Depot Maintenance:

Air Force Defines Backlog Better, but Additional Efforts Are Needed

NSIAD-89-211: Published: Sep 26, 1989. Publicly Released: Oct 27, 1989.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Air Force's reported depot maintenance backlog for fiscal year (FY) 1988 and FY 1989 to determine whether the Air Force: (1) identified backlog estimates for specific repairs and overhauls; (2) measured the effects of backlogs on unit readiness and sustainability; and (3) planned any changes to improve its identification of its requirements and the backlog.

GAO found that the Air Force: (1) defined the total depot maintenance backlog as the gross difference between its yearly requirements and available funding, but began in FY 1988 to identify individual items in its reported backlog; (2) estimated that it needed $185.7 million to repair items in its unfunded backlog at the end of FY 1988; (3) lacked adequate implementing procedures for identifying and calculating the unfunded backlog, resulting in its including some items it should not have reported, using unverified data, and relying on questionable depot and contractor inventory records; (4) is working to better link repair requirements to readiness and sustainability levels and to quantitatively assess the extent to which the backlog degrades capability; (5) to mitigate potential readiness problems, prioritized the depot maintenance work load and allocated funds to repair items needed to support peacetime operations and maintain readiness, transferred some of the depot work load to operating commands, and used parts from grounded aircraft or war reserve stock to continue operations; (6) generally reported that readiness levels remained high, but did report some shortages in repair parts that could degrade capability; and (7) is improving its requirements computation process and modernizing its logistics management information systems, and did not rely on those systems in determining its FY 1989 and FY 1990 requirements, since they generally overstated needed repairs.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: An accomplishment report was filed in September 1990 based on the Air Force's implementation of this recommendation.

    Recommendation: To prepare for the planned Office of the Secretary of Defense and subsequent Air Force changes and to ensure that the backlog is consistently and accurately reported by the air logistics centers, the Secretary of the Air Force should direct the Commander, Air Force Logistics Command, to prescribe the procedures and processes to be used in determining and verifying reported unfunded repairs.

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


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