Inventory Management:

Adopting Best Practices Could Enhance Navy Efforts to Achieve Efficiencies and Savings

NSIAD-96-156: Published: Jul 12, 1996. Publicly Released: Jul 12, 1996.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO examined the Navy's aircraft logistics system, focusing on the Navy's efforts to improve and reduce the cost of the system.

GAO found that: (1) the best practices identified in the airline industry could improve the responsiveness of the Navy's logistics system and save millions of dollars; (2) the Navy's logistics system is complex and often does not respond quickly to customer needs; (3) the factors contributing to this situation include the lack of spare parts, slow distribution, and inefficient repair practices; (4) some customers wait as long as four months for available parts; (5) the Navy is centralizing its supply management and repair activities, outsourcing certain management functions, and analyzing the effectiveness of its repair pipeline; (6) the best practices employed by the private sector show promise for the Navy because these firms hold minimum levels of inventory, have readily accessible spare parts, and quick repair times; (7) it takes an average of 11 days to repair a broken part in the private sector, as opposed to 37 days in the Navy's repair process; (8) the private-sector average is a result of repairing items immediately after they break, using local distribution centers and integrated supplier programs, and third-party logistic providers; and (9) many of the airline industry's best practices are compatible with the Navy's logistics system.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: As part of the Navy's current efforts to improve the logistics system's responsiveness and reduce its complexity, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Navy, working with the Defense Logistics Agency, to develop a demonstration project to determine the extent to which the Navy can apply best practices to its logistics operations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Navy should identify several naval facilities to participate in the project and test specific practices highlighted in this report. The practices should be tested in an integrated manner, where feasible, to maximize the interrelationship many of these practices have with one another. The specific practices that should be tested are: (1) inducting parts at repair depots soon after they break, consistent with repair requirements, to prevent parts from sitting idle; (2) reorganizing repair workshops using the cellular concept to reduce the time it takes to repair parts; (3) using integrated supplier programs to shift the management responsibilities for consumable inventories to suppliers; (4) using local supplier distribution centers near repair facilities for quick shipments of parts to mechanics; and (5) expanding the use of third-party logistics services to store and distribute spare parts between the depots and end-users to improve delivery times.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy

    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: This demonstration project should be used to quantify the costs and benefits of these practices and to serve as a means to identify and alleviate barriers or obstacles (such as overcoming a strong internal resistance to change and any unique operational requirements) that may inhibit the expansion of these practices. After these practices have been tested, the Navy should consider expanding and tailoring the use of these practices, where feasible, so they can be applied to other locations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy

    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

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