Army Reserve Components: Minimum Essential Equipment for Training Has Not Been Effectively Managed

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1990-05-25.

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

                    ,-______.-._-   I..nited   States
                                                 Gerwral -..-. Accounling   Office   -_._ -.
                                    Report t; the Chairman, Subcommitt,w
                                    on Defense, Committee on
                                    Appropriations, House of

May 1990
                                    ARMY RESERVE
                                    Minimm Essential
                                    Equipment for
                                    Training Has Not Been
                                    Effectively Managed

                   United States
GAO                General Accounting  Office
                   Washington, D.C. 20648

                   National Security and
                   International Affairs Division


                   May 25,1QQ0

                   The Honorable John P. Murtha
                   Chairman, Subcommittee on Defense
                   Committee on Appropriations
                   House of Representatives

                   Dear Mr. Chairman:

                   In response to your August 2,1989, request, we have assessed the
                   Army’s Minimum Essential Equipment for Training (MEET) program. The
                   objectives of our review were to (1) assess the accuracy of the Army’s
                   reported minimum equipment requirements, (2) ascertain the extent to
                   which requirements had been filled, and (3) identify factors that have
                   impeded the Army’s ability to fill requirements.

                   You expressed concern that shortages of essential equipment continue to
                   hamper Army National Guard and Army Reserve efforts to conduct
                   effective training, despite the millions of dollars designated to obtain
                   equipment for the reserves.

                   Our review indicated that the Army has not effectively managed the
Results in Brief   MEETprogram. Specifically, the Army has not established specific crite-
                   ria and objectives to accurately identify MEETrequirements, has not
                   ensured that all units report critical equipment needs, has not provided
                   for updating the requirements list, and has not actively managed the
                   program since 1987. As a result, the current list of requirements that
                   comprises the MEETprogram is outdated and inaccurate, and the Army
                   still does not know the specific items and their quantities that are essen-
                   tial to training its reserve component units.

                   The Army initiated the MEETprogram in 1983 to improve the training
Background         readiness of the Army National Guard and Army Reserve. Its purpose
                   was to identify, by unit, specific types and quantities of equipment that
                   were critical to training in reserve component units and to give those
                   units priority over others in the issue of that equipment.

                   The Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Plans
                   (DCSOPS) has primary responsibility for the program, including the publi-
                   cation of regulations to govern the program and to identify require-
                   ments. The Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Logistics, is responsible

                   Page1                            GAO/NSIALMO-136   Army’s   Minimum   Essential   Eguipment

Criteria for MEET   In 1983, the Army’s Vice Chief of Staff directed that lists of equipment
                    considered critical to training be prepared. That same year, the National
Program Were Not    Guard Bureau and Forces Command compiled lists of critical items
Established         based on information from their units. These lists, when combined, con-
                    tained requests by specific units for about 600 different equipment
                    items.’ The following year, when the Vice Chief of Staff decided to make
                    MEETa part of normal Army operations, the National Guard Bureau and
                    Forces Command obtained information from their units and developed
                    new lists for the 1985 compilation. This second compilation included
                    more than 500 different equipment items and nearly 1,600 of the
                    reserve component’s approximately 4,000 units.

                    However, no one in this process ever defined MEETprogram objectives or
                    established specific criteria for determining which items were critical to
                    training. Neither Forces Command nor the National Guard Bureau pro-
                    vided objectives or adequate criteria to guide commanders in their selec-
                    tions. It was not specified, for instance, whether items should relate to a
                    unit’s Mission Essential Task List, nor was it stated which level of train-
                    ing (individual or unit) the program was to support2 Unit commanders
                    were simply asked to list the top 10 MEETitems they did not have.

