Opportunities Exist To Reduce Operating Costs of the Department of Defense Overseas Dependents Schools

HRD-82-86: Published: Aug 26, 1982. Publicly Released: Aug 26, 1982.

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William J. Gainer
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GAO reviewed the opportunities for savings in the teacher substitution and pupil transportation programs in the Department of Defense Dependents' Schools (DODDS) system.

Department of Defense (DOD) policy states that teachers who reside in the United States should be hired only if vacancies cannot be filled by transferring currently employed teachers or by hiring locally. However, a large number of substitute teachers are needed and local applicants constitute the only source to meet demand. As a result, some principals are reluctant to hire local applicants as full-time teachers. The high demand for substitutes is attributable primarily to the tightly structured rules covering accumulated leave time among teachers, which causes them to take their maximum earned leave time to avoid forfeiting it. Hiring teachers in the United States is substantially more costly than hiring teachers locally; therefore, restructuring the leave-time regulations would lead to a decline in the need for substitutes so that more local applicants could be available for hire as full-time teachers. DODDS has budgeted approximately $37 million for pupil transportation in fiscal year 1982. GAO found that military installation commanders, who are responsible for providing pupil transportation, have not made cost comparisons and other analyses to ensure that the most economical busing services are used. GAO believes that until the military services undertake these cost-effective analyses, cost savings in busing services will not be realized. GAO concluded that savings to DODDS could be achieved by reducing the demand for substitute teachers and identifying the most economical mode of pupil transportation.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: A manual database had been established as of October 30, 1988, pending modifications to the existing automated system to accomplish the recommended actions.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should require the Director, DODDS, to establish and maintain a database on the numbers of: (1) available and qualified local applicants who are dependents of DOD military and U.S. Government civilian personnel; and (2) teacher vacancies filled by local applicants who are dependents of DOD military and U.S. Government civilian personnel overseas.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Parts one and three of this recommendation were completed as of December 15, 1986. Cost comparisons and analyses are being performed and DODDS requested quarterly reports. Part two of this recommendation was closed January 1988 without action.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should: (1) ensure that busing cost comparisons and other analyses are performed in all overseas communities where students are bused to DODDS, and that military communities forward the results of the analysis to DODDS regions along with explanations, if the lowest-cost alternative is not selected; (2) instruct the military departments to consider structuring contracts for pupil transportation services to allow competition by smaller companies and using multiyear contracting where it promises to reduce the cost of busing to the U.S. Government; and (3) ensure that military communities providing pupil transportation services submit complete and accurate quarterly cost reports to DODDS as required by the DOD Manual.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: This recommendation was closed in January 1988 by requesting another DOD component to review the appropriateness of this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should require the Director, DODDS, to ensure that regional offices develop an information base and commit the resources necessary to: (1) review cost comparison and other studies and coordinate with the military communities to resolve differences in approach or methodology; and (2) analyze and compare cost data from communities to identify unusually high contract or in-house costs per mile, per bus, or per student.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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