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The Pentagon is creating a new defense agency to streamline the process of finding, recovering, and identifying the remains of US military personnel missing in action from past conflicts, announced Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Monday. The agency will combine the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office with the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command and select functions of the Air Force's Life Scientists Equipment Laboratory, Hagel told reporters at a March 31 press conference on the eve of his 10-day trip to the Asia-Pacific region. The agency will fall under the Pentagon's policy shop, he said. "By consolidating functions, we will resolve issues of duplication and inefficiency, and build a stronger, more transparent, and more responsive organization," said Hagel. The agency will manage all communications with family members of the missing and have an armed forces medical examiner who will be DOD's single identification authority. DOD is also establishing a centralized data base and case management system to house all missing service members' information and will seek expanded public-private partnerships to identify the missing. In February, Hagel directed a review to identify ways to improve the POW/MIA accounting mission. (Hagel transcript) (Personnel Accounting Mission Reorganization fact sheet)