This is the accessible text file for GAO report number GAO-07-93 
entitled 'Military Personnel: Reserve Components Need Guidance to 
Accurately and Consistently Account for Volunteers on Active Duty for 
Operational Support' which was released on November 1, 2006. 

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Report to Congressional Committees: 

United States Government Accountability Office: 

GAO: 

October 2006: 

Military Personnel: 

Reserve Components Need Guidance to Accurately and Consistently Account 
for Volunteers on Active Duty for Operational Support: 

GAO-07-93: 

GAO Highlights: 

Highlights of GAO-07-93, a report to congressional committees 

Why GAO Did This Study: 

The Department of Defense (DOD) and Congress have expressed concern 
with the frequency and length of time that volunteer reservists serve 
on active duty. In fiscal year 2006, DOD nearly doubled its fiscal year 
2005 estimate for the total maximum levels of reservists volunteering 
to be on active duty for operational support, as shown in the table. 
Congress required GAO to review the reasons behind the increases and 
expressed an interest in understanding which reservists were being 
included or excluded from these numbers. In this report, GAO (1) 
identified the factors that led to the increase in DOD’s requests for 
the maximum number of volunteer reserve personnel authorized to be on 
active duty for operational support since DOD’s initial request in 
fiscal year 2005 and (2) assessed the extent to which the reserve 
components have consistently reported the number of reservists serving 
in an operational support capacity since 2005. In conducting this 
review, GAO analyzed agency documents and interviewed DOD officials. 

What GAO Found: 

DOD’s requested authorization levels for reserve personnel voluntarily 
on active duty for operational support grew substantially between 
fiscal years 2005 and 2006 for two reasons. First, when developing its 
fiscal year 2005 estimate, DOD used data reported annually that 
excluded some reservists serving in operational support capacities. 
Second, the definition of operational support was not included with the 
legislation and DOD did not distribute an official definition until 6 
months after the fiscal year 2005 authorized levels were in place. 
Based on the published definition and greater outreach to personnel 
responsible for monitoring the number of volunteers for this type of 
active duty, most reserve components submitted higher estimates for 
maximum levels for fiscal year 2006. DOD submitted the same estimates 
in fiscal year 2007 as fiscal year 2006 because the number of 
volunteers did not change greatly. 

The reserve components have not been consistently identifying the 
number of reservists serving in an operational support capacity since 
this monthly reporting requirement was adopted in fiscal year 2005. The 
reserve components are inconsistently including certain categories of 
personnel in their reported numbers. For example, two of the six 
reserve components do not include personnel serving as voluntarily 
recalled retired reservists in their reported totals, even though this 
category is listed in DOD’s definition of operational support. In 
addition, only three of the six components include reservists serving 
on extended active duty missions in their reported numbers. GAO also 
found that the Navy Reserve erroneously submitted cumulative amounts 
instead of the highest amount of volunteer reservists each month for 6 
months, so that it appeared to exceed its maximum authorized level 
three times. DOD is implementing a change to its Defense Manpower and 
Data Center to systematically generate the highest count of reservists 
each month, but the effectiveness of this change depends on whether the 
components update and align their policies and systems to provide these 
data. DOD is in the process of developing an instruction and only four 
of the reserve components have updated or have plans to update their 
guidance to clarify and consistently define what categories to include 
when accounting for these operational support reservists. Without 
updating and aligning their guidance, inconsistencies and errors in the 
reported numbers of operational support reservists may continue. 

Table 1: Maximum Authorized Number of Active Duty Reserve Personnel for 
Operational Support from Fiscal Years 2005 to 2006: 

Maximum number of reservists authorized to be on active duty for 
operational support: Army Reserve; 
Fiscal year 2005: 5,000; 
Fiscal year 2006: 13,000; 
Difference from fiscal year 2005 to fiscal year 2006: 8,000; 
Percentage change from fiscal year 2005 to fiscal year 2006: 160%. 

Maximum number of reservists authorized to be on active duty for 
operational support: Army National Guard; 
Fiscal year 2005: 10,300; 
Fiscal year 2006: 17,000; 
Difference from fiscal year 2005 to fiscal year 2006: 6,700; 
Percentage change from fiscal year 2005 to fiscal year 2006: 65%. 

Maximum number of reservists authorized to be on active duty for 
operational support: Navy Reserve; 
Fiscal year 2005: 6,200; 
Fiscal year 2006: 6,200; 
Difference from fiscal year 2005 to fiscal year 2006: 0; 
Percentage change from fiscal year 2005 to fiscal year 2006: 0%. 

Maximum number of reservists authorized to be on active duty for 
operational support: Marine Corps Reserve; 
Fiscal year 2005: 2,500; 
Fiscal year 2006: 3,000; 
Difference from fiscal year 2005 to fiscal year 2006: 500; 
Percentage change from fiscal year 2005 to fiscal year 2006: 20%. 

Maximum number of reservists authorized to be on active duty for 
operational support: Air National Guard; 
Fiscal year 2005: 10,100; 
Fiscal year 2006: 16,000; 
Difference from fiscal year 2005 to fiscal year 2006: 5,900; 
Percentage change from fiscal year 2005 to fiscal year 2006: 58%. 

