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Military Readiness: Reports to Congress Provide Few Details on Deficiencies and Solutions (Chapter Report, 03/30/98, GAO/NSIAD-98-68).

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of
Defense's (DOD) efforts to improve its readiness assessment and
reporting process, focusing on whether: (1) DOD plans to make
improvements to its unit readiness database, including adding specific
readiness indicators; (2) a monthly review process instituted by the
Joint Staff has improved DOD's ability to assess readiness; and (3)
DOD's quarterly readiness reports to Congress accurately reflect
readiness information briefed to senior DOD officials and provide
information needed for oversight of military readiness.

GAO noted that: (1) over the last few years, DOD has, on the whole,
taken action to improve its readiness assessment system; (2) these
improvements include technical enhancements to the unit readiness system
as well as the establishment of formal DOD-wide forums for evaluating
current readiness at the joint and strategic levels; (3) GAO believes
these changes represent progress, however, limitations to DOD's unit
readiness systems remain and may be reflected in DOD's readiness
assessments; (4) additionally, DOD's quarterly reports to Congress
provide only a vague description of readiness problems and remedial
actions; consequently, they are not effective as a congressional
oversight tool; (5) both the Joint Staff and the services have initiated
various efforts to improve the technical aspects on the Status of
Resources Training System; (6) however, these efforts will not address
other known system limitations; (7) further, the Joint Staff currently
does not plan to add indicators to the system that were identified by a
1994 DOD-funded study as having potential value for monitoring
readiness; (8) the 1994 study did not recommend that the indicators be
added to the unit readiness database, and Joint Staff officials said
some of the unit indicators were not appropriate for inclusion in this
database because they measure the readiness of forces at an aggregate
level; (9) DOD recently issued an implementation plan for responding to
the new requirements to include additional readiness indicators in the
quarterly readiness reports to Congress; (10) the Joint Monthly
Readiness Review has added a new dimension to DOD's capability to assess
readiness because it goes beyond the traditional unit perspective that
was previously the focus of the readiness assessment system; (11) the
review also has expanded DOD's readiness assessment capability by
following a recurring cycle, adding a joint perspective, incorporating
wartime scenarios, and tracking and addressing deficiencies; (12) this
review process, however, depends heavily on the judgment of military
commanders; (13) DOD's quarterly readiness reports do not fulfill the
legislative reporting requirements under 10 U.S.C. 482 because they lack
specific detail on deficiencies and remedial actions; (14) as a result,
these reports do not provide information needed for effective oversight
of military readiness; (15) these reports accurately reflect information
from briefings to the Senior Readiness Oversight Council and present a
highly aggregated view of readiness; and (16) they are not intended to
and do not highlight problems at the individual combatant command or
unit level.

--------------------------- Indexing Terms -----------------------------

 REPORTNUM:  NSIAD-98-68
     TITLE:  Military Readiness: Reports to Congress Provide Few Details 
             on Deficiencies and Solutions
      DATE:  03/30/98
   SUBJECT:  Combat readiness
             Reporting requirements
             Management information systems
             Congressional oversight
             Defense capabilities
             Defense contingency planning
             Data bases
IDENTIFIER:  JCS Status of Resources and Training System
             DOD Joint Operation Planning and Execution System
             JCS Global Status of Resources and Training System
             DOD Quadrennial Defense Review
             DOD Joint Monthly Readiness Review
             
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Cover
================================================================ COVER


Report to Congressional Requesters

March 1998

MILITARY READINESS - REPORTS TO
CONGRESS PROVIDE FEW DETAILS ON
DEFICIENCIES AND SOLUTIONS

GAO/NSIAD-98-68

Military Readiness

(703217)


Abbreviations
=============================================================== ABBREV

  DOD - Department of Defense
  GAO - General Accounting Office
  GSORTS - Global Status of Resources and Training System
  JMRR - Joint Monthly Readiness Review
  JOPES - Joint Operation Planning and Execution System
  LMI - Logistics Management Institute
  OSD - Office of the Secretary of Defense
  SORTS - Status of Resources and Training System
  SROC - Senior Readiness Oversight Council

Letter
=============================================================== LETTER


B-278930

March 30, 1998

The Honorable James M.  Inhofe
Chairman, Subcommittee on Readiness
Committee on Armed Services
United States Senate

The Honorable Herbert H.  Bateman, Chairman
The Honorable Solomon Ortiz
Ranking Minority Member
Subcommittee on Military Readiness
Committee on National Security
House of Representatives

The Honorable Norman Sisisky
Ranking Minority Member
Subcommittee on Military Procurement
Committee on National Security
House of Representatives

This report responds to your request that we review the Department of
Defense's (DOD) efforts to improve its readiness assessment and
reporting process.  Specifically, we assessed whether (1) DOD plans
to make improvements in its unit readiness database, including adding
specific readiness indicators; (2) a monthly review process
instituted by the Joint Staff has improved DOD's ability to assess
readiness; and (3) DOD's quarterly readiness reports to Congress
accurately reflect readiness information briefed to senior DOD
officials and provide information needed for oversight of military
readiness. 

We are sending copies of this report to the Secretaries of Defense,
the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force; the Commandant of the Marine
Corps; and the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff.  We will also make
copies available to others upon request. 

If you have questions concerning this report, please contact William
C.  Meredith, Assistant Director, at (202) 512-4275.  Other major
contributors to this report were Carol R.  Schuster, Christine D. 
Frye, and Thomas W.  Gosling. 

Mark E.  Gebicke
Director, Military Operations
 and Capabilities Issues


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
============================================================ Chapter 0


   PURPOSE
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:1

For more than a decade, various audit and oversight organizations
have questioned the thoroughness and reliability of Department of
Defense (DOD) reports on the readiness of U.S.  military forces. 
Also, Congress has expressed concern regarding apparent
inconsistencies between DOD's official readiness reports and the
actual readiness of units in the field.  Due to these concerns, the
Senate and House military readiness subcommittees asked GAO to review
DOD's efforts to improve its readiness assessment and reporting
process.  Specifically, GAO assessed whether (1) DOD plans to make
improvements to its unit readiness database, including adding
specific readiness indicators; (2) a monthly review process
instituted by the Joint Staff has improved DOD's ability to assess
readiness; and (3) DOD's quarterly readiness reports to Congress
accurately reflect readiness information briefed to senior DOD
officials and provide information needed for oversight of military
readiness. 


   BACKGROUND
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:2

DOD's readiness assessment system is designed to assess and report on
military readiness at three levels--(1) at the individual unit level;
(2) at the joint force level; and (3) at the aggregate, or strategic,
level.  "Unit readiness" refers to the ability of units, such as Army
divisions, Navy ships, and Air Force wings, to provide capabilities
required of the combatant commands and is derived from the ability of
each unit to deliver the outputs for which it was designed.  "Joint
readiness" is the combatant commands' ability to integrate and
synchronize units from one or more services to execute missions. 
"Strategic readiness" is a synthesis of unit and joint readiness and
concerns the ability of the armed forces as a whole, to include the
services, the combatant commands, and the combat support agencies, to
fight and meet the demands of the national security strategy. 
Strategic readiness focuses on broad functional areas, such as
intelligence and mobility, that meet worldwide demands. 

The foundation of DOD's unit readiness assessment process is the
Joint Staff's Status of Resources and Training System (SORTS).  This
automated system functions as the central listing for more than 9,000
military units.  The system's database indicates, at a selected point
in time, the extent to which these units possess the required
resources and training to undertake their wartime missions.  Units
regularly report this information using a rating system that
comprises various indicators on the status of personnel, equipment,
supplies, and training.  SORTS is intended to enable the Joint Staff,
the combatant commands, and the military services to, among other
things, prepare lists of units readily available, assist in
identifying or confirming major constraints on the employment of
units, and confirm shortfalls and distribution problems with unit
resources.  Limitations to unit readiness reporting through SORTS
have been well documented for many years by various audit and
oversight organizations.  For example, prior reviews by GAO and
others have found that (1) SORTS ratings include subjective inputs,
as well as objective measures; (2) SORTS data is not standardized
among the services; and (3) SORTS ratings may be misleading because
they are based on broad measurements that can mask underlying
problems.  The Joint Staff and the services have identified other
needed improvements to the system. 

To assess readiness at the joint level, the Chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff established the Joint Monthly Readiness Review in
late 1994.  During the review process, the Joint Staff compiles
readiness assessments from the combatant commands, the combat support
agencies, and the military services.  These DOD components assess
their overall readiness to undertake current and near-term operations
and to meet the demands of a wartime scenario.  The scenario changes
for each assessment period. 

The Joint Staff and the services use the joint review assessments to
brief DOD's leadership on the Senior Readiness Oversight Council--an
executive-level forum for monitoring emerging readiness issues.  The
briefings to the Council are intended to present a view of readiness
at the aggregate force level.  For instance, the Joint Staff reports
on elements of strategic concern, such as mobility shortfalls, that
are based on readiness deficiencies reported through the joint
review.  Similarly, the services report on the readiness of major
combat units and on broad trends in personnel, equipment, and
training.  In addition, the Deputy Secretary of Defense periodically
tasks the Joint Staff and the services to provide information on
special readiness topics. 

DOD is required under 10 U.S.C.  482 to prepare a quarterly readiness
report to Congress.  Under 10 U.S.C.  482(b), DOD must "specifically
describe (1) each readiness problem and deficiency identified .  .  . 
(2) planned remedial actions; and (3) the key indicators and other
relevant information related to each identified problem and
deficiency." In mandating the report, Congress hoped to enhance its
oversight of military readiness.  The reporting requirement was
expanded in 1997 to require DOD to include additional readiness
indicators in the quarterly reports beginning in late 1998.\1
Examples of these indicators are historical and projected personnel
trends, operations tempo, and equipment availability.  A typical
quarterly report is fewer than 20 pages, of which about two-fifths is
devoted to sections that quote the legislative reporting requirement,
describe DOD's readiness assessment process, and list abbreviations. 
The remaining sections of the report highlight major readiness issues
and summarize current readiness.  Each report includes a classified
annex that, among other things, provides the Chairman's overall risk
assessment based on the wartime scenario used in the joint review. 


