The military's ability to carry out its mission depends on having adequate supplies of spare parts on hand for equipment maintenance. Shortages are a key indicator of whether the billions of dollars spent on these parts each year are used effectively, efficiently, and economically. The Navy has acknowledged in recent years that its aviation systems have significant readiness and supply problems. Since 1990, GAO has included Defense Department (DOD) inventory management, including spare parts, on its list of government functions at high risk for waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement. This report reviews (1) the impact of shortages of spare parts for two selected aircraft--the EA-6B Prowler and F-14 Tomcat, (2) the reasons for the shortages, and (3) the initiatives that the Navy and the Defense Logistics Agency have in place or planned to address overall spare part shortage issues. GAO found that spare parts shortages for the two aircraft have harmed Navy's readiness and the economy and efficiency of maintenance activities. Spare parts shortages have contributed to problems retaining military personnel. Navy managers attributed the spare parts shortages to the fact that more parts were required than the Navy originally anticipated and that problems arose in identifying, quantifying, or contracting with a private company to produce or repair the parts. The Navy and the Defense Logistics Agency have many logistics initiatives planned or under way to improve the logistic system and alleviate shortages of spare parts. The initiatives include best commercial inventory practices and generally address the causes GAO identified regarding spare parts shortages.
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