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entitled 'Military Personnel: DOD Has Not Implemented the High 
Deployment Allowance That Could Compensate Servicemembers Deployed 
Frequently for Short Periods' which was released on June 25, 2004.

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Report to Congressional Committees:

United States General Accounting Office:

GAO:

June 2004:

Military Personnel:

DOD Has Not Implemented the High Deployment Allowance That 
Could Compensate Servicemembers Deployed Frequently for Short Periods:

GAO-04-805:

GAO Highlights:

Highlights of GAO-04-805, a report to Congressional Committees 

Why GAO Did This Study:

The fiscal year 2004 National Defense Authorization Act directed GAO 
to assess the special pays and allowances for servicemembers who are 
frequently deployed for less than 30 days, and to specifically review 
the family separation allowance. GAO’s objectives were to assess (1) 
the rationale for the family separation allowance eligibility 
requirements, including the required duration of more than 30 
consecutive days away from a member’s duty station; (2) the extent to 
which DOD has identified short-term deployments as a family separation 
allowance issue; and (3) what special pays and allowances, in addition 
to basic military compensation, are available to compensate members 
deployed for less than 30 days.

What GAO Found:

In 1963, Congress established the family separation allowance to help 
offset the additional expenses that may be incurred by the dependents 
of servicemembers who are away from their permanent duty station for 
more than 30 consecutive days. Additional expenses may include the 
costs associated with home repairs, automobile maintenance, and 
childcare that could have been performed by the deployed servicemember. 
Over the years, the eligibility requirements for the family separation 
allowance have changed. Today, the family separation allowance is 
authorized for officers and enlisted in all pay grades at a flat rate. 
The rationale for establishing the 30-day threshold is unknown.

DOD has not identified frequent short-term deployments as a family 
separation allowance issue. No proposals seeking modifications to the 
family separation allowance because of frequent short-term deployments 
have been provided to DOD for consideration as part of DOD’s Unified 
Legislation and Budgeting process, which reviews personnel pay 
proposals. Further, DOD officials were not aware of any specific 
concerns that have been raised by frequently deployed servicemembers 
about their eligibility to receive the family separation allowance. 
Based on group discussions with Air Force strategic airlift aircrews, 
who were identified as examples of those most likely to be experiencing 
short-term deployments, we did not identify any specific concerns 
regarding the lack of family separation allowance compensation 
associated with short-term deployments. Rather, many aircrew members 
indicated the high pace of operations and associated unpredictability 
of their schedules was a greater concern due to the negative impact on 
their quality of life.

In addition to basic military compensation, DOD has several special 
pays and allowances to further compensate servicemembers deployed for 
short periods. Servicemembers who are deployed for less than 30 days 
may be eligible to receive regular per diem. The per diem amount varies 
depending upon location. For example, these rates range from $86 to 
$284 per day within the United States and from $20 to $533 per day when 
outside the United States. However, DOD has not implemented the high 
deployment allowance designed, in part, to compensate those frequently 
deployed for shorter periods. Congress supported DOD’s legislative 
proposal to authorize a monthly high deployment allowance. This 
allowance permits the services to compensate members for lengthy as 
well as frequent shorter deployments. The most recent amendment to this 
provision provides DOD with the authority to adjust a cumulative day 
threshold to help compensate servicemembers experiencing frequent short 
deployments. DOD has flexibility to exclude all occupations except 
those that it wishes to target for additional pay. However, DOD has 
not established criteria to implement this allowance, nor has DOD set a 
timetable for establishing such criteria. 

What GAO Recommends:

GAO recommends DOD take the following actions: (1) set a timetable for 
establishing criteria to implement the high deployment allowance; (2) 
define, as part of the criteria, what constitutes frequent short-term 
deployments within the context of the cumulative day requirement as 
stated in the high deployment legislation; and (3) determine, as part 
of the criteria, ways of targeting the deployment allowance to selected 
occupations. DOD partially concurred with our recommendations because 
it views the deployment allowance as a peacetime authority. GAO 
believes our current wartime situation does not prevent DOD from 
setting a timetable for establishing criteria.

www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-04-805.

To view the full product, including the scope and methodology, click on 
the link above. For more information, contact Derek B. Stewart at (202) 
512-5559 or stewartd@gao.gov.

[End of section]

Contents:

Letter:

Results in Brief:

Background:

Congressional Rationale for DOD's Family Separation Allowance 
Eligibility Requirements:

DOD Has Not Identified Frequent Deployments Less Than 30-days as a 
Family Separation Allowance Issue:

Personnel Deployed Less Than 30 Days May Be Eligible to Receive 
Additional Compensation:

Conclusions:

Recommendations:

Agency Comments and Our Evaluation:

Scope and Methodology:

Appendix I: Comments from the Department of Defense:

Related GAO Products:

Table:

Table 1: Special Pays and Allowances Available for Short-Term 
Deployments as of June 2004:

Figure:

Figure 1: Average Number of Days C-5 Co-Pilots Have Been Deployed, 
January 2001 through December 2003:

Abbreviations:

AMC: Air Mobility Command:

DOD: Department of Defense:

OSD: Office of the Secretary of Defense:

United States General Accounting Office:

Washington, DC 20548:

June 25, 2004:

Congressional Committees:

The Department of Defense (DOD) considers a servicemember as deployed 
when a member is on orders and performing duties in a training exercise 
or operation at a location or under circumstances that make it 
impossible or infeasible for the member to spend off-duty time at the 
member's permanent duty station or homeport. While deployed, in 
addition to receiving basic military compensation,[Footnote 1] 
servicemembers can receive a variety of special pays and allowances 
intended to (1) help the uniformed services meet specific manpower 
requirements and (2) compensate servicemembers for hardships 
associated with their deployments. For example, servicemembers who have 
dependents and are deployed for more than 30 consecutive days are 
eligible to receive the family separation allowance. In April 2003, 
Congress temporarily increased the amount of the family separation 
allowance by 150 percent (from $100 to $250 per month) as part of the 
Emergency Wartime Supplemental Appropriations Act. Congress has since 
extended this increase until December 2004; at which time it will 
expire unless renewed or made permanent. According to DOD officials, 
the latest estimated cost of the family separation allowance for fiscal 
year 2004 is $1.1 billion with an average of 359,000 monthly 
recipients.[Footnote 2] When this estimated cost is compared to the 
fiscal year 2002 obligations, the budget for the family separation 
allowance increases by 850 percent. This increase is primarily due to 
the increase in the monthly rate paid for family separation allowance 
and the increased number of personnel deployed in support of the global 
war on terrorism.

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004 directed 
GAO to assess the special pays and allowances for servicemembers who 
are frequently deployed for less than 30 days. The act directed GAO to 
specifically review the eligibility requirements for the family 
separation allowance, including those related to the required duration 
of more than 30 consecutive days away from a servicemember's permanent 
duty station. As agreed with your offices, our objectives were to 
assess (1) the rationale for family separation allowance eligibility 
requirements, including the 30-day threshold; (2) the extent to which 
DOD has identified frequent short-term deployments as a family 
separation allowance issue; and (3) what special pays and allowances 
are available, in addition to basic compensation, to further compensate 
servicemembers deployed for less than 30 days.

