The Department of Defense (DOD) provides a wide range of support to many organizations at home and abroad. GAO estimates that, in fiscal year 1999, DOD provided support in at least 7,125 instances to 345 or more entities, including international organizations; private citizens; and federal, state, local, and foreign governments. This support consumed more than two million military staff-days. GAO could not determine the total cost of DOD's support because of the limited data it received. However, it conservatively estimates the cost to be about $180 million. Providing assistance to civil authorities does not appear to harm retention. DOD data show that overall retention has remained relatively stable during the last decade. There are alternatives to the use of military personnel. DOD and some civil entities have used contractors rather than military personnel for some activities, such as construction, transportation, and medical treatment. There are limitations on the kinds of support that contractors can provide, however. For most of the 197 support instances GAO reviewed that occurred in 1997-99 for the State Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Secret Service, DOD billed and collected about $31.7 million in reimbursable costs, including military pay and allowances. Furthermore, DOD asked its components to report outstanding bills and identified about $2.9 million in unpaid bills from 11 agencies. DOD is now collecting the late payments from these agencies.
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