Actions Needed To Improve Military Chain of Command and Inspectors General Grievance Procedures

FPCD-79-23: Published: Jun 11, 1979. Publicly Released: Jun 11, 1979.

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Surveys have shown that many members of the U.S. military services do not have confidence that the grievance procedures available to them are effective in resolving their problems.

The services believe that resolution of members' problems is a command responsibility and should be accomplished at the lowest possible level in the chain of command. The two principal systems available to service members, chain of command and Inspectors General (IG), fall short of meeting the criteria which personnel experts consider necessary for a workable grievance system. The Army and Air Force permit their members to initiate grievances with the IG without first attempting resolution through the chain of command. This often results in a duplication of effort, delays in resolution, and preclusion of supervisors from fulfilling a basic command responsibility. The Navy and Marine Corps do not provide such a degree of access to the IG; and, as a result, grievances can be buried in an ineffective command chain or members may feel compelled to go outside the services to government or congressional officials. The independence of the IG is questionable since they are responsible to and evaluated by the commanders on whose staffs they serve. Data on grievances are either nonexistent, incomplete, or inaccurate.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the services to adopt a grievance system composed of the chain of command and IG, with particular emphasis on using the strength of the command chain as the primary source for initial problem resolution, and using the IG only for third-party review of disputed decisions or chain of command inaction. The IG, or an impartial adjudicator if necessary, should be sufficiently isolated from command control so that decisions will be creditable. Time limits should be established for each stage of processing and appeals. Data on formal cases processed and their outcomes should be developed and evaluated, along with periodic organizational performance assessments and members' attitude surveys. Members' awareness and confidence in the grievance system must be increased through well-documented and publicized procedures and reports of system success.

    Agency Affected:


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