Defense Depot Maintenance:

Privatization and the Debate Over the Public-Private Mix

T-NSIAD-96-146: Published: Apr 16, 1996. Publicly Released: Apr 16, 1996.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the privatization of defense depot maintenance activities. GAO noted that: (1) the Department of Defense's (DOD) evolving depot maintenance policy includes a public-private mix and shifts work to the private sector where feasible; (2) depot privatization could worsen excess maintenance capacity and inefficiencies if not carefully managed; (3) DOD's policy report provides an overall framework for managing depot maintenance activities and substantial implementation flexibility, but the policy is not consistent with congressional guidance providing for public-private competition for non-core workloads; (4) privatizing depot maintenance is not likely to achieve the 20-percent savings DOD projects, since the 20-percent savings were for commercial-type activities that more readily led to competition which produced the reported savings; (5) most non-ship depot maintenance private-public competitions have been won by the public sector and averaged fewer than two competitors; (6) DOD plans to privatize in place and delay downsizing and closure of two air logistics centers will probably cost more than closing them and relocating their workloads to underutilized defense or private facilities; and (7) statutes governing competition and base closures may have to be repealed or amended before DOD can proceed with its privatization efforts.

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