Debt Collection:

Air Force Efforts To Collect Debts From Former Service Members

AFMD-86-48BR: Published: Apr 30, 1986. Publicly Released: Jun 6, 1986.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Air Force's efforts to collect debts former service members owed it.

GAO found that: (1) during the past 5 years, debts increased significantly; (2) collection rates fluctuated and then decreased; (3) enlistment/reenlistment bonuses paid to ineligible service members accounted for the majority of the debts; and (4) the Air Force is designing a new accounts-receivable system, which it expects to implement by November 1987. GAO also found that: (1) receivables from enlistment/reenlistment bonuses will most likely increase in the future because the Air Force will increase the amount of bonus paid upon reenlistment from 50 percent to 75 percent; (2) the Air Force identifies many debts when members leave the service early; (3) the Air Force has contracted with collection agencies to recover delinquent funds; and (4) the Air Force plans to offset debts against income tax refunds.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Department of Defense (DOD) components are expected to consider all avenues of recoupment in reducing debts.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to examine the possibility of offsetting amounts owed by former service members against other government program payments and begin making such offsets where it is practical to do so.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Based on DOD hearing procedures, the Air Force has begun developing a collection process for implementation. Also, Chapter 3 of the Air Force Regulations, revised on March 1, 1987, implements DOD regulations on offsetting debts from government salaries received.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to ensure that delinquent amounts owed by former service members are offset against government salaries received.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: An out-of-service subsystem was implemented in November 1987. It assesses interest, penalties, and administrative charges on all delinquent receivables established after November 1987, and identifies debts for reporting to commercial credit bureaus. Debts before November 1987 will be converted to the new system in September 1988.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to closely monitor efforts to develop and implement a new accounts-receivable system to ensure that known problems are corrected and development efforts are completed without significant slippage to established milestones.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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