Maximum number of reservists authorized to be on active duty for 
operational support: Air Force Reserve; 
Fiscal year 2005: 3,600; 
Fiscal year 2006: 14,000; 
Difference from fiscal year 2005 to fiscal year 2006: 10,400; 
Percentage change from fiscal year 2005 to fiscal year 2006: 289%. 

Maximum number of reservists authorized to be on active duty for 
operational support: Total; 
Fiscal year 2005: 37,700; 
Fiscal year 2006: 69,200; 
Difference from fiscal year 2005 to fiscal year 2006: 31,500; 
Percentage change from fiscal year 2005 to fiscal year 2006: 84%. 

Source: GAO analysis of DOD data. 

[End of table] 

What GAO Recommends: 

GAO recommends that DOD and the reserve components develop guidance to 
clarify and consistently define the categories of operational support 
that should be included in the reported amounts. In commenting on a 
draft of this report, DOD concurred with the recommendation. 

[Hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-07-93]. 

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

[End of Section] 

Contents: 

Letter: 

Results in Brief: 

Background: 

Conclusions: 

Recommendation for Executive Action: 

Agency Comments: 

Appendix I: Scope and Methodology: 

Appendix II: Comments from the Department of Defense: 

Appendix III: GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments: 

Table: 

Table 1: Maximum Authorized Number of Active Duty Reserve Personnel for 
Operational Support from Fiscal Years 2005 to 2006: 

Abbreviations: 

DMDC: Defense Manpower and Data Center: 
DOD: Department of Defense: 
FY: fiscal year: 
NDAA: National Defense Authorization Act: 

United States Government Accountability Office: 
Washington, DC 20548: 

October 31, 2006: 

The Honorable John C. 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: 

Since the end of the Cold War, the reserve components[Footnote 1] have 
become an integral part of military operations. As of May 2006, the 
Ready Reserve comprised roughly 44 percent of the total military force. 
The Department of Defense (DOD) has increasingly relied on both 
involuntarily mobilized and volunteer reservists since the first Gulf 
War, as well as in a series of military operations from 1994 through 
2001 for contingencies in Haiti, Bosnia, Southwest Asia, and Kosovo. 
Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, DOD has depended 
more heavily on the reserves for overseas operations and homeland 
missions. The department and Congress have expressed concern with the 
frequency and length of time that volunteer reservists are mobilized or 
voluntarily serve on active duty, which can lead to overuse of 
reservists and stress on the reserve force, impairing the availability 
and ability of reservists to respond quickly to contingency 
missions.[Footnote 2] 

Prior to October 2004, the extent to which reservists could volunteer 
to serve in military operations was restricted by legislation, which 
became known as the 180-day rule. The rule stated that DOD must count 
in its congressionally authorized, active duty, annual end strength 
levels any reservist serving in an active duty role and performing 
special work for longer than 180 days. As a result of the rule, DOD 
could use reservists to perform mission-essential tasks for a limited 
period of time without considering them as a permanent addition to the 
force. DOD officials believed this rule limited volunteerism, service 
continuity, and their flexibility in using volunteer reservists in a 
variety of missions. To work around this rule, the services allowed 
reservists to volunteer multiple times in succession as long as each 
active duty service tour lasted fewer than 180 days. These actions 
resulted in volunteer reservists serving on active duty for extended 
periods of time without being accounted for under the active duty end 
strength numbers. 

Enacted in October 2004, the Ronald Reagan National Defense 
Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2005 (NDAA) included a mechanism to 
provide oversight over the number of reservists volunteering to be on 
active duty for operational support. The act eliminated the 180-day 
rule and created a requirement for Congress to annually authorize the 
maximum number of volunteer reserve personnel to be on active duty for 
operational support purposes. The act did not define the term 
operational support, but provided for the Secretary of Defense to 
define operational support in a separately published regulation. The 
act also provided that a reservist on active or full-time National 
Guard duty for a period greater than 3 years or for a cumulative period 
of more than 3 years within the past 4 years was to be counted against 
the active duty end strength authorization. DOD then required the 
reserve components to report their monthly highest numbers of these 
reservists in order to monitor that they did not exceed their maximum 
authorized levels. In the NDAA for Fiscal Year 2006, most of the 
reserve components had significantly increased their estimates for the 
maximum number of reserves authorized to be on active duty for 
operational support. The total authorization level nearly doubled 
compared to the fiscal year 2005 authorization level. DOD's fiscal year 
2007 requested authorization for volunteer reservists remained 
consistent with the fiscal year 2006 maximum levels. 

Congress required that we review the reasons behind the increases from 
fiscal year 2005 to fiscal year 2006, as well as the factors used to 
develop the fiscal year 2007 levels.[Footnote 3] Congress also 
expressed an interest in understanding which reservists were being 
included or excluded from the number of reservists activated for 
operational support purposes. The objectives of this report are to (1) 
identify the factors that led to the increase in requests for the 
maximum number of volunteer reserve personnel authorized to be on 
active duty for operational support since fiscal year 2005 and (2) 
assess the extent to which the reserve components have consistently 
reported the number of reservists serving in an operational support 
capacity since 2005. 