--------------------
\1 Section 322 of the fiscal year 1998 National Defense Authorization
Act (P.L.  105-85, Nov.  18, 1997). 


   RESULTS IN BRIEF
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:3

Over the last few years, DOD has, on the whole, taken action to
improve its readiness assessment system.  These improvements include
technical enhancements to the unit readiness system as well as the
establishment of formal DOD-wide forums for evaluating current
readiness at the joint and strategic levels.  GAO believes these
changes represent progress; however, limitations to DOD's unit
readiness system remain and may be reflected in DOD's readiness
assessments.  Additionally, DOD's quarterly reports to Congress
provide only a vague description of readiness problems and remedial
actions; consequently, they are not effective as a congressional
oversight tool. 

Both the Joint Staff and the services have initiated various efforts
to improve the technical aspects of the Status of Resources and
Training System.  For example, they are developing software for
entering data into the system to improve timeliness and accuracy. 
However, these efforts will not address other known system
limitations, such as the lack of precision in reporting the status of
unit resources and training.  Further, the Joint Staff currently does
not plan to add indicators to the system that were identified by a
1994 DOD-funded study as having potential value for monitoring
readiness.  These indicators, such as the availability of ordnance
and spares and personnel stability, are similar to those required in
the expanded 10 U.S.C.  482 reporting requirements added by Congress
in 1997.  The 1994 study did not recommend that the indicators be
added to the unit readiness database, and Joint Staff officials said
some of the indicators were not appropriate for inclusion in this
database because they measure the readiness of forces at an aggregate
level.  DOD recently issued an implementation plan for responding to
the new requirements to include additional readiness indicators in
the quarterly readiness reports to Congress. 

The Joint Monthly Readiness Review has added a new dimension to DOD's
capability to assess readiness because it goes beyond the traditional
unit perspective that was previously the focus of the readiness
assessment system.  During the review, for example, the Joint Staff
brings together readiness assessments from a broad range of DOD
organizations and elevates readiness concerns to senior military
officials.  The review also has expanded DOD's readiness assessment
capability by following a recurring cycle, adding a joint
perspective, incorporating wartime scenarios, and tracking and
addressing deficiencies.  This review process, however, depends
heavily on the judgment of military commanders because many of the
readiness measures it captures cannot be quantified.  In addition,
because the services obtain data from the unit readiness system, any
limitations to that system may be reflected in their joint review
assessments. 

DOD's quarterly readiness reports do not fulfill the legislative
reporting requirements under 10 U.S.C.  482 because they lack
specific detail on deficiencies and remedial actions.  As a result,
these reports do not provide information needed for effective
oversight of military readiness.  These reports accurately reflect
information from briefings to the Senior Readiness Oversight Council
and present a highly aggregated view of readiness, focusing on
generalized strategic concerns.  They are not intended to and do not
highlight problems at the individual combatant command or unit level. 
DOD officials offered this as an explanation for why visits to
individual units may yield impressions of readiness that are not
consistent with the quarterly reports. 


   PRINCIPAL FINDINGS
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:4


      DOD'S PLANS TO IMPROVE SORTS
      WILL NOT ADDRESS ALL KNOWN
      LIMITATIONS
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:4.1

The Joint Staff is implementing a phased approach for improving the
overall readiness assessment system, including SORTS.  The first
phase involves mostly technical changes to address SORTS software
problems.  One objective is to ensure that a single database is
available DOD-wide.  Currently, various versions of SORTS exist at
any one time because the services, the Joint Staff, and other DOD
components maintain their own databases.  The second phase is a $5.5
million effort to link SORTS with a database used for planning and
executing joint operations and to make the system easier to use. 
Other Joint Staff plans call for connecting databases involving such
functional areas as logistics, training, and personnel.  The overall
objective of this effort is to give commanders easy access to a wide
range of readiness data within a common computer architecture.  The
services also have various efforts underway to improve the timeliness
and accuracy of the SORTS database.  Specifically, each of the
services is developing or implementing computer software to automate
the process of entering SORTS data.  The Joint Staff and service
upgrades address many of the technical limitations to the database,
but they will not address other SORTS limitations.  For example, the
upgrades will not address the subjective input to SORTS ratings, the
lack of standardization of data among the services, and the lack of
precision in measuring unit resources and training.  In commenting on
a draft of this report, DOD officials pointed out that much of the
information in SORTS is objective and quantifiable, and they viewed
the subjective input of unit commanders as a strength of the system
because it is based on their professional judgment. 

DOD funded a contractor study in 1994 that identified 19 indicators
that were not in the SORTS unit readiness database but would be of
potential value to the Office of the Secretary of Defense for
monitoring readiness.  The study did not recommend that the
indicators be added to SORTS.  Joint Staff officials said they did
not plan to add the 19 indicators to SORTS because some of the
indicators, such as recruiting status and equipment maintenance
backlogs, measure readiness at the aggregate level and thus would not
be appropriate for inclusion in SORTS.  In February 1998, DOD issued
an implementation plan for responding to the reporting requirement in
10 U.S.C.  482 to incorporate 19 additional indicators into the
quarterly readiness reports to Congress.  These 19 indicators are
similar to those identified by the 1994 DOD-funded study. 


      JOINT REVIEW HAS EXPANDED
      DOD'S READINESS ASSESSMENT
      CAPABILITY
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:4.2

The Joint Monthly Readiness Review has enabled DOD to make a more
comprehensive assessment of readiness than it made before the review
was established in 1994.  It looks beyond the traditional snapshot in
time of unit readiness provided by SORTS, although SORTS data
continues to be used in the assessment process.  For example, the
joint review provides a broad-based view of current readiness because
it incorporates assessments from a wide range of DOD components. 
Combatant commands assess joint operational readiness, combat support
agencies assess their joint support capability, and the military
services assess unit-level readiness.  On the basis of these inputs,
the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff determines a level of risk
associated with meeting the demands of the national military
strategy. 

The joint review has helped to institutionalize the process of
assessing military readiness because it follows a recurring cycle. 
Each quarter, participating DOD components conduct readiness
assessments and provide their reports to the Joint Staff.  To provide
a real-world assessment of readiness, each component determines its
ability to meet the demands of specified wartime scenarios.  Past
scenarios, for example, have included two major theater wars or a
single major theater war and a smaller scale contingency as well as
special threats such as terrorism.  To determine readiness from a
joint perspective, the combatant commands assess their readiness in
eight functional areas:  joint personnel; intelligence, surveillance,
and reconnaissance; special operations; mobility; logistics and
sustainment; infrastructure; command, control, communications, and
computers; and joint headquarters capability. 

The outcome of the joint review is a list of deficiencies that fall
under the eight functional areas.  As an example of a deficiency, one
combatant command reported insufficient mapping for major portions of
his geographical area.  The joint review has added a formal process
for addressing identified deficiencies.  The deficiencies are entered
into a database for tracking purposes and are assigned to a Joint
Staff directorate, which coordinates and facilitates corrective
actions.  For each deficiency, the database includes the source of
the deficiency, its status, and the estimated completion date for any
remedial actions.  As of January 1998, 237 deficiencies had been
entered into the database, and 91 had been closed.  Officials said
that many deficiencies remain open because they require significant
funding over the long term. 

Joint Staff policy allows considerable flexibility to participating
DOD components in how they conduct their joint review assessments. 
The Joint Staff has prescribed standard readiness ratings to be used
by the combatant commands.  However, they have allowed the combatant
commands to independently develop measures for each of the eight
functional areas.  Although direct comparisons among the commands in
the functional areas are not possible, officials told us that the
flexibility is appropriate because of the differing functions of the
commands and their areas of responsibility.  The services derive the
majority of their data from SORTS.  Although they supplement this
data through various other indicators, such as personnel and
logistics data, the inherent limitations to SORTS may be reflected in
their joint review assessments. 

Both combatant command and service officials told us that despite the
use of indicators, these assessments are fundamentally subjective. 
Officials said subjectivity was critical to obtaining a sound
assessment of readiness because of the inherent problems of
quantifying and measuring all factors affecting readiness. 


      QUARTERLY READINESS REPORTS
      ARE NOT EFFECTIVE FOR
      CONGRESSIONAL OVERSIGHT
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:4.3

DOD's quarterly readiness reports to Congress reflect briefings
provided to the Senior Readiness Oversight Council.  Because no
written record of the Council's meetings are maintained, GAO compared
selected Joint Staff and service briefing documents provided to the
Council with the corresponding quarterly reports to Congress.  GAO's
analysis showed that the information in these documents was
accurately portrayed in the quarterly reports.  In fact, the
quarterly reports often described the issues using the same wording
contained in the briefings to the Council.  The briefings to the
Council provide a highly summarized picture of DOD's readiness
concerns, and the quarterly reports to Congress reflect the same
broad-based discussion of readiness.  Joint Staff and service
officials described the briefings to the Council as executive-level
summaries of readiness concerns.  In addition, the Council tends to
focus on a few specific topics at each meeting rather than all
readiness indicators.  The briefing format is intended to allow all
participants to highlight and brief any readiness issues. 

DOD's quarterly reports do not fulfill the requirements under
10 U.S.C.  482(b) to specifically describe identified readiness
deficiencies and to provide key indicators and other relevant
information.  Lacking such detail, the quarterly reports provide
Congress with only a vague picture of DOD's readiness problems.  For
example, one report stated that Army personnel readiness was a
problem, but it did not provide data on the numbers of personnel or
units involved.  Further, the report did not discuss how the
deficiency affected readiness.  The quarterly reports also do not
specifically describe planned remedial actions, as required under
10 U.S.C.  482(b).  Rather, they discuss remedial actions only in
general terms, with few specific details, and provide little insight
into how DOD plans to correct the deficiencies. 


