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entitled 'Military Operations: The Department of Defense's Use of 
Solatia and Condolence Payments in Iraq and Afghanistan' which was 
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Report to Congressional Requesters: 

United States Government Accountability Office: 

GAO: 

May 2007: 

Military Operations: 

The Department of Defense's Use of Solatia and Condolence Payments in 
Iraq and Afghanistan: 

GAO-07-699: 

Contents: 

Letter: 

Summary: 

Recommendations for Executive Action: 

Agency Comments and Our Evaluation: 

Enclosure I: Scope and Methodology: 

Enclosure II: Briefing to Congressional Requesters: 

Enclosure III: Comments from the Department of Defense: 

Enclosure IV: GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments: 

United States Government Accountability Office: 
Washington, DC 20548: 

May 23, 2007: 

The Honorable Edward Kennedy: 
Chairman: 
Subcommittee on Seapower: 
Committee on Armed Services: 
United States Senate: 

The Honorable Patrick Leahy: 
Chairman: 
Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs: 
Committee on Appropriations: 
United States Senate: 

There are a number of ways that the U.S. government provides assistance 
to Iraqi or Afghan civilians who are killed, injured, or suffer 
property damage as a result of U.S. and coalition forces' actions. For 
instance, the U.S. Agency for International Development funds projects 
to assist Iraqi and Afghan civilians and communities directly impacted 
by actions of U.S. or coalition forces. Also, the Department of State 
administers a program that makes payments, in accordance with local 
custom, to Iraqi civilians who are harmed in incidents involving U.S. 
protective security details. In addition, the Department of Defense 
(DOD) administers a program that provides compensation under the 
Foreign Claims Act to inhabitants of foreign countries for death, 
injury, or property damage caused by noncombat activities of U.S. 
military personnel overseas.[Footnote 1] Further, DOD provides monetary 
assistance in the form of solatia and condolence payments to Iraqi and 
Afghan nationals who are killed, injured, or incur property damage as a 
result of U.S. or coalition forces' actions during combat. From fiscal 
years 2003 to 2006, DOD has reported about $1.9 million in solatia 
payments and more than $29 million in condolence payments[Footnote 2] 
to Iraqi and Afghan civilians who are killed, injured, or incur 
property damage as a result of U.S. or coalition forces' actions during 
combat. [Footnote 3] These payments are expressions of sympathy or 
remorse based on local culture and customs, but not an admission of 
legal liability or fault. Commanders make condolence payments using 
funds provided by Congress for the Commander's Emergency Response 
Program (CERP), whereas solatia payments are funded from unit 
operations and maintenance accounts. Pub. L. No. 108-106 (2003) 
requires DOD to provide quarterly reports on the source, allocation, 
and use of CERP funds. To administer the CERP, DOD has established 19 
project categories for the use of funds, including categories for 
condolence payments and battle damage payments. 

At your request, we reviewed DOD's solatia and condolence payment 
programs in Iraq and Afghanistan. Specifically, we examined the 
following questions: (1) To what extent has DOD established guidance 
for making and documenting solatia and condolence payments in Iraq and 
Afghanistan? (2) How are commanders making and documenting solatia and 
condolence payments in Iraq and Afghanistan and what factors do 
commanders consider when determining whether to make payments or 
payment amounts? (3) To what extent does DOD collect and analyze 
solatia and condolence payment data? We also are providing information 
on the other aforementioned programs established by the U.S. government 
to provide assistance to Iraqi and Afghan civilians who have been 
affected by U.S. or coalition forces' actions. These programs include 
(1) DOD's Foreign Claims Act, (2) the Department of State's Claims and 
Condolence Payment Program, and (3) the U.S. Agency for International 
Development's Marla Ruzicka Iraqi War Victims Fund and the Afghan 
Civilian Assistance Program. 

To address your questions, we identified and reviewed guidance for 
solatia and condolence payment programs and interviewed knowledgeable 
officials at commands in Iraq and Afghanistan. Additionally, we 
interviewed officials from selected units that returned recently from 
Iraq and Afghanistan about their experiences making and documenting 
solatia and condolence payments. We obtained payment information for 
solatia payments in Iraq and Afghanistan and found these data 
sufficiently reliable for purposes of this report. Additionally, we 
obtained summary obligation and disbursement data for condolence 
payments made in Iraq and Afghanistan. To gain an understanding of the 
reliability of these data, we spoke with knowledgeable officials about 
how these data were generated. Additionally, we compared condolence 
payment documentation from one unit with data contained in quarterly 
reports provided by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army 
(Financial Management & Comptroller) to Congress. Of the files we 
compared, we found a minor discrepancy in one record of about $30. 
However, we did not compare other records from other units because 
information needed to do so is generally not available from a 
centralized source. The recommendations we make in this report address 
this limitation. Finally, we interviewed officials at the Department of 
State and U.S. Agency for International Development about assistance 
these agencies provide to Iraqi and Afghan civilians affected by U.S. 
and coalition actions. A detailed scope and methodology is included in 
enclosure I. We conducted our review from September 2006 through May 
2007 in accordance with generally accepted government auditing 
standards. 

On February 28, 2007, we briefed your offices on the results of this 
review. This report summarizes the information discussed at that 
briefing, transmits the briefing slides describing our work at that 
point (see enclosure II), and provides updated information. 