To identify the factors that led to the increase in the number of 
authorized personnel, we reviewed policies, implementing guidance, and 
regulations, analyzed key legislation, and interviewed Office of the 
Assistant Secretary of Defense Reserve Affairs and reserve component 
officials to gain an understanding of their roles and effectiveness in 
developing the authorization levels for reservists on active duty for 
operational support. To determine the reliability of the estimates for 
the maximum authorization levels for the reserve components, we 
gathered reserve component officials' perspectives on their data 
systems in the collecting and reporting of reserve numbers to DOD. To 
determine the extent to which the reserve components have consistently 
reported the number of reservists serving in an operational support 
capacity, we obtained documentation and discussed with reserve 
officials the consistency in application of the guidelines, including 
information on the structure of reserve data systems and the process 
for collecting and recording the numbers of reservists. The components 
and DOD also provided the highest number of reservists each month as 
reported to DOD. We found inaccuracies and inconsistencies in the data, 
based in part on definitional problems of categories of reservists to 
be included in reported numbers, generating data that we believe are 
not sufficiently reliable. As a result, we make a recommendation for 
executive action to improve the accuracy and consistency of information 
that is reported across the components. We conducted our review from 
June 2006 through September 2006, in accordance with generally accepted 
government auditing standards. The scope and methodology used in our 
review are described further in appendix I. 

Results in Brief: 

DOD's request for volunteer reserve personnel authorized to be on 
active duty for operational support grew between fiscal years 2005 and 
2006 primarily due to two key factors: data used by DOD to prepare its 
fiscal year 2005 estimate did not accurately reflect all the reservists 
voluntarily serving in operational support capacities and DOD had not 
defined what constituted operational support prior to submitting the 
fiscal year 2005 estimate. According to DOD officials, when it 
developed its initial submission for maximum authorization levels, the 
department based its estimates on data reported annually by the reserve 
components for other purposes. The data excluded some reservists 
serving in operational support capacities. Once the numbers requested 
for fiscal year 2005 were approved by Congress and communicated 
throughout the reserve components, reserve officials with greater 
insight over the reservists serving in an operational support role 
realized that the estimates were too low and did not reflect the actual 
numbers of reservists serving in this capacity. Further complicating 
the issue, DOD's definition of operational support was not agreed upon 
or distributed until April 26, 2005, approximately 6 months after the 
fiscal year 2005 authorized maximum levels were in place. Based on the 
published definition and greater outreach to gather appropriate data 
from the personnel responsible for monitoring the number of individuals 
who volunteered for this type of active duty, most reserve components 
revised the fiscal year 2005 numbers and submitted higher estimates for 
the maximum authorized levels for fiscal year 2006. DOD submitted the 
same maximum levels for fiscal year 2007 as in fiscal year 2006 because 
there were no significant increases or decreases. 

The reserve components have not consistently or accurately identified 
the number of reservists serving in an operational support capacity 
since this monthly reporting requirement was adopted in fiscal year 
2005. The reserve components are inconsistently including certain 
categories of personnel in their reported numbers, and components had 
different definitions of the personnel included within some reported 
categories. For example, the Army Reserve and the Army National Guard 
do not include personnel that are serving as voluntarily recalled 
retired reservists in their reported amounts, even though this category 
is listed in DOD's definition of operational support. Army personnel 
stated that these reservists are included in their active duty end 
strength numbers. In addition, only three of the six reserve components 
include in their reported numbers reservists who are serving on 
extended active duty missions, and two of these components have 
different definitions of the personnel included in this category. We 
also found that instead of reporting the highest number of these 
reservists each month, the Navy Reserve submitted cumulative numbers of 
reservists for 6 months, which led to erroneously reporting that it 
exceeded its maximum authorized level three times. According to Navy 
officials, these errors were caused by lack of access to personnel data 
due to Hurricane Katrina, and the errors were ultimately corrected. 

To help address these inconsistencies and errors, DOD is implementing a 
change in its Defense Manpower and Data Center (DMDC) to enable DOD to 
systematically generate the number of each component's operational 
support reservists. However, the effectiveness of this automated 
reporting change depends on the components, which are responsible for 
updating and aligning their policies and systems to provide accurate 
data to DMDC. DOD is still in the process of developing a draft 
instruction and only four of the reserve components have updated or 
have plans in place to update their guidance to clarify and 
consistently define what categories of reservist to include when 
accounting for those performing operational support duties. 
Inconsistencies and errors in the reported numbers of operational 
support reservists may continue until DOD and the reserve components 
uniformly update their guidance to clarify and consistently define what 
categories of reservist to include in their reported numbers. Until 
this is accomplished, DOD and Congress do not have a clear picture of 
how many volunteer reservists are currently on active duty serving in 
an operational support capacity. We are recommending that DOD and the 
reserve components develop guidance that clarifies and defines the 
categories of operational support that should be included in the 
reported numbers so that accurate and consistent information is 
reported across the components. In its comments on a draft of this 
report, DOD concurred with our recommendation. 

Background: 

Although reserve personnel have been used for contingency and emergency 
operations through the involuntary "Presidential Reserve Call-up" and 
"Partial Mobilization" authorities, a significant number of reserve 
personnel on active duty for these and other missions have been 
provided on a voluntary basis.[Footnote 4] Agency officials stated that 
these volunteer reservists' roles could include filling in for an 
existing active duty mission temporarily (such as an infantryman or 
pilot), providing needed special skills (civil affairs or engineer), or 
participating in training exercises that result in support to active 
duty missions. Legislation has evolved since 1980 to provide DOD with 
more flexibility in managing these volunteer reservists. 