   RECOMMENDATION
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:5

To enhance the effectiveness of DOD's quarterly readiness report as a
congressional oversight tool, GAO recommends that the Secretary of
Defense take steps to better fulfill legislative reporting
requirements under 10 U.S.C.  482 by providing (1) supporting data on
key readiness deficiencies and (2) specific information on planned
remedial actions. 


   AGENCY COMMENTS
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:6

In written comments on a draft of this report, DOD concurred with the
recommendation and stated that it was taking action.  Specifically,
DOD stated that the Senior Readiness Oversight Council had begun to
focus greater attention on specific issues that can have significant
effects on readiness.  As these issues are addressed, they will be
included in the quarterly report.  In addition, DOD stated that the
reports will include any possible remedial actions required. 

DOD's comments appear in their entirety in appendix I.  DOD also
provided technical comments, which GAO has incorporated as
appropriate. 


INTRODUCTION
============================================================ Chapter 1

The Department of Defense's (DOD) operations and maintenance accounts
represent a significant portion of the defense budget (37 percent of
the budget in fiscal year 1998) and support key aspects of readiness,
including field training exercises and the maintenance of equipment. 
While the Secretary of Defense has stated that he wants to provide
enough funding in future programs and budgets to ensure forces are
ready to carry out missions at acceptable levels of risk, there is
uncertainty whether readiness accounts will be fully funded.  In
particular, DOD has sought to increase procurement funding for weapon
system modernization and has acknowledged that it must reduce its
operations and maintenance accounts to free up dollars for
modernization.  For this reason, DOD officials will need to closely
monitor readiness levels to detect any emerging problems. 

DOD's readiness assessment system is designed to assess and report on
military readiness at three levels--(1) at the individual unit level;
(2) at the joint force level; and (3) at the aggregate, or strategic,
level.  "Unit readiness" refers to the ability of units, such as Army
divisions, Navy ships, and Air Force wings, to provide capabilities
required of the combatant commands and is derived from the ability of
each unit to deliver the outputs for which it was designed.  "Joint
readiness" is the combatant commands' ability to integrate and
synchronize units from one or more of the services to execute
missions.  "Strategic readiness" is a synthesis of unit and joint
readiness and concerns the ability of the armed forces as a whole, to
include the services, the combatant commands, and the combat support
agencies, to fight and meet the demands of the national security
strategy.  Strategic readiness focuses on broad functional areas,
such as intelligence and mobility, that meet worldwide demands. 

The foundation for assessing readiness at the unit level is the
Status of Resources and Training System (SORTS),\1 an automated
system for measuring the extent to which individual military units
possess the required resources and training to undertake their
wartime missions.  To address joint readiness, the Chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff established the Joint Monthly Readiness Review
(JMRR) in 1994.  During this review process, the Joint Staff compiles
readiness assessments from the combatant commands, the combat support
agencies, and the military services.  The Joint Staff and the
services use the JMRR assessments to brief DOD's leadership on the
Senior Readiness Oversight Council (SROC)--an executive-level forum
for monitoring emerging readiness issues at the strategic level. 
From these briefings to the Council, DOD prepares a legislatively
mandated quarterly readiness report to Congress.  Figure 1.1 provides
an overview of DOD's readiness assessment process. 

   Figure 1.1:  DOD's Readiness
   Assessment Process

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)


--------------------
\1 SORTS officially evolved into the Global Status of Resources and
Training System (GSORTS) with the advent of the Global Command and
Control System.  We use the term SORTS throughout this report because
it is more familiar and continues to be commonly used. 


   SORTS IS THE FOUNDATION OF
   DOD'S UNIT READINESS
   ASSESSMENTS
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 1:1

The readiness of individual military units has long been the focus of
DOD's readiness assessment process.  The foundation for assessing
unit readiness is SORTS, an automated reporting system that functions
as the central listing of more than 9,000 operational units.\2 SORTS
indicates, at a selected point in time, the status of personnel;
equipment and supplies on hand; equipment condition; and training, as
reported by each unit.  In their reports, each unit commander also
assess the unit's ability to execute its wartime mission, indicated
by one of five "C" levels.\3 Units are required to submit their SORTS
reports on a regular basis or when there is a change in their C level
or location. 

As a resource and unit monitoring system, SORTS is designed to
support the information requirements of the Joint Staff, combatant
commands, and military services for crisis response planning,
peacetime planning, and management responsibilities to organize,
train, and equip forces.  For example, SORTS is intended to give
users the ability to prepare lists of units that are readily
available; estimate the time for earliest commitment of units based
on their location relative to the situation; assist in identifying or
confirming major constraints on the employment of units; track the
location and resource status of assigned units; provide unit data for
other automated systems; confirm shortfalls and distribution problems
with unit resources; confirm which units are best able to support the
redistribution of resources; and monitor corrections to shortfalls
and problems. 

The Joint Staff has overall responsibility for policies and
procedures governing SORTS.  The services and the U.S.  Special
Operations Command are required to ensure that all units comply with
joint SORTS reporting policies and have issued implementing
instructions to supplement these policies.  The services, with the
exception of the Marine Corps, require additional service-unique
information to be included in unit SORTS reports. 


--------------------
\2 The requirement to submit SORTS reports applies to all combat,
combat support, and combat service support units, including active
and reserve units, tasked in the Single Integrated Operational Plan,
an operations plan, or a service war planning document.  Examples of
reporting units are Army divisions, brigades, and battalions; Navy
ships, submarines, and aircraft squadrons; Air Force wings, groups,
and squadrons; and Marine Air-Ground Task Forces and related
elements. 

\3 A C-1 unit can undertake the full wartime mission for which it is
organized and designed; a C-2 unit can undertake the bulk of its
wartime mission; a C-3 unit can undertake major portions of its
wartime mission; a C-4 unit requires additional resources or training
to undertake its wartime mission but, if the situation dictates, may
be required to undertake portions of the mission with resources on
hand; and a C-5 unit is undergoing a service-directed resource change
and is not prepared to undertake its wartime mission. 


   SENIOR-LEVEL DOD FORUMS REVIEW
   CURRENT READINESS
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 1:2

Senior military and civilian officials within DOD are briefed on
current readiness through two forums--the JMRR and the SROC.  The
JMRR was instituted in late 1994 in response to a directive from the
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to define, measure, and fix
readiness.  The Joint Staff's Readiness Division, established in the
fall of 1994, is the proponent for the JMRR.  The JMRR is designed,
among other things, to alert the Joint Staff to any critical problems
that affect readiness and to analyze the military's ability to
execute wartime scenarios.  The Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff chairs the JMRR meetings, and a wide range of military
officials attend. 

The JMRR forms the basis for briefings to the SROC, a group of senior
DOD officials who meet monthly to review current readiness issues. 
The Council, which was in existence before the JMRR, changed its
focus from future readiness to current readiness about the same time
the JMRR was instituted.  The Deputy Secretary of Defense chairs the
Council, and senior officials from the Office of the Secretary of
Defense (OSD), the services, and the Joint Staff attend.  During SROC
meetings, the services provide their assessments of unit readiness,
and the Joint Staff provides a joint readiness assessment.  The
briefings to the Council are intended to present a view of readiness
at the strategic level.  For instance, the Joint Staff reports on
elements of strategic concern, such as mobility shortfalls, that are
based on readiness deficiencies reported through the JMRR. 
Similarly, the services report on the readiness of major combat units
and on broad trends in personnel, equipment, and training.  In
addition, the Deputy Secretary of Defense periodically tasks the
Joint Staff and the services to brief the SROC on special readiness
topics.  In April 1997, for instance, the services briefed the SROC
on personnel shortfalls and pilot attrition. 


   DOD IS REQUIRED TO REPORT
   READINESS PROBLEMS TO CONGRESS
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 1:3

DOD is required under 10 U.S.C.  482 to prepare a quarterly readiness
report to Congress.\4 Under 10 U.S.C.  482(b), DOD must "specifically
describe (1) each readiness problem and deficiency identified .  .  . 
(2) planned remedial actions; and (3) the key indicators and other
relevant information related to each identified problem and
deficiency." In mandating the report, Congress hoped to enhance its
oversight of military readiness.  The reporting requirement was
expanded in 1997 to require DOD to include additional readiness
indicators in the quarterly reports beginning in late 1998.\5
Examples of these indicators are historical and projected personnel
trends, operations tempo, and equipment availability. 

DOD submitted its first quarterly report in May 1996.  The reports
are unclassified, but a classified annex is also submitted.  A
typical quarterly report is fewer than 20 pages, of which about
two-fifths is devoted to sections that quote the legislative
reporting requirement, describe DOD's readiness assessment process,
and list abbreviations.  The remaining sections of the report
highlight major readiness issues and summarize current readiness. 
The classified annex, among other things, provides the Chairman's
overall risk assessment based on the wartime scenario used in the
JMRR. 

On the basis of the briefings presented to the SROC, Joint Staff
officials write the first draft of the quarterly report and send it
for informal review to an OSD official responsible for readiness
assessment.  This official reviews the report for accuracy and
completeness and may suggest changes.  Service readiness officials
also review the first draft.  After incorporating changes, the Joint
Staff sends the revised report back to OSD for formal approval.  The
report is first approved by the Under Secretary of Defense for
Personnel and Readiness.  Then it is transmitted to senior officials
in the services, other OSD offices, and the defense agencies for
their concurrence.  Once this concurrence is received, the report is
sent to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Deputy
Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Defense, and finally to
Congress. 


