Defense Inventory

DOD Could Improve Total Asset Visibility Initiative With Results Act Framework Gao ID: NSIAD-99-40 April 12, 1999

During Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, the logistics pipeline was clogged by thousands of duplicative requisitions and poorly identified cargo containers. Logisticians could not find information about the status of requisitions, and the contents of more than half of 40,000 large containers of shipped equipment could not be readily identified. Better asset tracking could have saved $2 billion, according to the Army. The Defense Department's (DOD) Total Asset Visibility initiative is intended to resolve the wartime logistics problems experienced during the Persian Gulf War and to improve the military's inventory management by supporting transfers of assets within and across components. Although several deadlines for implementing the initiative have been missed, DOD now expects to have timely and accurate intraservice and interservice information and access to 90 percent of its assets by 2000 and 100 percent of its assets by 2004. This report, one in a series on inventory management problems at DOD, discusses (1) the difficulty in determining the status of the initiative's implementation, (2) planning weaknesses that affect the initiative's implementation, and (3) strategies for addressing those weaknesses.

GAO noted that: (1) DOD lacks an adequate Departmentwide management framework for providing information to clearly determine the progress made in realizing TAV initiative goals; (2) while some component and theater-specific asset tracking capabilities are reported to be operating, Departmentwide information on progress in achieving TAV initiative goals is minimal; (3) although implementing improved asset visibility is a high-priority objective, DOD cannot clearly understand the extent to which it is achieving the objectives of having timely, accurate information on requisitions and assets and access to DOD assets; (4) along with the unclear picture of the initiative's status, planning is inadequate at the strategic and implementation levels; (5) DOD does not have a Departmentwide TAV strategic plan to show how the various TAV initiatives contribute to DOD's goals for the initiative; (6) additionally, while DOD has an implementation plan, the plan has a number of key weaknesses; (7) it does not describe how TAV will be integrated into Department work processes to realize the goals set for the TAV initiative; (8) as a result, there is confusion over who is to use TAV and how it is to be used; (9) at some locations the system is being installed but not used, according to a component manager; (10) the plan also does not identify needed resources and does not address Departmentwide problems with systems that are critical to the successful implementation of the TAV initiative; (11) the initiative's implementation problems have largely resulted from long-standing management issues that have hindered other major management initiatives; (12) these issues include cultural resistance to change, service parochialism, the lack of outcome-oriented goals and performance measures, and the lack of management accountability; (13) resistance to changing from reliance on just-in-case inventory approaches to reliance on just-in-time inventory is a significant challenge for DOD in its approach to inventory management; and (14) this new way of doing business requires timely and accurate information about quantities and location of items and a willingness by the item holders to transfer them to meet the priority needs of others.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

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