Defense Personnel: Standards for Joint Duty Tour Length Averages Being Met

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1990-09-10.

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

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                                                           Standards for Joint
                                                           Duty Tour Length
                                                           Averages Being Met


                                                         RESTRICTED--      Not to be released outside the
                                                         General Accounting Office unless specifically
                                                         approved by the Office of Congressional

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                       United States
GAO                    General Atcounting  Office
                       Washington, D.C. 20548

                       National Security and
                       International Affairs Division


                       September lo,1990

                       The Honorable Nicholas Mavroules
                       Chairman, Subcommittee on
                       Committee on Armed Services
                       House of Representatives

                       Dear Mr. Chairman:

                       As you requested, we examined whether the average length of military
                       officers’ joint duty tours’ was consistent with 10 U.S.C. 664(e). This sec-
                       tion, beginning with fiscal year 1991, requires that, with certain excep-
                       tions, the average length of joint duty assignments for (1) general/flag
                       officers shall be not less than 2 years and (2) other officers shall be not
                       less than 3 years. Under the law, the Secretary of Defense will have the
                       overall responsibility for ensuring that joint duty tour averages in each
                       service are met annually. Even though not yet required by law, DOD’S
                       interim policy is to adhere to the prescribed average tour lengths to the
                       maximum extent practicable.

                        In this report we deal with the average tour length of officers whose
                       joint duty assignments ended during fiscal year 1989. This report dis-
                        cusses (1) DOD management of joint tours and (2) how long general/flag
                       officers and field grade officers remained on joint duty assignments. We
                        briefed your staff on June 1, 1990, on the results of our work, and this
                        report summarizes that briefing.

                       For assignments that ended in fiscal year 1989, the average tour length
Results in Brief       for general/flag officers of each service exceeded 2 years, and the
                       average tour length for field grade officers of each service exceeded 3
                       years. Our analysis also showed that of the 117 general/flag officers
                       whose tours we averaged, 77 completed tours of 2 or more years, 17
                       received waivers from the 2-year tour, 20 served 23-24 months, and the
                       remaining 3 served more than 21 months.

                       10 USC. 664 establishes procedures for computing the average length
Tour Length Averages   of joint duty assignments. It stipulates the average joint duty assign-
             ”         ment tour length for both general/flag officers and field grade officers,

                       ‘A joint duty tour refers to the time served in a joint duty assignment.

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                                           effective in fiscal year 199 1. Several provisions of the law provide DOD
                                           flexibility in what data to use in computing average tour lengths. For
                                           example, the law allow tours shortened for specific reasons, such as
                                           retirement, suspension, or release from duty, to be excluded. In addition,
                                           1x)1)has the discretion to include or exclude overseas tours.

                                           Hecause their stipulated average tours are different, general/flag
                                           officers’ tours must be managed, tracked, and reported separately from
                                           field grade officers. Although management groups in the Offices of the
                                           Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff have been created, the
                                           supporting management information system-Joint Duty Assignment
                                           Management Information System- is expected to be operational before
                                           fiscal year 199 1. In the interim, service systems are being used.

                                             Table 1 shows our calculation of tour length averages for general/flag
                                             and field grade officers based on service data.
                .._.   -. ._~_
                             - __.------..-_._-.-
Table 1: Average Joint Duty Tour Lengths
by Service (Frscal Year 1989)              Figures in months                                  --. .~._....    ____..-. -
                                                                                            General/flag        Field rade
                                           Service                                               officers            of 8.Icers
                                           Army                                                          27    ~~             40
                                           Navy                                                          26                   39
                                           Marine Corps                                                  28                   37
                                           Au Force                                                      27   _____--         42

                                           The services use DOD guidance on assignment policies to manage indi-
Managing Individual                        vidual officer reassignments. This guidance does not require the use of
Tours                                      actual dates to manage such reassignments. The Army personnel man-
                                           agement system currently uses actual dates to manage joint tours for
                                           field grade officers, while the other services use year/month data or
                                           estimated dates, such as the date of estimated return from overseas or
                                           the time an officer is required to report by, to track tour lengths.

