Civilian Distinguished Visitor Program

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1971-10-06.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

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                     Civilian Distinguished
                     Visitor Program                    B-169242

                     Department of the Air Force

                     BY THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL
                     OF THE UNITED STATES

                                                                   OCT. 6.1!371
                          COMPTROLLER GENERAi.. OF THE UNITED STATES
                                     WASHINGTON, D.C. 20548

        Dear Mr. Reuss:

             This is in reply to your request that the General Account-
"       ing Office (GAO) examine into certain aspects of selected De-
        partment of Defense (DOD) public affairs programs; namely, the
        Joint Civilian Orientation Conference, the Department of the
        Air Force Civilian Distinguished Visitor Program, and the Sec-
        retary of the Navy Guest Cruise Program.
              In accordance with your request and our letter of May 21,
        1971, it was agreed that we would report separately on each
        program. This is our report on the Department of the Air
        Force Civilian Distinguished Visitor Program. Our report on
        the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference was sent to you on
        June 29, 1971. We shall report on the Secretary of the Navy
        Guest Cruise Program in the near future.

             The Department of the Air Force Civilian Distinguished
        Visitor Program is operated on a decentralized basis in that
        each major Air Force command determines the frequency, number,
        and types of tours to be conducted. Initially we intended to
        include in our review all the civilian distinguished visitor
        tours conducted during the past year or two to determine (1)
        the number of tours conducted, (2) the number of civilian
        guest participants, (3) the cost of each tour, (4) the type
        and amount of costs recovered from civilian guest partici-
        pants, and (5) the method of selecting guests.

              We found, however, that in calendar year 1970 the Air
        Force, through its major commands, conducted 154 civilian
        distinguished visitor tours for 4,228 guest participants.
    >   Of the 154 tours, the Strategic Air Command conducted 51
        tours for 1,683 guests. The Tactical Air Command conducted
        29 tours for 536 guests. The remaining 74 tours, in which
        2,009 guests participated, were given by the 11 other con-
        tinental Air Force commands and the Alaskan Command. Accord-
        ing to Air Force policy, overseas units cannot participate in
        this program.
             In accordance with Air Force regulations, each guest ar-
        ranges for his own transportation from his residence to the

             - - - - - - 50 TH ANNIVERSARY 1921-1971 - - - - - -

    embarkation point and for the return to his residence from
    the debarkation point. Also, in accordance with Air Force
    regulations, each guest reimburses the Government for the
    cost of his meals, lodgings, refreshments, and official recep-

         In view of the large number of tours conducted in 1970,
    we limited our review to the tours conducted by the Strategic
    Air Command since that command conducted the largest number
    of tours in 1970. Civilian guests participating in the Stra-
    tegic Air Command 1970 Civilian Distinguished Visitor Program
    totaled 1,683. For meals, lodgings, and other personal ser-
    vices, participants in the program were billed a total cost
    of $38,000.

         We estimate that the costs incurred by the Department of
    the Air Force to conduct the Strategic Air Command's part of
    the Civilian Distinguished Visitor Program during calendar year
    1970, over and above the costs billed, amounted to $224,000.
    In addition to these costs, the Air Force used $4,000 from a
    nonappropriated military welfare fund to cover the cost of
    meals for Air Force escorts and hosts involved in the Strate-
    gic Air Command tours.

         The Air Force Civilian Distinguished Visitor Program is
    a Department of the Air Force public affairs program in which
    civic leaders in the business, professional, and religious
    fields are invited to visit an Air Force base and to meet with
    high-level installation officials. The primary purposes of
    these visits are to (1) broaden the civic leaders' understand-
    ing of the Air Force mission, (2) improve the Air Force's com-
    munity relations, and (3) fulfill the Air Force's obligation
    to disseminate information to the public.
         We were informed by an Air Force official that there
    were no available records to show exactly when the Air Force
    Civilian Distinguished Visitor Program began. From the in-
    formation made available to us, it appears that the program
    originated about December 1957 when the Air Force Chief of
    Staff authorized five major Air Force commands to approve
    travel by groups of civic leaders in military aircraft to


visit their command headquarters. The purpose of these visits
was to orient and brief the guests on Air Force missions and
capabilities. This program was later expanded to include the
Alaskan Command and all major Air Force commands in the con-
tinental United States.