--------------------
\4 The law states that the information in the report shall be based
on readiness assessments that are provided that quarter (1) to any
council, committee, or other body of DOD that has responsibility for
readiness oversight and whose membership includes at least one
civilian officer in OSD at the level of Assistant Secretary of
Defense or higher; (2) by senior civilian and military officers of
the military departments and the commanders of the unified and
specified commands; and (3) as part of any regularly established
process of periodic readiness reviews for DOD as a whole. 

\5 Section 322 of the fiscal year 1998 National Defense Authorization
Act (P.L.  105-85, Nov.  18, 1997). 


   OBJECTIVES, SCOPE, AND
   METHODOLOGY
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 1:4

Congress has expressed concern regarding apparent inconsistencies
between DOD's official readiness reports and the actual readiness of
units in the field.  Due to these concerns, the Senate and House
military readiness subcommittees asked us to review DOD's efforts to
improve its process of assessing and reporting readiness. 
Specifically, we assessed whether (1) DOD plans to make improvements
to SORTS, including adding specific readiness indicators; (2) the
JMRR process has improved DOD's ability to assess readiness; and (3)
the quarterly readiness reports to Congress accurately reflect
readiness information briefed to senior DOD officials and provide
information needed for oversight of military readiness. 

We reviewed previous studies by our office, DOD, and other
organizations to identify reported problems with SORTS and
recommendations to improve the system.  To evaluate DOD's plans to
improve the system and to add readiness indicators, we interviewed
officials and reviewed pertinent documentation at the Deputy Under
Secretary of Defense (Readiness), the Joint Staff, and service
headquarters.  We also interviewed the DOD contractor that assisted
OSD in studying the readiness assessment system.  We did not test the
reliability of the SORTS database to report the readiness status of
units. 

To understand how DOD assesses and reports readiness at the joint and
strategic levels, we met with cognizant officials at OSD, the Joint
Staff, and the services to discuss the JMRR and SROC processes and
the development of the quarterly readiness reports to Congress.  To
determine how accurately the quarterly reports reflect briefings to
senior DOD officials, we reviewed briefings to the SROC that
supported the May and July 1997 quarterly reports to Congress.  We
selected these quarterly reports because they were the most recently
completed reports at the time we began our audit work.  Because
minutes of the SROC meetings are not maintained, we discussed the
format and content of SROC meetings with cognizant officials.  We
also traced information provided to the SROC to briefings provided to
the JMRR.  Specifically, we reviewed service, combatant command, and
combat support agency input to the January and April 1997 JMRRs.  To
understand how the services develop their input, we traced selected
input and supporting analyses to the service readiness offices and
interviewed cognizant officials.  To obtain a combatant command
perspective on the JMRR, we interviewed or obtained information from
officials at the U.S.  Atlantic Command, the U.S.  Central Command,
the U.S.  European Command, and the U.S.  Pacific Command who are
responsible for coordinating JMRR reports submitted to the Joint
Staff.  However, we did not evaluate their assessment process. 

To determine whether the quarterly reports meet the informational
requirements under 10 U.S.C.  482, we reviewed all six quarterly
reports that had been issued at the time of our review to determine
whether (1) identified deficiencies were specifically described and
supported by data and (2) planned remedial actions were discussed and
specifically described.  We also analyzed the reports to determine
trends in identified deficiencies and the extent that the discussion
of readiness problems varied from report to report.  We conducted a
more in-depth analysis of the May 1997 report. 

We performed our review from June 1997 to January 1998 in accordance
with generally accepted government auditing standards. 


DOD'S PLANS TO IMPROVE SORTS WILL
NOT ADDRESS ALL KNOWN LIMITATIONS
============================================================ Chapter 2

For more than a decade, audit and oversight organizations, including
our office, have identified limitations to the SORTS unit readiness
system.  Some of these limitations, such as the inability of SORTS to
signal impending changes in readiness, are inherent in the system. 
Other limitations can be characterized as technical because they
involve computer technology.  Still other limitations reflect
problems in the content of unit SORTS reports, such as the lack of
precision in reporting the status of unit resources and training. 

The Joint Staff and the military services are working to improve the
technical aspects of the SORTS database.  For example, they are
developing new software for entering data into the system to improve
timeliness and accuracy.  However, these upgrades will not address
other limitations to unit SORTS reports that have been identified in
prior reviews.  OSD suggested further improvements to SORTS, but the
Joint Staff was not pursuing these ideas at the time of our review. 
Additionally, the Joint Staff does not plan to add indicators to
SORTS that were identified by a 1994 DOD-funded study as having
potential value for monitoring readiness.  According to DOD
officials, further review of these indicators found that some were
not appropriate for inclusion in a unit readiness database because
they measure the readiness of forces at an aggregate level.  DOD
recently issued an implementation plan for responding to the new
requirement in
10 U.S.C.  482 to include additional readiness indicators in the
quarterly readiness reports to Congress.  These required indicators
are very similar to those identified in the 1994 DOD-funded study. 


   LIMITATIONS TO SORTS IDENTIFIED
   IN PRIOR REVIEWS
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 2:1

Limitations to SORTS have been well documented for many years by
various audit and oversight organizations, including our office.  The
DOD Inspector General surveyed past evaluations by various audit and
oversight organizations and identified at least 41 reports issued
between 1984 and 1996 that, in part, discussed the effectiveness of
SORTS or its immediate predecessor, the Unit Status and Identity
Report.  An overwhelming majority of these reports discussed systemic
limitations that, according to the Inspector General, continued to
plague the system.  The following is a partial listing of SORTS
limitations identified in the most recent reviews by our office or
the DOD Inspector General:\1

  -- SORTS represents a snapshot in time and does not signal
     impending changes in readiness. 

  -- SORTS relies on military judgment for certain ratings, including
     the commanders' overall rating of unit readiness.  In some
     cases, SORTS ratings reflect a higher or lower rating than the
     reported analytical measures support.  In addition, ratings may
     be at odds with commanders' remarks submitted with the SORTS
     reports or may be inconsistent with information obtained from
     officials in the field. 

  -- Broad measurements for SORTS ratings may be misleading
     indicators of resource availability because they can mask
     underlying problems.  For example, SORTS allows units to report
     the same rating for personnel strength even though their
     personnel strength may differ by 10 percent. 

  -- SORTS data is maintained in multiple databases located at
     combatant commands, major commands, and service headquarters and
     is not synchronized across the databases. 

  -- SORTS is complex, time-consuming, and difficult to learn and
     understand. 

  -- Services interpret SORTS reporting requirements differently,
     with the result that SORTS data is not standardized. 

  -- Army SORTS procedures requiring review of unit reports up the
     chain of command delay the submission of SORTS data to the Joint
     Staff. 

  -- SORTS reporting has been suspended during operational
     contingencies because of the difficulty in using the system, the
     reporting burden on units, and the failure to enforce reporting
     requirements. 

  -- SORTS data may be out-of-date or nonexistent for some units
     registered in the database because reporting requirements are
     not enforced. 

  -- Joint users cannot rely on SORTS to obtain authoritative unit
     status or location information, to plan deployments, to assess
     the execution of operations plans, or to assist in making
     time-sensitive decisions. 

DOD has identified needed improvements to SORTS, which are discussed
in the following section.  However, in commenting on a draft of this
report, DOD officials pointed out that some progress had been made in
addressing these issues.  They viewed subjectivity in SORTS reports
as a strength because the commander's judgment provides a
professional military assessment of unit readiness.  They also noted
that much of the information in the database is objective and
quantitative.  DOD officials also said a recent change in SORTS
policy will require units to continue reporting during operational
contingencies.  Finally, the officials stated that SORTS was, in
fact, authoritative. 


--------------------
\1 Military Readiness:  Improvements Still Needed in Assessing
Military Readiness (GAO/T-NSIAD-97-107, Mar.  11, 1997); Military
Readiness:  DOD Needs to Develop a More Comprehensive Measurement
System (GAO/NSIAD-95-29, Oct.  27, 1994); and Evaluation Report on
the Status of Resources and Training System, Office of the Inspector
General, Department of Defense (Report No.  96-086;
Mar.  15, 1996). 


   DOD'S PLANS TO IMPROVE SORTS
   FOCUS ON TECHNICAL CHANGES
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 2:2

Both the Joint Staff and the services have various upgrades underway
to address problems with SORTS that they have identified.  These
upgrades, however, focus on improving the technical aspects of the
database.  They do not address other known limitations identified in
reviews by our office or the DOD Inspector General.  Some of these
limitations are inherent in the system.  For instance, the upgrades
will not address the system's inability to forecast impending changes
in readiness.  The upgrades also will not affect the subjectivity of
SORTS ratings.  Commanders may still raise or lower the unit's
overall readiness rating based on their professional judgment.  Also,
the upgrades will not (1) require uniform service interpretations of
SORTS reporting requirements or (2) require more precise reporting of
resource availability. 


      JOINT STAFF EFFORTS
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 2:2.1

The Joint Staff is implementing a phased approach for improving the
overall readiness assessment system, including SORTS.  The
improvements are described in a "business" plan that was developed by
the Joint Staff in response to the Quadrennial Defense Review.  The
plan had not been approved at the time we conducted our review. 

The first phase of the plan is to improve the SORTS database, which
involves mostly technical matters such as software problems affecting
data input, retention, and access.  According to officials, these
SORTS improvements were identified by a users review panel that meets
annually with SORTS users at the Joint Staff, the combatant commands,
the services, and the combat support agencies. 

One of the Joint Staff's main objectives during this phase is to
ensure data is synchronized across the multiple SORTS databases.  As
stated earlier, this issue has been identified in prior reports as a
system limitation.  In addition, the database is being modified to
retain only the most current remarks of a unit commander.  Before
this change, the database retained remarks from prior reports,
commingling past and current remarks, which made analysis of SORTS
reports more difficult.  Also, service-unique data maintained in the
SORTS database has been made available DOD-wide, Joint Staff
officials said.  The Joint Staff plans to make additional
improvements to the database in fiscal year 1998.  For example, Joint
Staff officials told us that SORTS input fields will be changed to
permit users to selectively edit data without retyping the entire
entry.  Another planned enhancement is to provide DOD-wide access to
historical SORTS data.  Currently, the services maintain separate
historical SORTS files. 

