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Defense Management: Status of GAO Recommendations Made to the Department of Defense (Fiscal Years 2014-2017)

GAO-19-245R Published: Feb 05, 2019. Publicly Released: Feb 05, 2019.
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Fast Facts

Our recommendations to federal agencies help save money and improve government operations. We reported in 2018 that government-wide, 77% of recommendations we made 4 years ago have been implemented. However, DOD's implementation rate was only 67% in the same time period.

We have also alerted DOD to our priority recommendations—those that can help it save the most money, address issues on our High Risk list, or significantly improve government operations.

Among the 1,122 recommendations we made to DOD from FY 2014 to 2017, 68 are high priority and relate primarily to DOD acquisitions, contract management, and readiness.


Aerial photo of the Pentagon

Aerial photo of the Pentagon

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What GAO Found

Overall, as of November 2018 the Department of Defense's (DOD) implementation of GAO's recommendations had improved from the prior year. GAO measures implementation of recommendations by calculating the percentage of recommendations implemented after 4 years. For example, the implementation rate for fiscal year (FY) 2018 is the percentage of recommendations made in FY 2014 that were implemented by the end of FY 2018. In November 2017, DODs implementation rate was 53 percent; 1 year later, it had increased to 67 percent. However, by comparison, the government-wide implementation of GAO recommendations was 77 percent, as of November 2018.

For the time period assessed (fiscal years 2014-2017), GAO found that, as of September 30, 2018, it had made a total of 1,122 recommendations to DOD in unclassified, classified (SECRET), and sensitive but unclassified reports issued in fiscal years 2014-2017. Of these 1,122 recommendations, 464 were implemented (about 41 percent), 63 were closed by GAO as not implemented (about 6 percent), and 595 remained open (about 53 percent). Further, of the 546 unclassified recommendations made to DOD during this same period that were still open, DOD concurred with 359 (about 66 percent), partially concurred with 137 (about 25 percent), and non-concurred with 50 (about 9 percent). Finally, GAO designated 68 recommendations from this period as priority recommendations. Priority recommendations are those recommendations that GAO believes warrant priority attention from heads of key departments and agencies. As of September 30, 2018, 18 (about 26 percent) priority recommendations had been implemented, 2 (about 3 percent) had been closed by GAO as not implemented because DOD actions had made these recommendations no longer applicable, and 48 (about 71 percent) remained open. Detailed information on the status of unclassified recommendations can be obtained at

Why GAO Did This Study

GAO's mission is to support the Congress, and in accomplishing that mission GAO makes recommendations to improve the accountability, operations, and services of government agencies. From 2002 through 2018, GAOs work resulted in over $895 billion in financial benefits and about 21,600 program and operational benefits that helped change laws, improved public safety and other services, and promoted better management throughout the government, including at DOD.

Conference Report 115-404 accompanying the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 included a provision for GAO to submit to the Congressional Armed Services Committees a briefing summarizing an assessment of open recommendations made to DOD in fiscal years (FY) 2014 through 2017. This report summarizes information on DODs (1) progress in implementing all GAO recommendations made in FYs 2014-2017; (2) initial response to GAOs open recommendations; and (3) progress in implementing priority recommendations. For all recommendations made to DOD in unclassified, classified (SECRET and below), and sensitive but unclassified GAO reports issued in FY 2014 through FY 2017, GAO reviewed reports and interviewed or corresponded with cognizant DOD officials to obtain information on DODs efforts to implement the recommendations, and based on information collected, determined the implementation status of each recommendation.


GAO did not make any recommendations.

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