Types of programs

     The Commander in Chief of the Strategic Air Command has
the overall responsibility for the Command's Civilian Distin-
guished Visitor Program. He has delegated the authority for
conducting visitor tours under the program to the Command's
Directorate of Information and to the commanding officers of
the 2d Air Force, Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana; the
15th Air Force, March Air Force Base, California; and the
1 Strategic Aerospace Division, Vandenberg Air Force Base,

     The Strategic Air Command Civilian Distinguished Visi-
tor Program is· a combination of three separate programs: (1)
the primary visitor program, (2) the unit visitor program, and
(3) the numbered-Air Force-sponsored visitor program. The
following schedule shows the number of visitors and tours con-
ducted under each program during calendar year 1970.

                                      Number    Number of
                                     of tours   visitors

    Primary visitor program             25          928
    Unit visitor program                 8          271
    Numbered-Air Force-sponsored
      visitor program                   18          484

           Total                        51        1~683

     Pertinent features of each of the three programs are dis-
cussed below.


         Primary visitor program

         Under this program, civic leaders from major cities
    throughout the United States are invited for 2-day tours of
    the Strategic Air Command Headquarters at Offutt Air Force
    Base, Nebraska. This program is conducted by the Command's
    Directorate of Information.

         Guests are generally selected from an area close to a
    Strategic Air Command base or a major city. This facilitates
    arrangements for transportation by military aircraft to Offutt
    Air Force Base.

         Our review of tour itineraries showed that the guest par-
    ticipants had spent 2 days at Offutt Air Force Base. During
    their first day at Offutt, the guests attended briefings and
    toured an underground command post designed to command the
    launch of aircraft and missiles in case of enemy attack.
    This was followed by a tour of the Strategic Aerospace Museum
    and by a tour of specially designed aircraft called the Look-
    ing Glass. These aircraft fly 24 hours a day and are designed
    to assume the same responsibilities as the underground com-
    mand post, if that post and other alternate command posts be-
    come inoperative. The second day included a tour of the Com-
    mand's aerospace intelligence area where a demonstration of
    electronic equipment used to analyze intelligence data was
    given. A question and answer session was held at the end of
    the tour to permit the guests to comment on what they had
    seen during the 2-day program. A luncheon concluded the pro-
    gram and the guests were flown by military aircraft to the
    point where the tour began which could be the nearest Strate-
    gic Air Command base or commercial airport to their home.

•        Unit visitor program

         The unit visitor program is conducted under the direc-
    tion of the commanding officers of the 2d Air Force, the 15th
    Air Force, and the 1 Strategic Aerospace Division.


     The tours conducted under the unit visitor program are
essentially the same as those conducted under the primary
visitor program. The principal difference is that the guests
in the primary visitor program are selected by the Strategic
Air Command from major cities throughout the country,
whereas guests in the unit visitor program are selected lo-
cally by subordinate commands from areas surrounding Stra-
tegic Air Command bases. The 1 Strategic Aerospace Division
did not sponsor any tours in 1970.

     Numbered-Air Force-sponsored visitor program

     The numbered-Air Force-sponsored visitor program, like
the unit visitor program, is conducted under the direction
of the commanding officers of numbered Air Forces and the
1 Strategic Aerospace Division. This program differs from
the primary and unit visitor programs in that guests are in-
vited to visit Air Force bases other than Offutt.

     The 18 numbered-Air Force-sponsored visitor tours in
1970 were given by the 2d and 15th Air Forces, whereas the
1 Strategic Aerospace Division did not sponsor any tours.