Joint Staff officials also said they were working with Army officials
to improve the timeliness of Army SORTS reports.  The Air Force, the
Marine Corps, and the Navy have agreed to the Joint Staff requirement
to report changes in unit C levels or location within 24 hours, but
the Army has not, according to Joint Staff officials.  Army officials
told us that their computer hardware does not support the 24-hour
reporting requirement and estimated it would cost $56 million to
acquire needed hardware.  In addition, Army SORTS reports are
forwarded up the chain of command before they are transmitted to the
Joint Staff, thereby delaying their entry into the database.  In
commenting on a draft of this report, DOD officials said the Army has
agreed to submit SORTS reports within 96 hours and will submit the
reports within 24 hours when it has the tools to enable it to do so. 

The second phase of the plan is to implement a project aimed at
facilitating the use of SORTS data for operational planning and
making the system easier to use.  The project, called Global SORTS
Enhanced, was initiated in June 1997.  It is expected to take 32
months to complete at a cost of $5.5 million, according to officials. 
A primary objective of Global SORTS Enhanced is to provide a more
direct connection between the SORTS database and the Joint Operation
Planning and Execution System (JOPES) database in order to expedite
readiness analysis for various contingencies.  JOPES contains the
Time-Phased Force and Deployment Data portion of operations plans,
including the units to be deployed, their desired sequence for
arrival in theater, and routing information.  The organization of
data in Global SORTS Enhanced will allow for various types of
readiness analyses and graphic presentations.  Furthermore, the use
of web technology will simplify data entry and enable units to
confirm the accuracy of the data they submit, which officials believe
should reduce database errors. 

Other planned improvements to the readiness assessment system are
designed to give commanders easy and quick access to a wide range of
readiness data within a common computer architecture.  For example,
the Joint Staff plans to connect existing databases involving various
functional areas such as logistics, training, and personnel.  The
plan calls for full implementation, dependent on funding, by fiscal
year 2003. 


      SERVICE EFFORTS
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 2:2.2

The Air Force has developed a computer application to standardize and
facilitate SORTS data input.  The SORTS input tool was made available
to all Air Force reporting units in 1996, and currently about
two-thirds use the tool.  According to Air Force officials, the input
tool minimizes errors in SORTS data entry by simplifying the input
process.  The input tool automatically calculates unit readiness
ratings and allows a user to input data directly into the SORTS
database. 

The Army has also developed an automated SORTS input tool; however,
it is not fully integrated to all units.  Many reserve units still
report on paper, an Army official said.  The Army also is developing
a computer application that is to facilitate analysis of SORTS data
and, eventually, to integrate SORTS data with other databases. 
According to Army officials, the application being developed is
scheduled to be operational about fiscal year 2000. 

In 1997, the Marine Corps implemented its own automated SORTS input
tool.  Marine Corps officials told us that the system allows units to
report SORTS data electronically and directly to the DOD database,
instead of reporting through the service chain of command. 

The Navy does not have an automated SORTS input tool.  Units manually
submit SORTS reports to the DOD database though the Atlantic and
Pacific fleet commands.  The Navy plans to implement direct unit
reporting into SORTS by July 1998. 


   OTHER SORTS IMPROVEMENTS
   IDENTIFIED BY OSD
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 2:3

At the same time the Joint Staff was developing a plan to improve
readiness assessment, as discussed earlier, OSD conducted its own
requirements study.  An OSD readiness official said the Joint Staff
plan is a step in the right direction.  However, this official said
the Joint Staff plan mainly addresses technical problems with the
SORTS database and does not address other problems identified by OSD. 
While the Joint Staff does not intend to pursue OSD's suggested
improvements at this time, OSD will continue to work with the Joint
Staff to promote its suggestions, the official said. 

The following are the potential improvements to SORTS identified by
OSD: 

  -- The Joint Staff and the services could modify SORTS reporting to
     permit units to indicate their readiness to meet assigned tasks
     linked to specific missions, such as a major theater war or a
     peace operation.  Units could report separate ratings based on
     the requirements of these different missions. 

  -- The Joint Staff and the services could change SORTS reporting so
     that units report their readiness to meet service tasks using
     the same task definitions as those used in the joint arena. 

  -- The Joint Staff and the services could require unit commanders
     to report in SORTS the time required to deploy.  Currently, Army
     units report only the number of days of training required to be
     ready.  OSD concluded that the calculation of deployment time
     also should include mobilization considerations such as
     personnel and equipment. 

  -- Units could identify assets key to warfighting and report on the
     readiness of such assets individually.  Combat crews and pilots
     are examples of key warfighting assets. 

  -- Units could report the actual percentage of required resources
     for personnel, equipment and supplies on hand, equipment
     condition, and training.  The current ratings represent broad
     bands of readiness.  For example, two units could report the
     same rating for available personnel strength even though one may
     have 89 percent of required personnel while the other may have
     as little as 80 percent.  Reporting the actual percentage of
     required resources would, according to OSD, provide better
     detail on a unit's readiness status and have more meaning to
     senior leadership. 


   JOINT STAFF HAS NO PLANS TO ADD
   RECOMMENDED INDICATORS TO SORTS
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 2:4

In 1994, we found that SORTS did not provide information on several
factors that military officials believed were needed for a
comprehensive assessment of readiness--factors such as mobility,
operating tempo, morale, and leadership.  We reported on 26
indicators that were not in SORTS but that DOD commanders said were
important for a comprehensive assessment of readiness.  We
recommended that the Secretary of Defense direct that his office
determine which indicators were most relevant to building a
comprehensive readiness system, develop criteria to evaluate the
selected indicators, prescribe how often the indicators should be
reported to supplement SORTS data, and ensure comparable data is
maintained by the services to facilitate trend analyses. 

A 1994 DOD-funded study by the Logistics Management Institute (LMI)
reviewed the indicators discussed in our report and found that 19 of
them could help OSD monitor critical aspects of readiness.\2 (See
table 2.1 for a list of these 19 indicators.) Some of the indicators
were considered to be of high value for monitoring readiness, and
others of medium value.  The study recommended that DOD (1) identify
and assess other potential indicators of readiness, (2) determine the
availability of data to monitor indicators selected, and (3) estimate
benchmarks to assess the indicators.  Although our study and the LMI
study concluded that a broader range of readiness indicators was
needed, both left open how DOD could best integrate additional
measures into its readiness reporting. 



                               Table 2.1
                
                Indicators Identified in 1994 LMI Study

Category                        Indicator           Value
------------------------------  ------------------  ------------------
Personnel strength              Individual          Medium
                                personnel status

                                Historical and      High
                                projected
                                personnel trends

Personnel turbulence            Recruit quality     High

                                Borrowed manpower   Medium

                                Personnel           Medium
                                stability

Personnel--other                Personnel morale    High

                                Medical and dental  Medium
                                readiness

                                Recruiting          High
                                shortfalls

Training                        Unit readiness and  Medium
                                proficiency

                                Operational tempo   High

                                Funding             High

                                Commitments and     High
                                deployments

Logistics--equipment fill       Deployed equipment  Medium

                                Equipment           Medium
                                availability

                                Not mission         Medium
                                capable

                                Age of equipment    High
                                on hand

                                Condition of non-   Medium
                                pacing items

Logistics--equipment            Maintenance         High
maintenance                     backlog

Logistics--supply               Availability of     Medium
                                ordnance and
                                spares
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Joint Staff officials said they had no plans to add the indicators to
SORTS that were identified in the 1994 LMI study.  In February 1998,
DOD issued an implementation plan for responding to the reporting
requirement in
10 U.S.C.  482 to incorporate additional indicators into the
quarterly readiness reports to Congress.  The new requirement, which
takes effect beginning in October 1998, specifies 19 indicators that
are very similar to those identified in the 1994 LMI study.\3

The new reporting requirement does not require DOD to incorporate the
indicators into SORTS, and various DOD readiness officials said they
did not believe it would be appropriate to do so.  According to these
officials, some of the indicators measure readiness at an aggregate
level rather than at the unit level.  For instance, historical and
projected personnel trends, recruiting status, and equipment
maintenance backlogs measure readiness on an aggregated basis rather
than on a unit-level basis.  Data on such indicators would be
available from higher level commands, not from the unit level. 
Readiness officials, for example, said they can obtain data on
deployed equipment, nonmission-capable equipment, and availability of
ordnance and spares from service logistics offices at the
headquarters level.  Moreover, the officials said some of these
indicators are used to prepare readiness briefings for the JMRR and
the SROC.  They also emphasized that while SORTS is the foundation of
the readiness assessment process, it is not the only source of data
used to assess readiness. 


--------------------
\2 An Initial Assessment of GAO Collected Readiness Indicators: 
Their Value in Monitoring Mid-Term Readiness and Avoiding Hollowness,
Logistics Management Institute (Oct.  1994). 

\3 The new legislative requirement deletes the medical and dental
readiness indicator and adds a new indicator on prepositioned
equipment.  Also, the individual personnel status indicator is
expanded to include personnel skills. 


   CONCLUSIONS
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 2:5

While the current Joint Staff and service upgrades to SORTS address
the technical aspects of the database, they will not address other
limitations that have been identified in prior reviews.  Thus, it is
likely that questions will continue to be raised about the
reliability of SORTS in reporting unit readiness.  Furthermore, while
the services use other data in addition to SORTS, they still rely
heavily on this database for their readiness assessments at the joint
and strategic levels.  Thus, any inherent limitations to SORTS may be
reflected in their assessments. 

