Military Personnel: Reserve Components Need Guidance to Accurately and Consistently Account for Volunteers on Active Duty for Operational Support

GAO-07-93 Published: Oct 31, 2006. Publicly Released: Oct 31, 2006.
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Highlights

The Department of Defense (DOD) and Congress have expressed concern with the frequency and length of time that volunteer reservists serve on active duty. In fiscal year 2006, DOD nearly doubled its fiscal year 2005 estimate for the total maximum levels of reservists volunteering to be on active duty for operational support. Congress required GAO to review the reasons behind the increases and expressed an interest in understanding which reservists were being included or excluded from these numbers. In this report, GAO (1) identified the factors that led to the increase in DOD's requests for the maximum number of volunteer reserve personnel authorized to be on active duty for operational support since DOD's initial request in fiscal year 2005 and (2) assessed the extent to which the reserve components have consistently reported the number of reservists serving in an operational support capacity since 2005. In conducting this review, GAO analyzed agency documents and interviewed DOD officials.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Defense To ensure that the components can report accurate and consistent information about the number of reservists serving in an operational support capacity, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness and the reserve components to develop guidance to clarify and consistently define the categories of operational support that should be included in the reported numbers.
Closed – Implemented
Congress required that GAO review the reasons behind the increases and expressed an interest in understanding which reservists were being included or excluded from these numbers. We found that the reserve components had not been consistently identifying the number of reservists serving in an operational support capacity since the reporting requirement was adopted in fiscal year 2005 because they were inconsistently including certain categories of personnel in their reported numbers. To ensure that the components could report accurate and consistent information about the number of reservists serving in an operational support capacity, we recommended that the Secretary of Defense direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness and the reserve components develop guidance to clarify and consistently define the categories of operational support that should be included in the reported numbers. On January 29, 2007, the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness issued a memorandum providing further clarifying information and guidance on operational support accounting, which clarified the original definition of the term "operational support", and amplified the duty that is covered under the definition. The memorandum stated that this action was taken in response to comments received from various parties including GAO demonstrating that further clarifying information and guidance was needed. Furthermore, DOD Instructure 1215.6 Uniform Reserve, Training, and Retirement Categories dated February 7, 2007 was updated to reflect the clarified definition. These actions implement GAO's recommendation to help ensure that the components report accurate and consistent information about the number of reservists serving in an operational support capacity.

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