     The tours conducted by the 15th Air Force generally cov-
ered 3 days. The agenda for the first day included travel-
ing aboard an Air Force aircraft from the point of embarkation
to the 15th Air Force Headquarters at March Air Force Base,
Riverside, California.
     On the second day the guests were given a tour of March
Air Force Base and were briefed by Air Force personnel on
15th Air Force Command activities. Also the guests attended
a luncheon at the officers' club and were given an opportunity
to comment on the Command's activities in a question and an-
swer session with senior Command officials. In late afternoon
the guests were flown by military aircraft to Davis-Monthan
Air Force Base, Arizona, where they attended an evening re-
ception and dinner at the officers' club. They stayed over-
night in visiting officers' quarters.


      On the third day the guests toured various activities at
Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and visited a TITAN missile site.
A luncheon was held for them at the officers' club. In late
afternoon they were flown in Air Force aircraft to their de-
barkation points.

     The tours conducted by the 2d Air Force included activi-
ties generally similar to those in the 15th Air Force tours
except that the 2d Air Force tours lasted only 2 days. On
the first day the guests were flown to the 2d Air Force Head-
quarters at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, where they
toured the base and were briefed on 2d Air Force Command ac-
tivities. In the evening they attended a dinner-reception at
the officers' club and spent the night at the base.

      On the morning of the second day, the guests were flown
by military aircraft either to Little Rock Air Force Base,
Arkansas, or to Carswell Air Force Base, Texas, where they
toured the base and were briefed on base operations. In the
afternoon they were flown to their debarkation points.

Selection of guest participants

     We were informed by an Air Force official that the se-
lection of guest participants for the Air Force Civilian Dis-
tinguished Visitor Program was handled entirely by the command-
ing officers of the major Air Force commands which conducted
the tours under the program.

     Although we found that the Strategic Air Command had no
formal procedures for selection of guests under its three
visitor programs (primary, unit, and numbered-Air Force-
sponsored), our review indicated that the selection generally
had been consistent within each program. There are, however,
certain differences in the selection processes between pro-

     Under the primary visitor program, a civilian contact
is established in areas near major cities or near a Strategic
Air Command base. His responsibility is to furnish to the
Command a list of primary and alternate nominees from his


area. The Command's Chief of Staff selects from these lists
the people who are to participate in the primary visitor pro-
gram. Invitations are customarily sent to U.S. Senators and
Representatives for the States and congressional districts in
which the tour originates. During calendar year 1970 only
one member of Congress accepted an invitation.

     Under the unit and numbered-Air Force-sponsored visitor
programs, the selection of guest participants is handled ei-
ther by the local Air Force wing or division commander or by
a civilian contact.

Estimated costs

     We estimated that the costs associated with the 51 tours
conducted by the Strategic Air Command under its Civilian Dis-
tinguished Visitor Program in calendar year 1970 were about
$266,000. Of this total, about $38,000 was charged to the
guest participants and $4,000 was charged to a military wel-
fare fund supported by nonappropriated funds. The remaining
$224,000 was not separately identified by Air Force officials.

     Costs charged to guest participants

     Our review of the $38,000 charged to the civilian guests
who participated in the Strategic Air Command Civilian Distin-
guished Visitor Program during 1970 showed that each guest un-
der the primary and unit visitor programs was charged an aver-
age fee of $20 to cover the cost of three meals, refreshments,
lodgings for 1 day, and official receptions. The average fee
charged for these costs under the numbered-Air Force-sponsored
visitor program was $29. The main reason for the higher aver-
age fee in the numbered-Air Force-sponsored program was that
many of the tours under that program took 3 days whereas all
tours under the other two programs took only 2 days.

     The above costs do not include the expenses incurred by
guests in traveling from their residences to the embarkation
points or in returning home from the debarkation points. Thus
the total cost incurred by each guest would, in most cases,
be in excess of the average fees stated above.



             Costs charged to military welfare fund

             Our review showed that approximately $4,000 was paid by
        a military welfare fund to cover the cost of meals for the
        Air Force escorts and hosts involved in the Strategic Air
        Command Civilian Distinguished Visitor Program during calendar
        year 1970.