The additional improvements to SORTS suggested by OSD could help to
clarify the information in the database and enhance its usefulness to
OSD and other users such as the combatant commands.  For instance, by
reporting actual percentages along with their resource ratings, units
could provide more definitive information on the actual status of
their resources.  Likewise, a requirement to report separately on key
warfighting assets could provide better visibility of these assets. 
It remains to be seen, however, whether these proposals will lead to
concrete actions to improve the system. 


JOINT REVIEW HAS EXPANDED DOD'S
READINESS ASSESSMENT PROCESS
============================================================ Chapter 3

The Joint Monthly Readiness Review represents progress toward a more
encompassing readiness measurement process.  The review goes beyond
the traditional unit perspective that was previously the focus of the
readiness assessment system.  During the review, for example, the
Joint Staff brings together readiness assessments of current and
near-term readiness from a broad range of DOD organizations and
elevates concerns to senior military officials.  The JMRR is
conducted on a recurring basis, which has helped to institutionalize
the process of assessing readiness at DOD.  It also has added a new
dimension to DOD's readiness assessment capability by including
wartime scenarios, which are intended to provide insight into whether
U.S.  forces are ready for their most demanding missions as well as
other threats.  The JMRR adds a joint perspective by incorporating
assessments from the combatant commands.  Finally, the review has
added procedures for tracking and addressing reported deficiencies. 
While DOD components are required to report on specific readiness
areas using a common rating scale, the assessment process itself is
not standardized.  In addition, the assessments are subjective by
design, ultimately reflecting the judgment of senior military
commanders. 


   SENIOR OFFICIALS ACQUIRE A
   BROAD-BASED VIEW OF CURRENT
   READINESS
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 3:1

The JMRR considers readiness from a broad-based operational and
strategic viewpoint.  While unit readiness is considered, the primary
focus of the review is to identify and address deficiencies that may
reduce or preclude a combatant command's ability to perform assigned
missions.  JMRR assessments encompass 11 combatant commands, 6 combat
support agencies, and the 4 military services (see fig.  3.1).  The
combatant commands assess their joint operational readiness, the
combat support agencies assess their joint support capability, and
the military services assess unit-level readiness.  On the basis of
these inputs, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff estimates the
overall risk associated with meeting the demands of the national
military strategy. 

   Figure 3.1:  DOD Components
   Providing Input to the JMRR

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)

The JMRR has enabled DOD to make a more comprehensive assessment of
readiness than was the case prior to its establishment in 1994.  It
looks beyond the traditional snapshot in time of unit readiness
provided by SORTS, although SORTS data is used in the assessment
process.  Officials involved in the review said readiness problems at
the unit level may not surface through the JMRR because the services
discuss broad-brush readiness issues in their briefings. 

A distinctive feature of the JMRR is its emphasis on current and
near-term readiness.  The participating DOD components assess their
readiness to meet ongoing commitments, project near-term readiness
over the next
12 months, and assess their preparedness to meet the demands of a
wartime scenario (discussed later in this chapter).  While current
readiness deficiencies often require long-term, programmatic
solutions, the JMRR seeks mitigating actions that can be implemented
within the next 2 years. 

The JMRR elevates current readiness deficiencies to the attention of
senior military officials.  The senior leadership of the
participating DOD components reviews and approves the JMRR
assessments.  The Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairs
the JMRR meetings.  The service operations deputies and the Joint
Staff directors give the briefings.  Officials at the action officer
level said these senior officials go through an education process in
preparing for the JMRR, a process that focuses their attention on
current readiness issues. 


   CYCLICAL SCHEDULE
   INSTITUTIONALIZES READINESS
   ASSESSMENT
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 3:2

The JMRR follows a recurring cycle in which the participating DOD
components conduct their readiness assessments and provide their
reports to the Joint Staff every 3 months.  Within this quarterly
cycle, the JMRR has two distinct formats--a Full JMRR and a Feedback
JMRR.  (Fig.  3.2 shows the annual schedule for the two formats.)

   Figure 3.2:  Annual Schedule
   for the Full JMRR and Feedback
   JMRR

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)

At the beginning of each quarterly cycle, a Full JMRR is held to get
input from the DOD components on their readiness status and
deficiencies.  The assessment process leading up to the Full JMRR
begins when the Joint Staff Readiness Division issues planning
guidance describing the scenario to be assessed.  The combatant
commands and the combat support agencies conduct their readiness
assessments and provide their reports to the Joint Staff.  The Joint
Staff analyzes these reports and summarizes them in a briefing.  The
military services conduct separate readiness assessments and develop
their own briefings.  The joint and service briefings are given at
the quarterly Full JMRR meeting.  In the 2 months of each quarter
that a Full JMRR is not held, the DOD components are required to
report any major changes in their readiness. 

After the Full JMRR meeting, the Director Joint Staff assigns newly
identified deficiencies to the appropriate Joint Staff directorates. 
For instance, deficiencies related to joint personnel are assigned to
the Directorate for Manpower and Personnel.  A joint personnel
deficiency may involve the level of peacetime staffing of a command
headquarters organization.  The Joint Staff directorates are
responsible for tracking the deficiencies assigned to them and
coordinating corrective actions.  A Feedback JMRR is held 2 months
after each Full JMRR as a forum for the Joint Staff directorates to
report on the new deficiencies identified in the previous Full JMRR
and to give an update on progress addressing deficiencies. 

The routine, cyclical nature of the JMRR has institutionalized the
readiness assessment process at DOD.  The JMRR requires regular input
from a broad spectrum of officials across the agency.  To participate
in the JMRR, DOD components have established internal processes for
gathering readiness information, conducting their assessments, and
obtaining approval of the assessments from senior leaders.  The
preparation for the Full JMRR and Feedback JMRR meetings involves
extensive discussions and regular meetings among various participants
in the process. 

Officials said the JMRR has undergone some changes since its
inception in 1994 but has matured over the past year or so.  One
significant change, in 1996, was a requirement that the Joint Staff
directorates conduct the Feedback JMRR briefings on the deficiencies
for which they are responsible.  In the early Feedback JMRRs, the
Readiness Division had conducted these briefings.  An official at one
Joint Staff directorate said this change promoted more ownership of
the issues by the directorates.  The JMRR is still being refined.  In
May 1997, for instance, the services were required to provide regular
assessments of (1) antiterrorism/force protection readiness and (2)
special-interest areas such as maritime prepositioning and war
reserve stocks. 


   JMRR INCORPORATES WARTIME
   SCENARIOS
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 3:3

Planning guidance issued by the Joint Staff Readiness Division prior
to each Full JMRR provides details on the wartime scenario to be
assessed.  Past scenarios have involved two major theater wars or a
single major theater war plus a smaller scale contingency.  In a few
cases, a scenario has incorporated other threats such as terrorism. 
The planning guidance identifies the war plans and taskings the
components are to use in their assessments.  The guidance also
specifies key dates, such as the day the scenario is to commence, and
discusses assumptions regarding the availability of reserve forces
and strategic lift assets. 

Joint Staff Readiness Division officials said a scenario may be based
on guidance from the Director for Operations or other senior Joint
Staff officials.  Alternatively, Readiness Division officials may
suggest a scenario.  The key planning documents used in drafting the
scenario are the National Military Strategy, Defense Planning
Guidance, and Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan.  In addition,
Readiness Division officials said they receive input from
intelligence officials and from the combatant commands. 

Various readiness officials viewed the wartime scenario as an
important aspect of the JMRR.  They said it raises "what if"
questions and provides insight on whether U.S.  forces would be ready
today to carry out a war plan with existing resources.  According to
readiness officials, most of the JMRR deficiencies identified by the
combatant commands have been related to a scenario. 


   COMBATANT COMMANDS PROVIDE A
   JOINT PERSPECTIVE
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 3:4

In our 1994 report, we criticized the lack of a joint perspective in
DOD's readiness assessment process.  Also in 1994, the Defense
Science Board task force on readiness found that DOD lacked a clear
definition of joint readiness and a system to measure it.  While
combatant commands reported periodically to the Chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff on a range of joint force readiness subjects, there
was no defined comprehensive approach to assigning responsibilities
and matching control of resources to these responsibilities, the task
force said.\1

The JMRR is structured to incorporate the joint readiness concerns of
the combatant commands.  The commands assess their readiness in eight
functional areas--joint personnel; intelligence, surveillance, and
reconnaissance; special operations; mobility; logistics and
sustainment; infrastructure; command, control, communications, and
computers; and joint headquarters capability.  A rating scale is used
to rank the readiness of each functional area.  Separate ratings are
assessed for current readiness, projected readiness, and readiness to
meet the demands of each conflict or threat in the scenario.  The
scale runs from C-1 (most ready) to C-4 (least ready).  JMRR
officials at the combatant commands told us that the eight functional
areas cover the key areas of joint readiness that need to be
assessed. 


--------------------
\1 Report of the Defense Science Board Task Force on Readiness (June
1994). 


   JMRR PROCESS TRACKS AND
   ADDRESSES DEFICIENCIES
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 3:5

The outcome of the JMRR is a list of deficiencies that fall under the
eight functional areas.  Readiness concerns that are rated by the
combatant commands or the combat support agencies as C-3 or below are
considered to be JMRR deficiencies.\2 For instance, one combatant
command rated its readiness for intelligence, surveillance, and
reconnaissance as C-3 because of insufficient mapping for major
portions of his geographical area.  The Joint Staff enters such
deficiencies into its deficiency database so they can be tracked. 
The database assigns a control number to each deficiency and contains
a number of data fields, such as a short description of the
deficiency, its source, impact, status, date opened, and estimated
completion date for corrective actions.  The Joint Staff directorates
responsible for tracking deficiencies update the database, which is
made available to all JMRR participants. 

