In the latest in a series of reports over the years raising concerns about the state of DoD’s maintenance depots, the GAO has said the department still has not produced a complete strategic plan for addressing the issue.
“Since fiscal year 2016, the condition of the depots’ infrastructure — their facilities and equipment — generally has remained in the fair-to-poor range and has not improved,” the GAO said, pointing to for example a 2017 report concluding that “poor conditions at the Navy shipyards contributed to the shipyards’ inability to meet the Navy’s operational needs” and a 2019 report that “poor conditions across the service depots were hindering their performance.”
It said that of 21 depots, capital equipment overall is beyond its projected service life in all but six.
The report was ordered by the fiscal 2020 defense budget, which tasked the GAO with assessing steps the DoD is taking to address infrastructure challenges under laws including the military services to invest certain minimum amounts in their depots each year. It said that while those spending goals overall are being met, the services “do not report on investment needed to prevent further infrastructure deterioration.”
Further, while DoD strategy addresses depot conditions, it “does not include the business case analysis or improvement plan. DoD expects to include the missing elements in future updates. However, officials do not expect the strategy to be fully complete until 2024. Without a completed strategy addressing all mandated elements, DoD will face difficulties in overseeing the services’ efforts to address the depots’ challenges,” the GAO said.