Chemical and Biological Defense: Improved Risk Assessment and Inventory Management Are Needed, Report to the Chairman, Subcommittee on Military Readiness, Committee on Armed Services, House of Representatives   [open pdf - 8MB]

"In response to a request from the former Chairman of your Subcommittee, we reviewed U.S. forces' readiness in terms of the protective equipment needed for operations in a chemically or biologically contaminated environment. We determined (1) whether DOD's process for assessing the risk to military operations on the basis of wartime equipment requirements is reliable and (2) how DOD's inventory management of chemical and biological protective gear has affected the risk level. Also, as requested by the former Chairman, we will soon issue two additional reports on the readiness of military medical support in Korea and of the Military Sealift Command to operate in a contaminated environment. The practices that we identified in the current report regarding inventories of chemical and biological equipment contribute to the development of erroneous inventory data that in turn affect the accuracy of the risk assessment. First, DOD cannot monitor the status of the entire inventory of protective equipment because the services and the Defense Logistics Agency use at least nine different systems of inventory management with differing data fields to manage suit inventories, and the systems' records contain data that cannot be easily linked. Second, DOD cannot determine whether all of its older suits would adequately protect servicemembers because some of the systems' records omit essential data on suit expiration. Third, DOD cannot easily identify, track, and locate defective suits because inventory records do not always include contract and lot numbers. Finally, DOD has miscalculated the requirements for suits and the number available; for example, the Department counted new suits as on hand before they had been delivered and consequently overstated the actual inventory. We are making recommendations to assist DOD in better assessing risk and improving oversight of the inventory of chemical protective equipment."

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Government Accountability Office (GAO): http://www.gao.gov/
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