The Department of Defense Could Save Several Millions Dollars Annually Through Improved Management and Control of Reusable Containers

LCD-78-214: Published: Jul 19, 1978. Publicly Released: Jul 19, 1978.

Additional Materials:


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

The military services spend an estimated $2 billion annually for packaging. The Army and Navy could save millions of dollars annually by improving their controls and accounting systems relative to specialized reusable containers.

Existing controls are not sufficient to prevent the loss of valuable specialized reusable containers by the military services. This lack of control and visibility resulted in unnecessary procurement of containers, unnecessary fabrication of substitute containers, and premature disposal of containers. Although reusable containers have characteristics similar to other items of supply and many containers are of high dollar value, they are generally not treated as accountable assets. As a result, containers may be obtained without cost to the user, lost without explanation, disposed of without justification, or sold without approval. DOD and the military services need to give more attention to the management and control of reusable containers to eliminate such problems as misuse, failure to redistribute excess reusable containers, and premature disposal. The Army and Navy are not selecting reusable containers based on cost-effectiveness analyses or other relevant criteria.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should establish Department of Defense policies that will: (1) ensure that specialized containers are used and reused to the fullest extent practicable; (2) prevent the loss or premature disposal of these assets; (3) study the designation of regional clearinghouses to collect, repair, and redistribute containers; (4) require the services to account for specialized reusable containers, revise container repair criteria, and consider imposing penalties for loss of containers; and (5) direct the services to perform economic analyses and consider alternatives available when selecting containers for new procurements. The Secretary of the Army should improve review procedures for the Automatic Return Item List to ensure that all containers needed in the distribution system are placed on the list.

    Agency Affected:


Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Nov 15, 2018

Nov 14, 2018

Nov 13, 2018

Nov 8, 2018

Nov 5, 2018

Nov 2, 2018

Nov 1, 2018

Oct 23, 2018

Looking for more? Browse all our products here