The Defense Officer Personnel Management Act[Footnote 5] was passed in 
1980 to amend Title 10 of the U.S. Code. The act required that Congress 
annually authorize total strength levels for each military service for 
active duty personnel, with some exceptions. The act also established 
the 180-day rule for reserve members serving on active duty for special 
work. Reserve members on active duty who performed special work for 180 
days or fewer were excluded from being counted against active duty 
personnel end-strengths. 

Title 10 of the U.S. Code at Section 115, which governs personnel 
strengths for the military, gave authority to the Secretary of Defense 
to vary active duty and Selected Reserve end-strengths above the level 
authorized by Congress. Prior to October 2004, the Secretary of Defense 
could increase active duty end strength paid by active duty funds by up 
to 3 percent, increase the end strength for active duty and National 
Guard paid by reserve funds by up to 2 percent, and vary the end 
strength authorized for the Selected Reserve by up to 2 
percent.[Footnote 6] 

On October 28, 2004, the NDAA for Fiscal Year 2005 was 
enacted.[Footnote 7] The act amended 10 U.S.C. § 115 by establishing an 
annual authorization requirement for the maximum number of reserve 
personnel authorized to be on active duty for operational support, thus 
creating a new accounting category. It also added a provision that 
allows the Secretary of Defense to increase the maximum strength 
authorized for certain reservists voluntarily on active duty to perform 
operational support by up to 10 percent.[Footnote 8] 

Authorization Levels Increased Due to Inaccurate Information and Lack 
of an Operational Support Definition: 

DOD's estimates for the maximum number of volunteer reservists 
authorized to be on active duty for operational support increased 
between fiscal year 2005 and fiscal year 2006 as a result of two key 
factors. First, DOD developed its fiscal year 2005 estimates using 
inaccurate data from a data source that could not distinguish volunteer 
reservists on active duty for missions that would be considered 
operational support from other reservists. Second, DOD did not formally 
define operational support prior to establishment of its fiscal year 
2005 maximum authorized levels and did not release a definition of 
operational support until 6 months after the maximum authorized levels 
were passed under the NDAA. DOD increased its estimates for fiscal year 
2006 after the reserve components reviewed historical numbers of these 
reservists based on the published operational support definition. For 
the fiscal year 2007 estimates, the reserve components submitted the 
same maximum levels as fiscal year 2006 because there were no 
substantial increases or decreases in their numbers, according to DOD 
officials. 

DOD Based Its Initial Request on Data That Did Not Accurately Reflect 
the Number of Volunteer Reservists on Active Duty for Operational 
Support: 

One key factor that contributed to the increase in authorization levels 
requested for fiscal year 2006 was that DOD's initial request for 
fiscal year 2005 was not developed using data that accurately reflected 
the maximum number of reservists on voluntary active duty for 
operational support. In developing the estimate submitted for the 
fiscal year 2005 NDAA, DOD used data that was provided by the reserve 
components for other purposes. DOD derived its estimates from an annual 
data call where reserve components provide information about 
reservists' activities throughout the year. These data identified 
reservists involved in such missions as domestic emergencies, counter- 
drug activities, major exercises, and mobilizations. According to a DOD 
official, they compiled the estimates from various categories that 
represented what they considered operational support. They 
automatically eliminated some categories from their count, such as some 
counter-drug activities and mobilizations, because they assumed that 
the reported data in these categories only included involuntary active 
duty reservists. DOD informally provided the estimates to the reserve 
components for their review, but had to submit the estimates before 
some reserve components could respond. 

After the authorized levels were approved by Congress in the fiscal 
year 2005 NDAA and communicated throughout the reserve components, 
reserve officials with greater insight over the reservists serving in 
an operational support role realized that the estimates did not reflect 
the actual numbers of reservists serving in this capacity. Officials 
from the reserve components informed DOD that the maximum numbers 
requested were too low for force requirements. According to a DOD 
official, they scrutinized their initial data review and found that the 
information extracted from the data did not distinguish involuntarily 
activated reservists from voluntarily activated reservists. Once they 
realized that the data did not separate out voluntary and involuntary 
reservists, they recognized that some of the data from categories that 
had been excluded, such as mobilizations, should not have been 
completely excluded since it contained some volunteers. DOD's lack of 
formal coordination with the reserve components and its reliance upon 
existing data that did not specifically identify volunteer reservists 
on active duty for operational support contributed to DOD submitting a 
low estimate for fiscal year 2005. 

