Inventory Management:

Air Force Items Being Returned for Repair but Not Promptly

NSIAD-88-21: Published: Nov 25, 1987. Publicly Released: Dec 18, 1987.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO analyzed repair transactions for Air Force equipment parts to determine whether Air Force commands returned reparable items to repair facilities as required and in accordance with timeliness standards.

GAO found that: (1) of the 807 transactions it analyzed, 600 required returns, 142 did not, and it could not determine the return requirement for 65 because of incomplete records; (2) the Air Force returned 587, or 98 percent, of the returnable items; (3) 46 percent of the returns did not meet time standards for base processing and 38 percent did not meet in-transit time standards; (4) about 50 percent exceeded the time standards by more than 10 days; and (5) critical items met the time standards for base processing less often than other items. GAO also found that delayed returns of reparable parts: (1) increased their procurement quantities; and (2) affected the readiness of weapon systems. In addition, GAO found that factors affecting or contributing to delayed returns included: (1) command emphasis on compliance with timeliness standards; (2) unjustified holding of broken items by commands; (3) inadequate recordkeeping and incorrect data files; (4) regulations containing confusing or contradictory procedures; (5) inadequate communication regarding handling needs; and (6) internal control weaknesses. GAO noted that the Air Force is strengthening management controls by: (1) consolidating and revising administrative controls, procedures, and standards governing the return process; and (2) improving inventory accuracy.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Air Force has issued revised regulations.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Air Force should direct commands to emphasize the need for timely turn-in, processing, and shipment of reparable items to repair facilities. Such an emphasis, which will be especially important as new standards are implemented, could include such actions as assigning experienced personnel to key positions, providing supervisory personnel with additional training, making frequent checks on performance, recognizing outstanding performance, and advising officers and managers at all responsibility levels in the return process of the enhanced readiness that accrues from timely returns.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Air Force


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