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 policy. This statement addresses implementation and oversight of DOD's and the Coast Guard's programs to prevent and respond to sexual assault incidents. Specifically, it addresses the extent to which DOD and the Coast Guard (1) have developed and implemented policies and procedures to prevent, respond to, and resolve reported sexual assault incidents; (2) have visibility over reports of sexual assault in the military; and (3) exercise oversight over reports of sexual assault involving servicemembers. This statement draws on GAO's report on DOD's and the Coast Guard's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response programs issued on August 29, 2008 (GAO-08-924). For this work, GAO reviewed legislative requirements and DOD and Coast Guard guidance, analyzed sexual assault incident data, and obtained through surveys and interviews the perspective of more than 3,900 servicemembers on sexual assault matters. GAO made 11 recommendations to improve implementation of DOD's and the Coast Guard's programs. These include, for example, reviewing and evaluating guidance and training, and improving oversight of the programs. DOD and the Coast Guard concurred with the recommendations.
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