                    According to Army memoranda, the master list compiled in 1985 from
                    the second survey reflected unit commanders’ confusion and misinter-
                    pretation of guidelines. They had listed a wide range of items, some of
                    which they were not authorized and some of which were in short supply
                    throughout the Army. The number of MEETrequests prompted ncsops to
                    hold up the program until it could assess the effect such a large reas-
                    signment of priorities would have on readiness and equipment

                    The program remained in abeyance until late 1987, when the Army
                    decided that the MEETlist would be limited to (1) units reporting non-
                    deployable (C-4) status for equipment on hand and (2) items that were
                    essential to the mission of those units.” Items already included on the
                    Army’s Critical List (items that were short Army- wide), as well as any
                    items for which a unit had no authorization, were also deleted. Thus, the

                    ‘AlthoughrecordsregardingMEETduring1984arenot available,Army memoranda  indicatethat
                    over 180reservecomponentunitsreceivedequipmentasa resultof this effort.
                    ‘A MissionEssentialTaskList is a constrained,
                                                               ptioritii list of essentialwartimetasksthat is used
                    to developtrainingplansandto rvaluateunits’proficiency.
                                   or C-4,statusmdicatesthat a unit requiresadditionalresources
                                                                                              to undertakeih
                    wartimemissionbut maybedircrtedto undertakepartsof its missionwith resources  onhand.

                    Page3                               GAO/NSlAD-90-136    Army’s   Minimum   Essential   Equipment

                    For example, we contacted 20 units on the 1987 MEETlist and found that
                    13 did not know that they were on the list, 10 were not even aware of
                    the MEETprogram, and 1 no longer existed. These 20 units had a total of
                    49 equipment items listed as minimum equipment needed for training,
                    but due to organizational changes, 9 units were no longer authorized 13
                    (27 percent) of these items. Another six items were still authorized, but
                    unit representatives told us that not having them had not significantly
                    affected training. Conversely, officials from seven (37 percent) of the
                    units said that they were lacking mission essential items critical to train-
                    ing that were not on the MEETlist.

                    No new units are represented on the list. For instance, the National
                    Guards 29th Light Infantry Division was activated in September 1985,
                    after the MEETrequirements were compiled. According to state National
                    Guard officials, none of the division’s units, which comprise about
                    60 percent of the Virginia National Guard, are included in the MEETpro-
                    gram. The officials said that the division and other Guard units were
                    lacking equipment they considered essential to training, but they had
                    not attempted to add their units’ requirements to the MEETprogram
                    because they believed that the program was no longer active.

                    During 1983 and 1984, the Army’s Vice Chief of Staff was directly inter-
MEET Has Not Been   ested and involved in the MEETprogram. After the program was institu-
Actively Managed    tionalized, however, that emphasis was lost. According to Army
Since 1987          officials, their involvement since 1987 has been limited to periodically
                    monitoring reports showing MEETequipment requirements still unfilled.
                    Efforts to establish standard MEETrequirements for specific types of
                    units have been abandoned, and attempts to publish an Army regulation
                    covering MEETwere discontinued in 1988. Although DCSOPS      officials still
                    do not know what specific items and quantities of equipment are essen-
                    tial for training, they have no further plans to identify MEET

                    Currently, MEETconsists of the computerized list of units and line items
                    of equipment revised and adopted in 1987. About 121 units and 227 line
                    items remain outstanding, but no one is actively managing the program.
                    Although the Army Materiel Command periodically produces automated
                    status reports on MEETand a few items on the list continue to be issued,
                    the program is essentially inactive.

                    Army officials told us that perhaps one reason that the Army has not
                    actively managed the MEETprogram is that the equipment posture of

                    Page 6                        GAO/NSIAD9@136   Army’s   Minimum   Essential   Equipment
                      whether the MEETprogram is still the best means for satisfying minimum
                      equipment needs and if it is, ensure that the program is properly man-
                      aged. The MEETprogram should be terminated if the Army is not willing
                      to apply the requisite management attention to it.

                      Whatever system is used to establish priorities for equipment deliveries
                      to Army National Guard and Army Reserve units, the system needs
                      basic information on equipment needs for training. We recommend that,
                      to obtain this information, the Secretary of the Army establish specific
                      criteria to define the minimum essential equipment needed to train
                      effectively and clearly state the level of training to be supported.