We checked selected deficiencies reported by the combatant commands
and found that they were included in the database.  The entries in
the database often contained more detail than the original input
because the Joint Staff directorates documented new information as
they addressed the issue.  As of January 1998, 237 deficiencies had
been entered into the database.  Most deficiencies were reported by
either the U.S.  Central Command or the Combined Forces Command, the
leading combatant commands in a scenario involving two major theater
wars. 

Although the combatant commands report service-related deficiencies,
the database generally does not include readiness deficiencies
identified by the military services.  For example, one service
reported that its readiness to respond to a worldwide terrorism
threat was C-3 because it did not have enough special security units. 
Such service-identified deficiencies are not entered into the
database to be monitored or addressed by the Joint Staff.  The
officials said that the services are responsible for addressing their
own deficiencies independent of the Joint Staff.  At the same time,
however, the services are actively involved in addressing
deficiencies reported by the combatant commands. 

Deficiencies in the database are categorized as either readiness
deficiencies or capabilities deficiencies.  A "readiness deficiency"
is one in which existing resources are not prepared to accomplish
assigned tasks.  A typical readiness deficiency involves personnel
who lack required training.  A "capability deficiency," on the other
hand, denotes a lack of resources within DOD to meet mission
requirements.  For example, a combatant command may not have
sufficient reconnaissance assets to monitor its key geographical
areas.  More than three-fourths of all deficiencies identified
through the JMRR have been capability deficiencies. 

Some service officials we interviewed said that the combatant
commands clog the JMRR process by reporting a large number of
capability deficiencies, diverting attention from readiness
deficiencies.  Some of the reported deficiencies are, in their
opinion, of relatively minor importance.  JMRR officials at the
combatant commands rejected this criticism.  They said the JMRR is
their vehicle for reporting all deficiencies, including capability
deficiencies, and a combatant commander would not report a deficiency
he deems to be trivial. 

A deficiency in the database may be closed with the approval of the
Director Joint Staff or through an annual revalidation process in
which the combatant commands review their previously reported
deficiencies to ensure they are still relevant.  As of January 1998,
91 of the 237 (38 percent) deficiencies in the database had been
closed.  For example, a combatant command reported that the wartime
staffing authorization for one of its service components was too low. 
In response, the service designated staff to the component
headquarters for wartime, and this deficiency was closed.  Joint
Staff officials, however, said relatively few deficiencies are solved
quickly.  Most of the deficiencies reflect major, long-term problems
for which mitigating countermeasures are sought.  In some cases, DOD
has decided not to address the deficiency but to understand and live
with the risk it poses.  In other cases, programmatic action is
required to address the deficiency. 

For JMRR deficiencies requiring programmatic action within DOD, a
linkage has been established with another Joint Staff process--the
Joint Warfighting Capabilities Assessment.  This capabilities
assessment is intended to help the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff influence DOD funding decisions.  Functionally oriented teams
study military capability issues that require significant
expenditures.  The teams' findings and recommendations are used to
formulate the Chairman's Program Recommendations and Chairman's
Program Assessment, which in turn influence the Defense Planning
Guidance.  Twice a year, the Director Joint Staff nominates JMRR
deficiencies for study by the Joint Warfighting Capabilities
Assessment.  In August 1997, for example, 18 JMRR deficiencies were
nominated.  The nominated deficiencies compete for attention with
other resource needs reported by the combatant commands. 


--------------------
\2 A C-3 rating indicates that the command or agency has significant
deficiencies that reduce its capability to perform assigned missions. 


   ASSESSMENTS ARE NOT
   STANDARDIZED AND ARE SUBJECTIVE
   BY DESIGN
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 3:6

Joint Staff policies on the JMRR provide considerable flexibility to
the participating DOD components in how they conduct their
assessments.  As a result, the components have developed their own
JMRR assessment processes to comply with the Joint Staff's reporting
requirements. 

At the combatant commands, the JMRR assessments are based on input
from the headquarters staff directorates and from the service
component commands.  An assessment for each of the eight functional
areas is approved by the responsible staff director.  The functional
area assessments are then combined into an overall JMRR assessment
that is reviewed by the chain of command.  Once approved, the
assessment is reported to the Joint Staff.  To conduct their
readiness assessments, the combatant commands have independently
developed measures for each of the eight functional areas.  For
instance, U.S.  Central Command officials said they have developed
three to five measures for most of the functional areas.  Officials
told us this flexibility is appropriate because of the differing
missions of the commands and their areas of responsibility. 

The services, like the combatant commands, draw JMRR input from a
variety of sources.  Service readiness officials said the predominant
indicators they use are derived from SORTS, which they found useful
for a variety of analyses.  However, they added that SORTS data often
does not stand on its own, and service headquarters officials must
investigate the reasons that a unit reports degraded readiness.  JMRR
officials in the service operations directorates seek input as needed
from other directorates, such as personnel and logistics.  These
directorates, in turn, have developed their own processes for
gathering JMRR input.  The logistics directorates at the Air Force
and the Navy, for example, gather SORTS data and other data for
various critical support enablers, such as sustainment, maintenance,
and engineering.  This information is used to develop C ratings
similar to those the combatant commands use for their eight
functional areas. 

Despite the use of various readiness indicators, JMRR assessments are
fundamentally subjective.  Readiness officials said subjectivity was
critical to obtaining a sound assessment of readiness because of the
inherent problems of quantifying and measuring all factors affecting
readiness.  Readiness indicators are tools to be used by commanders. 
JMRR assessments are subject to change throughout the review and
approval process, and the final assessment ultimately represents each
commander's military judgment. 

Service officials told us they may improve their overall readiness
ratings by substituting units for those apportioned in war plans. 
For example, a unit may have key equipment in maintenance that is not
available for the scenario.  In such cases, another unit would be
chosen for the scenario.  The officials said such substitutions would
occur in the event of a real crisis.  In addition, service officials
may use more optimistic assumptions to improve a unit's readiness
rating.  For example, one service official told us that he
recalculated the readiness rating for some units by assuming that the
units could travel faster and arrive in theater sooner.  The command
that made the initial calculation agreed with these changes, he said. 

The JMRR relies on the voluntary participation of DOD components to
offer realistic assessments of their readiness.  No procedures exist
to validate the components' assessments.  Furthermore, the services
do not provide backup data to the Joint Staff in support of their
JMRR assessments.  Joint Staff officials, however, said they were
satisfied with the level of service involvement in the process.  In
addition, the Joint Staff independently monitors unit readiness
through SORTS and gathers information on specific service-related
readiness issues as they arise. 

According to the OSD readiness office, the objectivity of JMRR
assessments could be improved by integrating the review with the
joint training system.  The joint training system evaluates the
capabilities of joint forces based on an approved set of tasks,
conditions, and standards, and the combatant commands could be
required to evaluate their readiness based on these same tasks,
conditions, and standards.  According to OSD, the JMRR assessments
also could be made more objective by using simulation models to
verify a unit's mobilization capability and its ability to move to
the designated port of embarkation.  This information would enhance
the credibility of war plans and improve JMRR assessments of scenario
readiness, they said.  An OSD official told us, however, that there
were no current plans to implement these ideas. 


   CONCLUSIONS
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 3:7

Since its establishment in 1994, the JMRR has enabled DOD to make a
more comprehensive assessment of readiness by looking beyond the
traditional view of unit readiness provided by SORTS.  On a recurring
basis, combatant commands, combat support agencies, and the military
services provide current and near-term readiness assessments to
senior military officials.  However, the JMRR assessments are largely
subjective by design, and standard measures are not used to assess
the eight functional areas.  As a result, JMRR results cannot be used
to make direct comparisons among the commands in the eight functional
areas.  Nevertheless, we believe the JMRR represents progress toward
a more encompassing readiness assessment process in DOD. 


QUARTERLY REPORTS PROVIDE VAGUE
DESCRIPTION OF READINESS PROBLEMS
AND REMEDIAL ACTIONS
============================================================ Chapter 4

DOD's quarterly reports to Congress provide only a vague description
of readiness issues; consequently, they are not effective as a
congressional oversight tool.  The reports accurately reflect
information from briefings to the Senior Readiness Oversight Council
and present a highly summarized view of readiness, focusing on
generalized strategic concerns.  They are not intended to, and do
not, highlight problems at the individual combatant command or unit
level.  DOD officials offered this as an explanation for why visits
to individual units may yield impressions of readiness that are not
consistent with the quarterly reports.  While the reports identify
readiness problems, they do not fulfill the legislative reporting
requirements under 10 U.S.C.  482 because they lack specific detail
on the problems and planned remedial actions. 


   REPORTS ACCURATELY REFLECT
   BRIEFING DOCUMENTS
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 4:1

A comparison of DOD's May and July 1997 quarterly readiness reports
to Congress with the corresponding SROC briefings showed that the
reports accurately reflected the briefings.  In fact, the quarterly
reports often described the issues using the same wording contained
in the briefings to the Council.  Examples follow: 

  -- The two most significant issues highlighted in the May quarterly
     report were based on briefings to the April 1997 SROC.  One
     concerned problems with Air Force pilot retention, and the other
     concerned Army personnel shortfalls. 

  -- In the May 1997 quarterly report, service forecasts of unit
     readiness, designated by trend arrows pointing up, down, or
     even, accurately reflected briefings provided to the March 1997
     SROC.  Service forecasts in the July 1997 quarterly report also
     accurately reflected service briefings to the May 1997 SROC. 

  -- The overall risk assessment provided in the May 1997 quarterly
     report accurately reflected the Joint Staff assessment provided
     in a briefing to the SROC in April 1997.  Similarly, the overall
     risk assessment in the July 1997 quarterly report accurately
     reflected the Joint Staff assessment provided in a briefing to
     the SROC in May 1997. 