Summary: 

We found that DOD has established guidance for making and documenting 
solatia and condolence payments in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that 
guidance has changed over time primarily in Iraq in terms of condolence 
payment amounts, approval levels, and payment eligibility. Within 
parameters established by guidance, commanders exercise broad 
discretion for determining whether a payment should be made and the 
appropriate payment amount. While guidance does not require commanders 
to make payments, commanders may do so if they choose. When determining 
whether to make payments and payment amounts, commanders told us they 
consider the severity of injury, type of damage, and property values 
based on the local economy as well as any other applicable cultural 
considerations. According to unit officials with whom we spoke, units 
generally follow a similar process for making solatia and condolence 
payments in Iraq and Afghanistan. Officials told us that they generally 
make payments to civilians at Civil Military Operations Centers--ad hoc 
organizations established by military commanders to assist in the 
coordination of civilian-related activities--or during personal visits. 

DOD requires units to collect various types of detailed information 
related to condolence payments and, based on this information, reports 
certain summary level data to Congress. However, because its current 
guidance does not clearly distinguish between the types of payments to 
be reported under certain CERP categories, reporting entities are 
interpreting the guidance differently, and therefore inconsistent 
reporting has occurred. When a condolence payment is made, units 
record, among other data, information on the: 

* unit that made the payment, 

* number of civilians killed or injured or whose property was 
damaged,[Footnote 4] 

* location of the incident, and: 

* dollar value of the payment. 

Each payment also is assigned a document reference number for tracking 
purposes. In reporting to Congress on the use of CERP funds, DOD 
provides summary data on obligations, commitments, and disbursements 
for each of the 19 project categories, and by major subordinate 
command[Footnote 5] in Iraq or task force in Afghanistan. The project 
categories include (1) condolence payments to individual civilians for 
death, injury, or property damage and (2) repair of damage that results 
from U.S., coalition, or supporting military operations that is not 
compensable under the Foreign Claims Act, known as battle damage 
payments. Within the condolence payment category, DOD reports total 
dollar amounts and does not distinguish between payments made for 
death, injury, or personal property damage. Because DOD guidance does 
not clearly define when payments for property damage should be recorded 
as condolence payments or as payments for battle damage, some units are 
recording property damage as condolence payments while others record 
property damage as battle damage payments. Additionally, neither DOD 
nor the Army--which is the executive agent for CERP[Footnote 6]--can 
easily determine that property damage is categorized appropriately 
because guidance does not require units to report certain detailed 
information, such as document reference numbers, which would facilitate 
verification. 

In addition to solatia and condolence payments, there are a number of 
other ways the U.S. government provides assistance to Iraqi or Afghan 
civilians or communities affected by U.S. and coalition forces or who 
are harmed during incidents involving U.S. protective security details. 
The maximum dollar amount of assistance and the process for providing 
assistance differs among programs. For instance, foreign claims 
commissions adjudicate foreign claims generally up to $100,000 for 
death, personal injury, or property damage caused during noncombat 
activities by U.S. military personnel overseas. In comparison, the 
Department of State's Claims and Condolence Payment Program generally 
provides up to $2,500 for each instance of death, injury, or property 
damage to Iraqi civilians harmed in incidents involving protective 
security details. Department of State officials told us that payment 
amounts are based on the totality of facts surrounding the incident, 
such as degree of fault and the extent of the damage. Under programs 
administered by the U.S. Agency for International Development, projects 
do not have a monetary limit and no money is provided directly to Iraqi 
or Afghan civilians. Instead, the agency provides funds to its partner 
organizations that implement projects, such as vocational training and 
infrastructure development. Additional details on these programs are 
provided in enclosure II. 

Recommendations for Executive Action: 

To provide greater transparency on the use of CERP funds for condolence 
payments, we are recommending that the Secretary of Defense direct the 
Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) to take the following two 
actions: 

* Revise CERP guidance to clarify the definitions as to what is 
reported in the two CERP categories: (1) condolence payments and (2) 
battle damage payments. 

* Require that document reference numbers be provided for payments to 
allow DOD to determine whether expenditures of CERP funds are 
appropriately categorized and to permit DOD to obtain detailed 
information for analysis and reporting, as appropriate. 

Agency Comments and Our Evaluation: 

DOD provided written comments on a draft of this report (see enclosure 
III) and concurred with both recommendations. In its comments, DOD 
noted that it had issued revised guidance to reflect our 
recommendations. DOD also provided technical comments, which we 
included in the report, as appropriate. Additionally, officials from 
the U.S. Agency for International Development and Department of State 
provided technical comments on a draft of this report that we 
incorporated, where appropriate. 

As agreed with your offices, unless you publicly announce the contents 
of this report, we plan no further distribution of it until 30 days 
from the date of this report. We will send copies to others who are 
interested and make copies available to others who request them. 

If you or your staff have any questions on the matters discussed in 
this report, please contact me at (202) 512-9619. Contact points for 
our Offices of Congressional Relations and Public Affairs may be found 
on the last page of this report. Key contributors to this report may be 
found in enclosure IV. 

