Defense Management:

Overarching Organizational Framework Needed to Guide and Oversee Energy Reduction Efforts for Military Operations

GAO-08-426: Published: Mar 13, 2008. Publicly Released: Mar 13, 2008.

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The Department of Defense (DOD) relies heavily on petroleum-based fuel for mobility energy--the energy required for moving and sustaining its forces and weapons platforms for military operations. Dependence on foreign oil, projected increases in worldwide demand, and rising oil costs, as well as the significant logistics burden associated with moving fuel on the battlefield, will likely require DOD to address its mobility energy demand. GAO was asked to (1) identify key efforts under way to reduce mobility energy demand and (2) assess the extent to which DOD has established an overarching organizational framework to guide and oversee these efforts. GAO reviewed DOD documents, policies, and studies, and interviewed agency officials.

OSD, the Joint Staff, and the military services have undertaken efforts to reduce mobility energy demand in weapons platforms and other mobile defense systems. For example, OSD created a departmentwide Energy Security Task Force in 2006 that is monitoring the progress of selected energy related research and development projects. The Joint Staff updated its policy governing the development of capability requirements for new weapons systems to selectively consider energy efficiency as a key performance parameter--a characteristic of a system that is considered critical to the development of an effective military capability. The Army is addressing fuel consumption at forward-deployed locations by developing foam-insulated tents and temporary dome structures that are more efficient to heat and cool, reducing the demand for fuel-powered generators. The Navy has established an energy conservation program to encourage ships to reduce energy consumption. The Air Force has developed an energy strategy and undertaken initiatives to determine fuel-efficient flight routes, reduce the weight on aircraft, optimize air refueling, and improve the efficiency of ground operations. The Marine Corps has initiated research and development efforts to develop alternative power sources and improve fuel management. While these and other efforts are under way and DOD has identified energy as one of its transformational priorities, DOD lacks elements of an overarching organizational framework to guide and oversee mobility energy reduction efforts. In the absence of an overarching organizational framework for mobility energy, DOD cannot be assured that its current efforts will be fully implemented and will significantly reduce its reliance on petroleum-based fuel. GAO found that DOD's current approach to mobility energy lacks (1) a single executive-level OSD official who is accountable for mobility energy matters; sets the direction, pace, and tone to reduce mobility energy demand across DOD; and can serve as a mobility energy focal point within the department and with Congress and interagency partners; (2) a comprehensive strategic plan for mobility energy that aligns individual efforts with DOD-wide goals and priorities, establishes time frames for implementation, and uses performance metrics to evaluate progress; and (3) an effective mechanism to provide for communication and coordination of mobility energy efforts among OSD and the military services as well as leadership and accountability over each military service's efforts. GAO also found that DOD has made limited progress in incorporating fuel efficiency as a consideration in its key business processes--which include developing requirements for and acquiring new weapons systems. DOD has established new organizational frameworks to address other crosscutting issues, such as business systems modernization and corrosion control and prevention. Establishing an overarching organizational framework for mobility energy could provide greater assurance that DOD's efforts to reduce its reliance on petroleum-based fuel will succeed and that DOD is better positioned to address future mobility energy challenges--both within the department and as a stakeholder in national energy security dialogues.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD has taken steps that satisfy the intent of this recommendation. DOD's 2012 operational energy implementation plan identifies key tasks, assigns responsibilities, establishes milestones, and requires reporting and oversight of progress. A key task identified in the implementation plan is to include operational energy in the requirements process. Specifically, DOD states in this plan that a forthcoming Joint Staff policy will meet the congressional intent for an energy performance attribute in the requirements development process. The Joint Requirements Oversight Council and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff will oversee implementation of this effort in individual programs. Another key task identified in the implementation plan is to apply operational energy analyses to defense acquisitions. The plan states that, in accordance with a forthcoming policy from the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, the military departments will develop and apply "fully burdened cost of energy" analyses throughout the acquisition process. DOD's plan establishes a milestone of 3rd quarter, fiscal year 2012, for both of these tasks, and also requires DOD components to report on their overall implementation progress to the Defense Operational Energy Board, which provides oversight on operational energy matters.

