Military Personnel Reassignments:

Services Are Exploring Opportunities to Reduce Relocation Costs

NSIAD-96-84: Published: Feb 16, 1996. Publicly Released: Feb 16, 1996.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the services' practices for relocating personnel, focusing on whether: (1) opportunities exist to reduce the costs of permanent change-of-station (PCS) moves; (2) the number of moves and related costs have decreased in proportion to the reductions in military end stregnths; and (3) frequent reassignments significantly impair military readiness.

GAO found that: (1) few opportunities exist to reduce PCS costs because federal laws entitle servicemembers to certain relocation benefits; (2) overseas commitments and other laws also require the services to move a large number of servicemembers each year; (3) despite these constraints, the services are taking steps to reduce the number of PCS moves and thereby reduce annual costs; (4) each service has already made at least one major assessment of its PCS policies and practicies and has changed some of them to create efficiencies; (5) to further reduce costs, the services are encouraging consecutive assignments in certain geographic locations and increasing tour lengths where possible; (6) according to an Octover 1995 Department of Defense (DOD) task force report, DOD could futher decrease its overseas military requirements and costs by hiring overseas contractors; (7) the number of relocations, but not their costs, decreased in proportion to the large reductions in military end strengths from fiscal year 1987 (the beginning of military downsizing) through fiscal year 1995; (8) some variation exists among categories of PCS moves and the military services, for example, PCS moves within the Unites States increased slightly in recent years because of turbulence caused by military downsizing and personnel returning from Europe; (9) the main reasons PCS costs did not decrease were inflation, changes in some entitlements, and an increase in the number of servicemembers with dependents; and (10) according to service officials, the frequency of PCS moves is only a minor contributor to readiness problems in military units and other factors, especially the increase in deployments for operations other than war, have a greater impact on readiness.

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