Government Aircraft:

Observations on Travel by Senior Officials

NSIAD-95-168BR: Published: Jun 5, 1995. Publicly Released: Jun 8, 1995.

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Mark E. Gebicke
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Office of Public Affairs
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the aircraft used to transport senior level military and civilian personnel during a 30-month period ending March 1995, focusing on whether: (1) the Department of Defense's (DOD) operational support airlift (OSA) aircraft inventory was excessive to support the current military strategy; (2) the rules governing the use of these aircraft had recently been changed and how these changes affected senior level travel; (3) senior DOD officials' trips to frequent destinations could have been made aboard government contract carriers; and (4) the use of DOD helicopters in the District of Columbia (DC) metropolitan area was justified based on wartime requirements.

GAO found that: (1) in 1994, the Air Force determined that its OSA inventory exceeded its wartime requirements, while the other military services determined that their OSA inventories would not support their wartime requirements; (2) in May 1995, DOD issued a revised policy that requires more OSA flights to be justified based on a cost comparison between OSA and commercial carriers; (3) many of the most frequent OSA destinations are also served by contract carriers, but with less scheduling flexibility; (4) the use of military helicopters in the DC area was not justified based on OSA wartime requirements; (5) the Army recently prohibited the use of helicopters for a 15-mile flight from the Pentagon to Andrews Air Force Base; and (6) only 19 of 1,500 civilian agency aircraft were routinely used for senior-level travel.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD has developed uniform guidance and established a new wartime requirement of 391 aircraft, or 118 less than the fleet that existed before establishing the guidance. DOD plans to issue uniform guidance to the services for computing wartime requirements by October 1, 1996.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should provide uniform guidance to the services concerning how to compute OSA wartime requirements.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD will shortly implement its new OSA aircraft scheduling system, JALIS, which will allow visibility of each service's OSA aircraft. It is expected that more intraservicing of flight requirements can be attained with the new system. The Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, has asked the services to work with the Transportation Command in analyzing the first 12 months of JALIS data.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should develop the appropriate mechanisms to ensure the availability of each service's aircraft to help fulfill the OSA needs of the other services.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Deputy Secretary of Defense has approved the reduction in the size of the OSA fleet from 509 aircraft to 391 aircraft. DOD plans to reutilize or sell the excess 118 OSA aircraft.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should reassign or otherwise dispose of excess OSA aircraft.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD issued revised guidance on October 1, 1995 that further restricted the use of helicopters for senior-level officials' travel. GAO's review of the implementation of the guidance indicated that since the June 1995 report, the number of senior-level officials' helicopter flights to and from the Pentagon generally declined.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should adopt, and direct the other service secretaries to adopt, the Army's policy of restricting helicopter flights to Andrews Air Force Base and possibly to other nearby locations as well.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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