Army Needs Better Data To Develop Policies for Sole and Inservice Parents

FPCD-82-50: Published: Sep 13, 1982. Publicly Released: Sep 13, 1982.

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As a result of congressional concern, GAO conducted a review of military policies for sole and inservice parents and the affect of such parents on the Army's ability to meet its mission. GAO tried to determine whether the Army has a valid basis for making policy decisions regarding sole and inservice parents.

GAO believes that restricting the enlistment, reenlistment, and assignment of all sole and inservice parents cannot be supported, because the Army lacks reliable data on which to base policy decisions. Some Army definitions of dependents of sole and inservice parents are not clear and do not distinguish between physical custody and legal custody, nor do they specify whether inservice parents include members of the Reserves. A GAO survey of firstline supervisors disclosed that, while the performance of sole and inservice parents differed somewhat when compared to other service members, most parents attended and performed work at least satisfactorily and would most likely be available and punctual in the event of war or a national emergency. Research shows that individuals recruited to replace sole and inservice parents would not be as qualified because the number of 18-year-olds and persons graduating from high school will be declining during the next 20 years. In addition, GAO has determined that the Army's Dependent Care Counseling Program, whose purpose is to ensure the deployability of sole and inservice parents, can be improved.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Army believes that this recommendation is unnecessary since it has no plans to take class action against such members. The Army says it will continue to discharge or separate those who are unable to perform their prescribed duties due to parenthood on a case-by-case basis.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should forego discharging all sole and inservice parents from the Army or assigning them to positions coded as nondeployable until scientific and objective data supporting these actions are obtained. This data should compare the performance of sole and inservice parents with their peers in the service and individuals who likely would be recruited as replacements.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Army does not concur with this recommendation because only deployability is at issue, not quality. The Army's position is that it is both inequitable and unsupportable to declare a certain category of people nondeployable.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should develop the data necessary to reconsider the reasonableness of restricting the enlistment of sole and inservice parents.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should clarify the definitions of sole and inservice parents.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  4. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Army stated that it is designing a more simple plan to ensure that the service members understand his or her responsibility to his family and to the Army.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should enforce the Dependent Care Counseling Program's regulations and verify data on persons assuming responsibilities for dependents during sole and inservice parents' absences for military reasons.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

 

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