To conduct our review, we analyzed the legislative history and 
respective DOD policies for selected special pays and allowances. We 
reviewed proposals to make changes to the family separation allowance 
submitted through DOD's Unified Legislation and Budgeting process. We 
held discussions with officials from the Office of the Under Secretary 
of Defense (Personnel and Readiness) and each of the services. We 
focused our study on the Air Force since the reported average number of 
days Air Force personnel were deployed in fiscal year 2002, the latest 
available data, was less than 30 days. Further, through discussions 
with Air Force officials we identified strategic airlift C-5 aircrews 
managed by the Air Mobility Command (AMC) as examples of those who 
would most likely be experiencing short-term deployments.[Footnote 3] 
We assessed the reliability of AMC deployment data and determined that 
the data were sufficiently reliable for the purposes of this report. To 
explore family separation allowance issues at a location overseen by 
AMC, we conducted group discussions with officers and enlisted 
servicemembers at Travis Air Force Base. We also reviewed previously 
issued GAO reports on military compensation (see Related GAO Products). 
More information on our scope and methodology is provided at the end of 
this letter. We conducted our review from January 2004 to May 2004 in 
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.

Results in Brief:

In 1963, Congress established the family separation allowance to help 
offset the additional expenses that may be incurred by the dependents 
of servicemembers who are away from their permanent duty station for 
more than 30 consecutive days. Additional expenses may include the 
costs associated with home repairs, automobile maintenance, and 
childcare that could have been performed by the deployed servicemember. 
Over the years, the eligibility requirements for the family separation 
allowance have changed. Today, the family separation allowance is 
authorized for officers and enlisted in all pay grades at a flat rate. 
The rationale for establishing the 30-day threshold is unknown.

DOD has not identified frequent short-term deployments for less than 
30 days as a family separation allowance issue. No proposals seeking 
modifications to the family separation allowance because of frequent 
short-term deployments have been provided to DOD for consideration as 
part of DOD's Unified Legislation and Budgeting process, which reviews 
personnel compensation proposals. Further, DOD officials--including 
those in the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), the services, 
the national guard, and reserves--were not aware of any specific 
concerns raised by frequently deployed servicemembers about their 
eligibility to receive the family separation allowance. Based on group 
discussions with Air Force strategic C-5 airlift aircrews, we did not 
identify any specific concerns regarding the lack of family separation 
allowance compensation associated with short-term deployments. Rather, 
many of the aircrew members indicated that the high pace of operations 
and associated unpredictability of their schedules was a greater 
concern to them due to the negative impact on their quality of life.

In addition to basic compensation, DOD has several special pays and 
allowances available to further compensate servicemembers deployed for 
less than 30 days. Servicemembers who are deployed for less than 
30 days may be eligible to receive regular per diem, which is used to 
pay for lodging, meals, and incidental expenses while deployed. The per 
diem amount varies depending upon location. For example, these rates 
range from $86 to $284 per day within the continental United States and 
from $20 to $533 per day when outside the continental United States. 
Servicemembers may also be eligible to receive several other pays and 
allowances, such as hazardous duty pay, mission-oriented hardship duty 
pay, and combat zone tax exclusions. However, DOD has not implemented 
one special allowance--the high deployment allowance--designed, in 
part, to compensate those frequently deployed for short periods. 
Congress supported DOD's legislative proposal to authorize the monthly 
high deployment allowance with passage of the National Defense 
Authorization Act of 2004. The high deployment allowance permits the 
services to compensate their members for lengthy deployments as well as 
frequent shorter deployments. The most recent amendment to this 
provision provides the Secretary of Defense with the authority to 
adjust a cumulative day threshold to help compensate servicemembers 
experiencing frequent shorter deployments. This provision also provides 
additional flexibility in targeting the allowance to selected 
occupational specialties, by allowing DOD to exclude all occupations 
except those that it wishes to target for additional compensation due 
to retention concerns. However, DOD has not established criteria that 
would (1) define what constitutes frequent deployments and 
(2) determine eligibility requirements for the high deployment 
allowance, nor has DOD set a timetable for establishing such criteria.

This report contains recommendations for DOD to set a timetable for 
establishing criteria to implement the high deployment allowance and 
what the criteria should include. In its comments on a draft of this 
report, DOD partially concurred with the report's recommendations 
because it views the high deployment allowance as a peacetime 
authority. We believe our current wartime situation does not prevent 
DOD from setting a timetable for establishing criteria. Further, given 
the expectations for a long-term commitment to the war on terrorism, 
developing the criteria for implementing the high deployment allowance 
would provide DOD with an additional option for compensating those 
military personnel who are frequently deployed for short periods.

Background:

AMC, located at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, is responsible for 
providing strategic airlift, including air refueling, special air 
missions, and aeromedical evacuation. As part of that mission, AMC is 
responsible for tasking 67 C-5 aircraft: 35 stationed at Travis Air 
Force Base in California and 32 stationed at Dover Air Force Base in 
Delaware. Unlike other Air Force aircraft, the C-5 is rarely deployed 
for more than 30 days, since it is primarily used to move cargo from 
the United States to locations worldwide. As a result, C-5 aircrews are 
deployed away from home for several weeks and then return to their home 
station. Other Air Force aircraft, such as the KC-10, can carry cargo 
but are primarily used to refuel other aircraft and can be deployed to 
locations around the world for extended periods of time. Since 
September 11, 2001, C-5 aircrews have been deployed for periods of time 
less than 30-days, generally ranging from 7 to 24 days.

Known for its ability to carry oversized and heavy loads, the C-5 can 
transport a wide variety of cargo, including helicopters and Abrams 
M1A1 Tanks to destinations worldwide. Recently, the C-5's have been 
used for a variety of missions, including: support of presidential 
travel, contracted movement of materials by other government 
organizations, training missions, and support of operations Enduring 
and Iraqi Freedom. In addition, the C-5 can also transport about 70 
passengers. The aircrew for a C-5 is comprised of two pilots, a flight 
engineer, and two loadmasters. At Travis Air Force Base there are 439 
active duty and 383 reserve aircrew members. At Dover Air Force Base 
there are 650 active duty and 344 reserve aircrew members.

Within the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), the Under 
Secretary of Defense (Personnel and Readiness) is responsible for DOD 
personnel policy, including oversight of military compensation. The 
Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel and Readiness) leads the Unified 
Legislation and Budgeting process, established in 1994 to develop and 
review personnel compensation proposals. As part of this process, the 
Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel and Readiness) chairs biannual 
meetings, attended by the principal voting members from the Office of 
the Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel and Readiness), including the 
Principle Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel and Readiness), 
the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Reserve Affairs), the Assistant 
Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs), the Office of the Under 
Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), the Joint Staff, and the services' 
Assistant Secretaries for Manpower and Reserve Affairs.