DOD Lacked a Definition of Operational Support Prior to its Fiscal Year 
2005 Estimate: 

Another key factor that contributed to the increase in DOD's fiscal 
year 2006 estimate for the maximum number of reservists authorized was 
that DOD did not have a definition of operational support prior to its 
initial estimate for fiscal year 2005. When the fiscal year 2005 NDAA 
was enacted on October 28, 2004, the act did not provide a definition 
for operational support to apply to the maximum authorization levels, 
but instead required the Secretary of Defense to prescribe by 
regulation the meaning of the term operational support.[Footnote 9] 

After the fiscal year 2005 NDAA was enacted, DOD met with reserve 
component officials in response to their concerns about the low 
authorization levels and also to develop a definition for operational 
support. In collaboration with the components, DOD established a 
definition for operational support, and on April 26, 2005-- 
approximately 6 months after the fiscal year 2005 authorization levels 
for reserve personnel were made law--released the official definition 
with some accounting and reporting guidelines. DOD defined operational 
support as: active duty, other than mobilized active guard and reserve 
duty, voluntarily performed by reservists; full-time duty, other than 
mobilized active guard and reserve duty, voluntarily performed by 
National Guard members; and active duty for training performed at the 
request of an operational commander, or as the result of reimbursable 
funding. The definition of operational support included: 

* active duty for special work,[Footnote 10] 

* active duty and active duty for training performed as the result of 
reimbursable funding, 

* funeral honors duty performed not in an inactive duty status, 

* voluntary active duty performed by recall reserve retirees not 
receiving regular retired pay, and: 

* active duty training performed as a result of a request of an 
operational commander to provide support. 

The guidelines created a requirement for components to report to DOD 
the highest number of operational support reservists each month. Once 
the definition for operational support was established, reserve 
component officials that had direct responsibility for monitoring 
reserve personnel end strength reviewed historical data from their 
internal systems on the number of volunteer reservists serving in the 
areas included under the definition. The components determined that the 
numbers that were in fiscal year 2005 NDAA did not accurately reflect 
the number of reservists performing operational support. Most of the 
reserve components then submitted higher estimates for the maximum 
authorized levels in the fiscal year 2006 NDAA. Table 1 shows that five 
out of six reserve components provided larger maximum levels for fiscal 
year 2006, and the total authorization level nearly doubled compared to 
the fiscal year 2005 authorization level. 

Table 1: Maximum Authorized Number of Active Duty Reserve Personnel for 
Operational Support from Fiscal Years 2005 to 2006: 

Maximum number of reservists authorized to be on active duty for 
operational support: Army Reserve; 
Fiscal year 2005: 5,000; 
Fiscal year 2006: 13,000; 
Difference from fiscal year 2005 to fiscal year 2006: 8,000; 
Percentage change from fiscal year 2005 to fiscal year 2006: 160%. 

Maximum number of reservists authorized to be on active duty for 
operational support: Army National Guard; 
Fiscal year 2005: 10,300; 
Fiscal year 2006: 17,000; 
Difference from fiscal year 2005 to fiscal year 2006: 6,700; 
Percentage change from fiscal year 2005 to fiscal year 2006: 65%. 

Maximum number of reservists authorized to be on active duty for 
operational support: Navy Reserve; 
Fiscal year 2005: 6,200; 
Fiscal year 2006: 6,200; 
Difference from fiscal year 2005 to fiscal year 2006: 0; 
Percentage change from fiscal year 2005 to fiscal year 2006: 0%. 

Maximum number of reservists authorized to be on active duty for 
operational support: Marine Corps Reserve; 
Fiscal year 2005: 2,500; 
Fiscal year 2006: 3,000; 
Difference from fiscal year 2005 to fiscal year 2006: 500; 
Percentage change from fiscal year 2005 to fiscal year 2006: 20%. 

Maximum number of reservists authorized to be on active duty for 
operational support: Air National Guard; 
Fiscal year 2005: 10,100; 
Fiscal year 2006: 16,000; 
Difference from fiscal year 2005 to fiscal year 2006: 5,900; 
Percentage change from fiscal year 2005 to fiscal year 2006: 58%. 

Maximum number of reservists authorized to be on active duty for 
operational support: Air Force Reserve; 
Fiscal year 2005: 3,600; 
Fiscal year 2006: 14,000; 
Difference from fiscal year 2005 to fiscal year 2006: 10,400; 
Percentage change from fiscal year 2005 to fiscal year 2006: 289%. 

Maximum number of reservists authorized to be on active duty for 
operational support: Total; 
Fiscal year 2005: 37,700; 
Fiscal year 2006: 69,200; 
Difference from fiscal year 2005 to fiscal year 2006: 31,500; 
Percentage change from fiscal year 2005 to fiscal year 2006: 84%. 

Source: GAO analysis of DOD data. 

[End of table] 

Fiscal Year 2007 Estimates Match Fiscal Year 2006 Maximum Levels: 

For its fiscal year 2007 estimates, DOD submitted a request for the 
same maximum levels as in fiscal year 2006. The reserve components 
reviewed their historical data as they did for the fiscal year 2006 
estimates and updated them with data from fiscal year 2006. The reserve 
components found that there were no substantial increases or decreases 
in their fiscal year 2006 numbers that required changes in their 
estimated maximum levels for fiscal year 2007. 