                      The Department of Defense agreed with our findings and recommenda-
Agency Comments and   tions (see app. I) and stated that the Army will (1) review the MEETpro-
Our Evaluation        gram and decide by September 30, 1990, on the best means to provide
                      the minimum equipment necessary for adequate readiness training in
                      reserve component units and (2) review MEETcriteria and develop a cor-
                      rective action plan by September 30, 1990.

                      To obtain information on the program’s background, establishment of
Scope and             the MEETlist, and current program activities, we contacted officials of
Methodology           and reviewed documentation issued by the Department of the Army’s
                      Deputy Chiefs of Staff for Operations and Plans and for Logistics; the
                      Office of the Chief, Army Reserves; Headquarters, Training and
                      Doctrine Command; t.he National Guard Bureau; Headquarters, Forces
                      Command; and three reserve component units. We also contacted 20
                      units on the MEETlist to determine their awareness of MEET,their contin-
                      uing need for specific items on the list, and their need for any items not
                      on the list.

                      We conducted our work from July 1989 through February 1990 in accor-
                      dance with generally accepted government auditing standards.

                      As arranged with your office, unless you publicly announce its contents
                      earlier, we plan no further distribution of this report until 15 days from
                      the date of its issue. At that time, we will send copies to interested con-
                      gressional committees; the Director, Office of Management and Budget;
                      and the Secretaries of Defense and the Army. We will also make copies
                      available to other parties on request.

                      Page 7                       GAO/‘NSL4D9O-136   Army’s   Minimum   Essential   Equipment
Page9   GAO/NSIAMJO-136   Amy’s   Minimum   Essential   Quipment
              Appendix I
              Comments From the Department   of Defense

              The following is GAO’S comment on the Department of Defense’s letter
              dated May 9, 1990.

              1. The enclosure has not been included. With the exception of the infer-
GAO Comment   ence contained in our characterization of the Army’s report, the enclo-
              sure merely restates our findings and conclusions and what is contained
              in the letter. We have changed the report to reflect the Department’s
              comment regarding our use of the term “misleading.”

              Page 11                            GAO/NS~l36   Army’s   Minimum   Eesentld   Eqllipment
_--.-   ,.   _, ,_


                     Requests    for copies of   GAO   reports   should be sent to:

                     U.S. General Accounting       Office
                     Post Office Box 6015
                     Gaithersburg,  Maryland       20877

                     Telephone    202-275-6241

                     The first five copies of each report        are free. Additional   copies are
                     $2.00 each.

                     There is a 25% discount      on orders for 100 or more copies mailed to a
                     single address.

                     Orders must be prepaid by cash or by check or money order made
                     out to the Superintendent of Documents.


                       ccounting Office      Postage L Fees Paid
         Washington,      D.C. 20548
                                               Permit   No. GlOO
         Official   Business
         Penalty    for Private   Use $300
Appendix II

Major Contributors to This Report

                        Charles J. Bonanno, Assistant Director
National Security and
International Affairs
Division, Washington,

                        Ray S. Carroll, Regional Management Representative
Norfolk Regional        James K. Mahaffey, Evaluator-in-Charge
Office                  Jane B. West, Evaluator
                        Melissa M. van Tine, Writer-Editor

(393356)                Page 12                     GAO/‘NSIAD9O-126   Army’s   Minimum   Jhentid   Equipment
Appendix I

Comments From the Department of Defense

Note: GAO comments
supplementing those in the
report text appear at the
                                                       ASSISTANT         SECRETARY             OF     DEFENSE
end of this appendix.
                                                                   WASHINGTON.   D c. 20301

                                                                                 MAY           P    IS?‘-’

