Review of the Management of Department of Defense Periodicals

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1971-11-18.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)


              The Secretary      of Defense

              Dear Mr. Secretary:

                     In our letter   of January 29, 1971, we informed you that the
              General Accounting Office had scheduled a review of the
              of Department of Defense (IX)D) periodicals.        As a part of this----‘
              review, we obtaihed~info~Y3natioE dn thepolicies,        procedures, and
              practices of DOD and the military      services in approving, monitoring,
              and distributing     periodicals.  We also obtained certain information
              on 291 individual     periodicals published within DOD from question-
              naires prepared and distributed     at our request through the normal
              command channels of each of the military       services.

                     Based on preliminary    data obtained, we began a detailed review
              to assess the effectiveness       of the management controls over these
              publications.       However, on October 6, 1971, Mr. John C!, Broger, the
              Director,     Office of Information   for the Armed Forces, informed us
              that his office planned to make a study of these and other period-
              icals.     We met with him on October 20, 1971, to exchange information
              and to coordinate our efforts.

                     As a result of that meeting, we agreed to suspend our review
              (code 85224) pending completion of the DOD study.     We furnished to
              Mr. Broger certain information    and analyses we had already developed,
              as well as our observations on matters we believe warrant particular
              attention.    Cur observations are summarized below for your information.

                     --Procedures regarding the approval of proposed new periodicals
                        vary considerably among the three services.        Depending on the
                        type of periodical     proposed, it may be approved at the depart-
                        ment level, by a field commander, or by a unit corrrmander. The
                        criteria   furnished the many officials   authorized to approve
                        new periodicals     are very broad or not adequate to ensure that
                        new publications     are necessary and not du@icative    of the pur-
                        poses and subject matter of existing periodicals.

                                      5OTi-I ANNIVERSARY 1921- 1971r-1
--Apparently    because of the widespread authority       for approval of
   periodicals,   we could identify     no control point, either within
   the DOD or the,military     services, responsible for controlling
   the many periodicals    being published.      As far as we could deter-
  m3nd there is no comprehensive information          at any level either
   on the total number and the cost of periodicals         published,  or
   on the number of military     and civilian    personnel engaged in this

--Once approved, there appears to be no effective         control over
   changes significantly    increasing the cost of a periodical.       We
  noted that periodicals     underwent extensive changes, particularly
  in the use made of coated paper and color and in the number of
  pages. Various DOD officials        said that changes of this type
  generally are made to motivate the reader.         We were also told
  that there are no instructions       or guidelines other than the
  Joint Cormnittee on PYinting (JCP) regulations,       limiting  the
   extent to which periodicals     may be made more elaborate to at-
  tract readers.      Based on the limited data we obtained, it
  appears possible that uncoordinated changes by the military
   services making periodicals     more attractive   may have violated
  the JCP regulations which prohibit       such changes primarily    for
  decorative effect.

--Tne military      services have not established adequate procedures
   for periodically      assessing the continuing need for approved
   periodicals.      Once approved, the Navy and the Air Force require
   no further review or approval.          The Army has a reapproval require-
   ment, but only for servicewide publications         controlled  by the
   Adjutant General.       The Air Force has an annual reapproval require-
   ment for all periodicals;       however, the reapproval authority     rests
   with the responsible commands without any evidence of adequate
   coordination     among commands. We believe the differences       in
   reapproval practices of the services and the apparent lack of
   coordination     for reapproving periodicals,     dealing in many
   instances with the same subject matter, indicate a need for
   DOD to establish adequate procedures to reasonably ensure that
   unnecessary costs are not incurred to reach the same target
   groups with different      periodicals.

--Based on limited tests, there seemS to be a need for more
   effective      control over the number of copies printed and their
   distribution.        Generally, we found no effective      means in use
   to determine reader interest         or the size of the target groups
   at military      facilities.    Further, it appeared that once an
   activity     is placed on a distribution     list to receive a specified
   number of copies, there is no effective          provision   for follow-up
   in later years to determine whether the activity's            needs have
   changed. Limited inquiries         within one service showed that some
   activities      were receiving excess copies,others were receiving

      As agreed with Mr. Broger, we will be provided copies both of
drafts and the final report on the DODstudy, so that we may evakate
the study and any actions taken or planned, particularly regarding
the matters discussed herein. _
      We appreciate the excellent cooperation by Hr. Broger in assist-
ing us initially   and in coordinating his study with us to avoid
duplication of effort.    Webelieve this illustrates  how our respective
staffs can be used most effectively to achieve mutual objectives.
       Copies of this letter are being sent to the Secretaries of the
military departments for their information.
                                    Sincerely yours,

                                    Defense Division