Defense Headquarters:

Status of Efforts to Redefine and Reduce Headquarters Staff

NSIAD-00-224: Published: Sep 6, 2000. Publicly Released: Oct 5, 2000.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Department of Defense's (DOD) progress on reducing its headquarters staff, focusing on DOD efforts to: (1) implement the revised management headquarters directive and provide a more accurate report on the number of personnel in headquarters activities; and (2) reduce positions in headquarters and achieve the reductions mandated by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2000.

GAO noted that: (1) in implementing the revised directive, the Department has more accurately reported the number of positions in headquarters activities; (2) the number of positions reported in headquarters activities as of September 30, 1999, increased by about 15,300, or by 32 percent--from about 47,700 to 63,000; (3) the primary reason for the increase was that for the first time the military services and Defense agencies reported positions in subordinate activities such as field operating agencies that provide direct support to headquarters and major commands; (4) however, GAO did identify some inconsistencies in how the service components designated positions as headquarters and implemented the directive; (5) for example, the Air Force reported 1 of 65 positions in its cost analysis center as management headquarters, and the Army and the Navy reported all positions in their cost centers as management headquarters; (6) additionally, officials in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the services indicated that the overall management headquarters personnel count could change--increase or decrease in selected areas--based on ongoing internal reviews; (7) DOD does not plan to reduce positions in management headquarters activities by 15 percent (9,460) by the end of fiscal year (FY) 2002, as required by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2000; (8) rather, the Department plans to reduce the number of headquarters positions by 2,769, which represents about 29 percent of the mandated reductions by the end of FY 2001, and is seeking relief from the larger reduction requirement; (9) some additional reductions may be made in FY 2002, but according to Department officials, a final estimate has not been approved; and (10) Department officials have expressed concern that positions in headquarters activities have already been significantly reduced over the last 10 years and that further reductions would jeopardize the combatant commanders' ability to manage demands associated with global military presence and would threaten the military departments' ability to meet their financial and program oversight responsibilities.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In a June 8, 2001, report to Congress, the Department of Defense corrected all the inconsistencies that GAO identified which resulted in a more accurate baseline and reporting to Congress of positions in management headquarters activities.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should include information on the extent to which inconsistencies in Defense components identification of headquarters functions have been corrected in the Department's forthcoming report to Congress on management headquarters reductions.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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