                             Mr. Frank C. Conahan
                             Assistant     Comptroller     General
                             National     Security     and International
                               Affairs     Division
                             United    States     General Accounting              Office
                             Washington,      D. C. 20548
                             Dear Mr.       Conahan:
                                  This is the Department    of Defense (DOD) response   to the draft
                             GAO Report entitled,     "ARMY RESERVE COMPONENTS: Minimum Essential
                             Equipment   for Training   Has Not Been Effectively  Managed,"   dated
                             March 22, 1990 (GAO Code 393356/OSD Case 8278).
                                   The Department     concurs     with the findings     and recommendations
                             contained      in the draft    report,     except that the Department     dis-
                             agrees with the GAO inference            that the Army Report to the House
See comment 1                Appropriations       Committee was misleading.          The Department   plans
                             to actively      address    the deficiencies      cited  in the draft  report.
                                   The Army will      review     the Minimum Essential     Equipment   for
                             Training    program.       By September 30, 1990, the Army will         recommend
                             to the Office      of the Secretary         of Defense the best means to sat-
                             isfy    the requirements        for providing    minimal  resources   to allow
                             adequate    readiness      training     in all Reserve component units.
                                   The detailed     DOD comments on the GAO findings        and recommenda-
                             tions   are provided     at the enclosure.      The Department    appreciates
                             the opportunity      to comment on this    draft   report.

                                                          . -->?i2fsdr-
                                                                     Stephen     M. Duncan
                             As    stated

                                     Page 10                                 GAO,‘NSL4LWO-136                by’s   Minimum   Essential   Equipment

Please call me at (202) 275-4141 if you or your staff have any questions.
Major contributors to this report are listed in appendix II.

Sincerely yours,

Richard Davis
Director, Army Issues

Page 8                       GAO/NSLMH,(,-136   Amy’s   Minimum   Essential   fklUiPI”Wt

                  reserve components has significantly improved in recent years. Accord-
                  ing to these officials, this improvement is largely attributable to the
                  Dedicated Procurement Program. Each year since 1981, the Congress
                  has appropriated money under this program for equipment specifically
                  to improve the readiness and capability of the reserve components. This
                  money has been provided to the National Guard and Army Reserve in
                  addition to that portion of the Army budget allocated to them.

                  Since 1981, the Army Reserve has received about $900 million, and the
                  National Guard has received about $1.5 billion under the Dedicated
                  Procurement Program. The Congress earmarks most of these funds by
                  specifying the particular equipment to be purchased but includes an
                  additional amount for miscellaneous items. The Dedicated Procurement
                  Program, along with a concerted effort by the Army to redistribute
                  available assets, has allowed the Army to reduce the number of reserve
                  component units that are not equipped to undertake their wartime mis-
                  sions. For example, the number of reserve component units reporting
                  non-deployable (C-4) status for equipment was reduced from 752 in
                  October 1987 to 481 in May 1989.

                  Although the Army has recognized a need to ensure that reserve compo-
Conclusions       nent units have at least the equipment essential for training their per-
                  sonnel, efforts to establish a program to provide that equipment have
                  not been managed effectively. The Army’s interest in this program has
                  waned. More than 6 years after the program was initiated, the Army
                  still had not established, and had no plans to establish, specific criteria
                  for the program.

                  Moreover, despite its earlier efforts in the MEET program and the large
                  amount of equipment provided to the reserve components under the
                  Dedicated Procurement Program, the Army still has no assurance that
                  units have the minimum amounts of equipment needed for effective
                  training. The latest MEET list, compiled in 1987, did not accurately reflect’
                  MEET requirements then, and because it has not been updated, it has
                  become increasingly inaccurate. Consequently, we believe that the
                  Army’s report to the House Subcommittee on Defense, Committee on
                  Appropriations, in 1989, asserting that the MEET program was satisfying
                  equipment requirements, was inaccurate.

                  In light of the insufficient management attention given to MEET over the
Recommendations   last 6 years, we recommend that the Secretary of the Army determine

                  Page6                         GAO/NSIAIWJ-136 Army’s Minimum Essential Equipment

                          MEETlist, reduced to 167 units, was entered into the Army’s automated
                          equipment distribution   system, where it received a priority ahead of
                          normal distribution.

