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Pursuant to a congressional request, the GAO reviewed the Department of Defense's (DOD) efforts over the last four years to improve its information systems in the depot maintenance, materiel management, and transportation business areas, focusing on whether selected standard information systems will allow the DOD to meet its business objective to dramatically improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its logistics operations.
The GAO found that: (1) the DOD's continued deployment of information systems using a migration strategy for the depot maintenance, materiel management, and transportation business areas will not likely produce the significant improvements originally envisioned; (2) for the most part, these efforts, which were intended to lay the groundwork for future dramatic change by first standardizing information systems and the related processes throughout DOD, are merely increasing the risk that the new systems that are deployed will not be significantly better or less costly to operate than the hundreds of logistics information systems already in place; (3) the DOD itself has acknowledged that its migration systems strategy will not provide necessary dramatic improvements and cost reductions and is now emphasizing alternative ways of improving logistics business operations, such as turning to the private sector to carry out major logistics functions; (4) at the same time, however, it is continuing to deploy information systems selected under the migration strategy that are linked to the very same business functions it wishes to make more efficient and economical through outsourcing and/or privatization; (5) while the GAO is encouraged that the DOD is exploring alternative ways to improve its [logistics]] operations, it is concerned that the current path needlessly risks wasting a substantial amount of the more than $7.7 billion DOD plans to invest in improving automated logistics systems; (6) the DOD still has not taken the fundamental steps necessary to ensure that the automated systems it continues to deploy will yield a positive return on investment; (7) even as the DOD embarks on its new improvement efforts, it has not yet sufficiently tied these new efforts to its overall business objectives through the use of a strategic investment strategy to ensure that the billions of dollars will be wisely spent; (8) such planning would be in keeping with best private- and government-sector practices as well as with new legislation which underscores the importance of strategic information planning for the efficient and effective use of information technology; and (9) without addressing these concerns, the DOD's new improvement efforts, like the failed standard migration strategy, will proceed with little chance of achieving the objectives originally envisioned for substantial operational improvements and reduction in costs.