DOCUMENT RESUME 00668 - [A10518311 [Need for Improved Reports for Monitoring Military Bonus Program]. YPCD-77-34; B-160096. March ?1, 1977. 11 pp. + enclosures (9 pp.). Report to Rep. Melvin Price, Chairman, House Committee on Armed Services; by Elmer B. Staats, Comptroller General. Issue Area: Personnel Management and Compensation (300). Contact: Federal Personnel and Compensation Div. Budget Function: National Defense: Military Assistance (052); National Defense: Department of Defense - Military (except procurement & contracts) (051). Organization Concerned: Department of Defelse. congressional Relevance: House Committee on Armed Services; Senate Committee on Armed Services. Authority: Armed Forces Enlisted Personnel Eonus Revision Act of 1974 (P.L. 93-277). H. Rept. 93-857. As a r=~ult of an earlier GAO report, the House Committee on Armed Services (the Committee) directed the Department of Defense (DOD) to submit semiannual reports on its bonus programs in an effort to insure that the services wculd do their utmost to eliminate wasteful practices and administer the programs as intended. GAO now believes that certain changes in the structure of these reports could improve their usefulness in monitoring both the administration of the bonus authority and the bonuses' effect on solving attraction and retention problems in critical skills. Findings/Conclusions- Cur-ent report information (format 1) on the number and skills cf members who received bonuses is not sufficient to evaluate the bonisest effect on solving attraction and retention problems in critical skills. Information on the number and skill of bonus recipients nerving outside their bonus skills (format 2) does not show whether the data reported is significant in relation to the total bonus recipients on active duty. The Ccumittee did not request DOD to report the number of bonus recipients who received involuntary discharges or the amount of their unearned bonuses. The substantial length of the currant r<e)rts makes it difficult to use them to monitor the bonuses' effect on solving attraction and retention problems in critical skills. Current reporting periods are not in concurrence with established data collection cycles. Recommendations: Format 1 should show: the total enlistments and reenlistments achieved in each critical skill; the funded enlistment and reenlistment bonus gcals; and the number and amount of all enlistment bonuses committed and reenlistment bonuses paid. Bonus program achievements should be viewed in the light of the bonus costs. Report format 2 should distinguish among: recipients improperly assigned and serving outside their bonus skills; recipients reclassified due to normal career progression; and recipients serving in approved comparable skills. Future reports should include all recipients discharged pricr to completion of their obligated bonus service. The report should include a highlights secticn summarizing the most significant information and the report cycle should be adjusted to coincide with the Federal fiscal year so that the reported program results can be reconciled with cther program information. The Committee should instruct DOD to evaluate each service's data collection and reporting procedures to insure that the above criteria will be met. (Q}) \ -~~o ai ~COMPTROLLER GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES WASHINGTON. D.C. ZaS4 B-160096 MAR 3 1 1977 The Honorable Melvin Price Chairman, Committee on Armed Services House of Representatives Dear Mr. Chairman: The Committee will soon be considering legislation proposed by the Dopartmen' of Defense to make permanent the authority to pay enlisted personnel bonuses. The authority for these bonuses expires June 30, 1977; however, H.R. 583, which proposcs to extend the authority to September 30, 1978, was passed by the Housce of Representatives February 8, 1977. Since 'he enlisted personnel bonus program was authorized June 1, 1974, tfhe Committee has used semiannual bonus reports by the Department of Defewse to monitor the bonus program's progress. We believe that certain changes in the report's structure could improve its usefulness in monitoring both the administration of the bonus authority and the bonuses' effect on solving attraction and retention problems in critical skills. BACKGROUND Public Law 93-277, the Armed Forces Enlisted Personnel Sonus Revision Act of 1974, approved May 10, 1974, authorizes the Department of Defense to pay enlistment and reenlistment bonuses to enlisted personnel on a selective basis in order to fill critical and shortage skills in the armed services. By May 31, 1976, the services had awarded 95,600 bonuses. Bonus payments through fiscal year 1975 totaled about $188.5 million. This amount, plus projected bonus payments through fiscal year 1977, will total about $541.3 million. The objective of the enlistment bonus, limited to $3,000, is to increase the number of initial enlistments in critical and shortage skills. The Secretary of Defense has the authority to determine critical skills. Currently, only the Army and Marine Corps pay enlistment bonuses in combat arms and highly technical skills. To be eligible for the bonus, an individual must meet the following requirements:' FPCD-77-34 B-160096 -- Be a high school graduate or have successfully completed the General Educational Development program. 