Army Incentive Funds Need More Effective Targeting To Reduce Critical Personnel Shortages

FPCD-83-10: Published: Mar 2, 1983. Publicly Released: Mar 2, 1983.

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GAO reported on its review of the Army's Selected Reserve Incentive Program. The purpose of the review was to determine whether the Army is: (1) targeting incentive funds to correct the more critical personnel shortages in units and skills; and (2) adequately evaluating the effects of the incentives on strength levels.

Although Army policy is to target incentives to high-priority units and critical skills, GAO found that about one-third of the incentives awarded in fiscal year 1981 went to persons with noncritical skills in low-priority units. The poor use of incentive funds resulted from changes in criteria the Army used to determine eligibility for incentives. GAO found that units no longer classified as high priority continued to be eligible to award new incentives. Moreover, GAO found that the Army did not know whether incentives were being effectively targeted because it had not developed an adequate reporting system on their use. Beginning in fiscal year 1983, the Army deleted low-priority units from incentive eligibility and began basing eligibility for critical skills on specific occupations rather than the broader career management fields. Although expenditures for the incentive program have increased, the Army has not determined the effectiveness of the incentives in assisting selected reserve recruiting and retention efforts. Data are not available to determine whether the program is reducing personnel shortages in essential units and skills or to assist Congress to determine whether the program should be modified.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Army Research Institute will monitor and evaluate the effects of the changes on selected reserve strength and SRIP resources. Initial indicators on the new GI Bill for Selected Reserve members have enhanced quality indicators of non-prior-service enlistees.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should use the results of the evaluation as a basis for making any necessary program adjustments.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Army's Selected Reserve Incentive Program (SRIP) results appear of limited use in developing improved SRIP program adjustments and variable incentive levels offered between units in the same geographical area. Effective October 1, 1986, the SRIP Unit Bonus Program will provide bonuses primarily to non-bonus-skill soldiers in understrength priority units.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should develop and implement a plan for evaluating the incentive program which would provide significant, valid, and reliable information on the effect of the program on essential skills or units.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Eligibility criteria were discussed in testimony by ASA (M&RA) before the House Armed Service Committee in March 1984.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should discuss eligibility criteria, relative to the congressional intent of the program, when testifying in connection with congressional oversight hearings and appropriations requests.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The current policy for incentives authorizes a $2,000 level of cash bonuses for designated skills and a lower level in high-priority units. Members with skills in high-priority units may receive a cash bonus of up to $2,000 for enlistment or the optimal educational assistance incentive. Members enlisting in high-priority units in other designated skills may receive a $1,500 cash bonus.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should minimize the use of incentives for persons with noncritical skills in high-priority units and develop a reporting system on the use of incentives.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: An informal review of reserve component resource priority list level-six units was conducted. ASA considers the mission of all units within resource priorities 1-6 essential to the nation's mobilization capability. These units have a deployment mission and any personnel shortages within these units are deemed critical and adversely impact mission accomplishment.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should examine the strength level and wartime mission of each unit in the sixth priority group and limit eligibility to those units having critical personnel shortages and the most vital missions within the group.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: As requested by Congress, ARNG and the Army provided SRIP review data for consolidation into an OSD report, "Recruiting and Retention Resources for the Reserve Components", dated November 1985. This report and OSD budget materials have been made available to DOD for submission to Congress.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should discuss evaluation results when testifying in connection with congressional oversight hearings and appropriations requests.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

 

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