Military Compensation:

Comparisons With Civilian Compensation and Related Issues

NSIAD-86-131BR: Published: Jun 5, 1986. Publicly Released: Jun 5, 1986.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO examined military and private-sector compensation to attempt to: (1) compare compensation and benefits of military and private-sector personnel of approximately equal ages and levels of experience; (2) correlate military compensation increases with the military's ability to meet its manpower requirements; and (3) correlate differences in military and private-sector compensation with the military's overall recruiting and retention ability.

GAO found that: (1) a lack of data precluded it from precisely comparing compensation for military and private-sector personnel of equal ages and experience levels; (2) in many age and experience groups, overall military compensation exceeds private-sector compensation; (3) military fringe benefits generally exceed civilian fringe benefits; (4) when compared by occupational group, private-sector compensation generally exceeds military compensation; and (5) some of the intangible disadvantages of military life may also preclude meaningful direct comparison of military and civilian compensation levels. GAO also found that the military has met its manpower needs and improved its ability to recruit and retain personnel by: (1) improving post-service educational benefits; (2) providing more recruiting resources and better recruiting management; (3) improving recruit selection procedures; and (4) capitalizing on civilian unemployment and a more favorable public opinion of the military.

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