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entitled 'Military Personnel: Air National Guard Has Taken Steps to 
Improve the Reliability of Personnel Strength Data, but More Needs to 
be Done' which was released on August 1, 2007, 2007. 

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August 1, 2007: 

The Honorable Thomas F. Hall: 
The Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs: 

Subject: Military Personnel: Air National Guard Has Taken Steps to 
Improve the Reliability of Personnel Strength Data, but More Needs to 
Be Done: 

Dear Secretary Hall: 

In September 2004, the Air National Guard (ANG) discovered inaccuracies 
in its personnel strength data for recruits with no prior service 
assigned to pay groups F (attending Initial Active Duty Training, or 
IADT) and P (awaiting IADT)[Footnote 1] Specifically, these data did 
not reflect an accurate accounting of the number of recruits in pay 
groups F and P. Those recruits attending IADT work full-time and are 
paid accordingly (pay group F), while recruits waiting to attend IADT 
receive pay on a part-time basis at the rate of four drills per month 
(pay group P). The pay for those attending IADT is much higher 
[Footnote 2] than for those waiting to attend IADT, so the effect of 
miscoding the pay groups on ANG's budget estimates can be considerable. 

In May 2007, we reported to Congress[Footnote 3] that although ANG has 
taken reasonable steps to correct the errors in its personnel strength 
data, some problems still exist with a key quality assurance tool (the 
Status Report Card process) and with the reliability of the alternate 
data being reported while the inaccuracies are addressed. 

The purpose of this correspondence is to inform you of the additional 
steps we believe that ANG needs to take to ensure the reliability of 
the personnel strength data being reported for the two pay groups. 

To prepare this correspondence, we drew upon the work from our May 2007 
issue paper. As part of that examination, we gathered and analyzed 
information provided by ANG's Manpower and Personnel Office on the 
actions ANG has completed. We reviewed applicable guidance[Footnote 4] 
to determine if it was adequate to ensure greater accuracy by the local 
units in updating the student records for recruits with no prior 
service to ensure that they were being correctly categorized into 
either pay group F or P. We reviewed documentation for the three 
systems change requests, including evidence that the systems change 
requests had been implemented, to determine whether these changes would 
automate processes currently being performed manually by the local 
units that were resulting in the data reliability errors. We also 
reviewed the statistical analysis software code used by ANG to produce 
the Status Report Card to determine the effectiveness of this mechanism 
in identifying errors and to assess the reliability of the Status 
Report Cards being generated. We reviewed a spreadsheet that ANG had 
prepared that showed the difference between the data being reported in 
the Reserve Component Common Personnel Data System for the actual end 
strength for pay groups F and P for fiscal year 2006 and what ANG 
officials described as comparable data for fiscal year 2006 from 
alternate sources (e.g., the Military Personnel Data System). Because 
this correspondence focuses on steps taken by ANG, we did not interview 
officials from the Air Education and Training Command, which owns and 
manages the alternate data reported. In conducting this work, we held 
discussions with cognizant officials from ANG and the Office of the 
Assistant Secretary of Defense (Reserve Affairs) to confirm the results 
of our work and to obtain explanations for any discrepancies noted. 
Agency officials concurred with our findings. 

We relied on the work described above, which we performed to produce 
our May 2007 issue paper, as we wrote this correspondence. This work 
was performed from June 2007 through July 2007 under the statutory 
authority of the Comptroller General to conduct evaluations on his own 
initiative and in accordance with generally accepted government 
auditing standards. 

ANG Has Taken Steps to Correct Data Errors, but Additional Steps Are 
Needed to Ensure Data Reliability: 

ANG has taken reasonable steps to correct the errors in its personnel 
strength data for recruits with no prior service; however, there are 
additional steps ANG needs to take to ensure the reliability of the 
personnel strength data for the pay groups. In January 2006, ANG 
established its Status Report Card process to monitor the number of 
errors that occurred at the local unit level in updating the student 
status codes for training that affects the pay group (F or P). The 
Status Report Card includes data on the number of errors detected in 
each local unit's records for recruits in pay groups F and P, and 
assigns each unit a grade ranging from A through F, with A representing 
the least number of errors and F representing the greatest number of 
errors. ANG officials stated that this process has had a positive 
impact on the units' data accuracy, since the total number of errors 
has declined. ANG reported that the number of errors at the inception 
of the Status Report Card process was 1,431 and that as of February 
2007 the number was 531. 

While these steps may have reduced errors in the data, ANG still cannot 
ensure the reliability of its personnel strength data because it has 
not followed federal internal control standards. Federal internal 
control standards state that documentation should exist and be readily 
available for review by others to allow an independent 
evaluation.[Footnote 5] Federal internal control standards also require 
that data control activities, such as edit checks, verifications, and 
reconciliations, be conducted and documented to ensure the reliability 
of the data.[Footnote 6] However, ANG has not (1) documented the 
process, so it cannot ensure that it is operating as intended; (2) 
established controls to ensure that data fields in the statistical 
analysis software code that require updates are being updated before 
the Status Report Card is generated each month; or (3) ensured the 
reliability of the alternate data used to generate the Status Report 
Card. In addition, ANG has not taken steps to ensure the reliability of 
the alternate personnel strength data being reported[Footnote 7] until 
the errors from the official data source (Reserve Component Common 
Personnel Data System) were corrected.[Footnote 8] ANG officials stated 
that they did not validate the alternate data being reported in the 
interim nor confirm that internal control procedures had been 
established to ensure the reliability of these data. 

