Need for Improved Reports for Monitoring Military Bonus Program

FPCD-77-34: Published: Mar 31, 1977. Publicly Released: Mar 31, 1977.

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As a result of an earlier GAO report, the House Committee on Armed Services directed the Department of Defense (DOD) to submit semiannual reports on its bonus programs in an effort to ensure that the services would do their utmost to eliminate wasteful practices and administer the programs as intended. GAO now believes that certain changes in the structure of these reports could improve their usefulness in monitoring both the administration of the bonus authority and the bonuses' effect on solving attraction and retention problems in critical skills.

Current report information, format 1, on the number and skills of members who received bonuses is not sufficient to evaluate the bonuses' effect on solving attraction and retention problems in critical skills. Information on the number and skill of bonus recipients serving outside their bonus skills, format 2, does not show whether the data reported is significant in relation to the total bonus recipients on active duty. The Committee did not request DOD to report the number of bonus recipients who received involuntary discharges or the amount of their unearned bonuses. The substantial length of the current reports makes it difficult to use them to monitor the bonuses' effect on solving attraction and retention problems in critical skills. Current reporting periods are not in concurrence with established data collection cycles.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: Format 1 should show: (1) the total enlistments and reenlistments achieved in each critical skill; (2) the funded enlistment and reenlistment bonus goals; and (3) the number and amount of all enlistment bonuses committed and reenlistment bonuses paid. Bonus program achievements should be viewed in the light of the bonus costs. Report format 2 should distinguish among: (1) recipients improperly assigned and serving outside their bonus skills; (2) recipients reclassified due to normal career progression; and (3) recipients serving in approved comparable skills. Future reports should include all recipients discharged prior to completion of their obligated bonus service. The report should include a highlights section summarizing the most significant information and the report cycle should be adjusted to coincide with the federal fiscal year so that the reported program results can be reconciled with other program information. The Committee should instruct DOD to evaluate each service's data collection and reporting procedures to ensure that the above criteria will be met.

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