Defense Transportation: DOD Needs a Comprehensive Approach to Planning for Implementing Its New Personal Property Program

GAO-07-671 Published: May 31, 2007. Publicly Released: May 31, 2007.
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Highlights

The Department of Defense (DOD) has been working to improve its personal property program since the mid-1990s to fix long-standing problems, such as excessive loss or damage to servicemembers' property and poor quality of service from moving companies. DOD plans to replace its current program with Families First, a program that promises to offer servicemembers an improved claims process and quality of service. GAO was mandated to (1) assess the steps DOD has taken to achieve the goals and benefits of the Families First program; (2) evaluate the growth in costs of the program, including the costs for a new information management system, since GAO's last assessment in 2003; and (3) assess the extent to which DOD faces management challenges--such as staffing--in implementing Families First. To address these objectives, GAO analyzed DOD's program, funding and staffing data, and interviewed personal property officials and stakeholders.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Defense To address long-standing problems in DOD's personal property program the Secretary of Defense should direct the Commander, U.S. Transportation Command, to expedite the evaluation of the Families First program the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007 mandated the department conduct. This act mandates that the report contain the certifications of the Secretary of Defense on the following matters with respect to the Families First program: (1) whether there is an alternative to the system under the program that would provide equal or greater capability at a lower cost; (2) whether the estimates on costs, and the anticipated schedule and performance parameters, for the program and system are reasonable; and (3) whether the management structure for the program is adequate to manage and control program costs.
Closed – Implemented
In response our recommendation the Commander expedited the evaluation of the report mandated in the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007. The U.S. Transportation Command issued the report "DOD Certifications to Congress on the Families First Program and the Defense Personal Property System" on June 18, 2007. These actions met the intent of our recommendation.
Department of Defense DOD should employ comprehensive planning to implement the Families First program and its associated system. At a minimum, this planning should address specific steps to hire and train personnel so that the Surface Deployment and Distribution Command personal property division and the DPS program office have the human capital needed to develop and implement DPS.
Closed – Implemented
The Surface Deployment and Distribution Command Personal Property Division and the Defense Property System Program Office took specific steps to hire and train personnel in order to have the human capital needed to develop and implement the program. As of 7/1/2008 the office was at over 905 staffing with all necessary personnel actions having been processed for two remaining positions. These actions meet the intent of our recommendation.
Department of Defense DOD should employ comprehensive planning to implement the Families First program and its associated system. At a minimum, this planning should reach agreement with stakeholders on the essential requirements for DPS and their priority to facilitate the development of DPS. In addition, this comprehensive plan should include an investment strategy that reflects the full cost of accomplishing the goals of Families First and milestones for implementation.
Closed – Implemented
US Transportation Command (TRANSCOM) implemented a planning process to reach agreement with stakeholders on essential requirements and implementation priorities. In addition, a Configuration Control Board was established by August 2007 to evaluate change requests against against programmatic constraints, and to manage costing, funding, and implementation of the program and its associated system.

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