Depot Maintenance

Army Report Provides Incomplete Assessment of Depot-Type Capabilities Gao ID: NSIAD-00-20 October 15, 1999

Depot maintenance and repair involves the overhaul, upgrade, and rebuilding of military systems, subsystems, parts, and assemblies. In recent years, some depot maintenance workloads have become fragmented--that is, some depot maintenance workloads have shifted to nondepot facilities--leading to uncertainty about the magnitude of depot maintenance-type capabilities, workforce requirements, and the distribution of work to public and private sector facilities. In April, the Army sent Congress a report on the proliferation of depot maintenance activities at nondepot facilities. GAO determines the extent to which the Army's report (1) identifies the total amount of depot maintenance-type work done at local maintenance facilities and the cost efficiency of such work in view of the Army's overall requirements and (2) addresses plans to consolidate fragmented maintenance operations. GAO also highlights continuing challenges the Army faces as it tries to resolve proliferation issues.

GAO noted that: (1) the Army's report did not sufficiently identify the extent of depot maintenance-type work performed at non-depot facilities; (2) the Army reported that 40 staff years of depot maintenance-type work was performed outside of the formal depot system by non-depot maintenance providers operating under special repair authorities; (3) however, other sources of information indicate that additional amounts of depot maintenance-type work and capabilities exist at various non-depot facilities; (4) further, the Army was unable to develop accurate and consistent estimates of its depot maintenance-type work because its reporting criteria are not consistent with the definition in 10 U.S.C. 2460, and management information systems and procedures are not equipped to assess the magnitude and cost-effectiveness of all maintenance and supply functions; (5) citing inadequate data on the subject, the Army's report did not make any recommendations for consolidating depot maintenance-type facilities to the public depots; (6) nonetheless, the report did outline a number of ongoing initiatives, and it recommended other actions to improve the management of information on facilities performing depot maintenance-type tasks; (7) these actions should provide some of the data and management improvements needed to support future consolidation recommendations; (8) although not specifically addressed in the Army's report, the Army has developed a draft strategic plan for its depot maintenance facilities; (9) however, key details for implementing many of the planned actions remain to be developed, including plans to assess the capabilities of and future requirements for the Army's maintenance support structure; (10) GAO identified a number of continuing challenges the Army faces in attempting to address the fragmentation of depot maintenance work and the proliferation of depot maintenance-type facilities; (11) key among them is the amount of depot maintenance-type capabilities controlled by major commands in the active Army and the Army National Guard; (12) for various reasons, these commands are reluctant to reduce their present capability for performing depot maintenance-type workloads; and (13) eliminating the fragmentation, duplication, and excess capacities within the Army's maintenance infrastructure--while implementing solutions that are best from a warfighting perspective and most cost-effective to the Army as a whole--represents a formidable challenge for Army leadership.


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