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Highlights

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.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
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.
Closed - Implemented
As of September 2014, DOD has not finalized and issued DOD Instruction 6400.01. In July 2014, DOD noted that action is ongoing to complete DoD Instruction (DoDI) 6400.01 and that the Instruction completed an additional Legal Sufficiency Review in March 2013. DOD further noted that DoDI 6400.01 is currently being formatted and prepared by the Federal Register Office for entry into the Federal Register for a period of public comment and that DoD Manuals 6400.01 Volumes 1 - 4 are the accompanying manuals to DoDI 6400.01 and that Volumes 1 and 4 are concurrently being formatted with DoDI 6400.01 and will all be entered into the Federal Register simultaneously for comment. Volumes 2 and 3 are currently on hold pending publication of the DoDI 6400.01. DOD could not provide an estimated date for issuance of the revised Instruction. By April 5, 2017 DOD issued Instruction 6400.01 and a four-volume manual that establishes policy and assigns responsibilities for addressing child abuse and domestic abuse through the Family Advocacy Program.
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.
Closed - Implemented
In response to our recommendation, the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness developed a strategy to (a) evaluate consumer awareness of Family Advocacy Program (FAP) services, (b) evaluate attitudes concerning access to services, (3) market the 2011 Domestic Violence Awareness Month Campaign message, and (d) analyze field penetration of the 2011 Domestic Violence Awareness Month campaign message. Beginning in October 2011, DOD added an 8-question survey to websites for Military HomeFront and Military One Source asking respondents to describe their awareness of FAP policies and programs. The collection of response data ended December 2, 2011. As a result of this survey, DOD gained some insight into consumers' awareness of FAP services and the 2011 Domestic Violence Awareness Month campaign effort. DOD also learned from this survey that it needed to clarify who can offer restricted and unrestricted reports of domestic violence.

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