GAO’s recommendations database contains report recommendations that still need to be addressed. GAO’s priority recommendations are those that we believe warrant priority attention. We sent letters to the heads of key departments and agencies, urging them to continue focusing on these issues. Below you can search only priority recommendations, or search all recommendations.

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As of April 18, 2018, there are 5,184 open recommendations, of which 465 are priority recommendations. Recommendations remain open until they are designated as Closed-implemented or Closed-not implemented.

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Subject Term: "Military operations"

3 publications with a total of 7 priority recommendations
Director: John Pendleton
Phone: (202) 512-3489

5 open priority recommendations
Recommendation: To ensure that the department can implement readiness rebuilding efforts, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of the Departments of the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force to establish comprehensive readiness rebuilding goals to guide readiness rebuilding efforts and a strategy for implementing identified goals, to include resources needed to implement the strategy.

Agency: Department of Defense
Status: Open
Priority recommendation

Comments: DOD partially concurred with the recommendation in our draft report. In our draft, we recommended that the Secretary of Defense provide direction to the U.S. Marine Corps, in addition to the Secretary of the Navy; DOD stated that separate guidance to the U.S. Marine Corps was unnecessary because the U.S. Marine Corps is part of the Department of the Navy. We agreed, and revised our recommendation as we finalized our report for publishing. Otherwise, in its comments on this recommendation, DOD noted that the department was currently working to define the "ready for what" for the military services which would provide the target for their readiness recovery goals. Since that time, the military services have taken steps to establish both comprehensive goals to guide readiness rebuilding efforts and a strategy for implementing identified goals, to include the resources needed to implement the strategy. The military services have defined their readiness rebuilding goals and, in some cases, extended these goals since we reported in 2016. Further, through the department's Readiness Recovery Framework that is currently under development, the military services have identified key readiness issues that their respective forces face and actions to address these issues, as well as metrics by which to assess progress toward achieving overall readiness recovery goals. For the Fiscal Year 2017 Request for Additional Appropriations and the Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Request, the military services identified resources needed to improve readiness and achieve overall readiness recovery goals. Moreover, the Office of the Secretary of Defense continues to work with the military services to ensure that the services' actions and metrics clearly align with readiness recovery goals in an executable strategy.
Recommendation: To ensure that the department can implement readiness rebuilding efforts, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of the Departments of the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force to develop metrics for measuring interim progress at specific milestones against identified goals for all services.

Agency: Department of Defense
Status: Open
Priority recommendation

Comments: DOD partially concurred with the recommendation in our draft report. In our draft, we recommended that the Secretary of Defense provide direction to the U.S. Marine Corps, in addition to the Secretary of the Navy; DOD stated that separate guidance to the U.S. Marine Corps was unnecessary because the U.S. Marine Corps is part of the Department of the Navy. We agreed, and revised our recommendation as we finalized our report for publishing. Otherwise, in its comments on this recommendation, DOD noted that the department would continue to work with the military services to refine the metrics and milestones required to implement and track their readiness recovery strategies. The military services have taken steps to develop metrics for measuring interim progress at specific milestones against identified readiness recovery goals. Through the Readiness Recovery Framework process under development, the military services have identified key readiness issues that their respective forces face and actions to address these issues, as well as metrics to assess progress toward readiness recovery goals that include quantifiable deliverables at specific milestones. The Office of the Secretary of Defense continues to work with the military services to ensure that the services' metrics and milestones clearly align with readiness recovery goals.
Recommendation: To ensure that the department can implement readiness rebuilding efforts, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of the Departments of the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force to identify external factors that may impact readiness recovery plans, including how they influence the underlying assumptions, to ensure that readiness rebuilding goals are achievable within established time frames. This should include, but not be limited to, an evaluation of the impact of assumptions about budget, maintenance time frames, and training that underpin the services' readiness recovery plans.

Agency: Department of Defense
Status: Open
Priority recommendation

Comments: DOD partially concurred with the recommendation in our draft report. In our draft, we recommended that the Secretary of Defense provide direction to the U.S. Marine Corps, in addition to the Secretary of the Navy; DOD stated that separate guidance to the U.S. Marine Corps was unnecessary because the U.S. Marine Corps is part of the Department of the Navy. We agreed, and revised our recommendation as we finalized our report for publishing. Otherwise, DOD noted that the department would continue to work with the military services to refine their readiness recovery goals and the requisite resources needed to meet them. To ensure that the department can implement readiness rebuilding efforts, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of the Departments of the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force to identify external factors that may impact readiness recovery plans, including how they influence the underlying assumptions, to ensure that readiness rebuilding goals are achievable within established time frames. This should include, but not be limited to, an evaluation of the impact of assumptions about budget, maintenance time frames, and training that underpin the services' readiness recovery plans.
Recommendation: To ensure that the department has adequate oversight of service readiness rebuilding efforts and that these efforts reflect the department's priorities, the Secretary of Defense should validate the service-established readiness rebuilding goals, strategies for achieving the goals, and metrics for measuring progress, and revise as appropriate.

