Document Services:

DOD Should Take Actions to Achieve Further Efficiencies

GAO-19-71: Published: Oct 11, 2018. Publicly Released: Oct 11, 2018.

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What GAO Found

The Department of Defense (DOD) has taken steps to achieve efficiencies in its document services, including implementing a transformation plan to consolidate existing Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) Document Services facilities. However, GAO identified four areas where further gains may be possible:

Managing fragmentation in printing and reproduction services. DOD has designated DLA Document Services as the single manager for printing and reproduction services, but DOD customers, citing concerns with DLA's services, have also obtained these services directly from the Government Publishing Office and via in-house print facilities (see fig.). DOD has not assessed DLA's performance in this role or whether additional efficiencies may be possible in light of DLA's transformation plan.

Current Department of Defense Methods for Obtaining Printing and Reproduction Services

Current Department of Defense Methods for Obtaining Printing and Reproduction Services

Reducing overlap in procuring print devices. GAO found that DOD components used at least four different contract sources to acquire print devices. DOD has not assessed which acquisition approach represents the best value; doing so might better position DOD to further reduce its costs.

Meeting goals to reduce the number of print devices. DOD and the military services have not demonstrated that they achieved established goals for reducing the number of print devices. Additional controls and assignment of oversight responsibilities to monitor progress could better enable DOD to achieve its cost savings goals, estimated to be millions of dollars annually.

Consolidating DLA facilities. DLA is closing or consolidating 74 of its 112 facilities in the United States. However, GAO found that for four of seven types of specialty services, DLA plans to retain facilities that are responsible for less than 5 percent of the total revenue for each of those specialties, which suggests that further consolidations are possible.

DOD includes the cost of non-printing activities, such as the purchase of advertising time for recruiting, within its budget materials for printing and reproduction. It does not include costs to acquire print devices and for electronic content management. As a result, DOD and the Congress lack the oversight into total document services costs needed to make informed decisions.

Why GAO Did This Study

DOD has reported printing costs that totaled about $608 million, on average, during fiscal years 2010 through 2015. DLA Document Services has key DOD-wide responsibilities for (1) printing and reproduction, (2) print device procurement, and (3) electronic content management (e.g., digital document repositories). Other DOD components, including the military services, also maintain some document services capabilities at various locations.

House Report 115-200 accompanying a bill for the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2018 included a provision for GAO to examine DOD's document services. This report evaluates (1) the progress DOD has made in achieving efficiencies in its document services and opportunities, if any, to achieve further efficiencies, and (2) the extent to which DOD reports accurate financial information about its document services to key stakeholders. GAO reviewed documents and interviewed officials regarding DOD's efficiency initiatives, including DLA Document Services' transformation plan; reviewed print device procurement contracts and pricing information; and analyzed DOD budget data for fiscal years 2012 through 2016.

What GAO Recommends

GAO is making six recommendations, including that DOD evaluate options to achieve additional cost savings and other efficiencies in its document services and report more accurate budget data. DOD generally agreed with the recommendations.

For more information, contact Elizabeth Field at (202) 512-2775 or fielde1@gao.gov.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Defense (DOD) concurred with GAO's October 2018 recommendation. By July 2019, DOD had completed a study of printing and reproduction services to determine the best value to the department. As of December 2019, according to a DOD official, the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment plans to develop steps toward achieving the best value to the government based on the study results, and update DOD Instruction 5330.03, which describes the mission, responsibilities, functions, and relationships of DLA Document Services by July 2020. Completion of these actions would allow DOD to determine if further efficiencies in its document services are possible.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should ensure that the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment assesses whether DLA Document Services' single manager role for printing and reproduction provides the best value to the government--as determined by quality, price, and delivery time and in light of DLA Document Services' transformation plan--and whether any additional efficiencies are possible, and use the results of that assessment to inform the revision of DOD Instruction 5330.03. (Recommendation 1)

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Defense (DOD) concurred with GAO's October 2018 recommendation. In July 2019, DOD had completed a study of printing and reproduction services to determine the best value to the department. As of December 2019, according to a DOD official, the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment plans to develop steps toward achieving the best value to the government based on the study results, and update DOD Instruction 5330.03, which describes the mission, responsibilities, functions, and relationships of DLA Document Services by July 2020. Completion of these actions would allow DOD to determine if further efficiencies in its document services are possible.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should ensure that the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment assesses whether DOD's current approach to obtaining print devices represents the best value to the government or whether other approaches, such as further consolidations under DLA Document Services as a proposed single manager for print device procurement, would be more cost effective. (Recommendation 2)

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Defense (DOD) concurred with GAO's October 2018 recommendation. As of December 2019, DOD had ongoing actions intended to address the recommendation. For example, according to a DOD official, the DOD Chief Information Officer (CIO) will collaborate with the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment to define the necessary responsibilities, policy, and procedures in the planned revision of DOD Instruction 5330.03, which describes the mission, responsibilities, functions, and relationships of DLA Document Services. DOD plans to update the instruction by July 2020. Implementing controls, such as clarifying responsibilities, policy, and procedures would better enable DOD to achieve department-wide goals for reducing print devices it established in the CIO's 2012 memorandum.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should ensure that the DOD Chief Information Officer (CIO) implements controls, such as reporting procedures, to routinely monitor actions to reduce the number of print devices, consistent with department-wide goals for reducing the number of print devices that are included in the CIO's 2012 memorandum. (Recommendation 3)

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Defense (DOD) concurred with GAO's October 2018 recommendation. As of December 2019, DOD had ongoing actions intended to address the recommendation. For example, according to a DOD official, the DOD Chief Information Officer (CIO) will collaborate with the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment to define the necessary responsibilities, policy, and procedures in the planned revision of DOD Instruction 5330.03, which describes the mission, responsibilities, functions, and relationships of DLA Document Services. DOD plans to update the instruction by July 2020. Implementing controls, such as clarifying responsibilities, policy, and procedures would better enable DOD to achieve department-wide goals for reducing print devices it established in the CIO's 2012 memorandum.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should ensure that the DOD CIO assigns responsibility for implementing the CIO's 2012 memorandum on optimizing the use of employee information technology devices. (Recommendation 4)

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Department of Defense (DOD) concurred with GAO's October 2018 recommendation. According to DLA officials in December 2019, DLA Document Services analyzed additional workload revenue at retained facilities. Based on its analysis, DLA Document Services determined that it would close an additional three facilities and is evaluating whether it can close another five facilities. As a result of these actions, DOD has achieved additional efficiencies through further consolidations.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should ensure that the Director, DLA, in coordination with the Director, DLA Document Services and following implementation of the current transformation plan, gathers data on workload revenue at retained facilities and all mission specialties and evaluate whether additional opportunities for consolidation exist based on those data. (Recommendation 5)

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  6. Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Defense (DOD) partially concurred with this recommendation. As of July 2019, DOD had ongoing actions intended to address the recommendation. For example, according to DOD documentation, the offices of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment and Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) planned to examine the Service-related definitions of printing and reproduction for potential process improvements. DOD anticipated completing this action by July 2020. Examining opportunities to improve the definitions of printing and reproduction services would better position DOD to report more accurate funding information for document services, as GAO recommended in October 2018

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should ensure that the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), in consultation with the military services and DLA, evaluates options to report more accurate funding information and takes steps to improve the accuracy of its budgetary and financial information reporting on document services internally and to Congress, including making distinctions between printing and non-printing-related costs and information on device procurement and electronic content management. This information could be provided as part of DOD's annual Operation and Maintenance budget justification materials. (Recommendation 6)

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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