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Report | April 16, 2019

Audit of the Identification and Training of DoD’s Operational Contract Support Workforce DODIG-2019-079




The objective of this audit was to determine whether DoD Components incorporated operational contract support (OCS) training into workforce development for military and DoD civilian personnel. We focused on whether the DoD identified the OCS workforce, established OCS training standards, and implemented a strategy to train the OCS workforce.

For the purposes of this audit, identifying the OCS workforce involves establishing the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to perform OCS activities, and also developing the means to track personnel who meet these standards.


OCS is the process of obtaining supplies, services, and construction from commercial sources to support joint military operations (operations conducted by multiple Military Services working together). OCS is a joint activity executed by the geographic combatant commander, subordinate joint force commanders, and their staffs. When properly planned, OCS can increase military effectiveness and provide services that either cannot be performed by military forces and DoD civilian personnel or can be performed more effectively or efficiently through contract solutions.

OCS requires participation and coordination from various components within the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Defense agencies, Joint Staff, Military Departments, and combatant commands. The Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Logistics (ODASD [Logistics]) serves as the lead for training and educating non‑contracting, non‑acquisition personnel who support OCS efforts. The ODASD (Logistics) is also responsible for coordinating policy to improve OCS program management and oversight, The Military Departments are responsible for organizing, training, and equipping units and individuals to perform all aspects of the OCS mission in response to Federal and DoD guidance.


We determined that DoD Components did not consistently integrate OCS training into workforce development. For example, the Army developed an OCS training course for non‑acquisition personnel, but according to Joint Contingency Acquisition Support Office planners embedded at the combatant commands, this training does not adequately prepare personnel to perform OCS in theater because it is not sufficient for the execution of combatant command level OCS planning. However, as stated by Army officials, the course is deliberately designed to train Army personnel to perform OCS tasks at the tactical and operational level, not at the combatant command level. In addition, although the Navy has developed training requirements for its OCS personnel, it has not identified which personnel comprise the Navy’s OCS workforce and are required to receive the training. The Air Force and the Marine Corps did not incorporate OCS training into workforce development policy for their military or DoD civilian OCS personnel.

These deficiencies occurred because ODASD (Logistics)—the agency responsible for implementing OCS in the DoD—did not establish OCS training standards or provide guidance establishing the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to perform OCS activities. Without this guidance, DoD Components did not develop standardized training, identify personnel required to receive OCS training, or identify positions requiring OCS‑trained personnel.

In August 2018, ODASD (Logistics) identified actions to mitigate OCS training and workforce capability gaps identified in a 2011. However, the actions were not specific enough for the Military Services to develop OCS training or workforce standards and therefore, will not address capability gaps. According to ODASD (Logistics) officials, the process of implementing the recommendation will be conducted in three phases: developing an OCS competency model, assessing and validating the competency model, and lastly, implementation. The recommendation to establish OCS training standards and identify the OCS workforce depends upon the completion of the first phase, which has an estimated completion of August 2021.

As a result, DoD personnel executing OCS activities in theater are often unable to adequately perform their OCS duties without additional training and support. The lack of trained OCS personnel is a recurring problem because personnel rotate into and out of theater every 9 to 12 months. Without trained OCS personnel to meet combatant commanders’ OCS needs, the DoD risks poor management of contracted capabilities in a contingency environment.

We recommend that the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness coordinate with the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, Joint Staff, applicable Defense agencies, combatant commands, and Military Services to conduct an OCS Functional Competency Model assessment for military personnel.

We also recommend that the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, in coordination with the combatant commands, develop a policy to establish tiered minimum training requirements and qualifications for OCS positions at each echelon, and establish minimum requirements and milestones for implementation and integration of operational contract support training.

Management Comments and Our Response

The Executive Officer of the Defense Civilian Personnel Advisory Service, responding for the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, agreed with our recommendation, stating that the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness through the Defense Civilian Personnel Advisory Service Planning and Accountability staff is engaged in an effort with Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment staff in the assessment of personnel occupying identified OCS positions. The effort includes the development of an OCS functional competency model to assess competencies of both civilian and military personnel.

The Assistant Secretary of Defense for Sustainment, responding for the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, agreed with our recommendation, stating that in coordination with the Undersecretary for Defense (Personnel & Readiness) Joint Staff, Defense agencies, Joint Staff, defense agencies, combatant commands, and Services, it will publish guidance to clarify minimum training requirements for personnel working within the OCS functional area. The guidance will be used to inform organizational manning and training requirements across the DoD. He also stated that the DoD is working on efforts to identify competencies, knowledge, skills, abilities, and training requirements that would shape the development of OCS training guidance.

Comments from the Executive Officer Defense Civilian Personnel Advisory Service and the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Sustainment addressed the specifics of the recommendations; therefore, the recommendations are resolved but will remain open. W e w ill close the recommendations once we receive the results of the OCS competency model and assessment, and review the OCS training guidance to ensure that it clarifies minimum training requirements and that it informs organizational manning and training requirements for OCS across the DoD.

This report is a result of Project No. D2018‑D000RH‑0146.000.