Military Airlift:

Operational Support Airlift Program Needs More Controls

NSIAD-88-219: Published: Sep 16, 1988. Publicly Released: Sep 30, 1988.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed Department of Defense (DOD) policies and procedures concerning the services' use of military operational support airlift (OSA) aircraft versus commercial aircraft for the transportation of DOD military and civilian personnel, to determine whether the: (1) services followed current policies and procedures; and (2) use of military aircraft was cost-effective compared to commercial air transportation sources.

GAO found that: (1) the services' continued noncompliance with DOD policies and procedures and their own management criteria resulted in increased DOD transportation costs; (2) problems included services' failing to conduct or document periodic management reviews, implementing instructions for OSA inconsistent with DOD regulations, and overstating requirements, resulting in uneconomical flights; (3) DOD believed that use of OSA training missions to transport passengers was cost-effective and economical; and (4) the services' programs needed more automation and organization to have a more efficient, cost-effective, and service-oriented system.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD has provided the services guidance to increase utilization of the aircraft.

    Recommendation: To achieve greater management control over OSA operations, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force to ensure that their implementing instructions and procedures for OSA are consistent with DOD criteria, especially with regard to: (1) assigning priorities; (2) retaining OSA documents; (3) not overstating requirements; (4) fully implementing and documenting internal management control reviews for OSA, including the procedures used at the requester level; and (5) using civilian pilots for OSA operations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD sent a memo to all services on December 12, 1988, directing compliance with OSA policy.

    Recommendation: To achieve a more cost-effective OSA system, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force to: (1) schedule OSA training missions that increase passenger utilization as much as possible, consistent with the need to meet wartime readiness training requirements; and (2) eliminate overscheduling to ensure service.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Air Force has instituted procedures to expand the use of existing automation capability for scheduling OSA. Additionally, the Military Airlift Command has developed a statement of need and a computer systems requirements document to upgrade/replace the present automation capability with a system capable of interfacing with the Army and Navy OSA scheduling systems.

    Recommendation: To achieve further efficiencies and economies in OSA operations, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to automate the Air Force's OSA scheduling system so that the system can interface with the Navy system and the Army system when it is fully automated. The Secretary of Defense should also consider consolidating all OSA scheduling at a single automated scheduling activity.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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