Stabilizing Iraq:

DOD Cannot Ensure That U.S.-Funded Equipment Has Reached Iraqi Security Forces

GAO-07-711: Published: Jul 31, 2007. Publicly Released: Jul 31, 2007.

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Since 2003, the United States has provided about $19.2 billion to develop Iraqi security forces. The Department of Defense (DOD) recently requested an additional $2 billion to continue this effort. Components of the Multinational Force-Iraq (MNF-I), including the Multinational Security Transition Command-Iraq (MNSTC-I), are responsible for implementing the U.S. program to train and equip Iraqi forces. This report (1) examines the property accountability procedures DOD and MNF-I applied to the U.S. train-and-equip program for Iraq and (2) assesses whether DOD and MNF-I can account for the U.S.-funded equipment issued to the Iraqi security forces. To accomplish these objectives, GAO reviewed MNSTC-I property books as of January 2007 and interviewed current and former officials from DOD and MNF-I.

As of July 2007, DOD and MNF-I had not specified which DOD accountability procedures, if any, apply to the train-and-equip program for Iraq. Congress funded the train-and-equip program for Iraq outside traditional security assistance programs, providing DOD a large degree of flexibility in managing the program, according to DOD officials. These officials stated that since the funding did not go through traditional security assistance programs, the DOD accountability requirements normally applicable to these programs did not apply. Further, MNF-I does not currently have orders that comprehensively specify accountability procedures for equipment distributed to the Iraqi forces. DOD and MNF-I cannot fully account for Iraqi forces' receipt of U.S.-funded equipment. Two factors led to this lapse in accountability. First, MNSTC-I did not maintain a centralized record of all equipment distributed to Iraqi forces before December 2005. At that time, MNSTC-I established a property book system to track issuance of equipment to the Iraqi forces and attempted to recover past records. GAO found a discrepancy of at least 190,000 weapons between data reported by the former MNSTC-I commander and the property books. Former MNSTC-I officials stated that this lapse was due to insufficient staff and the lack of a fully operational distribution network, among other reasons. Second, since the beginning of the program, MNSTC-I has not consistently collected supporting records confirming the dates the equipment was received, the quantities of equipment delivered, or the Iraqi units receiving the items. Since June 2006, the command has placed greater emphasis on collecting the supporting documents. However, GAO's review of the January 2007 property books found continuing problems with missing and incomplete records. Further, the property books consist of extensive electronic spreadsheets, which are an inefficient management tool given the large amount of data and limited personnel to maintain the system.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD concurred with our recommendation and noted in its comments on the report that it was reviewing policies and procedures for equipment accountability for this program. In January 2009, the Multinational Security Transition Command-Iraq, the Department of Defense entity responsible for the Iraqi train-and equip program, issued Logistics Accountability Standard Operating Procedures for Iraq and in March 2009 issued Serialized Items Internal Standard Operating Procedure as a major revision from prior procedure. These guidance documents constitute the accountability procedures that apply to the train-and equip program within Iraq. According to an official in the MNSTC-I J4 Accountability office, his office was established and the two guiding Standard Operating Procedures were developed as a direct result of our report, as well as subsequent reports from other audit organizations.

    Recommendation: To help ensure that U.S. funded equipment reaches the Iraqi security forces as intended, the Secretary of Defense should determine which DOD accountability procedures apply or should apply to the program.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Multinational Security Transition Command-Iraq (MNSTC-I), a DOD entity responsible for the Iraqi train-and equip program, created a Property Accountability Branch to inventory and maintain accountability of equipment and weapons provided to the government of Iraq. According to an official in the Property Accountability Branch, his office was established as a direct result of GAO report GAO-07-711 recommendation, as well as subsequent recommendations from other audit organizations. MNSTC-I standard operating procedures defined the accountability procedures for the train-and equip program within Iraq. The Property Accountability Branch was adequately staffed with a full time staff of 4 military officials plus 2 translators. The branch maintained sufficient technological requirements, including separate Iraqi Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Interior Issue Log databases that were automatically reconciled with the U.S. equipment serial number database. The Property Branch Officials believed that distribution centers were functioning and provided adequate data to the Property Accountability Branch to maintain accountability.

    Recommendation: To help ensure that U.S. funded equipment reaches the Iraqi security forces as intended, the Secretary of Defense should, after defining the required accountability procedures, ensure that sufficient staff, functioning distribution networks, standard operating procedures, and proper technology are available to meet the new requirements.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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