                                           In addition to establishing the average joint tour lengths, the act states
                                           that as a general rule the minimum lengths for joint duty assignments
                                           shall be 2 years for general/flag officers and 3 years for field grade
                                           officers. It also lists specific exemptions and exclusions from the min-
                                           imum tour lengths. In addition, it grants DOD flexibility in managing field
                                           grade officers by allowing reassignment up to 60 days early and
                                           granting them credit for a full tour. About 2,644 field grade officers
                                           completed joint tours in fiscal year 1989.

                                           Page 2                                    GAO/NSlAD-90-254BR Defense Personnel

                                               IJsing information provided to us by the services, we identified 117 gen-
Length of Individual                           erallflag officers who completed joint tours during fiscal year 1989 and
Tours for General/                             were included in our calculation of the average tour lengths. As shown
Flag Officers                                  in table 2,77 of the 117 tours (66 percent) were tours of 2 or more
                                               years. Seventeen general/flag officers who did not complete the full 2-
                                               year tours obtained tour length waivers. Of the remaining 23, all had
                                               served more than 21 months, and 20 of these had served more than 23

Table 2: General/Flag   Officers Completing   Tours During Fiscal Year 1989
                                                                          Tours of 2
                                                           Completed         or more             Under 2-      Granted
Service                                                    ~.~~- tours
                                                                  -     ._.~-..--years         year tours      waivers          Officers     Months
Army                                                                 36              24                 12               7      4 served          23+
                                                                                                                                1 served          21+
Navy                                                                     35            22                13              5      8 served
Marine Corps                                                              9             7                 2              0      2 served          23+
Air Force                                                                37            24                13              5      6 served          23+
                                                                                                                                2 served          22+
Total                                                                  117            77                40            17               23
                                               Note. In our calculations, we did not Include tours which could be excluded under the provisions of
                                               10 U.S.C. 664.

                                               Because the Offices of the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of
Scopeand                                       Staff did not have systems in place to collect data on average length of
Methodology                                    joint tour assignments for fiscal year 1989, we obtained data from the
                                               personnel offices of the individual services, but we did not verify the
                                                accuracy of the data. For general/flag officers we obtained dates that
                                               each reported to and departed from a joint duty assignment. In our cal-
                                                culations, we eliminated from our universe those tours which the
                                                Department of Defense would not be required to include in its computa-
                                               tion of the average tour length.

                                               For field grade officers we did not examine tour lengths for each indi-
                                               vidual but examined the universe of completed tours and the procedures
                                               each service used for computing the average tour length.

                                               We conducted our survey between February and June 1990 in accor-
                                               dance with generally accepted government auditing standards. We did
                                               not obtain official comments from agency officials; however, we did dis-
                                               cuss the matters contained in this letter with program officials during

                                               Page 3                                                     GAO/NSIAD90-254BR Defense Personnel

the course of our review and have incorporated their comments where

IJnless you publicly announce its contents earlier, we plan no further
distribution of this report until 30 days from its issue date. At that time,
we will send copies to the Chairmen, House Committees on Armed Ser-
vices, Appropriations, Government Operations; and the Chairmen,
Senate Committees on Armed Services, Appropriations, and Govern-
mental Affairs; the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff; the Director, Office
of Management and Budget; and other interested parties. We will make
copies available to others upon request.

Please contact me at 275-3990 if you or your staff have any questions
concerning this report. Major contributors are listed in appendix I.

Sincerely yours,

Paul I,. Jones
Director, Defense Force
  Management Issues

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Major Contributors to This Report

                        George E. Breen, Jr., Assistant Director
National Security and   William .J. Wood, Evaluator-in-Charge
International Affairs
Washington, D.C.

(:JHI 125)              Page 0                                     GAO/NSLAD-90-264BR Defense Personnel
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