Quality Assurance:

Efforts To Strengthen DOD's Program

NSIAD-87-33: Published: Nov 3, 1986. Publicly Released: Nov 3, 1986.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO evaluated the Department of Defense's (DOD) in-plant quality assurance program to determine its effectiveness.

The Army, Navy, and Air Force plant representative offices (PRO) and the Defense Contract Administration Service carry out the quality assurance program for each plant. GAO found that: (1) individual service and Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) reviews have identified widespread contractor quality deficiencies; (2) the program did not meet Federal Acquisition Regulation requirements because PRO delegated some of their inspection responsibilities to contractors and did not perform all the mandatory quality assurance inspections; (3) the Army PRO (APRO) Quality Management Information System understated the actual number of times contractors performed government inspections; (4) APRO and the Navy PRO did not always perform mandatory government inspections; and (5) PRO could not readily identify recurring quality defects using existing plant data. GAO also found that: (1) the services have identified problems such as ineffective surveillance methods and a lack of qualified personnel that weaken PRO operations; (2) a former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Logistics suggested a new approach to quality assurance, but the services and DLA have not reached a consensus; (3) the DOD Quality Assurance Council has not developed DOD-wide solutions to quality problems; and (4) the Council has not followed through on a previous effort to improve the program. GAO concluded that, although the services and DLA have developed and implemented their own in-plant programs, these efforts are not a substitute for a DOD-wide program.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The DOD Quality Assurance Council has been reaffirmed as the body to exert unified leadership and guide implementation of the DOD total quality management (TQM) approach. Milestones and target dates have been set to meet this recommendation. Plan includes actions for quality control, revision of DODD 4155.1, and restructuring of the DOD Quality Assurance Program.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should instruct the Quality Assurance Council to facilitate the interchange of ideas between the services and DLA and, as necessary, direct the implementation of specific improvements to DLA and service programs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The DOD Quality Assurance Council is developing a plan to restructure the DOD Quality Assurance Program under an unifying approach that implements new concepts in the achievement of quality. The new concepts are contained in the DOD Management Improvement Plan. A plan has been developed to implement the DOD TQM concept. The TQM guide for program managers was published in draft on January 19, 1989.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should instruct the Quality Assurance Council to prepare and carry out a long-range plan for developing and implementing a DOD-wide optimum quality assurance plan. This step should include close coordination with industry, the services, DLA, and quality assurance experts.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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