What GAO Found
Recent data show variations in the material readiness of different types of ships, but do not reveal any clear trends of improvement or decline for the period from 2008 to 2012. The Navy uses a variety of means to collect, analyze, and track the material readiness of its surface combatant and amphibious warfare ships. Three data sources the Navy uses to provide information on the material readiness of ships are: casualty reports, which reflect equipment malfunctions; Defense Readiness Reporting System-Navy (DRRS-N) reports; and Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) material inspection reports. These data sources can be viewed as complementary, together providing data on both the current and life cycle material readiness of the surface force. INSURV and casualty report data show that the material readiness of amphibious warfare ships is lower than that of frigates and destroyers. However, there is no clear upward or downward trend in material readiness across the entire Navy surface combatant and amphibious warfare ships. From 2010 to March 2012, INSURV data indicated a slight improvement in the material readiness of the surface combatant and amphibious warfare fleet, but over that period casualty reports from the ships increased, which would indicate a decline in material readiness. DRRS-N data also show differences in material readiness between ship types, but the precise differences are classified and therefore are not included in this report.
Why GAO Did This Study
In 2010, the Navy concluded that decisions it made to increase efficiencies of its surface force had adversely affected ship readiness and service life. To improve ship readiness the Navy developed a new strategy, which includes several initiatives. House Report 112-78, accompanying a proposed bill for the Fiscal Year 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R.1540), directed GAO to review the recent Navy initiatives. GAO assessed 1) how the Navy evaluates the material readiness of its surface combatant and amphibious warfare ships and the extent to which data indicate trends or patterns in the material readiness of these ships, and 2) the extent to which the Navy has taken steps to improve the readiness of its surface combatant and amphibious warfare ships, including implementing its new readiness strategy. GAO analyzed Navy policies, material and readiness data from January 2008two years prior to the release of the Navys 2010 report on the degradation of surface force readinessthrough March 2012, two years after the release of the report, and interviewed headquarters and operational officials and ship crews.
GAO recommends that the Navy conduct a comprehensive assessment of the risks the new strategy faces and develop alternatives to mitigate these risks. DOD partially concurred, but felt that current assessments sufficiently identify risks. GAO continues to believe that a comprehensive assessment that takes into account the full range of risk to the overall strategy is needed.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Defense||To enhance the Navy's ability to implement its strategy to improve surface force material readiness, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Navy to develop a comprehensive assessment of the risks the Navy faces in implementing its Surface Force Readiness Manual strategy, and alternatives to mitigate risks. Specifically, a comprehensive risk assessment should include an assessment of risks such as high operational tempos and availability of personnel.|
|Department of Defense||To enhance the Navy's ability to implement its strategy to improve surface force material readiness, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Navy to use the results of this assessment to make any necessary adjustments to its implementation plan.|