Congressional Rationale for DOD's Family Separation Allowance 
Eligibility Requirements:

In 1963, Congress established the $30-per-month family separation 
allowance to help offset the additional expenses incurred by the 
dependents of servicemembers who are away from their permanent duty 
station for more than 30 consecutive days. According to statements made 
by members of Congress during consideration of the legislation 
establishing the family separation allowance, additional expenses could 
stem from costs associated with home repairs, automobile maintenance, 
and childcare that could not be performed by the deployed 
servicemember. Over the years, the eligibility requirements for the 
family separation allowance have changed. For example, while the family 
separation allowance was initially authorized for enlisted members in 
pay grades E-5 and above as well as to enlisted members in pay grade 
E-4 with 4 years of service, today the family separation allowance is 
authorized for servicemembers in all pay grades at a flat rate of $250 
per month. Servicemembers must apply for the family separation 
allowance, certifying their eligibility to receive the allowance. The 
rationale for establishing the 30-day threshold is unknown. However, 
DOD officials noted that servicemembers deployed for more than 30 days 
do not have the same opportunities to minimize household expenses as 
those who are deployed for less than 30 days. For example, 
servicemembers who are able to return to their permanent duty locations 
may perform home repairs and do not have to pay someone to do these 
tasks for them.

The 1963 family separation allowance legislation was divided into two 
subsections, one associated with overseas duty and one associated with 
any travel away from the servicemembers home station. The first 
subsection was intended to compensate servicemembers who were 
permanently stationed overseas and were not authorized to bring 
dependents. The second subsection was intended to compensate 
servicemembers for added expenses associated with their absence from 
their dependents and permanent duty station for extended periods of 
time regardless of whether the members were deployed domestically or 
overseas. Originally, this aspect of family separation compensation was 
also to be based on the allowance for living quarters. At that time, 
members would receive one-third the allowance for living quarters or a 
flat rate of $30 per month, whichever amount was larger. In July of 
1963, the Senate heard testimony from DOD officials who generally 
agreed with the proposed legislation, but raised concerns about using 
the allowance for living quarters as a baseline. Their concerns were 
related to the complexity of determining the payments and the 
inequities associated with tying payment to rank. Ultimately, DOD 
proposed and the Congress accepted a flat rate of $30 per month for 
eligible personnel.

DOD Has Not Identified Frequent Deployments Less Than 30-days as a 
Family Separation Allowance Issue:

DOD has not identified frequent short-term deployments less than 
30-days as a family separation allowance issue. No proposals seeking 
modifications to the family separation allowance because of frequent 
short-term deployments have been provided to DOD for consideration as 
part of DOD's Unified Legislation and Budgeting process, which reviews 
personnel compensation proposals. Since 1994, a few proposals have been 
made seeking changes to allowance amounts and eligibility requirements. 
None of the proposals sought to change the 30-day eligibility 
threshold. Further, our discussions with OSD, service, and reserve 
officials did not reveal any concerns related to frequent short-term 
deployments and the family separation allowance. To analyze concerns 
that might be raised by those experiencing frequent short-term 
deployments, we conducted group discussions with Air Force strategic 
C-5 airlift aircrews at Travis Air Force Base, which we identified as 
an example of servicemembers who generally deploy for periods less than 
30 days. We did not identify any specific concerns regarding 
compensation received as a result of short-term deployments. We found 
that the C-5 aircrews were generally more concerned about the high pace 
of operations and associated unpredictability of their schedules, due 
to the negative impact on their quality of life, than about qualifying 
for the family separation allowance.

DOD's Proposals to Change Family Separation Allowance Have Been 
Minimal:

DOD has proposed few changes to the amount of the family separation 
allowance and no proposals have been submitted to alter the 30-day 
eligibility threshold. Our review of proposals submitted through DOD's 
Unified Legislation and Budgeting process revealed that DOD has 
considered one proposal to change the amount of the monthly family 
separation allowance since 1994. In 1997, an increase in the family 
separation allowance from $75 to $120 was proposed. This provision was 
not approved by DOD.

Since 1994, three modifications to the eligibility criteria have also 
been proposed. In 1994, a proposal was made to allow payment of the 
family separation allowance for members embarked on board a ship or on 
temporary duty for 30 consecutive days, whose family members were 
authorized to accompany the member but voluntarily chose not to do so. 
The proposal was endorsed by DOD and accepted by Congress. In 2001, DOD 
considered but ultimately rejected a similar proposal that would have 
applied to all members who elect to serve an unaccompanied tour of 
duty. The third proposal sought to modify the use of family separation 
allowance for joint military couples (i.e. one military member married 
to another military member). According to a DOD official, while this 
proposal was not endorsed by DOD, Congress ultimately passed 
legislation that clarified the use of family separation allowance for 
joint military couples. The family separation allowance is now payable 
to joint military couples, provided the members were residing together 
immediately before being separated by reason of their military orders. 
Although both may qualify for the allowance, only one monthly allowance 
may be paid to a joint military couple during a given month. If both 
members were to receive orders requiring departure on the same day, 
then payment would be made to the senior member.

Aircrews More Concerned about Unpredictability of Their Deployments 
Than Compensation:

Overall, C-5 aircrew members and aircrew leadership with whom we met 
noted that the unpredictability of missions was having more of an 
adverse impact on crewmembers' quality of life than the compensation 
they receive as a result of their deployments. For example, several 
aircrew members at Travis Air Force Base indicated that over the past 
two years, they have been called up on very short advance notice, as 
little as 12 hours, and sent on missions lasting several weeks, making 
it difficult to conduct personal business or make plans with their 
families. According to the aircrew members and both officer and 
enlisted leadership with whom we met, the unpredictability of their 
missions is expected to continue for the foreseeable future due to the 
global war on terrorism. Officials informed us that the average number 
of days by month that aircrew members have been deployed has increased 
since September 11, 2001, with periods of higher activity, or surges. 
For example, as shown in figure 1, the average number of days in 
September 2001 that AMC C-5 co-pilots were deployed was 9. Since then, 
the average number of days by month that C-5 co-pilots were deployed 
has fluctuated between 12 and 19. Prior to September 2001, available 
data shows a low monthly average of 5 days in January 2001.

Figure 1: Average Number of Days C-5 Co-Pilots Have Been Deployed, 
January 2001 through December 2003:

[See PDF for image]

Note: This data represents the average number of days C-5 co-pilots 
have been deployed. According to AMC, the deployment trends for 
co-pilots are representative of other C-5 aircrew members deployment 
activity.

[End of figure]

While the average number of days deployed has fluctuated, aircrew 
members expressed concern about the intermittent suspension of pre-and 
post-mission crew rest periods that have coincided with increased 
operations. Generally, these periods have been intended to ensure that 
aircrew members have enough rest prior to flying another mission. 
However, aircrew members noted that crew rest periods also allow them 
to perform other assigned duties and spend time with their families. 
During our discussion-group meetings, aircrew members indicated that 
the rest period after a mission had been reduced from as much as 4 days 
to as little as 12 hours due to operational needs.