1/ -- Be classified as mental category group I, II, or III. -- Enlist for the purpose of qualifying and serving in a bonus skill for at least 4 years. The member begins receiving his bonus upon successful completion of his bonus skill training. The selective reenlistment bonus is intended to increase reenlistments in critical skills that have retention levels insufficient to adequately staff the career force. Bonuses are limited to $12,000, except for certain nuclear trained and qualified enlisted members of the Navy who may receive up to $15,000. 'The reenlistment bonus is designed to offer a financial incentive at any point between 21 months and 10 years of active service. Two reenlistment periods have been estao- lished, Zone A and Zone B. Zone A includes reenlistments occurring between 21 months and 6 years of service. Reenlistment during this period is considered the first career decision point for an enlistee and receives the major emphasis of the selective reenlistment bonus prcgram. Zone B includes reenlistments between 6 and 10 years of service. Service personnel must meet the following conditions to be eligible for the bonus: -- Be serving on active duty in pay grade E-3 or higher. -- Be qualified and serving in a critical skill. -- Reenlist within 3 months after the date of discharge or release from active duty. -- Reenlist for at least 3 years. 1/In January 1976, the Army announced that effective June 1, 1976 personnel certified by the General Educational Devel- opme.,t program would no longer be eligible for the enlist- ment bonus. 2 B-160096 NEED TO IMPROVE REPORTS FOR MONImOR.NG ENLISTED PERSONNEL BONUS PROGRAMS Prior to the enactment of Public Law 93-277, GAO reoorted to the House Committee on Armed Services concerning the use of variab]e reenlistment bonus recipients in non- bonus skil1s and unsuccessful service attempts to recoup unearned bonuses. As a result, the Committee notified the Department of Defense that it intended to monitor use of the expanded bonus authority on a careful and continuing basis.. To assure that the services would do their utmost to elim- inate wasteful practices and administer the bonus incentive programs as intended, the Committee directed the Department of Defense, in House Report 93-857, to submit semiannual reports showing "* * * the number and skill of members of the armed forces who received enlistment or reenlistment bonuses during the reporting period; the number and skill of persorn:el serving outside the skill for which a bonus was paid; the number and skill cf personnel who, for any means, did not complete the enlistment or reenlist- ment for which the bonus was paid and for which recoup- ment action has been required, including the uncollected amount of bonus and the type of discharge for the persons involved." As currently structured, the bonus report presents most of the requested data in three formats corresponding to the three areas of Committee interest. We believe the report should be restructured according to the formats proposed herein. Number and skill of bonus recipients Format 1 in the current report lists the number and skill of members who received. enlistment and reenlistment bonuses during the reporting period. (See enc. I.) How- ever, this information is not sufficient to evaluate the bonuses' effect on solving attraction and retention problems in critical skills. We believe format 1 should show (1) the total enlist- ments and reenlistments achieved in each critical skill, (2) the funded enlistment and reenlistment bonus goals, and (3) the number and amount of all enlistment bonuses committed and reenlistment bonuses paid. (See enc. II.) 3 B-160096 This would permit the monitor to evaluate whether the services are achieving the bonus goals set by the Department of Defense and funded by the Congress, and whether the bonuses are assisting in solving the problems of attraction and retention in critical skills. Another factor omitted from format 1 is the money spent on bonuses in each critical skill. We believe bonus program achievements should be viewed in light of the bonus cost. Recipients serving outside bonus skills Format 2 in the current report provides the number and skill of bonus recipients serving outside their bonus (See enc. I.) skills. However, the format does not show whether the data reported