Signed by: 

Sharon L. Pickup, Director: 
Defense Capabilities and Management: 

Enclosures: 

[End of section] 

Enclosure I: Scope and Methodology: 

To assess the extent to which DOD has established guidance for making 
and documenting solatia and condolence payments in Iraq and Afghanistan 
and to determine factors commanders consider when deciding whether to 
make payments and appropriate payment amounts, we obtained and reviewed 
guidance for these payment programs in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2003 
to the present and assessed changes in guidance over time. We also 
interviewed knowledgeable officials at commands in Afghanistan and 
Iraq--including the former commander of Multinational Corps Iraq--as 
well as at the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Office of the 
Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, among other organizations, regarding 
changes in guidance over time, processes for making and documenting 
payments, and the tracking and reporting of payment information. 
Additionally, we interviewed commanders, judge advocates, comptrollers, 
and civil affairs teams from selected units that were deployed to Iraq 
and Afghanistan in 2005 and 2006 regarding changes in guidance over 
time, processes for making and documenting payments, and the tracking 
and reporting of payment information. We selected these units (1) based 
on their dates and locations of deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan, (2) 
to ensure that we obtained information from officials at the battalion, 
brigade, and division levels that had direct experience approving, 
documenting, and making payments, and (3) because unit officials had 
not yet redeployed or been transferred to other locations within the 
United States. 

To determine the extent to which DOD collects and analyzes solatia and 
condolence payment data, we interviewed officials at Multinational 
Forces--Iraq, Multinational Corps--Iraq, and the Combined Joint Task 
Force-76 in Afghanistan, as well as units that were deployed to Iraq 
and Afghanistan from 2005 to 2006. Because solatia payments are made 
using unit operation and maintenance funds, we obtained solatia payment 
data for Iraq directly from the U.S. Marine Corps, Headquarters, and 
similar data directly from the Combined Joint Task Force-76 in 
Afghanistan that compiled data from task forces. To assess the 
reliability of solatia payment data, we spoke with knowledgeable 
officials and found these data sufficiently reliable for purposes of 
this report. In addition, we obtained and reviewed summary obligation 
and disbursement data for condolence payments from the Office of the 
Assistant Secretary of the Army (Financial Management & Comptroller). 
To gain an understanding of the reliability of these data, we spoke 
with knowledgeable officials about how these data were generated. 
Additionally, we compared condolence payment documentation from one 
unit with data contained in quarterly reports provided by the Office of 
the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Financial Management & 
Comptroller) to Congress. Of the files we compared, we found a minor 
discrepancy in one record of about $30. However, we did not compare 
other records from other units because information needed to do so is 
generally not available from a centralized source. The recommendations 
we make in this report address this limitation. 

We also discussed the extent to which DOD conducted trend analysis of 
condolence payment data and potential reasons for changes in payments 
over time. We analyzed the aforementioned data to determine trends by 
fiscal year and country. For payments within Iraq, we further analyzed 
data to identify trends by location. For purposes of this report, we 
use the term condolence payment to refer to condolence payments and 
battle damage payments which we have combined when calculating total 
condolence payments. We did this because DOD guidance does not clearly 
define when payments for property damage should be recorded as 
condolence payments or as battle damage payments. Some DOD officials 
indicated confusion regarding when to use each category to record 
property damage. For instance, an official in the comptroller's office 
at one major subordinate command in Iraq told us that he categorized 
all property damage as battle damage payments. Furthermore, major 
subordinate commands in Iraq and task forces in Afghanistan reported 
property damage in both the condolence payment and battle damage CERP 
categories. We also obtained some financial documentation for 
condolence payments processed by units that recently returned from 
Iraq, including payments made by coalition forces using appropriated 
CERP funds. We reviewed these documents to determine the type of 
information and level of detail documented by units that made payments. 
We also reviewed Significant Activity Reports to gain an understanding 
of other types of information that is available to commanders for use 
in assessing trends and modifying operations. 

To gain an understanding of other types of assistance the U.S. 
government provides to Iraqi and Afghan nationals affected by U.S. and 
coalition forces' actions, we interviewed officials at DOD, the 
Department of State, and the U.S. Agency for International Development. 
We obtained information from the U.S. Army Claims Service on claims 
paid under the Foreign Claims Act. We also obtained and reviewed 
summary project information from the U.S. Agency for International 
Development including the project types, descriptions, costs, and 
locations. We also obtained and reviewed documentation, including the 
rationale for making payments and the payment amounts, for eight claims 
approved by the Department of State for payment to Iraqi civilians. 

We visited or contacted the following organizations during our review: 

Department of Defense: 

* Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Strategic Plans and Policy 
Directorate, and the Force Structure Resources and Assessment 
Directorate, Pentagon, Virginia. 

* Defense Finance and Accounting Service, Rome, New York. 

* Department of Defense, Office of the General Counsel, Pentagon, 
Virginia. 

* Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), Pentagon, Virginia. 

* United States Army Central Command, Fort McPherson, Georgia. 

* United States Central Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. 

Department of the Army: 

* 1-25TH Stryker Brigade Combat Team, Fort Wainwright and Fort 
Richardson, Alaska. 

* 4TH Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas. 

* 10th Mountain Division, 1ST Brigade Combat Team, 1-87TH Infantry 
Battalion, Fort Drum, New York. 

* 10TH Mountain Division, 4TH Brigade Combat Team, Fort Polk, 
Louisiana. 

* 25TH Infantry Division, 1ST Brigade, Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 
Fort Lewis, Washington. 

* 101STAirborne Division, Fort Campbell, Kentucky. 

* Assistant Secretary of the Army (Financial Management & Comptroller), 
Pentagon, Virginia. 

* Center for Law and Military Operations, Charlottesville, Virginia. 