             This military welfare fund--which is known as the Com-
        mander's 3-percent fund--was established by Air Force Regula-
        tions 176-2, dated April 1969. Under this regulation a base
        commander may expend in any fiscal year up to 3 percent of
        the total dividend income in the welfare fund for any purpose
        he considers necessary to accomplish the mission of his com-
        mand. This fund is financially supported, in part, by divi-
        dends from the Army and Air Force Exchange and Motion Pic-
        ture Services, both of which are nonappropriated fund activi-
        ties. Other sources of income for this fund include contri-
        butions, donations, and other miscellaneous charges.

             Costs charged to the Air Force

             We believe that there were other costs applicable to the
        Strategic Air Command Civilian Distinguished Visitor Program
        conducted in calendar year 1970. We estimated that these
        costs amounted to about $224,000, as shown below.

             Services provided by military and civil-
               ian personnel                            $ 68,000
             Use of military aircraft and ground
               vehicles                                  137,000
             Per diem and travel allowances for
               Air Force escorts                          18,000

'            Printing of information kits and group
               photographs                                 1,000

                   Total estimated costs                $224,000

        We concentrated, in estimating the cost of personnel services,
        only on those persons who had participated directly in the


    planning, briefing, and escorting of the tour guests. In
    our development of the above costs, we obtained from the Air
    Force an estimate of time spent by grade or rank of such per-
    sons; we applied appropriate salary and wage rates which were
    in effect during calendar year 1970. The rates were derived
    from a DOD instruction dealing with standard rates for cost-
    ing military personnel services and from the Civil Service
    Commission table of civil service employee salary and wage

         We used 1970 estimates provided to us by the Air Force
    in arriving at the cost of the military aircraft and ground
    vehicles used to transport the guests. These costs were based
    on the use of one aircraft and several vehicles for each tour,
    the number of miles driven and hours flown, and the standard
    Air Force budget estimates for cost by vehicle-mile and
    aircraft-hour. In those instances where information regarding
    the specific type of vehicles used was not readily determin-
    able, we used the lowest vehicle-operating cost for that class.

         Per diem and commercial air expense, cost of information
    kits, and cost of group photographs were recorded costs pro-
    vided to us by the Strategic Air Command. No security checks
    were conducted on guests because the tours were considered un-

         In our discussions with Air Force officials concerning the
    cost estimates, they stated that the costs (of services pro-
    vided by Government personnel and for use of military aircraft
    and military ground vehicles) would have been incurred by the
    command regardless of whether there was a tour program.

         The Air Force officials pointed out that there was no in-
    dividual in the Air Force whose sole job was to support the
    tour program. They pointed out, further, that the man-hours
    used in the tour program represented an insignificant amount
    of time when considered in the perspective of total military
    job requirements.

          They stated that military flights supporting the tour
    program were a part of the Air Force's continuing proficiency



    flying program and that training flights, regardless of pas-
    sengers or cargo, must be flown to maintain crew proficiency.

         The costs incurred by the Air Force for its Strategic
    Air Command's Civilian Distinguished Visitor Program did not
    represent the total cost of the Air Force Civilian Distin-
    guished Visitor Program. As previously noted, 12 other con-
    tinental U.S. Air Force commands and the Alaskan Command had
    conducted similar programs during calendar year 1970. Thus
    the cost for the overall Air Force Civilian Distinguished Vis-
    itor Program would have been substantially more than shown in
    this report.

         We are not aware of any existing statute which would pre-
    vent the Air Force from incurring Strategic Air Command Civil-
    ian Distinguished Visitor Program costs or which would require
    the Air Force to recover these costs from the guest partici-

         We have discussed our findings with Air Force officials
    but did not obtain written comments on this report. We plan
    to make no further distribution of this report unless copies
    are specifically requested, and then we shall make distribu-
    tion only after your agreement has been obtained or public
    announcement has been made by you concerning the contents of
    the report.
                                   Sincerely yours,

                                   Comptroller General
                                   of the United States

    The Honorable Henry S. Reuss
    House of Representatives