is significant in relation to the total bonus recipients on active duty. To show this relationship, it would be necessary maintain a cumulative inventory of all bonus recipientsto from a particular date, such as October 1, 1976. Recipients who completed their obligated bonus service or were discharged after this date would be subtracted from the total bonuses paid. this would show the individuals on active duty who were receiving bonuses. Since bonus recipients may serve in comparable skills approved by the Assistant Secretasy of Defense (Manpower and Reserve Affairs) or may be reclassified in liner with normal career progression, such as a promotion to a more complex skill, we believe report format 2 should distinguish between the following (see enc. III). -- Recipients improperly assigned and serving outside their bonus skills. -- Recipients reclassified due to normal career progres- sion. -- Recipients serving in approved comparable skills. In addition, we believe the Navy should provide an mate of the number of bonus recipients serving in generalesti- billets. This will be further discussed later in our report. 4 B-160096 Recipients discharged prior to completion of enlistments Format 3 in the current report provides the number and skill o; bonus recipients who were discharged prior to com- pletion of their obligated service, misconduct, and the unearned bonuses for voluntary reasons or from those individuals. and amounts uncollected (See enc. I.) A summary of the discharge and recolpment information reported to the Committee from 1976, shows that more than 89 June 1, 1974, through May 31, percent of the unearned bonuses were uncollected. Selective Reenlistment Bonus (SRB) Number of Required Service discharges recoupment Uncollected Army 476 $1,138,510.41 $1,062,972.20 Navy 38 Air Force 101,253.:0 86,538.78 18 16,008.73 Marine Corps 3 815.60 1,998.94 - Tctal SRB 535 1,257,771.38 1,150,326.58 Enlistment Bonus (EB) Army 1,712 3,225,529.43 2,901,473.34 Marine Corps 72 56,813.44 Total EB 1,784 3,282,342.87 2,901,473.34 Total 2,319 $4,540,114.25 a/$4.051,799 92 a/The scope of our review did not include an analysis of the recoupment procedures used by the services. Involuntary discharges should be reported Unearned bonuses are not required bonus recipients who receive involuntaryto be recouped from than for misconduct, prior to discharges, other or reenlistments. completion of their enlistments The Committee did not request ment of Defense to report the the Depart- number of recipients who received such discharges or the amount of their unearned bonuses. -5 B-160096 A sample of i.6 Navy bonus recipients the 6-month period which ended December discharged during completing their bonus service obligation,31, 1975, pr.;or to showed that only 14, or less than 10 percent, .ere reported to the Committee. We also noted that 28 recipients, or discharged with physical cisabilities almost 20 percent, were reported to the Committee. We could and therefore not not the remaining 104 recipients discharged determine whether not reported because recoupment was in this period were not required. We believe future reports should include discharged prior to completion of all rec pients their obligated bonus service. (See enc. IV.) Total discharge statistics would assist the Committee in evaluating the performance of program particularly those involved in screening administrators, for a bonus. FuLther, the Committee personnel eligible monitor the use of bonus funds and could more effectively the overall cost effec- tiveness of the bonus program. charged prior to completing theirWhen recipients are dis- obligated service, unearned bonus payments are lost anj additional funds must be made available to recruit and train or reenlist replacements. Bonus program highlights The 4 bonus reports submitted thus averaged 78 pages and consisted entirely far to the Committee length makes it difficult to use the of raw data. Such bonuses' effect on solving attraction reports to monitor the and retention problems in critical skills. We believe the report should include highlights section summarizing the a rmost significant infor- mation. Generally, this would require the services provide narrative comments on the to bottom line totals of each format, such as those listed as follows. 