Information on Military Technician Conversions to Full-Time Active Duty Guard and Reserve

FPCD-82-57: Published: Sep 8, 1982. Publicly Released: Sep 8, 1982.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO determined the purpose and scope of the military technical program and reviewed the conversion of 86 civilian positions to Army military positions at Fort Totten, New York. GAO also determined whether these conversions were widespread in the armed services and what justifications and cost-benefit analyses were used in making the conversions.

The Army and the Air Force have converted almost 10,000 civilian military technical positions to full-time, active duty Guard and Reserve positions since February 1979. These 86 conversions and 5,400 overall conversions were part of a congressionally directed test to determine the Reserve components' ability to attract and retain qualified active Guard and Reserve personnel in full-time military positions. The remaining conversions, which took place after the test ended in June 1980, were initiated by the Department of Defense, with congressional approval, and were intended to enhance Army and Air Force readiness in the event of war or a national emergency. Despite the conversion test's lack of support to show that active Guard and Reserve personnel enhance readiness, the Army plans to convert 3,500 Army Reserve military technical positions to active Guard and Reserve over 5 years and the Air Force plans to convert 1,700 positions over a 3-year period. Both conversion programs would begin in fiscal year 1984. While the Army claims that enhancing readiness, not cost, should be the overriding consideration in these decisions, it has no evidence that the move would improve readiness. Individuals interviewed at Fort Totten felt that the converted personnel were not qualified, cost more than military technicians, and did not increase military readiness. GAO found that the cost analysis used for the program at Fort Totten was faulty and excluded both direct and indirect costs.

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