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Highlights

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Defense's (DOD) and military services' medical and physical fitness policies for reserve forces.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Defense 1. To ensure that reserve component personnel are medically fit for future military operations, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs to revise DOD medical retention policy to require that reservists be medically able for worldwide deployment to be retained in the service.
Closed - Implemented
DOD has revised Directive 1332.18 to articulate its medical retention policy. Under the directive, each case is to be considered by relating the nature and degree of the service member's disability to the requirements and duties that the member may be expected to perform. This action is consistent with the House of Representatives' language in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1995. The directive was published in November 1996.
Department of Defense 2. To ensure that reserve component personnel are medically fit for future military operations, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to make a corresponding change in the Army's medical retention policy.
Closed - Implemented
The new DOD standards adopted in November 1996 apply to the Total Force. The Army has directed commanders to identify soldiers for placement in the nondeployable account who are permanently nondeployable in accordance with Army regulations.
Department of Defense 3. For key decisionmakers to accurately assess whether reserve component personnel are in proper physical condition to perform their military duties, the Secretary of Defense should require the Secretaries of the Air Force, Army, and Navy to develop and implement mission-specific physical fitness tests.
Closed - Implemented
In August 1995, DOD issued an instruction that requires the services to use mission-specific standards fitness tests.
Department of Defense 4. To improve controls over physical fitness testing and reporting, the Secretary of Defense should revise DOD physical fitness policy to require the services to include in their annual assessments of physical fitness programs data on: (1) the number of active and reserve component personnel taking physical fitness tests; (2) the number of personnel passing and failing the tests and the number failing two or more consecutive tests; (3) personnel actions taken against those who fail tests; and (4) the number of personnel excused from testing and the reasons why they were excused.
Closed - Not Implemented
DOD does not plan to implement the recommendation. Rather, DOD is revising the DOD directive applicable to the physical fitness and weight control programs. The revision will require each service to give DOD an annual assessment of its health and fitness programs and an evaluation of the physical fitness of its members.
Department of Defense 5. To improve controls over physical fitness testing and reporting, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Navy to discontinue exempting older Marine Corps and Navy reservists from fitness testing.
Closed - Implemented
The new DOD Directive 1308.1 and 1308.3 Instruction requires all services to fully comply with age-adjusted physical fitness testing of all military personnel.
Department of Defense 6. To improve controls over physical fitness testing and reporting, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of the Air Force, Army, and Navy to separate personnel who repeatedly fail either mission-specific or general physical fitness tests.
Closed - Implemented
The new DOD Instruction 1308.3 contains a requirement for the military services to separate personnel who repeatedly fail either mission-specific or general physical fitness tests.
Department of Defense 7. To improve controls over physical fitness testing and reporting, the Secretary of Defense should implement controls to prevent fitness test scores from being inappropriately changed.
Closed - Implemented
The new DOD instruction 1308.3 includes a requirement that physical fitness testing be conducted in a manner that prevents scores from being inappropriately changed and ensures compliance with established controls and procedures.
Department of Defense 8. To improve controls over physical fitness testing and reporting, the Secretary of Defense should identify the DOD physical fitness program as containing material control weaknesses in the next annual assurance statement.
Closed - Not Implemented
DOD said that the report does not provide sufficient evidence of systemic problems to warrant identifying the DOD Medical and Fitness standards program as containing material weaknesses.
Department of Defense 9. To improve controls over physical fitness testing and reporting, the Secretary of Defense should direct the DOD Inspector General to confirm that adequate management controls have been established to correct the fitness-related problems identified.
Closed - Implemented
DOD said that the Office of Inspector General has followed up on and assessed compliance with all planned corrective actions.

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