DOD Urged to Spruce Up Corrosion Plans
The U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force all need some spit and polish on their corrosion prevention and control programs, federal auditors say.
While saluting some of the Army’s current programs, all three branches have room for improvement when it comes to their corrosion strategic plans, the General Accountability Office reports.
A new 34-page audit, “Additional Information Needed to Improve Military Departments' Strategies for Corrosion Prevention and Control,” follows reviews by the branches’ corrosion executives of their respective strategic plans.
The reviews were coordinated with the Department of Defense's (DOD) Corrosion Policy and Oversight Office (Corrosion Office), whose performance GAO has praised on several occasions.
The audit urged changes in the branches’ corrosion programs. DOD disputed the findings.
The Army Way
“GAO's prior work has found that linking the goals of component organizations to departmental strategic goals is a practice that, if consistently applied, should improve the usefulness of plans to decision makers,” the report said.
“However, the military departments varied in the extent that their strategic plans show clear linkage to the 10 goals and objectives included in the DOD Corrosion Prevention and Mitigation Strategic Plan.”
While GAO found no inconsistencies between the branches’ plans and DOD Instruction 5000.67, which guides corrosion policy, it did find weak spots in the various strategic plans.
On the one hand, “the Army's strategic plan showed clear linkage to all 10 of the goals and objectives,” the GAO said.
DOD's Corrosion Office issued the Corrosion Prevention and Mitigation Strategic Plan in 2004.
On the other hand, the Air Force's plan clearly linked to only half of the goals and objectives, and the Navy’s plan to only three.
Performance Measures Needed
In addition, GAO said, the military departments' strategic plans lack performance measures and other items needed for comprehensive strategic plans. GAO previously identified six characteristics and 31 associated elements needed for such plans.
In this case, auditors cited a need for improvement across the board.
The Army plan “fully included” just two of the six characteristics; the Navy plan “fully included” just one of the six; and the Air Force “partially included” all six.
The U.S. Air Force issued a new Corrosion Control Facility Reference Guide in December.
None of the branches’ plans “included the elements on outcome-related performance measures used to gauge results or the limitations on performance measures,” the GAO said.
Of the 31 associated elements, the Army “fully included” 24 elements; the Air Force, eight; and the Navy, nine.
“By relying on strategic plans that do not fully include the elements—such as performance measures—the military departments may not identify and communicate important information to corrosion stakeholders and decision makers to monitor and assess the departments' progress in preventing and mitigating corrosion,” the audit says.
What’s at Stake
“Corrosion costs DOD billions of dollars annually by taking critical systems out of action and creating safety hazards,” GAO notes.
|Paul Slebodnick / Naval Research Lab|
Navy corrosion experts inspect the tank interior of an LSD 41 amphibious combatant ship. The Naval Research Lab has developed a table-top, computer-based system to improve upon the Navy's physical method of assessing ballast tank coatings.
GAO’s review was mandated by House Report 112-78 (the 2012 defense budget bill), which required the service branches to develop corrosion plans. GAO is responsible for assessing how well those plans are developed and executed, including how well they are coordinated with the Corrosion Office.
The GAO recommended that:
DOD disputed the recommendations, contending that the departments’ plans do link to overarching goals and objectives. DOD also disagreed with the criteria GAO used to assess the plans.
For now, the agencies are agreeing to disagree as the review continues.
Said GAO: "GAO continues to believe that these recommendations are valid as discussed in the report."