Army Has Taken Steps to Improve Reset Process, but More Complete Reporting of Equipment and Future Costs Is Needed
GAO-12-133: Published: May 15, 2012. Publicly Released: May 15, 2012.
What GAO Found
Since GAOs 2007 review, the Army has taken steps to improve its use of reset in targeting equipment shortages. In 2007, GAO noted that the Armys reset implementation strategy did not specifically target shortages of equipment on hand among units preparing for deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan in order to mitigate operational risk. GAO recommended that the Army act to ensure that its reset priorities address equipment shortages in the near term to ensure that the needs of deploying units could be met. The Department of Defense (DOD) did not concur, and stated that there was no need to reassess its approaches to equipment reset. However, in 2008, the Army issued its Depot Maintenance Enterprise Strategic Plan, noted that filling materiel shortages within warfighting units is a key challenge facing the depot maintenance enterprise, and called for changes in programs and policies to address materiel shortages within warfighting units. Further, recognizing that retrograde operationsthe return of equipment from theater to the United Statesare essential to facilitating depot level reset and redistribution of equipment, the Army in 2010 developed the retrograde, reset, and redistribution (R3) initiative to synchronize retrograde, national depot-level reset efforts, and redistribution efforts. In March 2011, the Army issued an R3 equipment priority list, and revised and reissued an updated list at the end of fiscal year 2011 with full endorsement from all Army commands. The R3 initiative has only begun to be fully implemented this year, and thus it is too early to tell whether it will provide a consistent and transparent process for addressing the Armys current or future equipping needs.
GAO found that the Armys monthly reports to Congress do not include expected future reset costs or distinguish between planned and unplanned reset of equipment. GAO has reported that agencies and decision makers need visibility into the accuracy of program execution in order to ensure basic accountability and to anticipate future costs. However, the Army does not include its future reset liability in its reports to Congress, which DOD most recently estimated in 2010 to be $24 billion. Also, the Army reports to Congress include the number of items that it has repaired in a given month using broad categories, such as Tactical Wheeled Vehicles, which may obscure progress on equipment planned for reset. For example, GAOs analysis of Army data showed that 4,144 tactical wheeled vehicles were planned for reset in fiscal year 2010, while 3,563 vehicles were executed. According to the Armys current reporting method, this would result in a reported completion rate of 86 percent, but GAOs analysis showed that only approximately 40 percent of the equipment that was reset had been planned and programmed. This reporting method may also restrict visibility over the Armys multiyear reset liability. For example, both the M1200 Knight and the M1151 HMMWV are categorized as Tactical Wheeled Vehicles, but anticipated reset costs for the M1200 are significantly higher. In 2010 more M1200s were repaired than planned, thus accounting for a larger share of the budgeted reset funds. With fewer funds remaining, some equipment planned and budgeted for repair was not reset, pushing that workload to future fiscal years. These differences are not captured in the Armys monthly reports, and thus Congress may not have a complete picture of the Armys short- and long-term progress in addressing reset.
Why GAO Did This Study
From 2007 to 2012, the Army received about $42 billion to fund its expenses for the reset of equipmentincluding more than $21 billion for depot maintenancein support of continuing overseas contingency operations in Southwest Asia. Reset is intended to mitigate the effects of combat stress on equipment by repairing, rebuilding, upgrading, or procuring replacement equipment. Reset equipment is used to supply non-deployed units and units preparing for deployment while meeting ongoing operational requirements. In 2007, GAO reported that the Armys reset strategy did not target equipment shortages for units deploying to theater. For this report, GAO (1) examined steps the Army has taken to improve its equipment reset strategy since 2007, and (2) determined the extent to which the Armys reset reports to Congress provide visibility over reset costs and execution. To conduct this review, GAO reviewed and analyzed DOD and Army documentation on equipment reset strategies and monthly Army reports to Congress, and interviewed DOD and Army officials.
What GAO Recommends
GAO recommends that the Army revise its monthly congressional reset reports to include its future reset liability and status information on equipment reset according to the initial reset plan by vehicle type. DOD did not concur. DOD stated that the Army would report its reset liability annually instead of monthly. Because DOD did not agree to report its reset status by vehicle type, GAO included a matter for congressional consideration to direct the Army to report this information.
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Matter for Congressional Consideration
Comments: Congress took no action on this matter.
Matter: To improve accountability and oversight, Congress should consider directing the Secretary of the Army to include status information on the percentage of equipment reset according to the initial reset plan by vehicle type in its monthly reports to Congress.
Recommendations for Executive Action
Comments: While DOD nonconcurred with our recommendation, it stated that the Army planned to include an estimate of its future equipment reset liability in its summary report to Congress. However, as of fiscal year 2014 it has not yet done so. According to DOD, the Army continues to provide Congress information on its projected future reset liability in congressional hearings and meetings with congressional staffers. However, sequestration, continuing budget resolutions, and force reductions have made it difficult to make a stable projection of its extended reset liability.
Recommendation: To ensure that the Army provides information to Congress that is useful for assessing its short and long-term reset progress, the Secretary of the Army should direct the Office of the Chief of Staff of the Army, Logistics to revise the monthly congressional reset reports to include the Army's multiyear reset liability, which should include the anticipated cost to reset all equipment in-theater as well as all equipment returned to the United States that has not yet been reset;
Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army
Comments: While DOD nonconcurred with our recommendation, it stated that the Army intended to provide more detailed information on its reset program in its monthly reset reports to Congress. However, more recent Army reports to Congress indicate that it has not yet changed its reporting to include more detailed information on its reset program adjustments.
Recommendation: To ensure that the Army provides information to Congress that is useful for assessing its short and long-term reset progress, the Secretary of the Army should direct the Office of the Chief of Staff of the Army, Logistics to revise the monthly congressional reset reports to include information on the percentage of equipment reset according to the initial reset plan by vehicle type.
Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army