The Branch Chief for Strength Management and Data Analysis stated that 
the focus was on implementing fixes to solve the problem, not on 
adequately documenting the Status Report Card process. This official 
said that the process lacks control activities, such as edit checks, 
because the available staff did not understand that they needed to 
establish these controls or how to do so. The official explained that 
ANG did not verify the alternate data because it is only an "end user," 
and the data are owned and managed by the Air Education and Training 
Command. Nonetheless, these officials are using these alternate data to 
determine the accuracy of the Reserve Component Common Personnel Data 
System data for pay groups F and P. Moreover, the official said that 
ANG did not have the means or the understanding to test the reliability 
of the alternate data. This official also stated that the Status Report 
Card process, suspended in March 2007, will resume after the Student 
Flight Guide has been revised to reflect the impact of the systems 
change requests and the process has been reviewed to ensure that it is 
an acceptable means for measuring performance. 

Until ANG documents how the Status Report Card process is intended to 
perform, its effectiveness as a monitoring tool is questionable. 
Likewise, unless ANG validates its alternate data, it cannot reasonably 
assure the users of the data that they are reliable. As a result, 
decision makers within the Department of Defense and Congress may not 
have accurate and complete information to make informed decisions. 

Recommendations for Executive Action: 

To ensure that ANG has reliable personnel strength data for these pay 
groups, we recommend that you take steps to ensure that ANG (1) 
documents the Status Report Card process, (2) establishes needed 
controls to ensure that data fields are updated before the Status 
Report Card is generated each month, and (3) in conjunction with the 
owners of the data (e.g., Air Education and Training Command), verifies 
the reliability of the data used to generate the Status Report Cards 
and the alternate data being reported. 

We will make copies of this correspondence available to others upon 
request. In addition, the correspondence will be available at no charge 
on GAO's Web site at [hyperlink,]. If you have any 
questions or wish to discuss this material further, please contact me 
at (202) 512- 5559 or Contact points for our Offices 
of Congressional Relations and Public Affairs may be found on the last 
page of this correspondence. GAO staff who made major contributions to 
the correspondence are listed in enclosure I. 

Sincerely yours, 

Signed by: 

Derek B. Stewart: 
Director, Defense Capabilities and Management: 


Enclosure I: 

GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments: 

GAO Contact: 

Derek B. Stewart (202) 512-5559 or 


In addition to the contact above, Cynthia Jackson, Assistant Director; 
Renee S. Brown; Grace A. Coleman; Julia C. Matta; J. Paul Newton; 
Rebecca Shea; and Dale O. Wineholt made key contributions to this 


[1] IADT is given to recruits who have and have not served in the 
military before. Recruits who have not previously served and have not 
attended IADT are not considered fully qualified to carry out their 
mission responsibilities and therefore are not deployable. 

[2] An ANG official estimated that for fiscal year 2007, the pay for 
each person in pay group F will amount to about $14,410 and the pay for 
each person in pay group P will amount to about $3,600. 

[3] Budget Justification Review of the Reliability of the Air National 
Guard's Personnel Strength Data, May 22, 2007. The objective of budget 
justification reviews is to provide pertinent and timely information to 
Congress about the President's proposed budget for specific programs. 
GAO's budget justification review guidance limits the distribution of 
these reviews' results papers to congressional committees and staff. 

[4] Air National Guard, Assignments Within the Air National Guard, Air 
National Guard Instruction 36-2101, June 11, 2004; Air National Guard 
Directorate of Personnel and Training, Guide for Student Flight Initial 
Classification Actions and Training Status Codes, April 25, 2005; Air 
Force Instruction 36-2101, Classifying Military Personnel (Officer and 
Enlisted), March 7, 2006; and Air Force Instruction 36-2201 (Volume 3), 
Air Force Training Program On The Job Training Administration, December 
20, 2006. 

[5] GAO, Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government, GAO/ 
AIMD-00-21.3.1 (Washington, D.C.: November 1999). 

[6] GAO/AIMD-00-21.3.1 and GAO, Assessing the Reliability of Computer- 
Processed Data, GAO-02-15G (Washington, D.C.: September 2002). 

[7] ANG reported alternate data in its Official Guard and Reserve 
Manpower Strength and Statistics report for pay groups F and P for 
fiscal years 2005 and 2006. 

[8] The Reserve Component Common Personnel Data System is the official 
data source for manpower planning, strength accounting, and budgeting 
for reserve components.

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