Reserve Components Are Not Identifying Numbers of Active Duty 
Reservists for Operational Support Consistently across Components: 

The reserve components have not been consistently identifying the 
number of reservists serving in an operational support capacity since 
this requirement was adopted in fiscal year 2005. In its April 2005 
memorandum that provided a definition for operational support, DOD 
directed the components to report the highest number of volunteer 
reservists serving in an operational support capacity each month so 
that DOD could monitor the amounts to ensure that components did not 
exceed the maximum levels authorized. On the basis of our analyses, we 
found that the reserve components inconsistently include various 
categories of personnel in their reported numbers because the 
components have different interpretations about what is included under 
DOD's operational support definition and how it applies to their 
existing categories. For example, the Army Reserve and the Army 
National Guard do not include voluntary active duty performed by 
recalled retired reservists in their accounting amounts, even though 
this is one of the five categories listed under DOD's definition of 
operational support. According to Army personnel, the Army Reserve and 
the Army National Guard do not include these reservists because they 
consider them active duty and include them in their active duty end 
strength numbers. In addition, the reserve components are inconsistent 
on whether they include volunteer reservists serving on extended active 
duty in their reported operational support numbers. The definition of 
operational support provided by DOD does not specifically address 
extended active duty reservists. We found that three of the six reserve 
components--Navy Reserve, Air Force Reserve, and Army National Guard-- 
include extended active duty reservists in their reported operational 
support numbers, although the Navy and Air Force define the length of 
service for extended active duty reservists differently. The Navy 
Reserve defines them as voluntary recall reservists on 2 to 5 year 
tours. The Air Force considers them to be reservists volunteering to 
fill an existing, funded active duty position for 3 years or less. The 
Army Reserve, Marine Corps Reserve, and Air National Guard do not 
include extended active duty reservists in their reported operational 
support numbers because they are currently being accounted for under 
active duty end-strengths. 

In addition to these inconsistencies, we also found that one 
component's monthly reports of volunteer reservists serving on active 
duty for operational support have not provided DOD with an accurate 
accounting of the number of these individuals due to errors in the 
numbers reported. We found that in each month from January through June 
2006, the Navy Reserve erroneously reported to DOD cumulative totals 
instead of the highest number of reservists in each month. A Navy 
Reserve official stated that they did not have complete access to 
personnel data during these months because they had to relocate their 
personnel database after Hurricane Katrina. As a result, the Navy 
Reserve appeared to exceed its maximum authorized level for 3 months-- 
in January, February, and June 2006. The Navy Reserve did not discover 
this error until late July 2006, at which time they retroactively 
corrected the erroneously reported amounts. 

To help address these inconsistencies and errors, the Defense Manpower 
and Data Center (DMDC) is in the process of implementing a system 
change that would allow DOD to have automated access to the number of 
volunteer operational support reservists. We reported in September 2006 
that DMDC can extract some reserve personnel data, such as a 
reservist's number of deployments and citizenship, but it could not 
provide data specifically on volunteer status from all six reserve 
components.[Footnote 11] According to a DMDC official, the proposed 
change would only provide information from systems already aligned with 
DMDC that can distinguish volunteer reservists for operational support. 
DMDC also does not have the authority to direct the services to correct 
data errors and inconsistencies. 

As of early October 2006, we found that each reserve component 
collected its operational support numbers from accounting systems that 
did not provide all this information to DMDC. For example, the Navy 
Reserve obtained its reported numbers from the Navy Reserve Order 
Writing System, which currently feeds into DMDC, but this system does 
not distinguish the highest amount of volunteer reservists each month. 
The Marine Corps Reserve's systems can provide volunteer information to 
DMDC, but it reported end of the month numbers, not the highest number 
of reservists during the month. The Army Reserve, Air Force Reserve, 
and Air National Guard each pull key data from external databases 
managed by the Defense Finance and Accounting System, but the Army 
Reserve's database did not provide the monthly highest number of 
volunteers. The Army National Guard compiles its number of volunteer 
reservists from its own systems and the Army Human Resource Command, 
which do not provide this information on volunteers. The DMDC official 
stated that the effectiveness of the proposed change to automate 
reporting on volunteer operational support reservists still depends on 
the components, which are responsible for aligning their policies and 
systems to provide the appropriate information according to changes in 
data reporting requirements. As a result, we do not believe that this 
system change will provide DOD with accurate information about the peak 
monthly number of volunteer reservists serving in an operational 
support capacity, unless the components align their policies and 
systems to conform to reporting requirements. 

We found that DOD and the reserve components have not updated and 
aligned their guidance to clearly and consistently articulate and 
define what categories of reservists to include in accounting for and 
reporting on operational support levels. DOD released preliminary 
guidance in its April 2005 memorandum that defined the five categories 
of reservists that comprise operational support; however, they have not 
yet updated their instruction that governs the use of and accounting 
for reservists. DOD is in the process of developing an instruction on 
accounting and reporting procedures in the new DOD Instruction 1215.6, 
which it plans to officially release in late October 2006. Even though 
DOD has not released its updated instruction, the Army National Guard 
published updated guidance based on DOD's April 2005 memorandum that 
provides examples of missions specific to the Army National Guard that 
are considered operational support. Another three components--the Army 
Reserve, Air Force Reserve, and Air National Guard--have plans in place 
to update their guidance to reflect operational support reporting 
requirements. The Department of the Army expects to release its updated 
guidance for the Army Reserve within the year. The Air Force Reserve 
plans to update its implementing regulations in March or April 2007 
and, in the interim, has issued a policy memorandum that applies 
operational support requirements to its policies. The Air National 
Guard expects to update its guidance in the near future, and has an 
interim policy that addresses operational support similar to the Air 
Force Reserve. The two remaining components--the Marine Corps Reserve 
and Navy Reserve--have not updated their existing guidance to 
incorporate operational support accounting and reporting and do not 
appear to have immediate plans to do so until DOD releases new 
guidance. Until DOD and all of the reserve components update and 
uniformly align their implementing guidance, inconsistencies and errors 
in the reporting of the number of operational support reservists may 
continue. As a result, DOD and the components cannot ensure that they 
will not exceed the maximum authorized levels, which may impair the 
ability of DOD and Congress to oversee the use of volunteer reservists 
serving on active duty in an operational support capacity. 

