TITLE

Military Personnel: DOD Needs to Establish a Strategy and Improve Transparency over Reserve and National Guard Compensation to Manage Significant Growth in Cost: GAO-07-828

AUTHOR(S)
Pendleton, John H.
PUB. DATE
June 2007
SOURCE
GAO Reports;6/20/2007, p1
SOURCE TYPE
Government Documents
DOC. TYPE
Article
ABSTRACT
The Department of Defense (DOD) has increasingly relied on reserve personnel to carry out its military operations. Congress and DOD have taken steps to enhance reserve compensation, such as improving health care benefits. Concerns exist, however, that rising compensation costs may not be sustainable in the future, especially given the nation's large and growing long-range fiscal imbalance. Under the statutory authority of the Comptroller General to conduct work on his own initiative, GAO (1) reviewed how much it has cost the federal government to compensate reserve personnel since fiscal year 2000; (2) assessed the extent to which DOD's mix of cash, noncash, and deferred compensation has helped DOD meet its human capital goals; and (3) evaluated the extent to which DOD's approach to reserve compensation provides transparency over total cost to the federal government. To address these objectives, GAO analyzed budget data and relevant legislation and also interviewed appropriate officials. GAO focused this review on part-time reservists and full-time, active guard and reserve. Using fiscal year (FY) 2006 constant dollars, the federal government's total cost to compensate part-time and full-time reserve personnel has increased 47 percent since FY 2000, rising from about $13.9 billion in FY 2000 to about $20.5 billion in FY 2006. Most reservists are part-time, and their per capita compensation costs nearly doubled from about $10,100 in FY 2000 to about $19,100 in FY 2006. Additionally, a small percentage of reservists work full-time, and their per capita costs increased about 28 percent from FY 2000 to FY 2006. Cash compensation, which servicemembers see in their "paycheck," has increased about 19 percent. However, much of the total growth in compensation is driven by the costs for deferred compensation. These costs tripled over this period, primarily attributed to enhanced health care benefits. Moreover, DOD officials anticipate significant continued growth in health care costs because of the expansion of health care coverage to reserve personnel in FY 2007. DOD does not know the extent to which its mix of pay and benefits meets its human capital goals in part because it lacks an established compensation strategy to identify the appropriate mix of reserve compensation to maintain its force. DOD and Congress have added pay and benefits using a piecemeal approach that has not been based on an established strategy and that has not adequately considered the appropriateness, affordability, and sustainability of the related costs. These additions have contributed to a shift in the mix of compensation toward more deferred benefits--that is, future compensation such as retirement pay and health care for life. Deferred benefits increased from 12 percent of total reserve compensation in FY 2000 to 28 percent of total compensation in FY 2006. This increase in deferred compensation may not be the most efficient allocation given that fewer than...
ACCESSION #
25635385

 

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