Military Personnel:

Options To Implement Officer Reductions

NSIAD-87-162: Published: Aug 5, 1987. Publicly Released: Aug 5, 1987.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO examined the adequacy of current officer separation policies to achieve a 6-percent reduction in the number of active duty officers by the close of fiscal year (FY) 1989.

GAO found that: (1) the services have adequate discretionary authority to involuntarily separate officers with 1 to 11 years of service; (2) current legislation and policies limit the services' authority to separate officers beyond the llth year; (3) officers with 18 years of service are allowed to continue until retirement eligibility at 20 years; (4) there are significant overstrengths in the number of officers with 16 to 20 years of service, due to the services' desire to retain high-quality, combat-experienced officers; and (5) it will be difficult to execute the 6-percent reduction without impairing combat capability, since current constraints will result in disproportionate cuts among company-grade officers. GAO also found that the Department of Defense (DOD) and the services are considering: (1) separating majors and Navy lieutenant commanders who were twice passed over for promotion and awarding those officers separation pay in lieu of full retirement benefits; (2) seeking legislation which would permit reductions in force (RIF) among officers who are currently RIF-exempt; (3) forcing officers to retire as they become eligible; (4) lifting time-in-grade requirements to promote voluntary early retirement; and (5) pursuing the repeal of the FY 1988 and FY 1989 reductions while implementing the 1-percent cut required in FY 1987.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: With the passage of the FY 1989 Defense Authorization Act, Congress relieved DOD from any further officer reductions. Accordingly, options to implement the remaining 4-percent officer reductions are no longer applicable.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should estimate how much the cap on separation pay could be raised temporarily to equitably compensate officers currently protected, but who might be subjected to RIF before they reach retirement eligibility, and include that temporary separation pay increase among the legislative proposals DOD is considering for non-retirement-eligibles.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: With the passage of the FY 1989 Defense Authorization Act, Congress relieved DOD from any further officer reductions. Accordingly, options to implement the remaining 4-percent officer reductions are no longer applicable.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should assess the benefits of extending the time frame to implement the remaining 5-percent reduction by 2 years so that the reduction can include overstrengths in officers with 16 to 20 years of service when they become eligible for retirement, and report DOD findings to Congress with its legislative proposals.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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