As part of our review, we traced selected information in the March
and April 1997 SROC briefings to the information discussed in the
January and April 1997 JMRR briefings.  We confirmed that the
information in the SROC briefings was based on Joint Staff and
service briefings.  Finally, we traced selected information in the
Joint Staff and service JMRR briefings to the supporting input.  We
found that the JMRR briefings prepared by the Joint Staff accurately
captured combatant command and support agency input and that the JMRR
briefings prepared by the services accurately incorporated input from
their directorates and field commands.  Because minutes of the SROC
meetings are not maintained, we could not determine how accurately
the quarterly reports reflected actual discussion at these meetings. 


   REPORTS REFLECT STRATEGIC-LEVEL
   BRIEFINGS PROVIDED TO SROC
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 4:2

As a senior-level forum, the SROC focuses on the preparedness of U.S. 
military forces to carry out the national military strategy.  A
typical SROC meeting is scheduled for 1 hour and includes briefings
from the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the service
chiefs, or their designated representatives.  The SROC briefings are
basically summaries of the information discussed in the JMRR or are
in response to requests from the Deputy Secretary of Defense for
infomation on special readiness topics.  Our review of selected
service JMRR and SROC briefings showed the services did not include
all information presented to the SROC that was briefed to the JMRR. 
For example, the readiness of critical support functions, such as
engineering, field services, theater mobility support, and security,
which is briefed to the JMRR, was not included in the SROC briefing
documents. 

The SROC is designed to promote open discussion among the
senior-level participants.  The discussion centers around a few
readiness topics and does not consistently cover all readiness
indicators.  In the past, testimony, the news media, congressional
reports, and OSD trip reports from visits to units in the field have
provided the basis for SROC topics.  The format of the SROC also
allows service chiefs the discretion to highlight and brief any
readiness deficiency they choose.  Furthermore, senior-level service
officials may update information briefed to the SROC from what was
briefed to the JMRR.  During our review, for instance, we found that
one service made updates to emphasize the need for timely
reimbursement of funds spent on contingency operations. 

Since the quarterly readiness report flows from the SROC, it too
contains readiness information at the strategic level.  Further,
information excluded from SROC briefing documents, such as the
readiness of critical support functions, is also excluded from the
quarterly reports.  As a result, the aggregated information in DOD's
quarterly report does not include specific deficiencies.  Officials
said this was an explanation for why visits to individual units may
yield impressions of readiness that differ from those given in
official reports.  Some officials said the quarterly report was too
aggregated and bland to be of any use.  Other DOD officials, on the
other hand, said the quarterly report does a good job of summarizing
the current state of readiness in the armed forces.  Officials
emphasized that the quarterly report is not the only medium for
providing readiness information to Congress.  Readiness information
is also provided in testimony, reports, and discussions with
congressional staff. 

Our review of six quarterly reports issued since May 1996 disclosed
that forecasts of service readiness tended to reflect a stable or
positive readiness situation.  In each of these reports, the services
made forecasts in three assessment areas--personnel, equipment, and
training--for a total of 72 forecasts.  Of these forecasts, only 10
(about 14 percent) were negative.  The remaining forecasts showed a
fixed or positive readiness trend.  Further, DOD's overall assessment
of current readiness remained generally constant from report to
report.  For example, every quarterly report stated that "U.S. 
forces remain ready to execute their assigned mission" and
"short-term degradation of readiness can be expected as units
redeploy from contingencies or modernize."

An OSD official estimated that 70 to 80 percent of the quarterly
report is routine narrative with little variation between reports. 
Officials conceded that major readiness concerns do not change
significantly from one quarter to the next.  Officials pointed to the
large funding commitments and time needed to address major readiness
deficiencies.  Shortfalls in equipment and spare parts, for example,
may require long-term funding to fix the problem.  Such deficiencies,
because they are not resolved, will appear in DOD's readiness report
each quarter. 


   REPORTS DO NOT PROVIDE
   SUPPORTING DATA FOR IDENTIFIED
   PROBLEMS
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 4:3

The quarterly readiness reports make general references to readiness
problems, but they do not specifically describe the problems or
provide supporting data as required under 10 U.S.C.  482(b).  In the
May 1997 quarterly report, for example, DOD identified several broad
areas of readiness deficiencies.  For each, the report referred to
one or more actual deficiencies.  Omitted, however, were the precise
nature of these problems, the data to support them, and their effect
on readiness.  Examples follow: 

  -- The report cited Army personnel readiness as a problem, followed
     by a listing of three deficiencies:  (1) personnel shortfalls
     and turbulence, (2) units with unstaffed squads, and (3)
     reassignment of soldiers to critical support fields.  The report
     did not, however, provide any other supporting narrative or
     data, such as figures on the personnel or units involved.  In
     addition, the report did not discuss how these deficiencies
     affected readiness. 

  -- The report cited Air Force equipment readiness as a problem,
     noting deficiencies in the (1) availability of bare base assets,
     (2) reduced aircraft mission-capable rates, and (3) readiness of
     spare package fill rates.  No other supporting narrative or data
     was included, such as figures on the availability of
     mission-capable aircraft. 

  -- The report cited joint readiness for ongoing operations as a
     concern with respect to (1) high operations tempo for some
     systems and (2) personnel tempo.  However, narrative or
     supporting data to illustrate the extent of operations tempo,
     such as the numbers of tank miles and flight hours executed, was
     absent. 

Our review of other quarterly reports showed a similar lack of
supporting data for identified readiness deficiencies.  The
classified annex to the reports contained additional information on
some deficiencies but lacked specific descriptions and supporting
data. 


   REPORTS ADDRESS PLANNED
   REMEDIAL ACTIONS TO A LIMITED
   EXTENT
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 4:4

DOD is required under 10 U.S.C.  482(b) to specifically describe
planned remedial actions for readiness deficiencies, but we found the
reports addressed remedial actions only to a limited extent.  The
discussion of remedial actions is in general terms, with few specific
details, providing little insight into how DOD plans to correct the
problems.  The reports, for instance, do not address remedial action
timelines, specific objectives, responsible offices, or funding
requirements, as the following examples from the May 1997 report
show. 

  -- To correct a problem with Army training readiness, DOD reported
     that the service was "working on solutions" to address staffing
     problems caused by force structure imbalance.  From this
     description, it is unclear exactly what actions DOD was
     considering or implementing to correct the problems or when they
     would be fixed. 

  -- To address a problem with Air Force personnel readiness, DOD's
     report stated that to increase the number of pilots in the
     service, the Air Force had formed teams to start corrective
     actions using compensation, quality of life, staff conversions,
     and so on.  DOD did not report what these corrective actions
     would cost, the number of pilots targeted, and when the problem
     would be fixed. 

  -- To correct a problem with joint readiness for mobility, DOD
     reported that a wartime evacuation plan had been reworked and
     key sealift and aircraft assets would be acquired over the
     upcoming 6-year budget period.  While the quarterly report
     identified a planned remedial action, the report did not provide
     all the information necessary to fully understand the corrective
     action, such as the numbers and types of assets to be acquired
     and the associated costs. 

In a few cases, the classified annex to the report contained further
information on planned remedial actions.  However, information such
as time frames and funding requirements was not included. 


   CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATION
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 4:5

DOD is required under 10 U.S.C.  482 to specifically describe
readiness problems and provide indicators and other relevant
information, yet DOD's quarterly reports do not discuss the precise
nature of each identified deficiency, the data supporting the
deficiency, and its effect on readiness.  Further, while DOD is
required to provide information on planned remedial actions, the
quarterly reports could be more complete and detailed.  For example,
they could include specific details on timelines, objectives,
responsible offices, or funding requirements.  Lacking such detail,
the quarterly reports provide Congress with only a vague picture of
DOD's readiness problems.  To enhance the effectiveness of the
quarterly readiness report as a congressional oversight tool, we
recommend that the Secretary of Defense take steps to better fulfill
the legislative reporting requirements under 10 U.S.C.  482 by
providing (1) supporting data on key readiness deficiencies and (2)
specific information on planned remedial actions. 


   AGENCY COMMENTS
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 4:6

In written comments on a draft of this report, DOD concurred with the
recommendation and stated that it was taking action.  Specifically,
DOD stated that the Senior Readiness Oversight Council had begun to
focus greater attention on specific issues that can have significant
effects on readiness.  As these issues are addressed, they will be
included in the quarterly report.  In addition, DOD stated that the
reports will include any possible remedial actions required. 

DOD's comments appear in their entirety in appendix I.  DOD also
provided technical comments, which we have incorporated as
appropriate. 




(See figure in printed edition.)Appendix I
COMMENTS FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF
DEFENSE
============================================================ Chapter 4

Now on p.  42. 



(See figure in printed edition.)

See comment 1. 

See comment 2. 


The following are GAO's comments on the Department of Defense's (DOD)
letter dated March 13, 1998. 


   GAO COMMENTS
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 4:7

1.  We recognize that sources of quantitative readiness information
other than the Status of Resources and Training System (SORTS) exist,
and the report refers to these sources.  Furthermore, the 1994 review
conducted by our office and the 1994 DOD-funded study by the
Logistics Management Institute concluded that a broader range of
readiness indicators was needed, but both left open how DOD could
best integrate additional measures into its readiness reporting. 

2.  We recognize that much of the information in SORTS is objective
and quantitative.  Furthermore, we agree that it is appropriate for
commanders to apply subjective judgments to SORTS ratings.  The
judgment of a unit commander based on professional military expertise
may result in a more accurate report of readiness than would be the
case if only quantitative measures were used.  However, we have
previously reported instances where, because of subjectivity, SORTS
ratings appeared to paint a rosier picture of readiness than did
various military officials, who expressed concerns about readiness in
their discussions with us, or even in correspondence with higher
headquarters.  Specifically, our past work has demonstrated that
commanders rarely degrade their unit's overall readiness rating to
reflect these concerns when they are not portrayed in the
quantitative portion of SORTS. 

*** End of document. ***




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