Fast Facts

The Army and Marine Corps operate large industrial depots to maintain, overhaul, and upgrade weapon systems and equipment. Delays at depots reduce the available time for operations and training with tanks, radars, and other weapons and equipment.

Both services reported largely meeting depot maintenance goals in recent years. We found ways they could improve depot performance measures and efficiency. The Army, for example, could do more to better plan the flow of work to depots.

We made 4 recommendations to the Army and 1 to the Marine Corps, including ways to more comprehensively assess depot performance and address weaknesses.

A tracked vehicle is worked on at the Anniston Army Depot

Military vehicle

Military vehicle

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What GAO Found

The Army reported that it met its goals for about 91 percent of the systems on which it planned to complete maintenance for its customers in fiscal years 2018 and 2019, but its key performance metric has some limitations. Recognizing these limitations, Army Materiel Command (AMC), which oversees the Army depots, has begun assessing performance against monthly (adjusted) and annual (baseline) goals (see figure). AMC also began an effort to improve its performance metrics, but depot officials involved in the effort whom GAO interviewed are uncertain how AMC will incorporate their input. Without AMC procedures to ensure that it will incorporate depot input, as called for by Army guidance on effective teamwork, AMC cannot be assured that it is developing metrics that are beneficial at all levels for assessing depot performance.

Percent Variance from Goal for Average Adjusted and Baselined Depot Performance across Army Depots for Fiscal Year 2019

The Army identified a key challenge to meeting the depots' maintenance goals in fiscal years 2018 and 2019, but it has not fully addressed this challenge. During this time the Army experienced schedule changes to more than half of its planned maintenance work. GAO found that most of this variability was caused by changing customer needs and identified two key shortcomings in the Army's approach to minimizing such changes. First, the Army does not have guidance establishing time frames for depot customers to submit their needs during depot planning, resulting in millions of dollars in unplanned work. Without such guidance, depots will continue to experience workload variability. Second, AMC has not systematically analyzed why depot customers have changes, resulting in incomplete information about causes and potential solutions. Without such analysis, the Army will be poorly positioned to address longstanding maintenance challenges.

For fiscal years 2015 through 2019, the Marine Corps reported generally meeting its yearly depot maintenance goals, but GAO found that the Marine Corps has not yet included all its planned work in its baseline schedule for a key performance metric. The Marine Corps also experienced monthly variability in fiscal year 2019 for a variety of reasons, including parts shortages, lack of asset availability, and changing customer needs, and it is undertaking several initiatives to minimize such changes. However, developing a complete baseline will allow the Marine Corps to better assess its performance against its planned maintenance work and better identify and mitigate the causes and effects of any unfavorable performance.

Why GAO Did This Study

The Army and Marine Corps operate large industrial depots to maintain, overhaul, and upgrade numerous weapon systems and equipment. The depots play a key role in sustaining readiness by completing maintenance on time and returning refurbished equipment to warfighting customers.

The Senate Armed Services Committee, in a report accompanying a bill for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019, included a provision for GAO to review Army and Marine Corps depots. GAO evaluated the extent to which (1) the Army met its planned maintenance goals and addressed any challenges in measuring depot performance; (2) the Army identified and addressed any key challenges in completing planned maintenance; and (3) the Marine Corps completed its planned maintenance and addressed associated challenges. GAO reviewed depot planning processes; analyzed maintenance goals and data for fiscal years 2018 and 2019 for the Army and fiscal years 2015 through 2019 for the Marine Corps; and met with Army and Marine Corps headquarters, command, and depot officials.

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GAO is making five recommendations, including that the Army develop procedures to ensure depot input on metrics, develop guidance for depot customers, and analyze the causes of maintenance changes; and that the Marine Corps develop a complete baseline. DOD concurred with all five recommendations.