* Department of the Army, Office of the Judge Advocate General, 
Rosslyn, Virginia. 

* United States Army Claims Service, Fort Meade, Maryland. 

Department of the Navy: 

* 1ST Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, California. 

* United States Marine Corps, Headquarters, Programs and Resource 
Department, Arlington, Virginia. 

Afghanistan: 

* Combined Joint Task Force-76. 

Iraq: 

* Multinational Force--Iraq. 

* Multinational Corps--Iraq. 

* Multinational Division--Baghdad. 

* Multinational Division--North. 

* Multinational Forces--West. 

Other government agencies: 

* United States Agency for International Development, Washington, D.C., 
and Kabul, Afghanistan. 

* United States Department of State, Washington, D.C. and Iraq. 

We conducted this review from September 2006 through May 2007 in 
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. 

[End of section] 

Enclosure II: Briefing to Congressional Requesters: 

Preliminary Observations on the Department of Defense's Use of 
Condolence and Solatia Payments in Iraq and Afghanistan: 

Briefing to Congressional Requesters: 

February 28, 2007: 

Introduction: 

There are a number of ways that the U.S. government may compensate or 
provide assistance to Iraqi or Afghan nationals for damage, injury, or 
death that occurs due to U.S. or coalition forces' actions: 

* Foreign Claims Act (DOD): 

* Marla Ruzicka Iraqi War Victims Fund (USAID) * Afghan Civilian 
Assistance Program (USAID): 

* Claims and Condolence Payment Program (Department of State): 

* Solatia payments (DOD): 

* Condolence payments (DOD): 

At your request, we focused on solatia and condolence payments for 
death, injury, and property damage. 

Purpose; 
Condolence payments: Expression of sympathy for death, injury, or 
property damage caused by coalition or U.S. forces generally during 
combat. In addition, at commander discretion, payments may be made to 
Iraqi civilians who are harmed by enemy action when working with U.S. 
forces. Payment is not an admission of legal liability or fault; 
Solatia payments: Token or nominal payment for death, injury, or 
property damage caused by coalition or U.S. forces during combat. 
Payment is made in accordance with local custom as an expression of 
remorse or sympathy toward a victim or his/her family. Payment is not 
an admission of legal liability or fault. 

Countries and dates used: Iraq; 
Condolence payments: March 2004 to present; 
Solatia payments: June 2003 to January 2005. 

Countries and dates used: Afghanistan; 
Condolence payments: November 2005 to present; 
Solatia payments: October 2005 to present. 

Payment levels; 
Condolence payments: Up to $2,500 for each instance of death, injury, 
or property damage; 
Solatia payments: Iraq: Up to $2,500 for death; up to $1,500 for 
serious injury; and $200 or more for minor injury. 
Afghanistan: Up to 100,000 Afghani ($2,336+/-) for death;  up to 20,000 
Afghani ($467+/-) for serious injury; and up to 10,000 Afghani ($236+/-
) for nonserious injury or property damage.

Funding; 
Condolence payments: Commander's Emergency Response Program (CERP) 
funds[A]; 
Solatia payments: Unit Operations and Maintenance funds[B]. 

Source: DOD. 

[A] Prior to the authorization of appropriated CERP funds (Pub. L. No. 
108-106, 1110 (2003)), Development Fund for Iraq (DFI) and seized 
Iraqi assets were available for IVINC-I to fund CERP projects in Iraq. 
DFI is a fund established by the United Nations to assist with 
reconstruction and recovery operations in Iraq. Seized Iraqi assets are 
funds that have been captured during ongoing combat operations. 
Currently, funds are appropriated under Pub. L. No. 109-289, 9006 
(2006). 

[B] Solatia payments are made under the authority to use appropriated 
funds found in 10 U.S.C. &2242. 

[End of table] 

Objectives, scope, and methodology: 

Objectives: 

(1) To what extent has DOD established guidance for making and 
documenting solatia and condolence payments in Iraq and Afghanistan? 

(2) How are commanders making and documenting solatia and condolence 
payments in Iraq and Afghanistan and what factors do commanders 
consider when determining whether to make payments and payment amounts? 

(3) To what extent does DOD collect and analyze solatia and condolence 
payment data? 

To meet our objectives, we: 

identified and reviewed guidance for solatia and condolence payment 
programs in Iraq and Afghanistan: 

met with or talked to officials about how programs work: 

* higher headquarters and major subordinate commands in Iraq and 
Afghanistan: 

* units recently returned from Iraq and Afghanistan: 

determined extent to which individual solatia and condolence payment 
documents are available from DOD: 

obtained and reviewed some financial documentation for condolence 
payments from units recently returned from Iraq: 

gathered information on assistance the U.S government provides through 
other programs to Iraqi and Afghan civilians affected by U.S. or 
coalition actions: 

Figure 1: Organizations Contacted: 

[See PDF for image] 

Source: GAO. 

[End of figure] 

Background: 

Guidance establishes 19 uses for Commander's Emergency Response Program 
funds: 

1. water and sanitation. 
2. food production and distribution. 
3. agriculture. 
4. electricity. 
5. healthcare. 
6. education. 
7. telecommunications. 
8. economic, financial, and management improvements. 
9. transportation. 
10. rule of law and governance. 
11. irrigation. 
12. civic cleanup activities. 
13. civic support vehicles. 
14. repair of civic and cultural facilities. 
15. battle damage - repair of damage that results from U.S., coalition, 
or supporting military operations and is not compensable under the 
Foreign Claims Act. 
16. condolence payments to individual civilians for death, injury, or 
property damage resulting from U.S., coalition or supporting military 
operations.  
17. payments to individuals upon release from detention. 
18. protective measures to enhance the durability and survivability of 
a critical infrastructure site. 
19. other urgent humanitarian or reconstruction projects. 

