Civilianizing Certain Air Force Positions Could Result in Economies and Better Use of Military Personnel

PLRD-82-75: Published: Aug 11, 1982. Publicly Released: Aug 11, 1982.

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GAO discussed how the Air Force could reduce costs at Strategic Air Command (SAC) missile bases by using civilians in certain military positions and by reducing or eliminating certain military construction projects.

GAO concluded that grounds exist to question the Air Force's decision on military positions at three SAC bases and that substantial cost reductions could be reached. Further, GAO believes that planned military construction projects, identified by the Air Force and costing about $2 million, should be deferred until the question of conversions can be resolved. The Department of Defense's (DOD) longstanding policy has been to use civilians in positions which do not require military personnel. In a joint paper, DOD and the Office of Management and Budget stated that this policy can result in savings. However, GAO believes that the specifics need to be determined on a case-by-case basis. If justified, the process of converting military positions would increase personnel costs over the short term, since the displaced military people would not be released but would be used for other military needs. In the long run, converting military positions to general schedule civilian positions should reduce costs. GAO also believes that the Air Force should defer some of the planned military construction projects because of the potential for reduced need that would result from converting additional military positions to general schedule civilian positions.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Air Force claims that conversion of spaces from the military to civilians takes place as a result of: (1) the Air Force military-civilian mix process, an exercise it repeats each year to determine overages and shortages of skills; and (2) spaces tracked in its manpower system. However, civilian constraints have caused the Air Force to defer or reverse some conversions.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Air Force should reassess the determinations made on the individual military positions identified at Grand Forks, AFB, McConnell AFB, and Whiteman AFB and similiar positions at the remaining six SAC missile bases and determine how many, if any, of these positions should be civilianized. GAO also recommends that the Air Force request approval of additional positions, if they are necessary, and submit to the approving authority the detailed analyses justifying the change.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Air Force

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Air Force does not believe that military construction projects at McConnell AFB will be affected by the proposed military reductions.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Air Force should defer military construction projects at McConnell AFB and other SAC missile bases until it is determined whether reduced military authorizations due to civilianization will lessen the need for the project.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Air Force

  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Air Force says that the recommended civilianization would aggravate existing or create new military wartime skill shortfalls. Since the probability of deployment is very high for skills with shortfalls, the Air Force cannot concur with conversions of the magnitude recommended.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Air Force should use, when possible and if additional civilianization occurs, the replaced military personnel to counter military critical skill shortages in other areas. If additional civilianization is justified, the annual savings may offset any military personnel retraining expenses, if required.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Air Force

 

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