Publicly Released: June 8, 2023
The objective of this evaluation was to determine the extent to which the services are collecting uniform demographic data specific to race and ethnicity in accordance with the Military Justice Act requirements included in the FY 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, as defined by Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Statistical Policy Directive No. 15.
The Military Justice Act of 2016, passed as part of the FY 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, requires the Secretary of Defense to prescribe uniform standards and criteria for conducting each of the functions in the military justice system, which include case management, data collection, and accessibility of information. In December 2018, the DoD General Counsel issued a memorandum that prescribed uniform standards and criteria for these functions, based in part on standards established by OMB Statistical Policy Directive No. 15. The OMB directive provides minimum standards for collecting, maintaining, and presenting Federal data and presenting data on race and ethnicity for all Federal reporting purposes. Additional criteria and standards for data collection are included in DoD Instruction 1020.05, section 5.
The services track demographic data for Service members involved in the military justice system using racial and ethnic data from Service members’ personnel records. However, DoD does not collect or verify demographic data in the military justice system in the categories required by OMB Statistical Policy Directive No. 15, the Uniform Standards and Criteria, or DoD Instruction 1020.05, section 5.3.
There is no requirement for the DoD to maintain a central database for the military justice system, and the DoD does not have one. Rather, each Service tracks its demographic data in its own Service-approved database. The use of various Service databases has resulted in inconsistent military justice system demographic data categories across the military justice system. Inconsistent data collection occurred because the Services’ guidance for tracking demographic categories comes from requirements established in multiple policies and instructions.
As a result, the services will be less likely to achieve DoD and Government-wide goals for reporting consistent and comparable demographic data. These data are required for Federal reporting purposes and for the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Director’s use in evaluating DoD diversity and inclusion efforts in accordance with DoD Instruction 1020.05.
We recommend that the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness establish and define demographic categories, require consistent use of demographic data in Service personnel and military justice system databases across all services, and determine whether a single military justice system database for use by all Services would be beneficial. If the single database is beneficial, the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness should develop and implement one.
Management Comments and Our Response
The Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness partially agreed with the recommendations in the report. The Under Secretary stated the DoD will direct the services to use existing standardized aggregated data elements from the Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC) for reporting in DoD-wide analyses of military justice disparities instead of individual service data elements. The Under Secretary also agreed to establish a process that requires consistent use of demographic categories in Service personnel and military justice system databases across all Services. Finally, the Under Secretary agreed that a standardized data repository for analyses is necessary, but did not agree that a single military justice system case management database is necessary. Rather, the Department will create a single centralized Office of the Secretary of Defense-managed system to extract data.
We disagree that requiring the services to use DMDC standardized race/ethnicity data elements for reporting requirements will assist in reporting because the data elements do not align with the military justice system data requirements. We will close the recommendations when we receive documentation illustrating that the DoD has developed consistent data elements for reporting and that demonstrates the single centralized Office of the Secretary of Defense-managed system can extract data and documents for analytical purposes.
This report is the result of Project No. D2022-DEV0PF-0130.000.