Figure 2: Condolence Payments Comprise a Small Percentage of Annual 
CERP Disbursements: 

[See PDF for image] 

[End of figure] 

Source: GAO analysis of DOD data. 

[End of figure] 

Objective 1: 

Objective: 

To what extent has DOD established guidance for making and documenting 
solatia and condolence payments in Iraq and Afghanistan? 

Findings: 

DOD has established guidance for making and documenting solatia and 
condolence payments in Iraq and Afghanistan. In Iraq, guidance has 
changed over time in terms of payment amounts, approval levels, and 
payment eligibility. In Afghanistan, condolence payment guidance has 
not changed over time, whereas solatia payment guidance has become more 
descriptive. 

Guidance for making solatia payments has become more specific in terms 
of payment amounts in Iraq. In Afghanistan, guidance has become more 
descriptive. 

In Iraq, solatia payment levels became more specific over time. 

* In 2003, $2,500 was the maximum payment level regardless of type of 
harm. 

* In 2004, maximum payment levels were based on type and degree of 
harm: 

- death ($2,500): 

- disabling injuries resulting in permanent disability or significant 
disfigurement ($1,500): 

- minor injuries ($200+): 

In Afghanistan, guidance for making and documenting solatia payments 
has become more descriptive in terms of processes and roles and 
responsibilities, but payment amounts have not changed over time. 

Over time, maximum condolence payment amounts have become more flexible 
in Iraq. 

Initially (September 2004) MNC-I established maximum condolence payment 
levels in Iraq for each instance of death ($2,500), serious injury 
($1,000), and property damage ($500). 

In November 2004 guidance, MNC-I raised maximum condolence payment 
amounts for injury and damage in Iraq to match the maximum payment 
amount for each instance of death ($2,500). According to guidance and 
officials, this change: 

* provides commanders more flexibility, 

* acknowledges the serious nature of injuries and property damage, and: 

* provides urgent and immediate humanitarian relief to minimize the 
impact of U.S. and coalition forces' actions on the Iraqi people. 

Example: Two members of the same family are killed in a car hit by U.S. 
forces. The family could receive a maximum of $7,500 in CERP condolence 
payments ($2,500 for each death and up to $2,500 for vehicle damage). 

In April 2006, MNC-I guidance permitted the division commanding general 
to approve in extraordinary circumstances condolence payments up to 
$10,000 for each instance of death, injury, or property damage. 

Over time, the use of condolence payments in Iraq has expanded. 

MNC-I expanded the use of condolence payments to allow payments to 
Iraqi security forces. 

* Prior to April 2006, condolence payments were not permitted to be 
made to Iraqi security forces except in rare circumstances and with the 
approval of the commanding general of Multinational Corps Iraq. 

* Beginning in April 2006, MNC-I guidance established martyr payments 
as a subset of condolence payments to permit payments for Iraqi army or 
police or government civilians who are killed as a result of U.S., 
coalition, or supporting military operations. Payments require approval 
by general officers and are authorized in the same amounts as other 
types of condolence payments. 

Approval authority levels for condolence payments in Iraq have become 
more specific overtime. 

Initially, guidance specified that commanders must approve condolence 
payments and payment amounts. 

Beginning in April 2006, MNC-I established approval authority levels 
based on the amount and type of payment. 

* Brigade (regiment) commanders approve condolence and battle damage 
payments up to'-t2,500-: 

* General officers approve payments between $2,500 and $10,000 and all 
martyr payments regardless of payment amount. 

Per guidance, approval authority for condolence payments cannot be 
delegated below the brigade (regiment) commander. 

* However, in practice the Marine Corps Regiment Commander in Anbar 
Province has delegated authority for battle damage payments of $500 or 
less to company commanders who are advised by project purchasing 
officers (generally judge advocates). 

- Although this practice does not comply with MNC-I policy, the Marine 
Corps is using CERP for approved purposes. 

- MNC-I anticipates providing a waiver to permit this practice for the 
Marine Corps. 

Documentation requirements for condolence payments have not changed 
over time. 

In October 2004, guidance established documentation requirements for 
condolence payments: 

* Financial documentation that provides: 

- name of the recipient: 

- amount of payment and: 

- signature indicating receipt of payment. 

* Descriptive memorandum signed by commander describing incident, 
including: 

- name of recipient: 

- date of incident: 

- location where incident occurred and: 

- detailed description of incident: 

Objective 2: 

Objective: 

How are commanders making and documenting solatia and condolence 
payments in Iraq and Afghanistan and what factors do commanders 
consider when determining whether to make payments and payment amounts? 

Findings: 

Within parameters established by guidance, commanders exercise broad 
discretion for determining whether a payment should be made and 
appropriate payment amount. When determining whether to make payments 
and payment amounts, commanders consider the severity of injury or type 
of damage and property values based on the local economy. 

Units generally follow a standard process for making condolence 
payments: 

Guidance does not require commanders to make payments, but instead 
permits commanders to make payments if they choose. 

