Military Medals:

Efforts To Expedite Their Distribution to Veterans

NSIAD-86-2: Published: Oct 18, 1985. Publicly Released: Oct 18, 1985.

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Martin M. Ferber
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the armed forces' award program to determine whether corrective actions are needed to improve and expedite the distribution of medals to veterans.

GAO found that the medal requests are processed by one of two centers: (1) the Army Reserve Components Personnel and Administration Center, which processes Army personnel requests; and (2) the National Archives and Records Administration's Record Center, which processes all other veterans' requests. After two magazine articles gave the program national publicity, the centers experienced delays in responding to requests because they initially lacked sufficient personnel and medal supplies. The acquisition of the necessary resources reduced the backlogs in both centers; however, the Records Center experienced delays in delivering the medals because of: (1) delays in receiving the supplies; and (2) the failure of the services to promptly fill requisitions. GAO believes that the Army was better able to handle the distributions since its staff was concerned solely with ordering, packaging, and shipping medals to veterans. The Records Center handles the medal requests along with other requests for information relating to veterans. The Records Center requested that each of the services assume the responsibilities for issuing medals to its former members because: (1) it relied on organizations outside its control for supplies; and (2) the responsibility for issuing medals was never clearly assigned to the Records Center by any agreement with the armed services. GAO believes that this transfer would result in another backlog situation since the services do not have the organizations or procedures to perform the function.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The National Archives delayed transfer of the medals-issuance responsibility until March 1, 1986, as agreed by the Department of Defense (DOD).

    Recommendation: The Archivist should delay the transfer of the medals-issuance responsibility from the Records Center to the services until the concerned parties have fully considered all possible solutions.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration: National Archives and Records Administration

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: As of June 1, 1986, the medals-issuance responsibility handled by the National Archives was transferred to the Navy for Navy veterans. A similar transfer took place on March 1, 1986, to the Marines and the Air Force for their veterans.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should, in coordination with the Defense Logistics Agency, Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard, meet with the Archivist to determine how to best correct the supply problem.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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