Conclusions: 

With DOD's growing demand for reserve personnel to augment its active 
duty forces to accomplish its missions overseas and at home, stress on 
the reserve force is a significant issue. Reservists have been serving 
on increasingly longer and more frequent tours of duty. However, 
reserve personnel are a part-time force and DOD must take care in 
managing the frequency with which it uses the reserves to complete its 
missions. It is critical that DOD and Congress have oversight over 
DOD's forces to ensure that its citizen-soldiers are not overextended. 

In eliminating the 180-day rule, Congress gave DOD flexibility in 
managing its volunteer reservists to serve in a variety of missions, 
without limiting volunteerism and continuity of service. However, the 
reserve components continue to struggle with accurately and 
consistently identifying these reservists each month. Updated guidance 
that clearly articulates what should be included and excluded from this 
accounting would help the components eliminate the inconsistent 
interpretations that currently exist. Until DOD and all of the reserve 
components update their implementing guidance in a uniform manner, 
inconsistencies and errors in the reporting of the number may continue 
and DOD will be unable to ensure that reported numbers are accurate and 
that maximum levels are not being exceeded. Lack of an accurate 
accounting of the number of voluntary reserve personnel serving in an 
operational support capacity defeats the purpose for establishing the 
reporting requirement, which in turn hampers DOD's ability to manage 
its forces and to minimize lengthy activations and stress on the 
reserve forces. This lack of visibility also limits Congress's 
oversight over the use, availability, and readiness of the reserve 
force to ensure that its citizen-soldiers are not overextended. 

Recommendation for Executive Action: 

To ensure that the components can report accurate and consistent 
information about the number of reservists serving in an operational 
support capacity, we recommend that the Secretary of Defense direct the 
Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness and the reserve 
components to develop guidance to clarify and consistently define the 
categories of operational support that should be included in the 
reported numbers. 

Agency Comments: 

The Assistant Secretary of Defense (Reserve Affairs) provided written 
comments on a draft of this report. The department concurred with the 
recommendation. DOD stated that it will develop guidance that 
specifically addresses what is to be included when accounting for 
operational support. The department's comments are reprinted in their 
entirety in appendix II. In addition, the department provided technical 
comments, which we incorporated as appropriate. 

We are sending copies of this report to the Chairmen and Ranking 
Minority Members of the House and Senate Committees on Armed Services. 
We are also sending copies to the Secretary of Defense; the Secretaries 
of the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force; and the Commandant of the 
Marine Corps. We will also make copies available to others upon 
request. In addition, the report will be available at no charge on the 
GAO Web site at [Hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov]. 

If you or your staff have any questions concerning this report, please 
contact me at (202) 512-5559 or stewartd@gao.gov. Contact points for 
our Offices of Congressional Relations and Public Affairs may be found 
on the last page of this report. Others making significant 
contributions to this report are included in appendix III. 

Signed by: 

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

[End of section] 

Appendix I: Scope and Methodology: 

To determine the factors leading to the increase in the maximum number 
of reserve personnel authorized to be on active duty for operational 
support from fiscal year 2005 to fiscal year 2006, we reviewed and 
analyzed the authorization levels for fiscal years 2005 and 2006, and 
the requested authorization levels for fiscal year 2007. We also 
obtained documentation of the highest number of reservists each month 
that is reported to DOD and analyzed figures to identify any trends or 
patterns of change. To determine what categories of reservists should 
be represented by the numbers of reservists serving on operational 
support, we obtained documentation on the definition of operational 
support given to the components. We also interviewed DOD and reserve 
officials to gain an understanding of their roles and effectiveness in 
implementing Sections 415 and 416 of the National Defense Authorization 
Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2005. We interviewed officials from DOD 
Reserve Affairs, Army Reserve, Army National Guard, Air Force Reserve, 
Air National Guard, Navy Reserve, and Marine Corps Reserve. To 
determine DOD's authority and role in management of the reservists 
under the NDAA, we reviewed legislation and the history of relevant 
provisions of the law. To determine the reliability of the estimates 
for the maximum authorization levels for the reserve components, we 
gathered reserve component officials' perspectives on their data 
systems in the collecting and reporting of reserve strength to DOD. 