    Recommendation: To improve DOD's ability to guide and oversee mobility energy reduction efforts, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Deputy Secretary of Defense to establish an overarching organizational framework by ensuring that OSD takes the following steps to fully incorporate energy efficiency considerations into DOD's requirements development and acquisition processes: (1) develop a methodology to enable the full implementation of an energy efficiency key performance parameter in DOD's requirements development process; and (2) as part of its efforts to complete DOD's fully burdened cost of fuel pilot program, develop an approach for incorporating this cost information into the acquisition decision making process.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD issued an operational energy strategy and implementation plan that together meet the intent of this recommendation. In June 2011, DOD published a strategy entitled "Energy for the Warfighter: Operational Energy Strategy." In March 2012, DOD published an associated implementation plan entitled "Operational Energy Strategy: Implementation Plan." The strategy and implementation plan set forth goals and objectives, and the implementation plan assigns responsibilities for key tasks and specifies milestones and reporting requirements aimed at providing accountability for implementing the strategy. Finally, the implementation plan states that a new Defense Operational Energy Board will develop, by the end of fiscal year 2012, performance metrics to promote the energy efficiency of military operations.

    Recommendation: To improve DOD's ability to guide and oversee mobility energy reduction efforts, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Deputy Secretary of Defense to establish an overarching organizational framework by directing the executive-level mobility energy official to lead the development and implementation of a comprehensive departmentwide strategic plan for mobility energy. At a minimum, this strategic plan should set forth mobility energy goals and objectives, time frames for implementation, and performance metrics to track and evaluate progress.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In DOD's response to our draft report, although DOD acknowledged that there is a need to view and manage its energy challenges in a new, more systematic manner, their response stated that DOD Directive 5134.01 (Dec. 9, 2005) provides the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics oversight and policy-making authority on DOD energy matters. However, it is clear from our review, including discussions with department officials, that neither the Under Secretary nor any official from this office is providing comprehensive oversight and policy guidance for mobility energy across the department. DOD's current approach to mobility energy is decentralized, with fuel oversight and management responsibilities diffused among several OSD and military service offices as well as working groups. DOD does not assign responsibility for fuel reduction considerations - either singly or jointly - to any of the various offices involved in fuel management. While we acknowledge that DOD has begun to increase management attention on mobility energy issues by creating the DOD Energy Security Task Force, the department does not have an implementation team, with dedicated resources and funding, for mobility energy issues. The task force's current structure does not ensure department wide communication of fuel-reduction efforts, particularly among the military services, which are responsible for most of these efforts. Based on DOD's response to our draft recommendation, we made minor modifications to the recommendation to emphasize that DOD should designate an executive-level OSD mobility energy official - supported by an implementation team - who is accountable for mobility energy matters and who sets the direction, pace, and tone to reduce mobility energy demand across the department. Congress subsequently included a provision in the Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009 that required a DOD Director of Operational Energy Plans and Programs. The act defined operational energy similarly to mobility energy--that is, energy required for moving and sustaining forces and weapons platforms for military operations. In June 2010, the Senate confirmed the nominee for Director of Operational Energy Plans and Programs. DOD's establishment of this position implements our recommendation. Furthermore, it is a key step toward creating an overarching organizational framework, which can provide greater assurance that the department's efforts to reduce its reliance on petroleum-based fuel will succeed and that it is well positioned to address future operational energy challenges, both within the department and as a stakeholder in national energy security dialogues.

    Recommendation: To improve DOD's ability to guide and oversee mobility energy reduction efforts, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Deputy Secretary of Defense to establish an overarching organizational framework by designating an executive-level OSD official who is accountable for mobility energy matters and sets the direction, pace, and tone to reduce mobility energy demand across the department; improve business processes to incorporate energy efficiency considerations as a factor in DOD decision making; coordinate on energy issues with facility energy officials; act as DOD's focal point in interagency deliberations about national energy concerns; and lead the department's potential transition from petroleum-based fuel to alternative fuel sources. This official should be supported by an implementation team with dedicated resources and funding.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Each of the military departments has established senior energy officials to provide leadership and accountability over energy matters, including mobility energy matters, within their departments. These actions met the intent of our recommendation.

    Recommendation: To establish effective communication and coordination among the executive-level OSD mobility energy official and the military services, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force and the Commandant of the Marine Corps to designate an executive-level official within each of their military services to act as a focal point on departmentwide mobility energy efforts as well as provide leadership and accountability over their own efforts.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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