Unit may provide claims card to a victim or family member or the victim 
or family member brings incident to attention of U.S. military. 

Judge advocates or project purchasing officers (PPO) review evidence 
and claims card and verify location and circumstances of incident 
against significant activity reports and determine whether a payment 
can be made under the Foreign Claims Act. 

If payment cannot be made under the Foreign Claims Act because harm 
resulted from combat activities, the judge advocate or PPO determines 
whether a condolence payment is appropriate. 

If a condolence payment is appropriate, the judge advocate or PPO 
recommends to the commander a payment amount based on the severity of 
injury or type of damage and local market value of property; Trusted 
local Iraqi nationals (attorneys and interpreters) provide input on 
local market values. 

According to unit officials and guidance, commanders review and approve 
all condolence payments. For approved payments, units document payment 
information including location, date, type of payment (death, injury, 
or property damage, and payment amount. 

Generally, payments are made at Civil Military Operation Centers (CMOC) 
or during personal visits. Less frequently, units in Iraq ma make 
payments on-the-spot with the commander's verbal approval and financial 
documentation is completed at a later time. 

Commanders consider a variety of factors when determining whether to 
make condolence payments and payment amounts. 

Commanders make final determinations about the appropriateness of 
payments and payment values within parameters of the guidance. 

* Condolence payments for each instance of death are generally $2,500. 

* Condolence payments for each instance of injury and battle damage are 
generally less than $2,500. 

* Commanders consider the severity of injury or type of damage, cost of 
living in the local community, and any other applicable cultural 
considerations. 

Solatia and condolence payment program and process for making payments 
in Afghanistan is similar to program and process in Iraq. 

Factors commanders consider when determining whether to make a solatia 
or condolence payment and the payment amounts are similar in 
Afghanistan and Iraq. As noted earlier, these factors include: 

* severity of injury, 

* cost of living in the local community, and: 

* any other applicable cultural considerations. 

Approval and payment process in Afghanistan is also similar to 
condolence payment program in Iraq except: 

* condolence and solatia payments in Afghanistan are generally made 
during personal visits to recipients, 

* guidance requires solatia payments to be made within 48 hours of an 
incident, and: 

* regardless of payment amount, approval authority cannot be delegated 
below the battalion commander. 

According to Combined Joint Task Force-76 officials, commanders prefer 
to make solatia payments rather than condolence payments and use CERP 
funds for other types of assistance. 

Objective 3: 

Objective: 

To what extent does DOD collect and analyze solatia and condolence 
payment data? 

Findings: 

For approved payments, DOD documents information on the number of 
civilians killed or injured or whose property is damaged and the dollar 
value of payments, among other data. However, DOD does not track the 
number of requests for payment that are submitted or denied. DOD 
reports some information on condolence payment data to Congress. DOD 
does not analyze condolence payment data to determine reasons for 
payment fluctuations and uses other data to modify operations. 

Specific data are documented for individual condolence and solatia 
payments. 

* Individual condolence and solatia payment records for each incident 
identify: 

- dates of incident and payment: 

- location of incident: 

- names of each recipient: 

- individual dollar value of payments: 

- reasons for making payments (death, injury, damage): 

- brief explanation of circumstances surrounding incident * unit making 
payment: 

- approving official: 

- document reference number that identifies the type of transaction and 
unit: 

* DOD does not collect or maintain information on the number of 
condolence or solatia payments submitted or denied. 

DOD reports some summary information to Congress on condolence 
payments, but is not required to report information on solatia 
payments. 

Over time, DOD has changed the information it reports on condolence 
payments to Congress: 

* During fiscal year 2004, DOD reported: 

- total obligated funds: 

- unit that made payment * date: 

- location of payment: 

* Since fiscal year 2005, DOD has reported: 

- total committed, obligated, and disbursed funds for condolence and 
battle damage payments: 

-- DOD does not break out values for death versus injury: 

- location of payment: 

- organization (major subordinate command or task force) that made 
payment: 

- project numbers: 

* Beginning in fiscal year 2006, DOD stopped reporting payment dates. 
According to a DOD"official, these data were inaccurate because some 
units reported the payment date and other units reported the date 
paperwork was processed. 

DOD does not report other information such as the total number of 
civilians who receive payments or the number of condolence payments 
made for death, injury, or property damage. 

As of September 2006, DOD reported data that would facilitate obtaining 
documentation for individual payments. These data could enable DOD to 
determine the total number of condolence payments made, but gathering 
this information for past payments would be difficult. 

There is no requirement for DOD to report data for solatia payments, 
and the department does not do so although commands in Afghanistan 
track this information. 

Solatia payments were used in Iraq for a short period of time. The 
Marine Corps reported that units in Iraq made $1,732,002 in solatia 
payments between fiscal years 2003 and 2005. 

Condolence payment levels have varied in Iraq over time. 

Table 1: Reported condolence payments in Iraq by major subordinate 
command, fiscal years 2005 and 2006: 

Major subordinate commands: Multinational Division --Baghdad; 
Disbursements (in dollars): Fiscal year 2005: $1,877,139; 
Disbursements (in dollars): Fiscal year 2006: $1,082,302; 
Percentage change fiscal years 2005 to 2006: -42%. 