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of the Army The Secretary of the Army should ensure that the Commander, Army Materiel Command, develops procedures to help ensure that it will incorporate depot stakeholder input into the new metrics framework for the Army's organic industrial base through iterative and ongoing processes. (Recommendation 1)
The Army concurred with this recommendation, stating that Army Materiel Command (AMC) is committed to continuing its collaboration with the Life Cycle Management Commands (LCMCs), Depots, Arsenals, and Ammunition plants as it refines its performance metrics. Additionally, in its comments on our report, AMC stated it would conduct training at the LCMC and industrial base sites once the metrics framework is finalized. In March 2021, the Army stated that AMC has implemented 10 of the 65 Strategic, Operational, and Tactical level measures and metrics that it developed with stakeholder support. However the Army has yet to identify any specific procedural changes that have been made to ensure that the stakeholders' input has been considered in this metrics development effort. The Army stated that it expects to complete this metrics framework initiative later this fiscal year. We will continue to monitor its progress.
United States Marine Corps The Commandant of the Marine Corps should ensure that the Marine Corps Logistics Command establishes a complete baseline schedule, which includes all planned depot maintenance work for the fiscal year, against which to measure performance. (Recommendation 2)
The Marine Corps concurred with this recommendation, and has since taken several actions to implemented it. In March 2021, the Marine Corps reported that it had added $19.5 million in depot-level repairables to its baseline master schedule for fiscal year 2020, which represented 75 percent of the Marine Corps depot-level-repairable work that year. Further, the Marine Corps stated that it added $14.3 million in depot-level-repairable workload to its baseline master schedule for fiscal year 2021, or 67 percent of the repairable work performed though the first half of the year. The Marine Corps added that it will continue to refine its process to capture as much depot-level-repairable workload as possible in the baseline Master Workload Schedule. Additionally, in setting its baseline schedule for fiscal year 2022, the Marine Corps is taking steps to minimize production disruptions and potentially reduce carryover. Specifically, in what is intended to be an annual data call, the Marine Corps set a March 31, 2021, deadline for its other customers to to provide key information about their requirements, so that the Marine Corps can account for these requirements earlier as it prepares its fiscal year 2022 baseline schedule. The intent of this data call is to confirm what could be nearly $80 million in depot workload during fiscal year 2022. The Marine Corps will reach a formal agreement with its customers to "confirm" the workload, which will then be assigned Master Work Schedule Line Numbers and be added to the baseline Master Work Schedule. Further, the Marine Corps is requiring funding from its other customers by second quarter of the year of execution so that it can maintain its production schedule, with any funding received afterwards being treated as unplanned workload and rescheduled accordingly. We are very encouraged by the Marine Corps actions to date, and will continue to monitor progress as it takes these steps during the rest of calendar year 2021 and the first part of 2022.
Department of the Army The Secretary of the Army should ensure that the Commander, Army Materiel Command, develops guidance that synchronizes the Army's timelines for required inputs from Army depot maintenance customers who use funds from the Procurement; Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation; and Operations and Maintenance budgets with the depots' timelines for development of their finalized budget estimate submissions to AMC. (Recommendation 3)
The Army concurred with this recommendation, stating that Army Materiel Command is establishing an "Improved Organic Industrial Base (OIB) Workloading Review Process" to synchronizes plans with all Lifecycle Management Commands, OIB installations, OIB customers (including Inter-service and other government/non-government agencies), and supply chain partners (including DLA). In March 2021, the Army identified 2 steps that it has taken in response to our recommendation, resulting in a more thorough approach to depot workload planning. First, the The Commanding General, AMC, held a detailed review to plan for fiscal 2022 workload in October 2020, and plans to hold another review in June 2021 (the Army also stated that the AMC commander first initiated these reviews in April and June 2020, attributing this action to our on-going work). The Army stated that these reviews were designed to identify gaps and look for opportunities to improve workload planning data and the overall execution of customer workload. The Army stated that these reviews helped to synchronize workload planning with the process for developing the depots' budget estimates. Second, an Army G-4 official told us that the Army made additional changes to the workload planning process for procurement-funded work in preparing the Program Objective Memorandums for fiscal years 2022-26 and 2023-27. DOD considers this recommendation to be closed and implemented based on these actions. However, we will continue to monitor progress, in particular to determine whether these process changes have resulted in any cost savings or other efficiencies.
Department of the Army The Secretary of the Army should ensure that the Commander, Army Materiel Command, provides its non-Army customers with guidance that will help ensure that the depots have all updated maintenance needs in sufficient detail from non-Army customers prior to the depots' finalized budget estimate submissions to AMC. (Recommendation 4)
The Army concurred with this recommendation. In March 2021, Army officials stated that AMC is developing a proposal to move the current Depot Maintenance Inter-Service Agreement (DMISA) and other planning efforts from the 4th quarter to the 2nd quarter. Further, the Army stated that AMC and the other services are in discussions to review and update policies concerning depot workload requirements planning for non-Army customers. If implemented, these steps would provide an additional four-to-six months of workload planning time for all stakeholders, and improve the accuracy and synchronization of DMISA and other workload requirements planning with activities leading up to the depot's budget estimate submissions. We will continue to monitor the Army's progress to implement this recommendation.
Department of the Army The Secretary of the Army should ensure that the Army Organic Industrial Base Corporate Board oversees a study that includes a recurring, comprehensive, and systematic analysis of Army depot data to identify trends and causes behind changes in depot maintenance schedules; and that it uses this analysis to recommend actions to reduce unplanned maintenance work, as appropriate and necessary. (Recommendation 5)
The Army concurred with this recommendation. The Army stated that the Organic Industrial Base Corporate Board (OIBCB) has initiated a comprehensive and systematic assessment to identify the appropriate operational and strategic metrics and governance actions necessary to support OIB readiness. The assessment will complement ongoing efforts at AMC to analyze the trends and causes of depot maintenance schedule changes. This OIBCB assessment is to be completed by December 2022. We will continue to monitor the Army's efforts to implement this recommendation.

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