Report | March 31, 2016

Assessment of DoD Voting Assistance Programs for Calendar Year 2015 DODIG-2016-071

Objective

The objective of this project was to report on the effectiveness and level of compliance of the Service’s Voting Assistance Programs (VAP) based on their respective Service Inspector General’s (IG) annual reviews, in accordance with section 1566, title 10, United States Code (10 U.S.C. §1566 (c) (2014)). This law requires that:  

  1. The IG of each of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps shall conduct- (A) an annual review of the effectiveness of voting assistance programs; and (B) an annual review of the compliance with voting assistance programs of that armed force.  
  2.  Submission of those Service IG reviews to the DoD OIG, and  
  3. Based on these Service IG reviews, not later than March 31 each year, the DoD IG shall submit to Congress a report on: (A)the effectiveness during the preceding calendar year of voting assistance programs, and (B)the level of compliance during the preceding calendar year with voting assistance programs of each of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps.

Finding

The Service IGs lacked a standardized definition for voting assistance program compliance with Federal statutes and DoD policy which made it difficult for stakeholders to verify or to assess compliance across the Services. 

Recommendation

We recommended that the Director, Federal Voting Assistance Program Office, coordinate with the Service IGs to initiate a dialogue with the Senior Service Voting Representatives to consider establishing a standard DoD definition of voting assistance program compliance. 

Management Comments

Due to the short timeframe of this assessment, we did not give the Director, Federal Voting Assistance Program Office the opportunity to provide written comments on the finding and recommendation before publication of the final report.  We briefed them verbally on the finding and recommendation, and asked that they provide written comments in response to the final report. 

Observations

Each Service IG inspected its Service’s VAP and reported on compliance and effectiveness for Calendar Year 2015: |  

  • The Army IG reported the Army VAP complied with Federal statutes and DoD policies and was effective.  The Army IG specifically noted increases in the number of voting assistance officers who received training prior to assuming duties, as well as voting assistance officers who had their duty performance documented in their performance evaluations.  
  • The Naval IG stated that the Navy VAP was not fully compliant with Federal statutes and DoD policies and was only partially effective.  However, on February 5, 2016, the Navy addressed a key previously highlighted deficiency by issuing updated VAP regulations.    
  • The Air Force IG reported that the Air Force VAP complied with Federal statutes and DoD policies and that its effectiveness was based on a qualitative assessment of compliance with FVAP statutes and regulations, interviews, and surveys. The report highlighted that Air Force inspection teams provided all Installation Voting Assistance officers and offices the opportunity to run recurring self assessments, which created an environment of continuous process improvement.  
  • The Marine Corps IG concluded that the Marine Corps’ VAP complied with Federal statutes and DoD policy, and w as effective. F or C Y 2015, t he Marine Corps IG confirmed implementation of the new VAP Measures of Effect and Performance, and expressed confidence that its service members and their eligible family members were made aware of all 2015 voting events.

Follow-Up on Prior Recommendations

We also addressed two prior recommendations from DoD IG Report No. DODIG-2013-074, “Assessment of Voting Assistance Programs for Calendar Year 2012,” April 29, 2013:  

  • Observation 2. Outdated Regulatory Requirements: The DoD OIG recommended the Services update their voting assistance program regulations to implement the requirements of the 2012 update of DoD Instruction 1000.04, “Federal Voting Assistance Program.” O n February 5, 2016, the Navy issued an updated Chief of Naval Operations Instruction (OPNAVINST) 1742.1C, “Navy Voting Assistance Program.” T his recommendation is now complete and closed. (Recommendation 2.b.)  
  • Observation 3. Lack of Clearly Defined Performance Measures to Assess Effectiveness of DoD Voting Assistance Programs: The DoD OIG recommended Director, FVAP Office provide the Services enhanced performance goals and metrics to enable better measurement of VAP program effectiveness. I n October 2014, t he FVAP Office distributed to each of the Services new “Measures of Effect and Performance” for reporting on VAP performance. Our review of the CY 2015 Service IGs VAP reports indicated that the Services implemented these new Measures of Effect and Performance, resulting in data points for calendar year 2015. Consistent use of these metrics over several years will enable the FVAP Office and the Services to monitor and adjust their voting assistance support during an election cycle. Pursuant to Recommendation 3.b, which remains open, the Service IGs will utilize these Measures of Effect and Performance in an evaluation of their respective VAPs effectiveness to be included in their annual VAP reports to the DoD OIG.

This report is a result of Project No. D2017-DOOSPO-0063.00.