Major subordinate commands: Multination Division--North; 
Disbursements (in dollars): Fiscal year 2005: $9,645,772; 
Disbursements (in dollars): Fiscal year 2006: $1,866,966; 
Percentage change fiscal years 2005 to 2006: -81%. 

Major subordinate commands: Multination Division--West; 
Disbursements (in dollars): Fiscal year 2005: $9,637,262; 
Disbursements (in dollars): Fiscal year 2006: $4,033,272; 
Percentage change fiscal years 2005 to 2006: -58%. 

Major subordinate commands: Other commands; 
Disbursements (in dollars): Fiscal year 2005: $368,500; 
Disbursements (in dollars): Fiscal year 2006: $309,366; 
Percentage change fiscal years 2005 to 2006: -16%. 

Total; 
Disbursements (in dollars): Fiscal year 2005: $21,528,664; 
Disbursements (in dollars): Fiscal year 2006: $7,311,911; 
Percentage change fiscal years 2005 to 2006: -66%. 

Source: GAO analysis of DOD data. 

[End of table] 

Data for solatia and condolence payments made in Afghanistan are 
available beginning in fiscal year 2006. 

Table 2: Reported solatia payments in Afghanistan, fiscal year 2006: 

Fiscal year: 2006; 
Obligations: $141,466. 

Source: GAO analysis of DOD data. 

[End of table] 

Table 3: Reported condolence payments in Afghanistan, fiscal year 2006: 

Fiscal year: 2006; 
Disbursements: $210,758. 

Source: GAO analysis of DOD data. 

[End of table] 

Condolence payment levels have fluctuated over time, but DOD does not 
analyze underlying reasons. 

DOD has not analyzed fluctuations in condolence payment levels to 
determine potential causes. 

However, command and unit officials with whom we spoke suggested 
several factors that could affect payment levels. 

* Nature of operations has changed, including number of major military 
offensives and tactics. 

* Iraqi security forces assumed more responsibility for security. 

* Number of units within an area of operations changed. 

We are unable to determine the extent to which these factors affected 
aggregate condolence payment levels. 

While data from condolence payment records in Iraq include information 
on Iraqi civilians, these data do not provide a complete picture of the 
number of civilians affected by U.S. forces actions. For example: 

Commanders may decide not to make payments, therefore no records exist. 

Condolence payment records identify only those civilians who received 
payments. 

Iraqi civilians may not report incidents or accept payments. 

Despite investigations by unit officials, some payments may be 
duplicative due to misrepresentations by Iraqi civilians. 

Records include payments made by coalition forces for harm they cause. 

Commanders may approve payments in some instances when U.S. forces did 
not cause harm: 

* Iraqi civilians are affected by enemy action as a result of 
employment with U.S. armed forces. 

* In rare cases, commanders may approve payments for harm caused by, 
insurgents (e.g., child harmed when U.S. forces clear incendiary 
explosive devices set by insurgents). 

* Iraqi civilians are affected by Iraqi security forces conducting 
combined operations with U.S. forces. 

Commanders rely on information other than condolence payments to modify 
military operations. 

Military officials in Afghanistan n and Iraq told us they rely on 
significant activity . (SIGACT) reporting that could be used to adjust 
opera tonal activities. 

For example, in Iraq DOD tracks numerous.types of events that may 
result in civilian death or injury, including: 

* enemy-initiated attacks against U.S. and coalition forces and their 
Iraqi partners: 

* escalation of force incidents involving U.S. and coalition or Iraqi 
security forces and Iraqi civilians: 

Additional information: 

Description of other programs established by the U.S. government to 
provide assistance to Iraqi and Afghan civilians who have been harmed 
by U.S. or coalition actions. 

Findings: 

The U.S. government has established several programs to provide program 
or monetary assistance to Iraqi and Afghan civilians who have been 
affected by U.S. or coalition actions. These programs include: 

Foreign Claims Act (DOD): 

Claims and Condolence Payment Program (Department of State) in Iraq: 

Marla Ruzicka Iraqi War Victims Fund (USAID): 

Afghan Civilian Assistance Program (USAID): 

Foreign Claims Act (DOD) in Iraq and Afghanistan: 

Compensates inhabitants of foreign countries for personal injury, 
death, or property damage caused by noncombat activities of U.S. 
military personnel overseas. 

Foreign claims commissions adjudicate claims up to $100,000 in Iraq and 
Afghanistan. Settlement approval based on dollar limits and composition 
of the adjudicating teams. 

* One-member commissions without attorneys can award up to $2,500. 

* Judge advocate one-member commissions can award up to $15,000. 

* Three-member commissions can award up to $50,000. 

* U.S. Army Claims Service or Judge Advocate General's office 
adjudicates claims of $50,000 to 100,000. 

* The Army General Counsel approves claims greater than $100,000: 

Claimants are responsible for providing evidence to substantiate claims 
under the Foreign Claims Act. 

DOD paid about $26 million to settle approximately 21,450 claims filed 
between fiscal year 2003 and fiscal year 2006 in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

According to the U.S. Army Claims Service, the primary reasons DOD paid 
claims under the Foreign Claims Act in Iraq include: 

(1) automobile accidents, 

(2) detainee property claims or injuries, and: 

(3) damage resulting from negligent discharges. 

Claims and Condolence Payment Program (Department of State) in Iraq: 

Initiated in 2005, makes condolence payments, in accordance with local 
custom, to Iraqi civilians for death, injury, or damage resulting from 
harm caused in incidents involving Department of State protective 
security details (PSD). 