6 B-160096 FORMAT 1 (Part I) Total Enlistments Required Total Enlistments Achieved Number of Bonuses Commlitted 1 (Parts IIa and IIb) Total Reenlist.mentn. Reenlistment Rate Number of Bonuses Paid 2 Number Serving Outside Bonus Skilli Percent Serving Outside Bonus Skill 3 (Parts Ia, Ib, IIa, and IIb) Total Discharges - Recoupment Reqruired Total Discharges - Recoupment Aot Required Report fieauency The Committee required the Department of Defense submit the first semiannual report within 60 to days after completion of the first 6 months of operation bonus authority. The initial report included under the new November 30, 1974, and subsequent reports as data as of November 30, 1975, and May 31, 1976. of May 31, 1975, In an August 1974 memorandum, the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Manpower and Reserve Affairs) noted reporting periods, which end November 30 and that these May 31, were not in accordance with normal report periods. He stated that the Department of Defense would request the Congress to allow submission of these reports concurrent with established data collection cycles, following the implementation Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control of the Act of 1974. However, the report schedule has not been adjusted. We believe the report cycle should be adjusted coincide with the Federal fiscal year, October to September 30, so that reported program results 1 through can be rec- onciled with other program information. Conclusion The monitor of each service's bonus program reviewed the drafts of the new report formats and furnished comparative estimates for preparing the current us semiannual and proposed annual reports. A breakdown of these cost estimates follows. 7 B-160096 Estimazed recurring Estimated maintenance Current startup cost of cost of Service report cost proposed report proposed report Army $20,156 Not provided $30,156 Navy 2,100 $5,161 1,050 Air Force 1,000 7,760 2,500 Marine Corps 3,000 Not provided Not provided Although these estimates may not be precise, we believe the report preparation cost would be small in comparison to the large investment in the bonus progranm and the Committee's teed for better data to monitor this program. Recommendations If new authority to pay enlisted personnel bonuses is enacted, we recommend that the Committee require the Depart- ment of Defense to revise the current report. Specifically, we recommend that the report --be restructured according to the new formats found in enclosures II through IV, -- provide a highlights section summarizing the significant information contained in the report, and -- be submitted ennually to coincide with the Federal fis3cal year. DEFICIENCIES IN PRIOR REPORTS During our analysis we found several reporting defi- ciencies which impair the usefulness of the reports to the Committee as a program-monitoring tool. These problems include the failure of some services to report all bonus recipients serving outside their bonus skill and to report accurate and complete recoupment information. Failure to report bonus rs ants serving outside their bonr. ;ill A memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Manpower and Reserve Affairs), dated August 12, 1974, specified that: 8 B-160096 "The starting date for data collection will be June 1, 1974. ^ * * Future semi-annual reports concerning personnel serving outside the skill for which a bonus was paid and recoupment to all bonuses authorized under actions relate Consequently, complete files Public Law 93-277. personnel receiving bonuses must be maintained of all from June 1, 1974." Notwithstanding these instructions, and Air Force failed to identify we found that the Navy recipients serving outside and report all bonus their bonus skills. Since recipients are expected to bonus serve in their bonus skill comparable skill, the Committee has emphasized that theor a practice of assigning personnel the intent of the Congress. outside their skill violates We found that the Navy practice of assigning enlisted personnel to general billets recipients who do not serve conceals a large number of Navy personnel rotate from in their bonus skills. When sea to shore, it is not always possible to assign them a shore billet similar skills. requiring the same or The Navy has established about billets to accommodate these 5,009 general Examples of general billet personnel while ashore. assignments include recruiting, counseling, security, and recreation. if bonus recipients are Performing Navy officials said jobs specified in author- ized general billets, they are not reported as serving side their bonus skill. out- The Navy's management information identify the number of erlistment system cannot readily and reenlistment bonus recipients serving in general billets. significant computer reprograming Navy officials would be required to said retrieve data from personnel would enable the Navy to trackand finance center sources that in which they are serving. bonus recipients to the skill It could take up to 3 years to implement changes in the personnel counting systems to develop distribution and ac- this information. Although number of bonus recipients the serving in general billets not be identified, the Navy could provided us data which indicates approximately 525 bonus recipients are normally assigned general billets. The Air Force has identified recipients serving