Personnel Deployed Less Than 30 Days May Be Eligible to Receive 
Additional Compensation:

In addition to basic compensation, DOD has several special pays and 
allowances available to further compensate servicemembers deployed for 
less than 30 days. Servicemembers who are deployed domestically or 
overseas for less than 30 days may be eligible to receive regular per 
diem. The per diem amount varies depending upon location. 
Servicemembers also may be eligible to receive other pays and 
allowances, such as hazardous duty pay, mission-oriented hardship duty 
pay, and combat-zone tax exclusions. However, DOD has not implemented 
one special allowance designed, in part, to compensate those frequently 
deployed for short periods. Congress supported DOD's legislative 
proposal to authorize a monthly high-deployment allowance with passage 
of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004. This 
provision allows the services to compensate their members for lengthy 
deployments as well as frequent shorter deployments. However, DOD has 
not set a timetable for establishing criteria to implement this 
allowance.

Additional Compensation Available for Eligible Personnel Deployed 
Less Than 30 Days:

In addition to basic military pay, servicemembers who are deployed for 
less than 30 days may also be eligible to receive regular per diem, 
other special pays and allowances, and tax exclusions (see table 1).

Table 1: Special Pays and Allowances Available for Short-Term 
Deployments as of June 2004:

Type of special pay or allowance: Per diem; 
Purpose: To reimburse servicemembers for lodging, meal, and incidental 
expenses incurred while on government travel; 
Qualification requirements: Must perform temporary duty of more than 
12 hours at a location to receive any of the per diem rates for that 
location; 
Amount: Varies by location.

Type of special pay or allowance: Hostile fire and imminent danger pay; 
Purpose: To recognize members subject to hostile fire or explosion of 
hostile mine, or service in designated imminent danger area; 
Qualification requirements: Must be subject to event of hostile fire/
explosion of hostile mine, or must perform official duty in designated 
imminent danger area (e.g., Iraq); 
Amount: $225/month[A].

Type of special pay or allowance: Mission-oriented hardship duty pay; 
Purpose: To compensate a servicemembers' performance of a designated 
hardship mission; 
Qualification requirements: Must perform a designated hardship mission 
(e.g., remains recovery in remote area of Vietnam); 
Amount: $150/month.

Type of special pay or allowance: Combat-zone tax exclusion; 
Purpose: To recognize members while in a combat zone or a qualified 
hazardous duty area; 
Qualification requirements: Must perform official duty in a designated 
combat area (e.g., Persian Gulf); 
Amount: One month tax exclusion; amount varies based on taxable 
military pay. 

Source: GAO:

Note: Table does not include selected reenlistment bonuses or career 
incentive pays, such as aviator continuation pay.

[A] The amount of hostile fire and imminent danger pay last changed in 
1990 from $110 to $150 per month. The fiscal year 2003 Emergency 
Wartime Supplemental Appropriations Act temporarily increased the 
monthly rate of this pay from $150 to $225 per month. This increase has 
been extended through December 31, 2004. However, if Congress takes no 
further action, this rate will revert to $150 per month on January 1, 
2005.

[End of table]

Per Diem:

When servicemembers are performing temporary duty away from their 
permanent duty station, they are entitled to per diem, which provides 
reimbursement for meals, incidental expenses, and lodging.[Footnote 4] 
To be eligible for per diem, servicemembers must perform temporary duty 
for more than 12 hours at a location to receive any of the per diem 
rate for that location. The per diem rates are established by: the 
General Services Administration, the State Department, and DOD's Per 
Diem, Travel, and Transportation Allowance Committee. The rates range 
from $86 to $284 per day within the continental United States and from 
$20 to $533 per day when outside the continental United States, 
depending on whether government meals and lodging are provided. 
Aircrews can earn various per diem rates during the course of their 
travel. For example, a typical two-week mission for Travis C-5 aircrew 
members would take them to Dover Air Force Base, then to Moron, Spain, 
and then to Baghdad, Iraq. At each of these locations, the aircrews can 
spend a night allowing them to accrue applicable per diem rates for 
that location. According to the Air Force, per diem rates for a typical 
C-5 mission are as follows: $157 for Dover Air Force Base; $235 for 
Moron, Spain; and $154 for Baghdad, Iraq. In some cases, aircrews may 
receive a standard $3.50 per day for incidental expenses, when they are 
at locations where the government can provide meals and lodging. This 
is the standard per diem rate used to compensate servicemembers 
traveling outside of the continental United States when the government 
can provide lodging and meals.

Hostile Fire and Imminent Danger Pay:

Hostile Fire and Imminent Danger Pay are pays that provide additional 
compensation for duty performed in designated areas where the 
servicemembers are subject to hostile fire or imminent danger.[Footnote 
5] Both pays are derived from the same statue and cannot be collected 
simultaneously. Servicemembers are entitled to hostile fire pay, an 
event-based pay, if they are (1) subjected to hostile fire or explosion 
of hostile mines; (2) on duty in an area close to a hostile fire 
incident and in danger of being exposed to the same dangers actually 
experienced by other servicemembers subjected to hostile fire or 
explosion of hostile mines; or (3) killed, injured, or wounded by 
hostile fire, explosion of a hostile mine, or any other hostile action. 
Imminent danger pay is a threat based pay intended to compensate 
servicemembers in specifically designated locations, which pose a 
threat of physical harm or imminent danger due to civil insurrection, 
civil war, terrorism, or wartime conditions. To be eligible for this 
pay in a month, servicemembers must have served some time, one day or 
less, in one of the designated zones during the month. The authorized 
amount for hostile fire and imminent danger pay is $150 per month, 
although the fiscal year 2003 Emergency Wartime Supplemental 
Appropriations Act temporarily increased the amount to $225 per month. 
If Congress takes no further action, the rate will revert to $150 per 
month in January 2005.

Mission-Oriented Hardship Duty Pay:

Mission-oriented hardship duty pay compensates military personnel for 
duties designated by the Secretary of Defense as hardship duty due to 
the arduousness of the mission.[Footnote 6] Mission-oriented hardship 
duty pay is payable at a monthly rate up to $300, without prorating or 
reduction, when the member performs the specified mission during any 
part of the month. DOD has established that this pay be paid at a flat 
monthly rate of $150 per month. Active and Reserve component members 
who qualify, at any time during the month, receive the full monthly 
mission-oriented hardship duty pay, regardless of the period of time on 
active duty or the number of days they receive basic pay during the 
month. This pay is currently only available to servicemembers assigned 
to, on temporary duty with, or otherwise under the Defense Prisoner of 
War/Missing Personnel Office, the Joint Task Force-Full Accounting, or 
Central Identification Lab-Hawaii. Hardship duty includes missions such 
as locating and recovering the remains of U.S. servicemembers from 
remote, isolated areas including, but not limited to, areas in Laos, 
Cambodia, Vietnam, and North Korea.

