In 2004, Congress directed the Department of Defense (DOD) to establish a comprehensive policy to prevent and respond to sexual assaults involving servicemembers. Though not required to do so, the Coast Guard has established a similar program. This statement addresses the extent to which DOD and the Coast Guard (1) have developed and implemented policies and programs to prevent, respond to, and resolve sexual assault incidents involving servicemembers; (2) have visibility over reports of sexual assault; and (3) exercise oversight over reports of sexual assault. This statement draws on GAO's preliminary observations from an ongoing engagement examining DOD's and the Coast Guard's programs to prevent and respond to sexual assault. In conducting its ongoing work GAO reviewed legislative requirements and DOD and Coast Guard guidance, analyzed sexual assault incident data, and obtained through surveys and interviews the perspective on sexual assault matters of more than 3,900 servicemembers stationed in the United States and overseas. The results of GAO's survey and interviews provide insight into the implementation of the programs but are nongeneralizable. GAO expects to issue its final report in August 2008 and to make a number of recommendations to improve implementation of sexual assault prevention and response programs and improve oversight of the programs in both DOD and the Coast Guard.
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