Report | Dec. 31, 2016

Assessment of Warriors in Transition Program Oversight DODIG-2017-038

Objectives

The Office of Warrior Care Policy (WCP) provides resources, guidance, and assistance to each of the Military Services’ Warriors in Transition programs and initiatives. The WCP also conducts and manages the Disability Evaluation System (DES)1 and the Recovery Coordination Program (RCP).2

The purpose of this assessment was to determine whether the WCP:

  • assessed and monitored the performance of the DoD DES;
  • used information gathered from the Military Services’ DES programs to effect changes in policy, procedures, or resources to improve the DES; and
  • provided policy and oversight that enabled the DoD to maintain long term capability and service specific knowledge required to support wounded, ill, and injured (WII) service members from each Service and U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM).

Findings

We found that:

  • The WCP assessed and monitored the performance of the DES by executing the DoD DES Quality Assurance Program and directing the Military Departments’ Inspectors General Triennial Review of the DES.
  • The WCP used information gathered from each Military Service’s DES program via the DES Quality Assurance Program and the Military Departments’ Inspectors General Triennial Reviews to effect changes in policy, procedures, or resources to improve the DES. However, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Warrior Care Policy) (DASD[WCP]) received inconsistent or incomplete triennial DES reviews from the Military Departments.
  • The WCP engaged with each Military Department and USSOCOM, which maintained separate Warriors in Transition programs, to obtain service and command specific knowledge to provide policy and oversight for WII service members. The WCP engaged the departments and USSOCOM in scheduled and ad hoc meetings, which enabled the Military Services and USSOCOM to voice issues regarding each of their Warriors in Transition programs.
  • The WCP also used its Warrior Care Strategic Roadmap3 to develop policy and oversight to maintain long-term capability required to support WII service members, which included revising Recovery Coordination Program (RCP) policy. The WCP conducted site visits at DoD RCPs for oversight and continuous improvement. As a result, WCP issued reports that contained relevant recommendations for the inspected Military Departments’ and USSOCOM’s RCPs. However, the WCP did not always assign specific responsibilities to people or organizations accountable for the RCP report recommendations. Also, the WCP did not follow up on its recommendations to ensure corrective actions were completed by the responsible individual or organization. As a result, the DoD is at risk that deficiencies identified during RCP site visits will not be addressed and will remain unresolved.

Recommendations

We recommend that the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness:

  • Recommendation A .1: Define and direct common inspection criteria and a standardized reporting format for the Military Departments’ Inspectors General Triennial Disability Evaluation System (DES) reports.
  • Recommendation A.2: Revise DoD Instruction 1332.18 to clarify the application of the instruction for record-of-proceedings.

Also, we recommend that the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Warrior Care Policy) (DASD[WCP]):

  • Recommendation B.1: Establish guidance for writing Recovery Coordination Program (RCP) oversight reports – including the requirement to specifically assign a person or organization to take action on each recommendation.
  • Recommendation B.2: Establish policy that ensures followup of all Recovery Coordination Program oversight report recommendations until corrective actions are complete.

Management Comments and Our Response

The Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness (USD[P&R]) responded to all recommendations.

The Acting Under Secretary disagreed with Recommendation A.1, stating that the Department guidance is sufficient for the Military Departments’ Inspectors General to complete the required triennial DES compliance reports.

However, the Acting Under Secretary provided additional comments stating that, for future triennial DES reports, the OUSD(P&R) will provide the Secretaries of the Military Departments a memorandum to ensure that the Service Inspectors General are properly tasked to conduct DES compliance reviews.

Although the Acting Under Secretary disagreed with Recommendation A.1, the actions taken by the OUSD(P&R) to improve the consistency and completeness of the triennial DES reviews satisfied the intent of the recommendation. The OUSD(P&R) will coordinate future triennial reviews with the Secretaries of the Military Departments.

The Acting Under Secretary addressed all the specifics of Recommendation A.2, stating that the DASD(WCP) will coordinate a revised DoD Instruction 1332.18 by calendar year 2018 to more formally address DoD standards for record-of-proceedings for DES cases.

The Acting Under Secretary also addressed all the specifics of Recommendations B.1 and B.2, stating that the DASD(WCP) will coordinate a revised DoD Instruction 1300.24 in calendar year 2017. The revised DoD Instruction will delineate the WCP’s role in providing the RCP oversight reports to more effectively monitor program performance and promote accountability. 

Our initial assessment resulted in the draft recommendation to assign U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) personnel to the Office of Warrior Care Policy staff. The Acting Under Secretary disagreed with our draft recommendation. As a result of the Acting Under Secretary’s comments and additional DoD Office of Inspector General assessment work, we determined that USSOCOM is fully integrated in the development of policy and oversight of programs affecting wounded, ill, and injured service members. Therefore we deleted that draft recommendation. 

1 The DES is the mechanism to determine return to duty, separation, or retirement of service members. In accordance with DoD Instruction 1332.18, "Disability Evaluation System (DES)," August 5, 2014, the Secretary of each Military Department will implement the DES.

2 The RCP streamlines and improves the way in which care and support are delivered to wounded, ill, and injured service members and their families.

3 The Warrior Care Strategic Roadmap lays out an efficient and effective path for enhancing warrior-care policies and programs while maintaining adaptability to meet the Department's current and future needs.

This report is a result of Project No.D2016-D00SPO-0087.000.