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Cooperative Threat Reduction: DOD Has Improved Its Management and Internal Controls, but Challenges Remain

GAO-05-329 Published: Jun 30, 2005. Publicly Released: Jun 30, 2005.
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Section 3611 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004 mandates that GAO assess the Department of Defense's (DOD) internal controls for the Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) program and their effect on the program's execution. In addressing the mandate, we assessed DOD's management and internal controls over implementing CTR projects since 2003 by using the control standards for the federal government as criteria. In response to the mandate, we focused on those management and internal control areas considered most relevant to CTR project implementation: (1) building a management structure, (2) risk assessments, (3) performance measures, (4) program reviews, (5) communications, and (6) project monitoring. The Congress also mandated that GAO describe the status of DOD's implementation of legislative mandates covering the CTR program.


Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Defense The Secretary of Defense should conduct performance reviews upon the completion of CTR projects. Such reviews would provide a mechanism for documenting lessons learned and applying them to future project planning and implementation.
Closed – Implemented
GAO recommended in June 2005 that the Secretary of Defense conduct performance reviews upon the completion of Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) projects in order to document lessons learned and apply them to future project planning and implementation. At that time, DOD concurred with the recommendation. In meeting with CTR program officials in February 2009, they explained that the "lessons learned" process and evaluation system that the program office implemented to address GAO's recommendation has become a key component of its own Continuous Improvement Process. CTR program efforts to address GAO's recommendation culminated in February 2008 with the roll out of its Lessons Learned database. The database provides specific, relevant, and actionable information and advice to users' needs. Lessons learned input to the database is provided from across the CTR program and is compiled from "after action" reviews, facilitated sessions, or personal observations. All CTR program personnel can access the database to provide their input or access data on lessons learned from other projects. CTR officials provided a demonstration of the Lessons Learned database and provided hard copies of various database screens as well as sample write-ups of actual lessons learned recorded in the system. The officials also provided a copy of a lessons learned conference conducted in April 2008. The CTR officials stressed that the process is ongoing to ensure day-to-day continuous improvement and that the program's workforce is being trained to integrate lessons learned into all projects through use of the database.

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Arms control agreementsDefense cost controlForeign governmentsInternal controlsInternational cooperationLessons learnedPerformance measuresProgram evaluationProgram managementRisk assessmentRisk managementStrategic planningWeapons of mass destruction