Reserve Components:

Factors Related to Personnel Attrition in the Selected Reserve

NSIAD-91-135: Published: Apr 8, 1991. Publicly Released: Apr 8, 1991.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO examined enlisted personnel retention in the Selected Reserve, focusing on the causes and extent of personnel turnover and attrition.

GAO found that: (1) personnel losses in the Selected Reserve for fiscal year (FY) 1988 totalled 220,909, with attrition rates ranging from 11 percent of Air National Guard reservists to 30 percent of Army reservists; (2) transfers to individual ready reserve units made up the largest category of losses in the Selected Reserve; (3) while nonprior service personnel accounted for 42 percent of enlistments in FY 1988, they constituted 61 percent of overall losses in the Selected Service; (4) the loss of nonprior service reservists represented a direct cost to reserve components for recruitment and training; (5) although the Department of Defense (DOD) distinguished between losses to the total force and realignments within the force, all losses affected the Selected Reserve; (6) the lack of accurate information hampered DOD attrition management; (7) job conflicts, dissatisfaction with training and enlistment terms, and delayed receipt of reserve pay contributed to attrition; (8) mismatches between reservists' primary speciality and their duty specialty was strongly related to attrition; (9) DOD lacked a uniform policy for dealing with reservists who failed to honor their obligation to participate in training; and (10) DOD and various reserve components designed several initiatives to reduce attrition and improve reserve retention, but other opportunities existed to increase personnel retention.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD indicated that while such a program would be nice to have, it would not be prudent to devote resources to it in light of more urgent priorities.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Navy to establish a relocation program to assist relocating reservists to find unit positions near their new place of residence.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD agreed that such a system would be desirable, but indicated that it is not feasible before fiscal year 1996, when this recommendation will be reexamined.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of the Army and Air Force to establish procedures that will identify vacant positions in other National Guard and reserve components when no positions exist in the reservist's own component.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Due to uncertainty surrounding downsizing, DOD stated that such a test would not be worthwhile.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should test a revised enlistment/reenlistment bonus program for reservists and National Guard members to shift bonus payments to monthly installments, with special bonuses for completion of each year of added satisfactory participation.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD stated that payment at the end of drill would create too many problems. It stated that other efforts are underway to improve the timeliness of reserve pay.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should test, with selected units of the Selected Reserve, whether it is possible to pay reservists at the end of their drill period as a means to improve attendance and reduce nonparticipation.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Revised DOD Directive 1215.13 has been drafted to increase flexibility.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should test, with selected units of the Selected Reserve, whether there are more effective options than the current 1 drill weekend a month and 2 weeks of annual training schedule that would make reserve training more flexible, while still meeting training requirements.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD has standardized attrition information based on analyses conducted by the RAND Corp. and DMDC.

    Recommendation: To help to properly manage attrition, even in an era of likely force reductions, the Secretary of Defense should improve the accuracy of the Reserve Component Common Personnel Data System.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD Instruction 7730.54, published March 15, 1991, revised definitions and reporting procedures.

    Recommendation: To help to properly manage attrition, even in an era of likely force reductions, the Secretary of Defense should develop common, uniform measures of attrition for all services that provide more appropriate and usable data for decisionmakers on losses in the Selected Reserve than the current overall loss rates.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  8. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Until the issues surrounding downsizing the active and reserve forces are resolved, DOD indicated it would not be feasible to develop a more specific policy.

    Recommendation: To help to properly manage attrition, even in an era of likely force reductions, the Secretary of Defense should direct the services to examine the nature and extent of potential ramifications associated with their reliance on nonprior service recruits to meet manpower requirements.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  9. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD has developed a revision to its policy, DOD Directives 1215.5 and 1215.3.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should develop a uniform policy for dealing with nonparticipating reservists that recognizes that reservists are part-time volunteers and provides for standard disposition procedures.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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