If you are having trouble attaining the stringent asset tracking standards demanded by the U.S. Department of Defense, you might take comfort in knowing the DoD also is struggling to attain these standards. And the DoD’s boss is Congress.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released an audit this week that details how much progress the DoD has made in coming into compliance on 11 statutory requirements for improving asset visibility that are outlined in the FY 2014 National Defense Authorization Act. There is lots of good news and some not-so-good news. Here are the highlights:

  1. DoD has fully outlined its plan to collaborate with its contractors: The goal of a stronger, more defined collaborative relationship between the DoD and its contractors is to capture best practices for automated data capture technology. The GAO found that the DoD’s 2015 Strategy for Improving DoD Asset Visibility, published in October 2015, fully addresses the steps that DoD will take to ensure its adopting industry best practices.
  2. DoD has not fully broken down the costs of executing its asset visibility implementation plans: Congress wants to know that the DoD is being fiscally prudent in improving asset visibility, but the DoD isn’t quite able to demonstrate its fiscal restraint yet. The GAO reported that the DoD did not provide cost estimates for some of its asset visibility implementation plans because the DoD was not able to isolate case components that were embedded within overall program funding. Next year, the DoD has assured the GAO that it will work toward helping its staff to properly document this information.
  3. DoD appears to be making progress with its IUID strategy: The DoD is under pressure to roll out an Item Unique Identification (IUID) strategy to more effectively track all of its assets in real time. The GAO reported that the DoD has updated the IUID milestones it’s working to hit, but that the DoD has not made explicitly clear how much progress it’s made. The DoD, for its part, has assured the GAO that greater transparency is coming.
  4. DoD is making progress on its own implementation plans: The DoD in 2014 reported that it implemented six of its 22 asset visibility implementation plans. In 2015, the GAO found that 10 more of those original plans have been implemented. The GAO commended the DoD for creating clear linkages between its strategic goals and its implementation plans, as these will enhance accountability.

We can all learn from the transparency and accountability measures that the DoD has been working to implement over the past few years to improve asset visibility. The DoD deserves credit for fully outlining its plan to collaborate with its contractors and for implementing most of its plans. And the DoD should be commended for committing itself to improving transparency as it relates to implementation costs and to the DoD’s IUID strategy. We’ll all be watching to make sure the DoD keeps this momentum going.

The full GAO report, “DOD Has Addressed Most Reporting Requirements and Continues to Refine its Asset Visibility Strategy,” is available online.