Defense Inventory: Improvements Needed in DOD's Implementation of Its Long-Term Strategy for Total Asset Visibility of Its Inventory: GAO-05-15

Solis, William M.
December 2004
GAO Reports;12/6/2004, p1
Government Document
For more than 30 years, the Department of Defense (DOD) has worked to achieve full visibility over and accessibility to its spare parts inventory. This initiative, called total asset visibility (TAV), aims to provide timely, accurate information on the location, movement, status, and identity of units, personnel, equipment, and supplies. In 1999, GAO examined DOD's TAV implementation approach and recommended that DOD develop a strategic plan to guide its efforts. DOD did not concur and stated it would rely on the components to individually achieve TAV. DOD's current target to achieve TAV is 2010. As requested, GAO examined DOD's progress towards, and impediments to, achieving TAV over its spare parts inventory. GAO also assessed DOD's progress in ensuring that its inventory management systems comply with federal financial management standards. Although DOD, the military services, and the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) made varying degrees of progress toward achieving visibility over in-storage assets, DOD did not meet its prior goal to achieve TAV by 2004. In a series of reports issued since March 1999, GAO reported that DOD also lacks visibility and control over items being shipped from one location to another. GAO's most recent work indicates that the military services and DLA generally have inventory management systems that provide visibility over specific segments of their inventories, but existing systems cannot always share data on a near real-time basis within their organizations or across the department. While DOD and the components all have ongoing efforts to modernize their business systems and improve the capability to share data on a near real-time basis, the requirements, time frames, and cost estimates for these additional systems have not been developed. Consequently, DOD's ability to achieve the new TAV goal of 2010 remains uncertain. Three significant impediments hinder the achievement of TAV. First, DOD does not have a clear long-term strategy for achieving TAV. While DOD has identified TAV as a key goal of its departmentwide effort to refine and implement a business enterprise architecture, components' plans and initiatives lack a clear link to the architecture and DOD's long-term business management modernization program. Further, while the logistics community identified TAV as a key element in its logistics transformation efforts, it did not include TAV as a goal within its Future Logistics Enterprise, its mid-term logistics transformation plan. Consequently, the components are pursuing internal initiatives to attain TAV. Second, DOD lacks the systems integration necessary to provide TAV. As GAO recently reported, DOD has made little progress in refining its business enterprise architecture, which leaves DOD without a long-term strategy needed to successfully guide efforts to achieve TAV. Without proper oversight and approval of emerging systems, DOD will continue to deploy systems that do not have the ability to provide TAV. While DOD plans to address GAO's recommendations aimed at improving its institutional oversight of business system investments, DOD has yet to fully implement these recommendations. Third, DOD's inventory management systems have long-standing data accuracy and reliability issues. Without accurate, reliable data from these systems, new systems will also contain suspect data and not provide TAV. Unless DOD overcomes these impediments, it is unlikely that it will meet its goal of achieving TAV by 2010. DOD has made little progress in assuring that its inventory management systems are substantially compliant with federal financial management standards. DOD has recognized the weaknesses within its financial management and feeder systems, and stated in its Performance and Accountability Report for fiscal year 2003 that its systems did not substantially comply. GAO's review of two emerging logistics systems raises concerns regarding DOD's lack of policies and procedures.



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