Selective Service:

Cost and Implications of Two Alternatives to the Present System

NSIAD-97-225: Published: Sep 10, 1997. Publicly Released: Sep 10, 1997.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the organization and costs of the Selective Service System (SSS) draft registration program and estimates of the comparative costs and organizational structure changes of two selected alternatives: (1) a suspended registration alternative, under which most of SSS' infrastructure would remain intact, including a significant portion of its staff and all of its local, district appeal, civilian review, and national boards; and (2) a deep standby alternative, which would suspend registration, reduce a substantial portion of the workforce, and disband the local, district appeal, civilian review, and national boards.

GAO noted that: (1) most of SSS' potential cost reductions, under either a suspended registration or a deep standby alternative, would result from reductions in personnel; (2) SSS estimates that the suspended registration alternative would reduce authorized and assigned civilian, active military, and part-time military reserve personnel by about 33 percent; (3) these reductions would produce first-year cost savings of $4.1 million and subsequent annual cost savings of $5.7 million; (4) SSS estimates that the deep standby alternative would reduce authorized civilian, active military, and part-time reserve personnel by about 60 percent; (5) the latter alternative reflects a dismissal of thousands of trained, unpaid local, review, and appeal board volunteers; (6) under the deep standby alternative, the part-time state directors, who according to SSS officials are paid for an average of 14 days of work per year, would not be paid; (7) altogether, these reductions would produce first-year cost savings of $8.5 million and subsequent annual cost savings of $11.3 million; (8) under both alternatives, mass registrations would be needed if a mobilization were authorized; (9) SSS' plans show that the agency could currently meet the Department of Defense's (DOD) requirement to provide the first draftees at 193 days; (10) in contrast, SSS officials believe that the agency would be unable to meet DOD's current requirements for unpaid manpower under either alternative; (11) the reason cited is the time needed to reinstate an active registration system (for either alternative), to reconstitute and train the boards, and to rebuild their supporting infrastructure (for the deep standby alternative); (12) SSS officials estimate that in reinstating registration after suspension, they could meet DOD's requirement for the first draftees in about 217 days; (13) they also estimate that in reinstating a registration system, reconstituting and training the boards, and rebuilding the supporting infrastructure after a deep standby posture, they could meet DOD's requirement for the first draftees in about 374 days; (14) officials told GAO that these estimates represent their best assessment of the time required to return to full operations; and (15) SSS officials also estimated that the cost to reinstate a suspended registration could total about $17.2 million and the cost to revitalize the agency from a deep standby posture could total about $22.8 million.

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