GAO Views on the Selected Reserve Bonus Incentive Programs for FY 1978 and FY 1979

FPCD-79-84: Published: Aug 13, 1979. Publicly Released: Aug 13, 1979.

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A survey was made of the use of the bonus as an incentive in recruiting and retaining members in the Selected Reserves. The manpower shortages, particularly in the Army Selected Reserves, are a serious problem which will not be solved by any single program. However, the Reserve can utilize the bonus incentive as a highly selective manpower tool.

Since the current bonus program was initiated on December 1, 1978, a total of 10,760 enlistment contracts were written in the Army components of the Reserves, with 10,304 choosing the enlistment cash bonus and 456 choosing the educational assistance option. The low number of educational assistance contracts reflects the limited attraction of this option. The services should give further consideration to increasing the total value of this option in order to enhance its attractiveness to full-time students which could help to reduce the level of competition between the Forces. While program officials have accumulated data to monitor Selected Reserve incentive program activity, they have not developed a plan to evaluate the effectiveness of the incentives, including criteria to measure the effect of the bonuses on recruiting and retaining personnel. This is a key element in program oversight, and should be developed in the near future.

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