Army Guard and Reserve Pay and Personnel Systems Are Unreliable and Susceptible to Waste and Abuse

FPCD-80-30: Published: Jan 28, 1980. Publicly Released: Jan 28, 1980.

Additional Materials:


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

The Army Guard and Reserve payroll is about $1.3 billion. The Reserve drill pay system operates on an exception basis, with Guard and Reserve personnel being automatically paid for scheduled drills unless the unit reports them absent. Many Guard and Reserve units have abused attendance reporting by recording absent members as present at drill assemblies to show high attendance levels. These abuses were reviewed by GAO to determine the extent of the practices and to recommend solutions to the problems.

It is estimated that between 5,500 to 6,000 reservists and guardsmen who are discharged each year may be indebted as much as $744,000 for payment for drills they did not attend. Furthermore, the Army has detected over a half million dollars in duplicate payments to 3,678 members during the last 2 years. Management controls over the payroll and related personnel systems are not adequate to prevent the erroneous payments. In addition, vital personnel strength information maintained in the pay and personnel systems is frequently inconsistent, inaccurate, and can adversely impact budget and mobilization plans. The reliability of the information in the pay and personnel systems is questionable primarily because data are not updated in a timely manner or information is lost, rejected, or erroneously changed.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

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

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should: direct the U.S. Army Finance and Accounting Center (USAFAC) to automatically assign members to a nonpay status after they have been absent from drills for 3 consecutive months; require USAFAC to establish responsibility and procedures for eliminating conditions which allow Reserve and Guard members to be paid by both the Joint Uniform Military Pay System-Reserve Components and the Active Army pay system; direct USAFAC to upgrade its computer program edits to detect errors identified in this report and develop methods to prevent pay transactions from by-passing program edits except in unusual circumstances and with high level approval; insure that Army Guard unit technicians do not have control over all processing functions with no feedback to unit commanders on changes made in the pay records; direct USAFAC to develop management reports for unit commanders and major Army commands that will provide timely and useful feedback on drill participation and pay transactions processed for unit members; develop an educational program for unit personnel on the importance of accurate attendance reporting and the consequences to expect for submitting erroneous reports; require the pay system to be redesigned to provide for positive reporting and processing; clarify regulations specifying the disbursing station for each unit; direct USAFAC to study the possibility of incorporating additional information in its tax data file from the disbursing offices to detect duplicate and overlapping payments for active duty for training and drill assemblies; direct the U.S. Army Forces Command to instruct all disbursing stations to institute a card system to prevent duplicate payments; direct the three accounting stations to refer any suspect duplicate payments to the Army's Criminal Investigation Division for possible fraudulent submissions; review and modify existing procedures to improve the timeliness, flow, and accuracy of source data needed for entering and deleting members from the pay and personnel systems; initiate actions to remove members from the rolls who do not meet established Army attendance standards; develop programs to readily verify or correct data in the systems as the need arises; and reconcile on a regular basis the pay and personnel data vital to management needs for the National Guard and Reserve.

    Agency Affected:


Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Mar 14, 2018

Mar 13, 2018

Mar 8, 2018

Mar 7, 2018

Feb 28, 2018

Feb 27, 2018

Feb 23, 2018

Feb 16, 2018

Jan 30, 2018

Looking for more? Browse all our products here