Combat-Zone Tax Exclusion:

The combat-zone tax exclusion provides exclusion from federal income 
tax, as well as income tax in many states, to servicemembers serving in 
a presidentially designated combat zone or in a statutorily established 
hazardous duty area for any period of time.[Footnote 7] For example, 
although the C-5 aircrews at Travis and Dover Air Force Bases do not 
serve in a designated combat zone for an extended period of time, many 
of the missions that they fly may be within areas designated for 
combat-zone tax exclusion eligibility. Enlisted personnel and warrant 
officers may exclude all military compensation earned in the month in 
which they perform active military service in a combat-zone or 
qualified hazardous duty area for active military service from federal 
income tax. For commissioned officers, compensation is free of federal 
income tax up to the maximum amount of enlisted basic pay plus any 
imminent danger pay received.[Footnote 8]

DOD Has Not Developed Criteria to Implement the High Deployment 
Allowance:

DOD has not established criteria defining what constitutes frequent 
deployments, nor has it determined eligibility requirements in order to 
implement the high deployment allowance. DOD sought significant 
modifications to high deployment compensation through a legislative 
proposal to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 
2004. Congress had established a high deployment per diem as part of 
the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2000.[Footnote 
9] Pursuant to statutorily granted authority, on October 8, 2001, DOD 
waived application of the high deployment compensation in light of the 
ongoing military response to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 
2001. After implementing the waiver authority, DOD sought legislative 
changes to the high deployment compensation in an effort to better 
manage deployments.

DOD's proposal sought, among other things, to: (1) change high-
deployment compensation from a per diem rate to a monthly allowance, 
(2) reduce the dollar amount paid so that it was more in line with 
other special pays (e.g. hostile fire pay), and (3) allow DOD to 
recognize lengthy deployments as well as frequent deployments. The 
National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004 reflects many 
of DOD's proposed changes. The act changed the $100 per diem payment 
into an allowance not to exceed $1,000 per month. To help compensate 
those servicemembers who are frequently deployed, the act established a 
cumulative 2-year eligibility threshold not to exceed 401 days. Also, 
the act provided the Secretary of Defense with the authority to 
prescribe a cumulative threshold lower than 401 days.[Footnote 10] 
Depending upon where the Secretary of Defense establishes the 
cumulative threshold, servicemembers, such as the C-5 aircrews, serving 
multiple short-term deployments may be compensated through the high 
deployment allowance. Once a servicemembers' deployments exceed the 
established cumulative day threshold for the number of days deployed, 
the member is to be paid a monthly allowance not to exceed $1,000 per 
month at the beginning of the following month. From that point forward, 
the servicemember will continue to qualify for the allowance as long as 
the total number of days deployed during the previous 2-year period 
exceeds the cumulative threshold established by the Secretary of 
Defense. The high deployment allowance is in addition to per diem and 
any other special pays and allowances for which the servicemember might 
qualify. Moreover, the servicemember does not have to apply for the 
allowance, as the act mandated that DOD track and monitor days deployed 
and make payment accordingly. Finally, DOD may exclude specified duty 
assignments from eligibility for the high deployment allowance (e.g., 
sports teams or senior officers). According to DOD officials, this 
provision also provides additional flexibility in targeting the 
allowance to selected occupational specialties, by allowing DOD to 
exclude all occupations except those that it wishes to target for 
additional compensation because of retention concerns. The Senate 
report accompanying the bill that amended the high deployment provision 
encouraged DOD to promptly implement these changes.[Footnote 11] 
However, DOD officials told us that a timetable for establishing the 
criteria necessary to implement the high deployment allowance has not 
been set. Although we could not ascertain exactly why DOD had not taken 
action to implement the high deployment allowance, OSD officials 
informed us that the services had difficulty reaching agreement on what 
constitutes a deployment for purposes of the high deployment payment.

Conclusions:

The family separation allowance is directed at enlisted servicemembers 
and officers whose dependents incur extra expenses when the 
servicemember is deployed for more than 30 consecutive days. We found 
no reason to question the eligibility requirements that have been 
established for DOD's family separation allowance. We believe that no 
basis exists to change the 30-day threshold, as a problem has not been 
identified with the family separation allowance. Further, 
servicemembers who deploy for less than 30 days may be eligible to 
receive additional forms of compensation resulting from their 
deployment, such as per diem, other special pays and allowances, and 
tax exclusions.

Since the terrorists' attacks on September 11, 2001, some 
servicemembers have experienced more short-term deployments. Given the 
long-term nature of the global war on terrorism, this increase in the 
frequency of short-term deployments is expected to continue for the 
foreseeable future. DOD will need to assure adequate compensation for 
servicemembers using all available special pays and allowances in 
addition to basic pay. While the aircrews with whom we met did not 
express specific concerns about compensation, they, like other 
servicemembers, are concerned about quality-of-life issues. The high 
deployment allowance could help to address such issues for 
servicemembers, while helping to mitigate DOD's possible long-term 
retention concerns. Also, unlike the family separation allowance, the 
high deployment allowance could be used to compensate servicemembers 
regardless of whether or not they have dependents. Although the Senate 
report accompanying the bill that amended the high deployment provision 
encouraged DOD to promptly implement these changes, the Secretary of 
Defense has not taken action to implement the high deployment 
allowance.

Recommendations:

We recommend that the Secretary of Defense direct the Deputy 
Undersecretary of Defense (Personnel and Readiness), in concert with 
the Service Secretaries and the Commandant of the Marine Corps, to take 
the following three actions:

* set a timetable for establishing criteria to implement the high 
deployment allowance;

* define, as part of the criteria, what constitutes frequent short-term 
deployments within the context of the cumulative day requirement as 
stated in the high deployment allowance legislation; and:

* determine, as part of the criteria, eligibility requirements 
targeting the high deployment allowance to selected occupational 
specialties.

Agency Comments and Our Evaluation:

In written comments on a draft of this report, DOD partially concurred 
with our recommendations that it set a timetable for establishing 
criteria to implement the high deployment allowance and what the 
criteria should include. While DOD agreed that servicemembers should be 
recognized with additional pay for excessive deployments, it stated 
that DOD has not implemented the high deployment allowance because it 
views the high deployment allowance as a peacetime authority. Further, 
DOD stated that since we are in a wartime posture, it is more difficult 
to control the pace of deployments than during peacetime. DOD's 
response noted that it has elected to exercise the waiver given to it 
by Congress to suspend the entitlement for reasons of national 
security. DOD also noted that it has encouraged the use of other 
flexible pay authorities to compensate servicemembers who are away from 
home for inordinate periods. Finally, DOD stated that it would reassess 
the use of the high deployment allowance at some point in the future.

We do not believe that the nation's current wartime situation prevents 
DOD from taking our recommended actions. The first recommended action 
being to set a timetable for establishing criteria to implement the 
high deployment allowance. We did recognize in our report that pursuant 
to statutorily granted authority, on October 8, 2001, DOD waived 
application of the high deployment allowance in light of the ongoing 
military response to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. 
However, since then, DOD sought modifications through a legislative 
proposal to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004 
for more flexibilities to manage the high deployment compensation 
better. These additional flexibilities include providing DOD with the 
opportunity to tailor the allowance to meet current or expected needs. 
Since the purpose of special pays and allowances is primarily to help 
retain more servicemembers, the high deployment allowance could be used 
as another compensation tool to help retain servicemembers during a 
time of war. As our report clearly states, given the expectations for a 
long-term commitment to the war on terrorism, developing the criteria 
for implementing the high deployment allowance would provide DOD with 
an additional option for compensating those military personnel who are 
frequently deployed for short periods of time. Regarding DOD's use of 
other flexible pay authorities to compensate servicemembers who are 
away from home for inordinate periods, the examples DOD cites for 
lengthy or protracted deployments in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Korea are 
not applicable to those servicemembers deployed for less than 30 days, 
the focus of this review.

