Brenda Farrell, director of defense capabilities & management issues at the Government Accountability Office, details their review of the Defense Health Agency’s administrative consolidation plan, and the potential issues it has.
The Defense Health Agency is taking the reins of military healthcare facilities from the individual services. Since the announcement of the latest plan in June, the Government Accountability Office examined it in great detail, and has some reccomendations. Brenda Farrell, director of defense capabilities & management issues at GAO, says that the plan has changed multiple times since it was first introduced, and the most recent one was very well thought out. “There were three plans before this one. The first two reflected the framework that they had in place to govern the military health system, this last plan really is a major step towards integration. They devote most of their plan into describing that governance and the time frames about how they are going to do that,” Farrell said. Farrell says that while improved, there are still many weaknesses in the strategy, such as 16 ill-defined readiness requirements, a lack of clarity on dental plans and fuzzy numbers regarding the goal to reduce headquarters staff. “It is unclear how they determined what the goal should be, 10 percent, and second it’s unclear how they are going to reach the 10 percent. In the plan they acknowledge this goal of 10 percent while at the same time saying there will be personnel growth at the headquarters level. How are you going to grow and reduce at the same time?” Farrell said. “Officials acknowledge that some of the data on military and civilian full-time equivalence could be misleading because it doesn’t include contractors and contractors are a major part of the military medical workforce.”