What GAO Found
The Department of Defense's (DOD) geographic combatant commands are improving efforts to collect operational contract support (OCS) issues from operations and exercises needed to develop lessons learned, but the military services are generally not collecting them. Currently, four of the six geographic combatant commands—U.S. Africa Command, U.S. Central Command, U.S. Northern Command, and U.S. Southern Command—have identified OCS as a critical capability in their joint training plans and have incorporated it into planning, execution, and assessment of exercises, while U.S. European Command and U.S. Pacific Command continue to make progress doing so. However, with the exception of the Army, the military services and their component commands are not generally collecting OCS issues to develop lessons learned. Officials from the Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy stated that the lack of OCS awareness caused by not having (1) service-wide guidance on collecting OCS issues and (2) an OCS training requirement for senior leaders hinders their ability to develop lessons learned. Without guidance and a training requirement for senior leaders to improve OCS awareness, it will be difficult for DOD to ensure consistent collection of OCS issues and build on efficiencies that the services have identified to adequately plan for the use of contractor support.
DOD has made progress resolving some OCS issues, but does not have a focal point for integrating OCS issues identified through the Joint Lessons Learned Program (JLLP). The combatant commands and services are to use the JLLP to develop lessons learned related to joint capabilities from operations and exercises to improve areas such as doctrine and training. Currently, there are multiple organizations across DOD that are working on separate and sometimes disjointed OCS lessons-learned efforts. DOD has undertaken initial efforts to assign an OCS joint proponent with lessons-learned responsibilities. A joint proponent is an entity intended to lead collaborative development and integration of joint capability. However, DOD has not determined whether the joint proponent will be responsible for providing formal oversight and integration of OCS issues from the JLLP. As it develops the joint proponent, including such roles and responsibilities will help better position DOD to integrate all OCS issues from the JLLP, thereby addressing any gaps in its efforts.
DOD organizations do not consistently use the Joint Lessons Learned Information System (JLLIS) to share OCS issues and lessons learned due to the system's limited functionality. JLLIS is the JLLP's system of record and is to facilitate the DOD-wide collection and sharing of lessons learned. However, GAO found that geographic combatant commands and the Army use JLLIS to varying degrees. Further, DOD is generally not sharing OCS lessons learned in JLLIS because the system is not functional for users searching OCS issues due to, among other reasons, not having an OCS label and not having a designated location for sharing OCS lessons learned. JLLIS's limited functionality impedes information sharing department-wide. Until DOD improves the functionality of JLLIS, it will be difficult for users to search for OCS issues, and DOD runs the risk of not being able to systematically track and share OCS lessons learned department-wide, which could negatively affect joint force development and readiness.
Why GAO Did This Study
DOD has spent billions of dollars on contract support during operations in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2002 and anticipates continuing its heavy reliance on contractors in future operations. Generally, OCS is the process of planning for and obtaining needed supplies and services from commercial sources in support of joint operations. GAO has previously identified long-standing concerns with DOD's efforts to institutionalize OCS.
This report examines the extent to which (1) the geographic combatant commands and the services collect OCS issues to develop lessons learned, (2) DOD has a focal point for integrating OCS issues from the JLLP, and (3) DOD organizations use JLLIS to share OCS issues and lessons learned. GAO evaluated OCS and lessons-learned guidance and plans and met with DOD commands and offices responsible for OCS planning, integration, policy, and contractor-management functions.
GAO recommends, among other things, that DOD and the services (1) issue service-wide OCS lessons-learned guidance; (2) establish an OCS training requirement for senior leaders; (3) ensure the planned OCS joint proponent's roles and responsibilities include integrating OCS issues from the JLLP; and (4) improve JLLIS's functionality. DOD concurred with three of these recommendations, but partially concurred with the third recommendation, stating the need to first evaluate its courses of action before establishing such a proponent. GAO believes this recommendation is still valid, as discussed in the report.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Defense||
Priority Rec.To help improve collection of OCS issues by the military services and service component commands, the Secretary of Defense should revise existing DOD guidance, such as DOD Instruction 3020.41, to specifically detail the roles and responsibilities of the services in collecting OCS issues.
|Department of Defense||
Priority Rec.To specifically identify and improve awareness of OCS roles and responsibilities and to collect OCS issues at the military services and the service component commands, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of the Navy and Air Force to include the services' roles and responsibilities to collect OCS issues in comprehensive service-specific guidance on how the Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force should integrate OCS.
|Department of Defense||To help improve awareness of OCS roles and responsibilities and to collect OCS issues at the military services and the service component commands, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of the military departments, in coordination with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to establish an OCS training requirement for commanders and senior leaders.|
|Department of Defense||To help improve DOD's management of OCS lessons learned, the Secretary of Defense should ensure that, as the department develops a concept for an OCS joint proponent, it include specific roles and responsibilities for a focal point responsible for integrating OCS issues from the Joint Lessons Learned Program.|
|Joint Chiefs of Staff||To help improve the functionality of JLLIS for sharing OCS lessons learned, as DOD upgrades JLLIS, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff should direct the Joint Staff (J-7) and Joint Staff (J-4) to implement an OCS label in JLLIS and designate a single community of practice for OCS in JLLIS.|