                          Although the application of these criteria reduced the MEETlist to more
                          manageable proportions, it might have caused valid requirements to be
                          deleted. For instance, logistics officials in the Fifth and the Sixth Army
                          headquarters and the National Guard Bureau objected to deleting units
                          reporting a higher readiness status than C-4 for equipment on hand on
                          the basis that a higher readiness rating would not necessarily mean that
                          the unit met MEETrequirements. For example, we identified a division
                          that had reported C-3 status for equipment on hand (meaning that the
                          unit had the resources to undertake the major portions of its wartime
                          mission) even though it lacked specific items such as communications
                          equipment and night vision devices, the lack of which the commander
                          believed would impair the division’s ability to conduct training.

Procedures to Determine   The Army did not establish controls to ensure that all reserve compo-
Requirements Did Not      nent units were included in the MEETprogram. An Army survey of units
                          was conducted rather hurriedly (within a 2-month period in 1985), and
Ensure That All Units     the unit commanders were given very little time in which to respond.
Were Included             The commander of a Special Forces unit, for example, told us that he
                          had not been able to respond at all because his unit had been away on
                          active duty training when the request came in, and the deadline for
                          responding had passed by the time his unit returned.

                          Moreover, record-keeping for the program was inadequate. Records of
                          responses were not retained, and these responses were subjected to
                          undocumented screening processes that deleted some units and equip-
                          ment. As a result, the Army cannot determine what percentage of its
                          reserve units responded and thus cannot be certain that all requirements
                          were included in the MEETlists.

No Procedures Were        Although the Army’s early plans for MEETincluded a provision to
Established to Ensure     update the program annually, Army personnel told us that not one unit
                          or item has been added since the second list was compiled in 1985. Yet,
MEET List Was Updated     since that time, Army Reserve units alone have undergone over
                          2,500 changes in organization and equipment assignments, and some
                          new units have been formed. Consequently, the MEETlist does not reflect
                          current unit requirements and includes requirements that are no longer

                          Page 4                        GAO/NSlAIQK%136   Army’s   Minimum   Essential   Equipment

                         for entering the list of the MEETrequirements into the Army’s
                         Equipment Release Priority System, which determines the priority that
                         specific Army units are assigned in receiving equipment. The Army
                         Materiel Command, which manages the issue of equipment in accor-
                         dance with these priorities, is responsible for tracking the issuance and
                         status of the equipment within the Army. The Office of the Chief of the
                         National Guard Bureau and the Forces Command prepare and forward
                         lists of required equipment to ncsops and manages the distribution of
                         MEETitems for National Guard and Army Reserve units.

                         In November 1987, JXXDPSestablished a MEETlist of items that it identi-
                         fied as critical to training reserve component units. The list included
                         167 units and about 380 equipment items, ranging from 50-caliber
                         machine guns to radar warning systems. The 1ist.wa.s given priority
                         ahead of the Army’s Master Priority List, which assigns priority for
                         equipment distribution according to a unit’s wartime deployment date
                         (i.e., the first to deploy in wartime receives equipment first). According
                         to Army logistics officials, any MEETitems that become available in the
                         distribution system would be automatically issued in priority order to
                         fill the requirements of units on the MEETlist. The Army Materiel Com-
                         mand reports monthly any items that have been issued to fill MEET
                         requirements and those requirements that remain outstanding. In its
                          1989 Posture Statement, which was presented to the House Subcommit-
                         tee on Defense, Committee on Appropriations, the Army reported that it
                         had identified its MEETrequirements and that its equipment distribution
                         system had filled 63 percent of those requirements.

                         Our review showed that the Army had not adequately identified the
The Army Has Not         MEETrequirements when it initiated the program, and it had not updated
Identified the           the MEETlist to reflect organizational or mission changes. Therefore, it
Minimum Equipment        has no assurance that the items on the list represent the unmet mini-
                         mum equipment needs for training. Moreover, when we contacted a sam-
Essential for Training   ple of units from the list, we found that many of them were not aware of
in Reserve Component     the program, did not know that their units were on the list, and did not
                         need some of the listed items.