Better Controls and Data Needed To Distribute Defense Medical Supplies

LCD-80-77: Published: Jun 25, 1980. Publicly Released: Jun 25, 1980.

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The Department of Defense's (DOD) multiple systems for distributing medical supplies to the military services were evaluated regarding medical supply purchasing, inventory control and distribution, and possible duplication among systems. The Surgeons General of the Army, Air Force, and Navy were among the officials consulted. Field medical activities in the United States, Japan, Korea, and the Philippines were visited to examine the distribution methods used and to analyze the data provided by these activities on supply distribution effectiveness.

Distribution was hindered by excessive and old inventories, limited monitoring by the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) of the diverse DOD purchasing and delivery systems, and weaknesses in the DLA centralized supply system. High medical supply inventories throughout the system increased cost and handicapped control over perishable items. The DLA personnel support center disposed of $12 million of its fiscal year 1978 medical inventory because the supplies were either outdated or no longer needed. Overseas depots stocked up to two and three times the authorized levels. These high inventories and inventory control weaknesses contributed to the high rates of loss for perishable supplies. During the first quarter of FY 1979, $10 million worth of perishable medical supplies were unusable or were of limited use because shelf lives would expire soon. Field activities experienced unnecessary losses when they received outdated supplies or did not properly store perishable items. Reporting on disposals was inadequate. DLA depots shipped too many supplies out of their assigned regions. Only Air Force requisitions regularly reached DLA within the DOD 2-day standard. The timeliness of Army and Navy orders was reduced by sequential edits and reviews by intermediate organizations. DLA experienced serious difficulty in meeting its goal of delivering nonstocked medical items within 30 days after receiving the requisition. Consolidating medical support functions in Japan, Korea, and Hawaii could reduce cost and improve control.

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