Congress Cannot Rely on the Military Services' Reported Real Property Maintenance and Repair Backlog Data

Gao ID: LCD-81-19 February 2, 1981

A review was conducted of the Department of Defense's (DOD) backlog of real property maintenance and repair projects. The reported DOD backlog is hundreds of millions of dollars less than the actual level of deficiencies. Consequently, Congress is not receiving a true picture of the backlog.

The failure of DOD to ensure uniform interpretation of its definition and guidance for backlog reporting has resulted in: (1) the Navy revising its reporting system to allow for showing only part of its total maintenance and repair backlog; (2) the Air Force designing its system to report as backlog only part of its real property deficiencies to be corrected by commercial contract; (3) Army and Marine Corps systems generally reporting unconstrained backlog; and (4) certain commands and installations taking individual actions, some in violation of service regulations, which serve to further constrain the levels of reported backlog. Congress cannot rely on even that portion of the backlog that the services are reporting as being accurate and valid. DOD has not ensured credible backlog reports by the services. The reported backlog data are further understated and unreliable because: (1) facility inspection procedures do not ensure that all deficiencies are identified for reporting; (2) the DOD requirement that the backlog be identified from installation work plans is not consistently followed; (3) cost estimates for backlog projects are not always adequately developed or updated to reflect increased facility deterioration and price escalation; and (4) inadequate command review and validation has resulted in the reporting of erroneous and inconsistent data and questionable adjustments to reported installations' backlog.


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