Finally, the vagueness of when and how the high deployment allowance 
will be implemented runs contrary to the congressional direction, which 
encouraged DOD to promptly implement the new high deployment allowance 
authority. Based on DOD's response, it is not clear when DOD intends to 
develop criteria to implement the high deployment allowance. We 
recommended that DOD set a timetable for establishing criteria to 
implement the high deployment allowance, not that DOD implement the 
allowance immediately. We believe that this recommendation is 
warranted, since establishing the criteria will make it possible for 
DOD to implement the high deployment allowance quickly, whenever it is 
deemed appropriate and necessary. DOD's comments are reprinted in their 
entirety in appendix I. DOD also provided technical comments, which we 
have incorporated as appropriate.

Scope and Methodology:

To assess the rationale for family separation allowance eligibility 
requirements, including the rationale for the 30-day threshold, we 
reviewed the legislative history concerning the family separation 
allowance and analyzed DOD policies implementing this pay. We also 
interviewed officials in the offices of the Under Secretary of Defense 
(Personnel and Readiness); the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air 
Force; the Commandant of the Marine Corps; the Air National Guard; and 
the Air Force Reserve.

To determine the extent to which DOD had identified frequent short-term 
deployments as a family separation allowance issue, we reviewed 
proposals submitted through DOD's Unified Legislation and Budgeting 
process. We met with compensation representatives from the Office of 
the Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel and Readiness) and each of 
the services. We interviewed officials with the Defense Manpower Data 
Center and the Defense Finance and Accounting Service. We sought to use 
DOD's database for tracking and monitoring deployments to determine the 
extent of servicemembers experiencing frequent deployments lasting less 
than 30 days. We were not able to use the database for the purposes of 
our report to discern the number of deployments by location lasting 
less than 30 days, since more than 40 percent of the data for location 
was not included in the database. In addition, the database did not 
contain information related to some types of non-deployment activities 
(e.g. training), which we deemed important to our review. We focused 
our study on the Air Force since the fiscal year 2003 Secretary of 
Defense Annual Report to the President and Congress showed that the Air 
force was the only service whose members were deployed less than 
30 days on average in fiscal year 2002. Further, through discussions 
with Air Force officials we identified strategic aircrews managed by 
the AMC as examples of those who would most likely be experiencing 
short-term deployments. We visited AMC, where we met with officials 
from personnel, operations, finance, and the tactical airlift command 
center. To understand the views of one group of short-term deployers, 
we visited Travis Air Force Base in California where we met with 
officer and enlisted leadership for the C-5 and KC-10 aircraft. We held 
discussion groups with 12 officers and 12 enlisted aircrew members from 
both aircraft, for a total of 48 aircrew members. We visited Dover Air 
Force Base in Delaware where we met with C-5 officer and enlisted 
leadership. We also met with officials representing personnel, 
operations, and finance offices at both Travis and Dover Air Force 
Bases. We assessed the reliability of AMC C-5 copilot deployment data, 
as well as data contained in the fiscal year 2003 Secretary of Defense 
Annual Report to the President and Congress. GAO's assessment consisted 
of (1) reviewing existing information about the data and the systems 
that produced them, (2) examining the electronic data for completeness, 
and (3) interviewing agency officials knowledgeable about the data. We 
determined that the data were sufficiently reliable for the purposes of 
this report.

To assess what special pays and allowances are available, in addition 
to basic compensation, to further compensate servicemembers deployed 
for less than 30 days, we identified special pays and allowances that 
do not have a time eligibility factor through the DOD's Military 
Compensation Background Papers, legislative research, and discussions 
with OSD officials. We reviewed the legislative history regarding 
recent legislative changes to special pays and allowances and how DOD 
has implemented these changes.

We are sending copies of this report to the Secretary of Defense; the 
Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel and Readiness); the Secretaries 
of the Army, the Air Force, and the Navy; the Commandant of the Marine 
Corps; and the Director, Office of Management and Budget. We will also 
make copies available to appropriate congressional committees and to 
other interested parties on request. In addition, the report will be 
available at no charge at the GAO Web site at http://www.gao.gov.

If you or your staff have any questions concerning this report, please 
call me at (202) 512-5559 or Brenda S. Farrell at (202) 512-3604. Major 
contributors to this report were Aaron M. Adams, Kurt A. Burgeson, 
Ann M. Dubois, Kenya R. Jones, and Ronald La Due Lake.

Signed by: 

Derek B. Stewart: 
Director, Defense Capabilities and Management:

List of Committees:

The Honorable John W. Warner: 
Chairman: 
The Honorable Carl Levin: 
Ranking Minority Member: 
Committee on Armed Services: 
United States Senate:

The Honorable Duncan L. Hunter: 
Chairman: 
The Honorable Ike Skelton: 
Ranking Minority Member: 
Committee on Armed Services: 
House of Representatives:

The Honorable Saxby Chambliss:
Chairman: 
The Honorable E. Benjamin Nelson: 
Ranking Minority Member: 
Subcommittee on Personnel:
Committee on Armed Services: 
United States Senate:

The Honorable John M. McHugh:
Chairman: 
The Honorable Vic Snyder: 
Ranking Minority Member: 
Subcommittee on Total Force:
Committee on Armed Services: 
House of Representatives:

[End of section]

Appendix I: Comments from the Department of Defense:

Note: A GAO comment supplementing those in the report text appears at 
the end of this appendix.

OFFICE OF THE UNDER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE 
4000 DEFENSE PENTAGON 
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20301-4000:

JUN 8 2004:

PERSONNEL AND READINESS:

Mr. Derek B. Stewart:

Director, Defense Capabilities and Management 
U.S. General Accounting Office:
Washington, D.C. 20548:

Dear Mr. Stewart:

This is the Department of Defense (DoD) response to the General 
Accounting Office draft report GAO-04-805, `MILITARY PERSONNEL: DoD Has 
Not Implemented the High Deployment Allowance That Could Compensate 
Service members Deployed Frequently for Short Periods," (GAO Code 
350467 (Review of Special Pays and Allowances for Frequent Short-term 
Deployers)).

The Department notes GAO has retitled the draft report by its primary 
finding, which does not address the study purpose - to review special 
pays and allowances for frequent short-term deployers. While 
technically factual, the new title leaves the impression the Department 
is not compensating Service members for serving in inordinate Personnel 
Tempo (PERSTEMPO) situations. That is not true. For just the month in 
which this report is issued, the Army will pay about $20 million to 
20,000 troops in Iraq for high deployment time alone. The payments, 
however, are being made under a statutory authority other than High 
Deployment Allowance (HDA) (for reasons explained in the enclosed 
response to the report recommendation). Our preference is that the 
title be amended to reflect the report content, not a single finding.

