Military Personnel: DMDC Data on Officers' Commissioning Programs is Insufficiently Reliable and Needs to be Corrected: GAO-07-372R

Ford, Jeff
March 2007
GAO Reports;3/8/2007, p1
Government Document
The Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC) is a key Department of Defense (DOD) support organization that, among other things, generates reports for defense organizations such as the military services, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and the Joint Staff. External organizations such as GAO and federally funded research and development centers also rely on DMDC for quantitative data and analyses pertaining to a wide variety of issues, including the numbers of DOD personnel in specified occupations or demographic groups, servicemembers' attitudes, and compensation. DMDC reports to DOD's Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. In describing its databases, DMDC states that it maintains the largest archive of personnel, manpower, training, and financial data in DOD. It also notes that the personnel data are broad in scope and extend back to the early 1970s covering all services, all components of the total force (active duty, guard, reserve, and civilian), and all phases of the personnel life cycle (accession, separation, and retirement). DMDC data serve as the basis for DOD's annual Population Representation in the Military Forces which, among other things, provides information on the numbers of officers who were accessed into the military from each service's various commissioning programs: military academies, Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC), Officer Candidate Schools (OCS: for the Army, Navy, and Air Force) and Officer Training School (OTS: for the Air Force). On January 19, 2007, we issued a report on officer accessions, retention, and foreign language training. The purpose of this report is to bring to your attention reliability issues with DMDC data that we encountered while preparing our report and to provide you with our recommendations to address these issues. We found the information that DMDC provided to us on the number of officers accessed from DOD's various commissioning programs to be insufficiently reliable for use in our January 2007 report. Government auditing standards, which are applicable to all federal agencies including DOD, require that data be valid and reliable when the data are significant to the auditor's findings. More specifically, federal internal control standards require that data control activities, such as edit checks, verification, and reconciliation, be conducted and documented to help provide reasonable assurance that agency objectives are being met. We found discrepancies when we compared the DMDC-provided information on the number of officers accessed from DOD's commissioning programs (the academies, ROTC, and OCS/OTS) to information provided by the services. In the most extreme example of a discrepancy, DMDC-provided information indicated that 17 officers were accessed from the Marine Corps' ROTC program in fiscal year 2005, but Marine Corps-supplied information indicated that 160 officers were assessed. DMDC also provided us with information on the...


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