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DOD Reviews and Responses to GAO Reports: Second Semiannual Report Examining Delays

GAO-24-106928 Published: Feb 29, 2024. Publicly Released: Feb 29, 2024.
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Fast Facts

Before we issue reports, we send them to the agencies we've audited for review and comment. For reports containing sensitive or classified information, we also ask the agency to let us know what can or cannot be released publicly. Delays in these reviews can delay the issuance of our reports.

This Q&A report, the second in a series of 4, details the timeliness of DOD's reviews from mid-May to mid-Nov. 2023. DOD was less timely in meeting its review deadlines in this time period compared to that of our first report. DOD met less than half of its comment deadlines, and almost 70% of its reviews for sensitive information were late.

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What GAO Found

The Department of Defense (DOD) submitted 55 percent of its agency comments and almost 70 percent of its sensitivity reviews to GAO after the deadline. DOD conducted two security reviews, and both were submitted late. In comparing the results of GAO's analysis of DOD's performance during this period of review with those in the first semiannual report on this topic, DOD was less timely in providing both agency comments and sensitivity/security reviews.

GAO provides audited agencies with an opportunity to review and comment on draft reports before GAO issues the final report. Additionally, for any reports that may contain controlled unclassified or classified information, GAO requests that the department complete a review for such information and communicate the results of the review in writing.

DOD provided GAO comments on 76 reports from May 16, 2023, to November 11, 2023. While GAO generally provides DOD with 30 days for agency comment, DOD took 35 days, on average. Of the 76 reports, DOD submitted comments for 42 after the 30-day deadline and took an additional 16 days, on average, to submit agency comments on those reports. For one report, DOD took 98 days to provide its comments.

DOD completed 28 reviews—26 sensitivity and 2 security reviews—during the same period. Sensitivity reviews are conducted to identify sensitive information, such as controlled unclassified information. Reviews for classified information, such as information designated as Secret or Top Secret, are generally referred to as security reviews. On average, DOD completed sensitivity reviews in 40 days and security reviews in 77 days—exceeding the 30-day deadline.

Of the 34 reports for which GAO granted an extension to the deadline for submitting comments or reviews, DOD did not meet the extension for ten. DOD also submitted comments late for eight additional reports without requesting extensions.

Why GAO Did This Study

Delays in DOD submitting agency comments or the sensitivity/security reviews result in GAO issuing products later than mandated or requested by Congress. In some cases, delays may result in GAO taking the unusual step of issuing reports without DOD comments in order to provide Congress with requested information. The James M. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023 included a provision for GAO to report every 6 months over a 2-year period on the extent to which DOD submitted agency comments and sensitivity or security reviews in a timely manner and in accordance with GAO protocols. This report is the second in a series of four reports on this topic.

For more information, contact Alissa Czyz at (202) 512-3058 or

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