outside and reported only the skills for which bonuses were bonus during the last 6-month bonus paid this period, which ended May report period. The report for 31, 1976, showed that the Air Force paid reenlistment bonuses for 45 skills and reported 24 9 B-160096 persons as serving outside their bonus skill. Air Force had paid reenlistment bonuses for However, the 90 different skills between JLne 1, 1974, and May 31, 1976. recipients in the 90 different skills paid All bonus should have been screened to identify the recipients serving outside their bonus skills as of May 31, 1976. We believe it is highly unlikely that none of the personnel paid a maining 45 skills were serving outside theirbonus in the re- bonus skills. Failure to report accurate and complete rectupment statistics Our analysis of previous reports showed Force, Marine Corps, and Navy did not-report that the Air all the required data concerning bonus amounts recouped and uncollected. The Air Force reports submitted to the Committee that unearned bonuses were uncollected from showed 2 of 18 dis- charged bonus recipients. The uncollected amounts for the remaining 16 recipients were reported as "Unknown." Force program monitor said action would be The Air taken to provide the required recoupment information in future reports. The Marine Corps reported that all unearned bonuses required to be recouped from 75 discharged bonus recipients had been collected at discharge. However, discussion with the bonus program monitor discloseJ that the Finance and accounting Center reported only Marine Corps the required to be recouped, not the amounts actuallyamounts or uncollected. recouped The Marine Corps monitor confirmed that the individual pay records needed to compute recouped and uncollected were available and the amounts be taken to provide the required recoupment that action would information in future bonus reports. The Navy Finance 'enter prc-ided us printouts selective reenlistment bonus recipients who of 210 were discharged prior to completing their obligated servide. We found a number of cases where discharges and recoupments were liot reported to the Committee, as required. We also found that Navy bonus recipients in identical discharge categories were reported to the Committee instances, but not in others. in some For example, 28 bonus recipi- ents were discharged prior to the completion ments because of substandard performance. of their enlist- Recoupment action is required in these cases, but only 4 of the ents were included in the Department bonus recipi- of Defense reports; 24 were not. 10 B-160096 Conclusion It is essential that the Committee receive accurate and complete information to monitor the bonus programs. We believe the Committee should instruct the Department of Defense to evaluate each service's data collecting and reporting procedures to insure that the information in future bonus reports meets these criteria. Officials of the Department of Defense and the services have informally commented on this report, and their comments wei-e considered in finalizing it. They generally concur with our report. We are sending copies of this report to the Secretary of Defense; the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force; and the Commandant of the Marine Corps. ee'v your Comptroller General of the United States Enclosures - 4 11 ENCLOSURE I ENCLOSURE I FORMATS OF THE CURRENT BONUS REPORT FORMAT 1 Skills and Bonuses Paid Report Period Service Military Bonus Number of Skill Code Title Bonus Recipients FORMAT 2 Recipients Serving Outside Bonus Specialty As of Date Service Number Serving Military Bonus Outside Skill Code Title Bonus Skill FORMAT 3 Recipients Discharged Prior to Completing the Bonus Service Obligation and Requiring Recoupment Action Report Period Service Reason Amount Amount Military for Recoupment Recouped at Uncollected Code Discharge Required Discharge Amount ENCLOSURE II ENCLOSURE II FORMAT 1 (PART I): ENLISTMENT BONUS (EB) GOALS AND COMMITMENTS FISCAL YEAR: Service: Total Total enlist- enlist- Critical ments ments Bonuses Committed skill required achieved (note a) (note e) (note b) (note c) EBgoal Number Amount Total d/ $ a/Changes during fiscal year: #EB skill added; deleted. ##FiB skill b/Enlistments needed to maintain authorized strength level for each critical skill. c/Represents all enlistments, including individuals who received EB and those who did not receive the bonus. d/Number of new bonuses approved by the Assistart Secretary of Defense (Manpower and Reserve Affairs) and funded by the Congress for the fiscal year. e/Payment of EB is contingent on successful completion of training end qualification for the bonus skill. 