Need for a DOD Shelf-Life Program Administrator

LCD-79-220: Published: Jun 19, 1979. Publicly Released: Jul 19, 1979.

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Since 1974 the Defense Logistic Agency (DLA) has been assigned formal responsibility for administering the Department of Defense (DOD) shelf-life program. Shelf-life items are items of supply possessing deteriorative or unstable characteristics. A review of four inventory control points (ICP's) was made to determine whether shelf-life management procedures and practices at the wholesale manager level are adequate to ensure that (1) new items entering the supply system are subjected to appropriate evaluation prior to designation for shelf-life management, (2) management records accurately reflect shelf-life identification data, and (3) items already in the supply system are subjected to subsequent reevaluation of shelf life, based on storage experience and other factors.

As a result of the review, GAO found that almost half of the shelf-life items had been assigned incorrect or questionable shelf-life designations. ICP's were not always performing independent technical evaluations of items entering their supply systems to determine whether shelf-life controls were necessary, nor were they routinely reevaluating shelf-life items to verify or adjust the original designations. Shelf-life management practices were inconsistent between the Air Force and other military ICP's and the military services were not always preparing storage serviceability standards for the shelf-life items they managed. These inconsistencies and inadequacies can result in excessive management costs or unnecessary disposal of materiel. GAO suggests that there should be one focal point, such as a Department of Defense Shelf-Life Program Administrator, whose functions would include reviewing and evaluating the operations of the program on a continuing basis and recommending actions to improve operations and/or eliminate inconsistent management practices.

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