DOD falling short on RFID, IUID and logistics plans, says GAO

The Defense Department is not doing as well as it should with its new Logistics Roadmap, and is having difficulty implementing item unique identification (IUID) and radio frequency identification (RFID), two key logistics technologies, according to the Government Accountability Office.

The roadmap was released in the summer of 2008 and is the framework by which DOD is supposed to guide, measure and track its logistics improvements. It replaced the previous Supply Chain Management Improvement plan.

The roadmap is largely the result of a decades-long prodding by GAO, which identified weaknesses in DOD’s supply management and has rated it one of the federal government’s high risk areas since 1990.

However, the GAO said in a Jan. 12 report to Congress, the roadmap lacks key information in certain areas, and until that is fixed it will be “of limited use to decision makers.”

It doesn’t identify the scope of logistics problems or gaps in capabilities, and it lacks outcome-based performance measures that would allow DOD to track progress in meeting the roadmap’s goals, GAO said. It also doesn’t clearly state how DOD intends to integrate the roadmap into its logistics processes, or even who is responsible for this integration.

That leaves DOD vulnerable in various areas. For example, there’s no way of mapping the roadmap to the logistics budget needs of individual DOD components, or for using it to address joint logistics needs, GAO said.

As far as IUID and RFID are concerned, their use was required in DOD memoranda issued in both 2003 and 2004, and they have since been called critical elements in supply chain improvement efforts.

However, GAO said, DOD has so far been unable to show adequate return on investment for those military components that will have to decide how and where to use the technologies, and consequently may face challenges to their widespread implementation.

To get past that, GAO recommended that DOD start gathering the information it needs to demonstrate ROI, including costs for implementation that are being funded out of operational accounts, and what performance-based outcomes it expects from those various components.

In its response, DOD agreed with GAO concerns and laid out steps it would take to satisfy them. 


About the Author

Brian Robinson is a special contributor to Defense Systems.

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