Publicly Released: May 22, 2023
The objective of this evaluation was to determine the extent to which the DoD implemented the Military Equal Opportunity (MEO) Program’s data collection and reporting requirements for complaints of prohibited discrimination, in accordance with DoD Instruction (DoDI) 1350.02, “DoD Military Equal Opportunity Program,” September 4, 2020.
The DoDI establishes policy, assigns responsibilities, and outlines procedures for the DoD MEO Program. The MEO Program ensures that Service members are afforded equal opportunity in an environment free from prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including pregnancy), gender identity, or sexual orientation. The DoDI requires the Military Services and the Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (ODEI) to collect MEO complaints data and issue an annual report, respectively.
The ODEI and the Military Services collected FY 2021 MEO complaint data. However, they did not fully implement the data collection and reporting requirements for MEO complaints in accordance with the DoDI. The ODEI and the Military Services did not use an approved, automated database for FY 2021. The ODEI MEO Policy Director stated that the ODEI delayed the development of a DoD-approved automated database due to staffing shortages and turnover.
The FY 2021 MEO complaints data included errors that the ODEI and the Military Services did not identify or resolve because they performed ineffective quality reviews and the data collection template lacked controls and clear instructions. In addition, the ODEI and the Military Services did not collect or report all required data because the DoDI lacks clear terminology and the data collection template omitted required data categories. As of November 2022, the ODEI had not issued the required annual report on FY 2021 MEO complaints data. The ODEI MEO Policy Director stated that the report delay occurred because the Military Services requested additional time to submit data, ODEI officials prioritized reports with mandated due dates, and a key ODEI contractor responsible for the report resigned.
As a result of not fully implementing DoDI requirements, the DoD has an increased risk of not having all information needed to properly identify MEO barriers, which may affect the DoD’s efforts to improve policies and procedures for preventing MEO prohibited discrimination. Without enterprise-wide standardized and automated data collection, DoD decision makers may not be able to measure progress and take actions to remove MEO barriers. This, in turn, may hinder the components’ ability to maintain a data-driven culture and safe workplace.
We made 12 recommendations, including that DoD officials implement a DoD-wide automated database for collecting and reporting MEO complaints; ensure that data collection templates include required data categories and controls and instructions that minimize errors; develop and implement written guidance for effective quality reviews of MEO complaints data; correct the FY 2021 MEO complaints data; assess whether the ODEI has sufficient resources to fulfill its responsibilities; and update the DoDI to clarify terminology and identify dates for collecting and annually reporting MEO complaints.
Management Comments and Our Response
The Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, ODEI Director, Secretary of the Navy, and Secretary of the Air Force agreed with our recommendations and proposed corrective actions to address the recommendations. Therefore, these recommendations are resolved but will remain open until these organizations provide documentation that they implemented all corrective actions. The Secretary of the Army did not provide Management Comments. Therefore, we consider this recommendation unresolved and open. As a result, we request comments to the final report within 30 days.
This report is a result of Project No. D2022-DEV0PG-0127.000.