Military Manpower:

Lack of Management Oversight Over Civilian Substitution

NSIAD-88-169: Published: Sep 6, 1988. Publicly Released: Sep 6, 1988.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed Army and Air Force civilian substitution, focusing on their: (1) processes for identifying military positions for possible substitution; (2) procedures for making substitutions; and (3) internal controls for managing substitutions.

GAO found that: (1) the Army and Air Force did not monitor civilian substitution practices or routinely keep records on substitutions or the disposition of military positions freed as a result of substitutions; (2) due to the lack of records, it could not compare budgeted to actual substitutions or determine whether the services had reallocated freed military positions to higher-priority missions to enhance readiness; (3) cost was not the primary consideration in making substitutions; (4) the services believed that civilians generally cost less than military personnel; and (5) each service had several thousand positions with potential for civilian substitution.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Department of Defense has essentially implemented this recommendation. The basic system is in place to provide information on civilian substitutions for military personnel. The only remaining actions are to introduce a standard code into the database to identify civilian substitutions as they occurred and ensure the accuracy of data submissions.

    Recommendation: Before the Army and the Air Force request funding for additional civilian substitutions, the Secretary of Defense should direct them to examine the feasibility of implementing internal control procedures that would facilitate management oversight and enable the services to compare planned versus actual substitutions.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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