DOD Overseas Schools:

Compensation Adequate for Recruiting and Retaining Well-Qualified Teachers

GAO-03-19: Published: Dec 12, 2002. Publicly Released: Dec 12, 2002.

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The Department of Defense (DOD) overseas schools educate more than 70,000 children of military service members and DOD civilian employees throughout the world. In order to ensure the continued success of this school system, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2002 directed GAO to assess whether the DOD overseas teachers' compensation package is adequate to recruit and retain qualified teachers. The act also required GAO to determine whether any revisions to the law governing DOD overseas teachers' salaries were advisable.

DOD overseas teachers' compensation compares favorably to that of U.S. teachers. In general, DOD overseas teachers receive a standard federal benefit package, including health and life insurance and coverage under the Federal Employees' Retirement System. Many DOD overseas teachers also receive allowances, such as a living quarters allowance, that U.S. teachers do not receive. On average, salaries for DOD overseas teachers are higher than U.S. teachers' salaries. Despite the generous compensation package, there is some dissatisfaction among overseas teachers regarding health care. DOD has little difficulty recruiting and retaining well-qualified teachers for overseas schools. In school year 2001-02, DOD recruiters filled over 99 percent of vacant teacher positions. Based on certification, experience, and education, the quality of DOD overseas teachers is high. Virtually all teachers in DOD schools are certified in the subjects or grades they teach. DOD may have some difficulties recruiting and retaining teachers in a few subject areas and geographic locations, but any such difficulties do not appear to threaten the quality of the overseas teachers workforce. DOD has developed a process for determining and paying teachers' salaries that meets statutory requirements. Although this system is time-consuming and burdensome, techniques that could address these difficulties do not meet legal requirements. Given DOD's success recruiting and retaining well-qualified teachers, it is not advisable at this time to revise the law.

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