what is to be achieved in these areas. (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 Defense should ensure that the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Sustainment, in coordination with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, issue a more detailed implementation plan or include implementation plan details in identified formal department-wide guidance to include a description of the resources (i.e., relevant operational and financial information) required to implement the plan including dollar and personnel amounts. (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 Defense should ensure that the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Sustainment, in coordination with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, issue a more detailed implementation plan or include implementation plan details in identified formal department-wide guidance to include a description of how the department will review and assess the implementation plan for effectiveness. (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 Defense should ensure that the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Sustainment, in coordination with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, take steps to fully implement joint oversight of DODs prepositioned stock programs, including providing detailed information on how to implement such an oversight approach in department guidance and reviewing other joint oversight efforts, in order to synchronize the military services' preposition stock strategies to avoid fragmentation. (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 Defense should ensure that the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Sustainment, in coordination with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, update Congress on the departments progress in joint oversight management in the prepositioned stock annual report or in a separate report. (Recommendation 6)

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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