2 ENCLOSURE II ENCLOSURE II FORMAT 1 (PART IIa): SELECTIVE REENLISTMENT BONUS (SRB) ZONE A GOALS kND PAYMENTS (NOTE A) FISCAL YEAR! Service: Number Total Reen- Critical eligible reen- listment Bonuses paid skill to reen- listments rate SRB (note f) (note b) list (note c) (note d) goal Number Amount Total e/ $ a/Includes all reenlistments occurring between 21 months and 6 years of service. b/Changes during fiscal year: #SRB skill added; ##SRB skill deleted. c/Represents all reenlistments in Zone A, whether or not SRB was paid. d/Represents total reenlistments divided by the number eligible to reenlist. e/Number of new bonuses approved by the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Manpower and Reserve Affairs) and funded by the Congress for the fiscal year. f/Changes during fiscal year: *award level increased; **award level decreased. 3 ENCLOSURE II ENCLOSURE II FORMAT 1 (PART IIb): SELECTIVE REENLISTMENT BONUS (SRB) ZONE B GOALS AND PAYMENTS (NOTE A) FISCAL YEAR: Service: Number Total Reen- Critical eligible reen- listment Bonuses paid skill to reen- listments rate SRB (note f) (note b) list (note c) (note d) goal Number Amount Total / $ a/Includes all reenlistments occurring between 6 and 10 years of service. b/Changes during fiscal year: #SRB skill added; 9#SRB skill deleted. c/Represents all reenlistments in Zone B, whether or not SRB was paid. d/Represents total reenlistments divided by the number eligible to reenlist. e/Number of new bonuses approved by the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Manpower and Reserve Affairs) and funded by the Congress for the fiscal year. f/Changes during fiscal year: *award level increased; **award level decreased. 4 ENCLOSURE III ENCLOSURE III FORMAT 2: ENLISTMENT AND SELECTIVE REENLISTMENT BONUS RECIPIENTS SERVING OUTSIDE BONUS SKILL END OF FISCAL YEAR: Service: (note a) Number Number Number serving Net serving Percent of in cumulative outside serving career compar- bonuses paid bonus outside progres- able since 10-1-76 skill bonus sions skills (note b) (note c) skill (note d) (note e) Enlistment bonus (aggregate entry for all EB skills) Selective reenlistment bonus (aggregate entry for all SRB skills) a/Navy estimate of: EB recipients serving in general billets SRB recipients serving in general billets b/Total members paid the bonus beginning 10-1-76 reduced by the number of these members who have been discharged or completed their obligated bonus service since 10-1-76. c/Does rot include those serving in comparable skills or those serving in another skill due to career progression. d/Reclassified in line with normal career progression, such as promotion to a more complex skill than that for which EB or SRB was paid. e/Assignments in highly related skills that require about the same training are allowed due to distribution problems. ENCLOSURE IV ENCLOSURE rI FORMAT 3 (PART Ia): ENLISTMENT BONUS RECIPIENTS DISCHARGED BEFORE COMPLETION OF SERVICE OBLIGATION RECOUPMENT REQUIRED (NOTE A) FISCAL YEAR: Service: Reason Total Recoup- Recouped Uncollected for Number bonuses ment at discharge discharged awarded at required discharge discharge F $ $ (aggjate entry for each discharge reason) Total $ $ $ a/Recoupment is required when discharge is for voluntary or misconduct reasons. 6 ENCLOSURE IV ENCLOSURE IV FORMAT 3 (PART Ib): ENLISTMENT BONUS RECIPIENTS DISCHARGED BEFORE COMPLETION OF SERVICE OBLIGATION RECOUPMENT NOT REQUIRED (NOTE A) FISCAL YEAR: Service: Status at discharge Reason Total Unearned for Number bonuses Bonuses Earned bonuses discharge discharged awarded paid bonuses (note b) (aggregate entry for each discharge reasor) Total $ $ $ $ a/Recoupment is not required when members receive involuntary discharges, except for misconduct. b/Unearned bonus equals total bonus minus earned bonus. 7 ENCLOSURE IV ENCLOSURE IV FORMAT 3 (PART IIa): SELECTIVE REENLISTMENT BONUS RECIPIENTS DISCHARGED BEFORE COMPLETION OF SERVICE OBLIGATION RECOUPMENT REQJIRED (NOTE A) FISCAL YEAR: Service: Reason Total Recoup- RecoupzJ Oncol- for Number bonuses ment at lected at discharge discharged awarded required discharg_ discharge $ $- $. (aggregate entry for each discharge reason) Total $ $ $ $ a/Recoupment is required when discharge is for voluntary or misconduct reasons. 8 ENCLOSURE IV ENCLOSURE IV FORMAT 3 (PART IIb): SELECTIVE REENLISTMENT BONUS RECIPIENTS DISCHARGED BEFORE COMPLETION OF SERVICE OBLIGATION RECOUPMENT NOT REQUIRED (NOTE A) FISCAL YEAR: Service: Status at discharge Reason Total Unearned for Lsjmber bonuses Bonuses Earned bonuses discharge discharged awarded paid bonuses (note b) Y $ $ $ (ajggreate entry for each discharge reason) Total $ $ $ $ a/Recoupment is not required when members receive involuntary discharges, except for misconduct. b/Unearned bonus equals total bonus minus earned bonus. 9
Need for Improved Reports for Monitoring Military Bonus Program
Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1977-03-31.
Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)