In 2001, the Deputy Secretary of Defense stated that domestic violence will not be tolerated in the Department of Defense (DOD). Despite this posture, DOD's clinical database indicates that 8,223 incidents met criteria for domestic abuse in fiscal year 2009. However, because this database includes only cases reported to military clinical offices, it does not represent all cases. In response to a congressional request, GAO evaluated whether DOD is able to determine the effectiveness of its domestic abuse efforts. To conduct this review, GAO reviewed legislative requirements and DOD guidance, analyzed domestic abuse data, and interviewed officials involved in domestic abuse prevention and treatment and persons eligible to receive services at five military bases.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Defense||In addition to reiterating our prior recommendation regarding the need for a management plan to address deficiencies in DOD's database of domestic violence, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to finalize and issue DOD's Instruction 6400.01 on the Family Advocacy Program, which has been in draft since 2006, and the accompanying multivolume manual that is also currently in draft form.|
|Department of Defense||In addition to reiterating our prior recommendation regarding the need for a management plan to address deficiencies in DOD's database of domestic violence, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to develop an oversight framework to guide the efforts of all DOD organizations involved in preventing and treating victims and perpetrators of domestic abuse and evaluate their effectiveness. At a minimum, such a framework should include long-term goals, objectives, and milestones; strategies to be used to accomplish goals; and criteria and metrics for measuring progress. As part of that oversight framework, (a) collect and analyze data on factors that DOD has identified as contributing to domestic abuse to help ensure that the department's efforts to prevent and treat domestic abuse result in reduced frequency and severity of domestic abuse incidents and reduced recidivism among alleged abusers and (b) develop and use metrics to measure the effectiveness of campaigns to raise awareness of domestic abuse services available.|