Force Structure:

Streamlining Plans Could Enable Navy to Reduce Personnel Below Fiscal Year 1999 Goal

NSIAD-97-90: Published: Apr 18, 1997. Publicly Released: Apr 18, 1997.

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GAO reviewed the: (1) size and composition of Navy active duty forces between 1989 and 1999; (2) Navy's plans to achieve its fiscal year (FY) 1999 active duty force goal and initiatives that could further reduce forces beyond the planned FY 1999 level; and (3) Navy's processes for determining active military force requirements.

GAO noted that: (1) the Navy plans to reduce its active military forces from 592,652 in FY 1989 to 394,900 in FY 1999; (2) by the end of FY 1999, infrastructure-related positions will have been reduced at a slightly greater rate than mission-related positions; (3) during the drawdown, the Navy plans to reduce the number of enlisted personnel at a higher rate than officers and the number of junior officers and enlisted personnel at higher rates than senior personnel; (4) while officers and enlisted personnel in mission-related positions will decline by nearly the same percentage, enlisted personnel will decline by a greater percentage than officers in infrastructure positions; (5) as a result, the proportion of officers in infrastructure positions will increase from about 17 percent in FY 1989 to 21 percent in FY 1999; (6) the effect is that costs will not decline in proportion to personnel; (7) as of September 30, 1996, the Navy had reduced its active military personnel by 164,700 primarily by decommissioning ships, submarines, and aircraft squadrons and closing shore-based activities; (8) the Navy will need to reduce its forces by another 33,100 to reach its end strength goal by continuing to close bases, decommission ships, submarines, and aircraft squadrons, plus reducing recruiting and associated training and outsourcing some functions; (9) for 25 years, the Navy has not properly assessed personnel requirements for its shore-based activities primarily because of the low priority that the Navy traditionally gave to managing the shore establishment, ineffective Navy management and oversight of the shore requirements program, and changes in program direction; (10) the Navy is instituting several measures to strengthen the shore requirements program; (11) however, without continued high-level Navy support and long-term commitment, there is no guarantee that the fate of these proposals will be any different than those of earlier years; (12) the Navy has little assurance that resources are being used efficiently and that its shore establishment is appropriately sized without an effective long-term program for determining personnel requirements; (13) accordingly, GAO believes this represents a material weakness in the Navy that should be reported under the Federal Managers' Financial Integrity Act (FMFIA); and (14) GAO believes improving the requirements process is particularly important as the Navy looks for savings and efficiencies to modernize and recapitalize its operating forces.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: When we determine what steps the Congress has taken, we will provide updated information.

    Matter: Given the long history of congressional concern over the Navy's ability to effectively determine the size and composition of its shore establishment, the Congress may wish to require the Navy to submit its plan of action, with milestones, to the Congress. In addition, as part of this plan the Congress may also want the Navy to demonstrate its progress and provide specific details on the steps it has taken at headquarters and at the major command level to: (1) improve management oversight and accountability of the personnel requirements determination process at all levels; (2) increasingly utilize standardization and comparative analysis of like activities as part of the requirements process; (3) improve staff training and ensure that only technically qualified staff conduct efficiency reviews; and (4) establish a link between the shore personnel requirements process and the Navy's various initiatives to reduce its shore infrastructure, many of which were discussed in chapter 3 of GAO's report.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Navy believes that current programs meet the intent of the recommendation.

    Recommendation: To improve the management and allocation of personnel resources to the shore establishment, the Secretary of the Navy should report to the Secretary of Defense the lack of an effective shore requirements determination program as a material weakness under FMFIA to maintain visibility of the issue and ensure action is taken.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Navy believes that current programs meet the intent of the recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Navy should create an action plan with milestones to resolve long-standing problems with the shore personnel requirements program. The plan should specifically explain how the Navy will attempt to overcome the fundamental problems, such as lack of senior Navy management commitment to effective management of the shore establishment and ineffective management oversight and accountability, that have plagued this program.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy


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