The report reflects that GAO found that Service members interviewed 
"did not identify any specific concerns regarding compensation received 
as a result of short-term deployments," that they indicated the 
increased tempo of operations being experienced is the issue of concern 
with them, not pay. While higher PERSTEMPO in the current wartime 
environment is an unfortunate fact, the Department recognizes that 
members incurring inordinate tempo should be paid additional 
compensation in recognition of the higher stress that incurs to the 
individual. To that end, the Department has implemented pay authorities 
to address specific PERSTEMPO issues for those in the force serving in 
the most arduous of circumstances, and has been reviewing alternatives 
to determine the best solution to financially recognize others in the 
force serving in high tempo (cumulative as well as consecutive) 
situations.

The reason the Department has not implemented HDA is primarily that we 
view HDA as a peacetime authority. The intent of the law was to have 
the Services control a member's personal tempo or pay for the failure 
to do so out of Operations and Maintenance funding. In recognition of 
the fact that Services can control tempo in 
peacetime but not wartime, Congress included a National Security Waiver 
in the law that allows the Secretary of Defense to suspend the 
entitlement for reasons of National Security.

GAO fails to acknowledge throughout the report that DoD has exercised 
the exact discretion Congress intended when it stipulated that HDA may 
be suspended during periods of national emergency --which is precisely 
the action the Department invoked following the events of September 11, 
2001, and the reason HDA is not currently implemented within the 
Department. The report, by contrast, leaves the impression the reason 
HDA has not been implemented is in part due to "the Services [having] 
had difficulty reaching agreement on what does constitute a deployment 
for purposes of the high deployment payment."

Further, GAO does not include in the report the numerous initiatives 
that have been implemented by DoD to address hardships for those 
serving protracted deployments, particularly in combat areas --which 
has been a major focus of DoD legislative, policy, and budget-
allocation actions. Finally, GAO presents no analysis supporting a 
different approach, and merely asserts that the absence of 
implementation of HDA is a problem without ever identifying why GAO 
believes it necessary and cost effective.

Notwithstanding the noted shortcomings, the Department partially 
concurs with the recommendation. The enclosed response to that 
recommendation clarifies current pay authorities being used to 
recognize those in the force serving in the highest deployment 
situations, and those being actively considered for other members. 
Detailed comments to the recommendations are enclosed. Technical 
comments were provided directly to GAO staff for consideration.

Comments or questions should be addressed to Ms. Nina Fountain at (703) 
693-1067, or nina.fountain@osd.mil.

Sincerely,

Signed by: 

Charles S. Abell: 
Principal Deputy:

Enclosures: As stated:

GAO DRAFT REPORT - DATED MAY 26, 2004 GAO CODE 350467/GAO-04-805:

"MILITARY PERSONNEL: DoD Has Not Implemented the High Deployment 
Allowance That Could Compensate Servicemembers Deployed Frequently for 
Short Periods":

DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE COMMENTS TO THE RECOMMENDATION:

RECOMMENDATION: GAO recommends that the Secretary of Defense direct the 
Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel and Readiness), in concert 
with the Service Secretaries and the Commandant of the Marine Corps, to 
take the following actions:

* set a timetable for establishing criteria to implement the high 
deployment allowance, 

* define, as part of the criteria, what constitutes 
frequent short-term deployments within the context of the cumulative 
day requirement as stated in the high deployment allowance legislation, 
and:

* determine, as part of the criteria, eligibility requirements 
targeting the high deployment allowance to selected occupational 
specialties (p. 18/GAO Draft Report):

DOD RESPONSE: Partially concur. The Department agrees in principle with 
the underlying intent of GAO's recommendation, which we understand to 
be that the Department establish a program to financially recognize 
members deployed inordinately (on a cumulative as well as continuous 
basis). Certain special pays and benefits already extend to members 
during deployments as outlined in this report. Those deployed into 
dangerous areas (such as Iraq) for even brief periods, as noted in the 
report, receive a full month's Imminent Danger Pay and Combat Zone Tax 
Exclusion. The report is clear that the members GAO interviewed "did 
not identify any specific concerns regarding compensation received as a 
result of short-term deployments," that members GAO interviewed 
indicated the increased tempo of operations they've been experiencing 
is the issue of concern with them, not pay. Increased tempo is an 
unfortunate direct result of the current wartime operating environment.

The Department has been reviewing with the Services alternatives to the 
High Deployment Allowance (HDA) authority since mid-2003 to determine 
the best way to financially recognize members who serve in a high tempo 
situation in the current wartime scenario, to include Hardship Duty Pay 
(HDP) (37 USC §305). High Deployment Per Diem (HDPD) (the predecessor 
to HDA), enacted in the FY2000 NDAA, was created as a peace-time 
authority. It entitled members performing in specified deployment tempo 
situations to $100 per diem. The intent of that HDPD law was to force 
the Services to control individual member tempo or pay the price for 
its decision out of Operations and Maintenance (O&M) funding. In 
recognition of the fact that Services can control tempo in peacetime 
but not wartime, Congress included a National Security Waiver in the 
law, it allows the Secretary of Defense to suspend the entitlement for 
reasons of National Security. As the country was moving into a wartime 
stance after September 11, 2001, the Department appropriately exercised 
the National Security Waiver provision. While Interim PERSTEMPO Policy 
Guidance was issued in November 2001, the National Security Wavier 
remains in effect.

In spring 2003, the Department pursued an amendment to the HDPD statute 
to change the authority from a per diem to a monthly allowance, the 
mandated payment from O&M dollars was kept in force. The Department has 
not implemented HDA to date, but has been using other special pay 
authorities to financially recognize members inordinately deployed in 
the most arduous of circumstances. For example, members in Iraq and 
Afghanistan serving beyond 12 months are receiving additional pay (in 
Assignment Incentive Pay) in recognition of the extended service in 
these areas. Using a pay authority other than the HDA authority for 
this purpose accomplishes two goals: members incurring the highest 
deployment tempo in the most arduous circumstances are financially 
recognized for that service, and it does not draw on O&M dollars needed 
to equip the force in wartime.

The Department is working with the Services to recognize other groups 
of members away from home for inordinate periods, using flexible pay 
authorities other than HDA. For example, under the current operating 
environment, some members who logically should qualify for additional 
compensation in recognition of extended "away time" could not be so 
recognized with HDA but their extended time away could be recognized 
with other pay authorities such as Hardship Duty Pay. Briefly, under 
the HDA law, permanent duty assignments would not count as deployed for 
HDA; thus, a member could be away from his or her family for 12 months 
on a short permanent duty tour but not considered "deployed." 
Therefore, if a member serving without his or her dependents in Korea 
is in a unit then sent to Iraq, the member's "deployment" time would 
start upon commencing service in Iraq, when the individual could 
already have been away from the spouse and children for 12 months at 
that point. Hardship Duty Pay gives us the flexibility to structure a 
pay program that would recognize the time in Korea, where the HDA 
statutory authority would not.

