The Department of Defense (DOD) has increasingly relied on reserve personnel to carry out its military operations. Congress and DOD have taken steps to enhance reserve compensation, such as improving health care benefits. Concerns exist, however, that rising compensation costs may not be sustainable in the future, especially given the nation's large and growing long-range fiscal imbalance. Under the statutory authority of the Comptroller General to conduct work on his own initiative, GAO (1) reviewed how much it has cost the federal government to compensate reserve personnel since fiscal year 2000; (2) assessed the extent to which DOD's mix of cash, noncash, and deferred compensation has helped DOD meet its human capital goals; and (3) evaluated the extent to which DOD's approach to reserve compensation provides transparency over total cost to the federal government. To address these objectives, GAO analyzed budget data and relevant legislation and also interviewed appropriate officials. GAO focused this review on part-time reservists and full-time, active guard and reserve.
Matter for Congressional Consideration
|As future changes are considered to pay and benefits for National Guard and reserve personnel as well as veterans, Congress may wish to consider the long-term affordability and sustainability of these changes, including the long-term implications for the deficit and military readiness.||Congress has not taken action.|
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Defense||To improve the appropriateness of the reserve compensation system and to gain transparency over total reserve compensation costs, the Secretary of Defense should establish a clear compensation strategy that includes performance measures to evaluate the efficiency of compensation in meeting recruiting and retention goals, and use the performance measures to monitor the performance of compensation and assess what mix of compensation will be most efficient in the future.|
|Department of Defense||To improve the appropriateness of the reserve compensation system and to gain transparency over total reserve compensation costs, the Secretary of Defense should compile the total costs to provide reserve compensation for part-time, full-time, and mobilized reservists and communicate these costs as well as the allocation of these costs among cash, noncash, and deferred compensation to decision makers within the administration and Congress--perhaps as an annual exhibit as part of the President's budget submission to Congress.|