General and Flag Officers:

DOD's Draft Study Needs Adjustments

T-NSIAD-97-122: Published: Apr 8, 1997. Publicly Released: Apr 8, 1997.

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GAO discussed the preliminary results of its review of the Department of Defense's (DOD) draft general and flag officer requirements report.

GAO noted that: (1) variations of two job evaluation methodologies were readily available and were used on the 1997 general and flag officer studies; (2) both methodologies are based on subjective judgments about positions reviewed and allow management to override the results; (3) to save time, the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) permitted each of the services and the Joint Staff to independently and individually study its own general and flag officer requirements with the methodology they selected; (4) although using one methodology would have been a more consistent and comparable approach than using different methodologies, the individual results would not necessarily have been much different with a single methodology, due to the inherent subjectivity involved; (5) accordingly, GAO does not believe that much would be gained by redoing the services' and Joint Staff's studies; (6) GAO believes that some adjustments to DOD's draft report are in order, however; (7) GAO was concerned that: (a) actual requirements were unknown since the service secretaries adjusted their respective service study recommendations on general and flag officer requirements without explanation; (b) 35 general and flag officer requirements were counted twice when OSD developed its draft consolidated recommendations; and (c) the service studies did not fully consider the potential to convert military positions to civilian positions that may not be military-essential; (8) if Congress provided the additional general and flag officer positions that DOD's draft recommendations called for, the estimated increase in cost would be $1.2 million annually for compensation paid to the new general or flag officers and assistants plus a relatively small amount for the one-time purchase of new office furniture and other items and another $713,000 annually for the 12 new general and flag officers provided to the Marine Corps in 1996; (9) GAO's estimate is conservative because DOD provided no information about nine new active component general or flag officer positions and incomplete information about new reserve positions; and (10) in its draft report, DOD committed to eliminating as many colonels'/Navy captains' positions as it is creating for brigadier generals/rear admirals (lower half), although there is no mechanism that would cause that substitution to occur automatically.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD is awaiting analysis of the impact of the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) on the need for generals and flag officers before finalizing its report.

    Recommendation: Before the final report on general and flag officer requirements is sent to the Congress, the Secretary of Defense should modify the current draft report to include an explanation of the criteria used by the service secretaries to modify the results of the services' studies, and a statement about whether the numbers represent the actual requirements for general and flag officers.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD is awaiting analysis of the impact of the QDR on the need for generals and flag officers before finalizing its report.

    Recommendation: Before the final report on general and flag officer requirements is sent to the Congress, the Secretary of Defense should modify the current draft report to include an adjustment to the consolidated draft recommendations to eliminate double-counting.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD is awaiting analysis of the impact of the QDR on the need for generals and flag officers before finalizing its report.

    Recommendation: Before the final report on general and flag officer requirements is sent to the Congress, the Secretary of Defense should modify the current draft report to include an evaluation of the potential to convert non-military essential general and flag officer positions to civilian status.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD is awaiting analysis of the impact of the QDR on the need for generals and flag officers before finalizing its report.

    Recommendation: Before the final report on general and flag officer requirements is sent to the Congress, the Secretary of Defense should modify the current draft report to include an explanation of the mechanism to ensure that the number of colonel's/Navy captain's positions be reduced by the same number of added general and flag officers.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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