Military Recruiting:

More Innovative Approaches Needed

NSIAD-95-22: Published: Dec 22, 1994. Publicly Released: Jan 25, 1995.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Defense's (DOD) recruiting operations, focusing on the: (1) areas in which military recruiting costs could be reduced; (2) recruiting challenges the services face in the youth market; (3) services' future plans for recruiting staffs and organizations; and (4) services' management of their recruiting facilities.

GAO found that: (1) although the military services have requested additional funds to meet future recruiting challenges, the services may have overstated the potential challenges; (2) although the recruitment market is expected to grow steadily until 2000, the percentage of the market that DOD needs to meet its personnel requirements is expected to decrease; (3) DOD and the services believe that future recruiting could become more difficult; (4) between 1989 and 1992, the attrition rate for new recruits ranged between 29 and 39 percent; (5) the services have been reluctant to change existing recruitment methods and implement several proposals that would restructure recruiting organizations, eliminate recruiting management layers, and consolidate recruiting organizations or functional areas; (6) the services have consistently rejected the option of merging recruiting operations because of the unique nature of each service; (7) although the services have had limited success in reducing attrition rates, these efforts have not resulted in DOD-wide initiatives; (8) increasing the number of recruiters at this time may not be cost-effective; and (9) recent technological advances have reduced the need for many of the recruitment offices.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Naval Postgraduate School is studying the factors to consider when locating recruiting facilities. Also, the school is developing a computer model that measures efficiency of decisions to close, open, or relocate recruiting stations, and the expected completion date is May 1999. The Army Corps of Engineers continues to examine the feasibility of relocating recruiting overhead personnel in commercial leases. Relocations are planned to occur from fiscal years 1997-2000.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the secretaries of the military services to encourage the development and expansion, as appropriate, of concepts such as the "Philadelphia project," in the management of military recruiting facilities.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In its 1997 report on enlisted attrition, GAO made a recommendation for the services to revise their recruiter incentive systems to tie quotas to recruits' successful completion of basic training. This recommendation was incorporated into the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1998 (P.L. 105-85), and DOD has begun to implement it. GAO also issued a more in-depth report on recruiter incentive systems in January 1998, NSIAD-98-58. This report contained further recommendations to improve recruiter incentive systems, which DOD has begun to implement.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the secretaries of the military services to revalidate the recruiting quota systems, which currently deter recruiters from maximizing their numbers of enlistments.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: As of June 1996, a draft report of the Joint-Service Study was being prepared. It made no recommendations to eliminate layers from the recruiting commands' organizational structure.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the secretaries of the military services to continue efforts to streamline the current recruiting bureaucracy, eliminating layers where possible.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In a follow-on report, NSIAD-97-39, dated January 6, 1997, GAO made eight recommendations for DOD to reduce first-term enlisted attrition. Seven of these recommendations were incorporated into the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1998 (P.L. 105-85). DOD had already implemented the eighth recommendation when the law was enacted. DOD is working to implement the other seven.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the secretaries of the military services to aggressively test ideas to reduce first-term attrition.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  5. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD received a draft Rand study in August 1995, which recommended increased funding. Congress supported this with $89 million for an advertising budget. DOD expanded the Rand contract to look at other matters. The results of additional efforts are not scheduled to be completed until September 1998. Analyses continue to be performed but are not likely to result in savings as intended by recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the secretaries of the military services, in allocating resources, to use the results of current studies, and undertake additional efforts if necessary, to develop a more cost-effective mix of available recruiting resources, including advertising, recruiters, bonuses, and other elements affecting recruiting.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: A new Recruiting Market Information System has been developed.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the secretaries of the military services to routinely incorporate more in-depth cost-benefit analyses in decisions to maintain or establish new recruiting offices and to evaluate the costs and benefits of maintaining offices in less productive areas of the country.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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