To determine the extent to which the reserve components have 
consistently reported the number of reservists serving in an 
operational support capacity, we obtained DOD's memorandums, 
implementing guidance, and regulations. We obtained documentation from 
DOD and reserve components to determine the categories included and 
excluded from operational support. We interviewed DOD officials to 
determine its definition for operational support, how DOD intended its 
implementing guidelines to be applied, and to determine its 
interpretation of relevant legislation. We also interviewed officials 
to determine the consistency in application of the guidelines. From our 
interviews, we obtained information on categories of reservists that 
were being excluded from operational support. We reviewed and analyzed 
legislation to determine what was required to be included in 
operational support. Officials also provided information on the 
structure of their data systems and the process for collecting and 
recording the numbers of reservists. The components and DOD also 
provided the highest number of reservists each month that was reported 
to DOD. Due to definitional problems of categories of reservists to be 
included in reported numbers, we found some inaccuracies and 
inconsistencies in the data, which produced data that we believe are 
not sufficiently reliable. As a result, we make a recommendation for 
executive action to improve the accuracy and consistency of reported 
monthly information. 

We conducted our review from June 2006 through September 2006, in 
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. 

[End of section] 

Appendix II: Comments from the Department of Defense: 

Reserve Affairs: 

Assistant Secretary Of Defense: 
1500 Defense Pentagon: 
Washington, DC 20301-1500: 

Oct 18 2006: 

Mr. Derek B. Stewart: 
Director, Defense Capabilities and Management: 
U.S Government Accountability Office: 
Washington, DC 20548: 

Dear Mr. Stewart: 

This is the Department of Defense (DoD) response to the GAO draft 
report, "Military Personnel: Reserve Components Need Guidance to 
Accurately and Consistently Account for Volunteers on Active Duty for 
Operational Support (GAO-07-93)," dated October 5, 2006 (GAO Code 
350864). 

The DoD primary action officer for this GAO study is Mr. Daniel J. 
Kohner, OASD/RA(M&P), who can be reached at (703) 693-7479 or via e- 
mail at dan.kohner@osd.mil. 

Sincerely, 

Signed by: 

T. F. Hall: 

Attachment As stated: 

GAO Draft Report - Dated October 5, 2006 GAO Code 350864/GAO-07-93: 

"Military Personnel: Reserve Components Need Guidance to Accurately and 
Consistently Account for Volunteers on Active Duty for Operational 
Support" 

Department Of Defense Comments To The Recommendations: 

Recommendation 1: The GAO recommended that the Secretary of Defense 
direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness and 
the reserve components to develop guidance to clarify and consistently 
define the categories of operational support that should be included in 
the reported numbers. (page 11/GAO Draft Report): 

DOD Response: The Department concurs with the recommendation. The 
Department will pursue developing and publishing more specific guidance 
regarding what is to be included in accounting for "Operational 
Support." 

[End of section] 

Appendix III: GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments: 

GAO Contact: 

Derek B. Stewart, (202) 512-5559: 

Acknowledgments: 

In addition to the contact named above, Geraldine Beard, Renee Brown, 
Tracy Burney, Pawnee Davis, Laura Durland, Meredith Georges, George 
Poindexter, Terry Richardson, Gina Ruidera, and Karen Thornton made 
significant contributions to the report. 

FOOTNOTES 

[1] The Army Reserve, Army National Guard, Air Force Reserve, Air 
National Guard, Navy Reserve, and the Marine Corps Reserve comprise the 
DOD reserve components or reserves. 

[2] GAO has also issued a number of reports and testimonies reviewing 
the increased use of reserve forces related to mobilization, 
availability, and readiness: Military Personnel: DOD Needs to Address 
Long-Term Reserve Force Availability and Related Mobilization and 
Demobilization Issues, GAO-04-1031 (Washington, D.C.: Sept. 15, 2004); 
Reserve Forces: Actions Needed to Better Prepare the National Guard for 
Future Overseas and Domestic Missions, GAO-05-21 (Washington, D.C.: 
Nov. 10, 2004); Military Personnel: A Strategic Approach Is Needed to 
Address Long-Term Guard and Reserve Force Availability, GAO-05-285T 
(Washington, D.C.: Feb. 2, 2005); and Reserve Forces: Army National 
Guard's Role, Organization, and Equipment Need to Be Reexamined, GAO-06-
170T (Washington, D.C.: Oct. 20, 2005). 

[3] H.R. Rep. No. 109-89, Title IV, at 310 (2005). 

[4] Section 12301(d) of Title 10 of the United States Code authorizes 
the service secretaries to order a reservist to active duty with the 
consent of that member, as opposed to being called up or mobilized 
involuntarily in a time of war or other national emergency. 

[5] Pub. L. No. 96-513, §102 (1980). 

[6] 10 U.S.C. § 115(e) (2003). 

[7] Pub. L. No. 108-375. 

[8] Pub. L. No. 108-375, § 416 (c)(4). 

[9] Pub. L. No. 108-375, § 416(m). 

[10] DOD previously defined active duty for special work as "a tour of 
active duty for reserve personnel authorized from military or reserve 
personnel appropriations for work on active component or reserve 
component programs. The purpose of active duty for special work is to 
provide the necessary skilled manpower assets to support existing or 
emerging requirements." Department of Defense Directive 1215.6, Uniform 
Reserve, Training and Retirement Categories, paragraph E 1.1.2 (Mar. 
14, 1997). 

[11] GAO, Military Personnel: DOD and the Services Need to Take 
Additional Steps to Improve Mobilization Data for Reserve Components, 
GAO-06-1068 (Washington, D.C.: Sept. 20, 2006).  

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