* No maximum payment level, but generally follow maximum condolence 
payment amount ($2,500) established by DOD. 

* Payment amount is based on the totality of facts surrounding the 
incident, such as degree to which PSDs or Iraqi civilians involved in 
the incident are at fault and the extent of damage. 

* By accepting payment, claimant releases the U.S. government, and its 
employees and contractors, from future liability or claims. 

According to the Department of State, it has not generated its own 
written policies or procedures for this program. 

Since fiscal year 2006, the department approved payment for 8 claims 
totaling $26,000. 

No comparable program exists in Afghanistan. 

United States Agency for International Development: 

Marla Ruzicka Iraqi War Victims Fund: 

Initiated in 2005: 
768 projects totaling more than $17.8 million: 

Afghan Civilian Assistance Program: 

Initiated in 2003: 
51 projects totaling $2.3 million: 

Fund projects to assist Iraqi and Afghan civilians, institutions, and 
communities directly impacted by actions of U.S. or coalition forces. 

Projects include medical assistance, vocational training, and 
infrastructure projects. 

No money is provided directly to Iraqi or Afghan civilians. The U.S. 
Agency for International Development provides funds to its partner 
organizations in country. 

No written program guidance or spending ceilings for individual 
project. 

[End of section] 

Enclosure III: Comments from the Department of Defense: 
Under Secretary Of Defense: 
1100 Defense Pentagon: 
Washington, DC 20301-1 100: 
Comptroller: 

May 2007: 

The Honorable David M. Walker: 
Comptroller General of the United States: 
Washington, DC 20548: 

Dear Mr. Walker: 

This is the Department of Defense (DoD) response to the GAO draft 
report, GAO-07-699, "Military Operations: The Department of Defense's 
Use of Solatia and Condolence Payments in Iraq and Afghanistan," dated 
April 10, 2007 (GAO Code 350895). 

Thank you for the opportunity to review the subject GAO draft report. 
By providing authority for the Commanders' Emergency Response Program 
(CERP), Congress has made available an important tool that our 
commanders are using effectively in Iraq and Afghanistan. We welcome 
the GAO findings and have implemented the proposed changes to clarify 
reporting requirements. The following responds to the report's 
recommendations. Proposed technical changes to the draft will be 
submitted separately. 

Recommendation 1: The GAO recommended that the Secretary of Defense 
direct the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) to revise the 
Commander's Emergency Response Program (CERP) guidance to clarify the 
definitions as to what is reported in the two CERP categories: (1) 
condolence payments and (2) battle damage payments. 

DOD Response: DoD concurs with this recommendation and has issued 
revised guidance which will facilitate accurate reporting from the 
field. 

Recommendation 2: The GAO recommended that the Secretary of Defense 
direct the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) to require document 
reference numbers be provided for payments to allow DoD to determine 
whether expenditures of Commander's Emergency Response Program funds 
are appropriately categorized and to permit DoD to obtain detailed 
information for analysis and reporting, as appropriate. 

DOD Response: DoD concurs with this recommendation and the Commander's 
Emergency Response Program guidance has been altered to reflect this 
recommendation. 

Thank you for the opportunity to respond to the draft report. 

Sincerely, 

Signed by: 

Tina W. Jonas: 

cc: 

Ms. Sharon Pickup: 
Director, Defense Capabilities and Management:
Government Accountability Office: 

[End of section] 

Enclosure IV: GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments: 

GAO Contact: 

Sharon L. Pickup, (202) 512-9619 or pickups@gao.gov: 

Staff Acknowledgments: 

In addition to the person named above, Carole F. Coffey, Assistant 
Director; Kelly Baumgartner; Krislin Bolling; Alissa Czyz; K. Nicole 
Harms; Ronald La Due Lake; Marcus L. Oliver; and Jason Pogacnik also 
made major contributions to this report. 

FOOTNOTES 

[1] 10 U.S.C.  2734. 

[2] Guidance issued by the Office of the Secretary of Defense 
(Comptroller) establishes 19 uses for Commander's Emergency Response 
Program funds including condolence payments and battle damage payments. 
For purposes of this report, we use the term condolence payment to 
refer to condolence payments and battle damage payments which we have 
combined when calculating total condolence payments. We did this 
because DOD guidance does not clearly define when payments for property 
damage should be recorded as condolence payments or as battle damage 
payments. 

[3] Condolence payments have been made in Iraq since March 2004 and in 
Afghanistan since November 2005. Solatia payments were made in Iraq 
from June 2003 to January 2005. Solatia payments have been made in 
Afghanistan since October 2005. 

[4] While data from condolence payment records include information on 
Iraqi civilians, these data do not provide a complete picture of the 
number of civilians affected by U.S. forces' actions for various 
reasons, such as Iraqi civilians not reporting incidents or accepting 
payments. 

[5] Iraq is divided into major areas of responsibility referred to as 
major subordinate commands. These include (1) Multinational Division-- 
Baghdad, (2) Multinational Division--North, (3) Multinational Force-- 
West, (4) Multinational Division--Central South, and (5) Multinational 
Division--Southeast. 

[6] As the executive agent for CERP, the Secretary of the Army 
promulgates detailed procedures to ensure that unit commanders carry 
out CERP in a manner consistent with applicable laws, regulations, and 
DOD guidance, including rules for expending CERP funds. 

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