The work in progress to date considers a cumulative day criteria for 
qualification; however, it does not consider targeting the special pay 
or allowance to selected occupational specialties. Regardless of the 
occupation in which a member serves, serving in a personal tempo 
situation beyond the established norm results in an arduousness for the 
member that the Department believes should be financially recognized.

In conclusion, the Department views High Deployment Allowance as a 
better fit in peace-than war-time. However, the Department fully agrees 
members should be recognized with additional pay for inordinate tempo, 
it has in measured steps been implementing the appropriate pay 
authorities for this purpose for those in the force incurring 
inordinate PERSTEMPO under the most arduous of circumstances, and is 
pursuing the implementation of a program that will include recognition 
of others serving in high tempo situations, to include cumulative as 
well as consecutive inordinate tempo. At an appropriate point in the 
future, the Department will reassess with the Services the 
appropriateness of continuing recognition of high PERSTEMPO under pay 
authorities other than HDA authority, or implementing the HDA 
authority. Decisions pertaining to HDA implementation timelines, as well 
as criteria for what constitutes frequent short-term deployments within 
the context of the cumulative day requirement as stated in the HDA 
statutory authority, would logically follow.

Note: Page numbers in the draft report may differ from those in this 
report.

GAO's Comment:

1. The purpose of our congressionally directed review was to assess the 
special pays and allowances available to DOD that could be used to 
compensate servicemembers who are frequently deployed for less than 
30 days. Consequently, our scope did not include an assessment of 
compensation for servicemembers serving lengthy, or protracted, 
deployments of 30 days or more. We found that DOD has available and is 
using several special pays and allowances, in addition to basic 
compensation, to further compensate servicemembers deployed for less 
than 30 days. However, we also found that DOD has one special 
allowance, the high deployment allowance, that is not available to 
provide further compensation to servicemembers who frequently deploy 
for less than 30 days and that DOD has not set a timetable to establish 
criteria to implement the allowance. During our review, we could not 
ascertain exactly why DOD had not taken action to develop criteria for 
implementing the high deployment allowance. During several discussions, 
OSD officials stated that the services had difficulty reaching 
agreement on what constitutes a deployment for the purposes of the high 
deployment payment. DOD's response to our draft report noted that it 
has elected to exercise the waiver given to it by Congress to suspend 
the high deployment allowance for reasons of national security. We 
recognized this waiver in our report. We also noted that after DOD 
waived application of the high deployment payment on October 8, 2001, 
DOD sought legislative modifications of the high deployment payment 
that would give it more flexibilities to better manage this type of 
compensation. Congress granted DOD these flexibilities and encouraged 
DOD to promptly implement these changes. As noted in our report, given 
the expectations for a long-term commitment to the war on terrorism, 
developing the criteria for implementing the new high deployment 
allowance would provide DOD with an additional option for compensating 
those military personnel who are frequently deployed for short periods 
of time. Also, the high deployment allowance, unlike the family 
separation allowance, could be used to compensate servicemembers 
regardless of whether or not they have dependents and thus would reach 
more servicemembers.

[End of section]

Related GAO Products:

Military Personnel: Active Duty Compensation and Its Tax Treatment. 
GAO-04-721R. Washington, D.C.: May 7, 2004.

Military Personnel: Observations Related to Reserve Compensation, 
Selective Reenlistment Bonuses, and Mail Delivery to Deployed Troops. 
GAO-04-582T. Washington, D.C.: March 24, 2004.

Military Personnel: Bankruptcy Filings among Active Duty Service 
Members. GAO-04-465R. Washington, D.C.: February 27, 2004.

Military Pay: Army National Guard Personnel Mobilized to Active Duty 
Experienced Significant Pay Problems. GAO-04-89. Washington, D.C.: 
November 13, 2003.

Military Personnel: DOD Needs More Effective Controls to Better Assess 
the Progress of the Selective Reenlistment Bonus Program. GAO-04-86. 
Washington, D.C.: November 13, 2003.

Military Personnel: DFAS Has Not Met All Information Technology 
Requirements for Its New Pay System. GAO-04-149R. Washington, D.C.: 
October 20, 2003.

Military Personnel: DOD Needs More Data to Address Financial and Health 
Care Issues Affecting Reservists. GAO-03-1004. Washington, D.C.: 
September 10, 2003.

Military Personnel: DOD Needs to Assess Certain Factors in Determining 
Whether Hazardous Duty Pay Is Warranted for Duty in the Polar Regions. 
GAO-03-554. Washington, D.C.: April 29, 2003.

Military Personnel: Preliminary Observations Related to Income, 
Benefits, and Employer Support for Reservists During Mobilizations. 
GAO-03-573T. Washington, D.C.: March 19, 2003.

Military Personnel: Oversight Process Needed to Help Maintain Momentum 
of DOD's Strategic Human Capital Planning. GAO-03-237. Washington, 
D.C.: December 5, 2002.

Military Personnel: Management and Oversight of Selective Reenlistment 
Bonus Program Needs Improvement. GAO-03-149. Washington, D.C.: November 
25, 2002.

Military Personnel: Active Duty Benefits Reflect Changing Demographics, 
but Opportunities Exist to Improve. GAO-02-935. Washington, D.C.: 
September 18, 2002.

FOOTNOTES

[1] Basic military compensation consists of basic pay, basic allowance 
for housing, basic allowance for subsistence, and the federal tax 
advantage. The federal tax advantage is to account for the tax-free 
status of housing and subsistence allowances. It is the added amount of 
taxable income that servicemembers would have to receive in cash if 
housing and subsistence allowances were to become taxable in order for 
them to be as well off in after-tax income as they are under the 
existing system. Basic compensation does not include special and 
incentive pays, other allowances, and the value of fringe benefits such 
as health care and retirement.

[2] Data on the total annual number of family separation allowance 
recipients was not available.

[3] Air Force officials also identified other occupations that have 
been frequently deployed for less than 30 days such as flying crew 
chiefs, who are responsible for launch, recovery, inspection, 
servicing, and maintenance of aircraft. Other service officials 
identified inspection team members as another example of personnel who 
are deployed frequently for short periods.

[4] 37 U.S.C. § 404 and § 405 

[5] 37 U.S.C. § 310 

[6] 37 U.S.C. § 305 authorizes special pay for uniformed servicemembers 
performing hardship duty and directs the Secretary of Defense to 
prescribe regulations implementing hardship duty pay. There are two 
types of hardship duty pay--hardship duty pay for mission assignment 
and hardship duty pay for location assignment. Hardship duty pay for 
location assignment is payable to members for duty in a designated 
hardship location for more than 30 consecutive days. Personnel must be 
in a designated hardship location at least 31 days to qualify for this 
pay.

[7] 26 U.S.C. § 112 

[8] In 2004, the maximum amount of compensation for commissioned 
officers that is eligible for combat zone tax exclusion is $6,091 plus 
$225 (imminent danger pay), or $6,316 per month.

[9] 37 U.S.C § 436

[10] The act also established a maximum 191-day consecutive day 
deployment threshold. The Secretary of Defense was given the authority 
to prescribe a lower consecutive day threshold.

[11] S. Rept. 108-46

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