Agency: Department of Defense
Status: Open
Priority recommendation

Comments: DOD concurred with this recommendation. The Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) has taken steps to validate the service-established readiness rebuilding goals, strategies for achieving the goals, and metrics for measuring progress through the Readiness Recovery Framework. OSD officials have developed a common framework and template for each of the military services by which to evaluate their goals, strategies, metrics, and milestones. OSD is in the process of meeting with each of the military services to refine and validate their readiness rebuilding plans, with the aim of including them as well as assessments of progress and mitigation plans in either the third or fourth-quarter fiscal year 2018 Quarterly Readiness Report to Congress.
Recommendation: To ensure that the department has adequate oversight of service readiness rebuilding efforts and that these efforts reflect the department's priorities, the Secretary of Defense should develop a method to evaluate the department's readiness recovery efforts against the agreed-upon goals through objective measurement and systematic analysis.

Agency: Department of Defense
Status: Open
Priority recommendation

Comments: DOD concurred with this recommendation. The Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) has taken steps to develop a Readiness Recovery Framework, with which OSD officials can evaluate the department's readiness recovery efforts against the agreed-upon goals through objective measurement and systematic analysis. OSD has established a timeline and oversight process to validate, monitor, and evaluate the military services' readiness recovery efforts and report progress against goals biannually in the Quarterly Readiness Report to Congress. OSD has also drafted a memorandum to guide the military services in their readiness recovery efforts and aims to issue further guidance that institutionalizes the Readiness Recovery Framework process after further developing and refining it.
Director: Pendleton, John H
Phone: (404)679-1816

1 open priority recommendation
Recommendation: To ensure that the geographic combatant commands are properly sized to meet their assigned missions and to improve the transparency of the commands' authorized manpower, assigned personnel, and mission and headquarters-support costs, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to revise Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Instruction 1001.01A to require a comprehensive, periodic evaluation of whether the size and structure of the combatant commands meet assigned missions.

Agency: Department of Defense
Status: Open
Priority recommendation

Comments: Our review found that DOD has a process for evaluating requests for additional authorized positions, but that it does not periodically evaluate the commands' authorized positions to ensure they are needed to meet the commands' assigned missions. The department did not concur with our recommendation, stating that the combatant commands had already been reduced during previous budget and efficiency reviews. The department also noted that any periodic review of the combatant commands' size and structure must include a review of assigned missions, and that a requirement for a mission review was not appropriate for inclusion in the commands' guiding instruction on personnel requirements. Our report acknowledged and described several actions taken by DOD to manage growth in positions and costs at the combatant commands, including establishing personnel baselines and identifying personnel reductions. We continue to maintain that the actions taken by DOD do not constitute a comprehensive, periodic review because they have not included all authorized positions at the combatant commands. In addition, the department's response does not fully explain why there should not be a requirement for periodic reviews to ensure that the resources meet constantly evolving missions. We continue to believe that institutionalizing a periodic evaluation of all authorized positions would help to systematically align manpower with missions and add rigor to the requirements process. Currently, the Department does not plan to take action to implement this recommendation. We will continue to monitor actions DOD takes in response to this recommendation and will provide updated information as appropriate.
Director: Russell, Cary B
Phone: (202) 512-5431

1 open priority recommendation
Recommendation: To further the integration of operational contract support into all of the services' planning, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of the Navy and Air Force to provide comprehensive service-wide guidance for the Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force that describes how each service should integrate operational contract support into its respective organization to include planning for contingency operations.

Agency: Department of Defense
Status: Open
Priority recommendation

Comments: As of September 2017, the Marine Corps and Air Force has developed OCS guidance; however, the Navy has not. In September 2016, the Marine Corps published Marine Corps Order 4200.34 on the manning, equipping and training of OCS capability. The Corps has established a new task list to define OCS as an essential wartime fighting capability, which provides units the foundation and ability to establish Mission Essential Tasks (METs) needed to effectively and efficiently measure and report OCS mission readiness. Marine Corps also developed and published an OCS career progression plan. The Air Force has taken steps to incorporate OCS into existing guidance, and the Secretary of the Air Force issued a memorandum in April 2016 providing guidance on integrating OCS into the total force. Additionally, Air Force issued AFI 64-105, Contingency Contracting Support, in August 2016. The Navy has begun drafting-but not yet issued-an instruction for internal review. Until all the services issue OCS guidance, this recommendation will remain open.