Military Personnel: Comparisons between Military and Civilian Compensation Can be Useful, but Data Limitations Prevent Exact Comparisons

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Testimony issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "This testimony discusses our most recent report on military and civilian pay comparisons and the challenges associated with those types of comparisons. The Department of Defense's (DOD) military compensation package, which is a myriad of pays and benefits, is an important tool for attracting and retaining the number and quality of active duty servicemembers DOD needs to fulfill its mission. Since DOD transitioned to an all-volunteer force in 1973, the amount of pay and benefits that servicemembers receive has progressively increased. When it is competitive with civilian compensation, ... continued below

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United States. Government Accountability Office. April 28, 2010.

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Testimony issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "This testimony discusses our most recent report on military and civilian pay comparisons and the challenges associated with those types of comparisons. The Department of Defense's (DOD) military compensation package, which is a myriad of pays and benefits, is an important tool for attracting and retaining the number and quality of active duty servicemembers DOD needs to fulfill its mission. Since DOD transitioned to an all-volunteer force in 1973, the amount of pay and benefits that servicemembers receive has progressively increased. When it is competitive with civilian compensation, military compensation can be appropriate and adequate to attract and retain servicemembers. However, comparisons between the two involve both challenges and limitations. Specifically, as we have previously reported, no data exist that would allow an exact comparison between military and civilian personnel with the same levels of work experience. Also, nonmonetary considerations complicate such comparisons, because their value cannot be quantified. For example, military service is unique in that the working conditions for active duty service carry the risk of death and injury during wartime and the potential for frequent, long deployments, unlike most civilian jobs. In addition, there is variability among past studies in how compensation is defined (for example, either pay or pay and benefits) and what is being compared. Most studies, including those done by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and RAND Corporation, have compared military and civilian compensation but limit such comparisons to cash compensation--using what DOD calls regular military compensation--and do not include benefits. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 required that we conduct a study comparing the pay and benefits provided by law to members of the Armed Forces with those of comparably situated private-sector employees, to assess how the differences in pay and benefits affect recruiting and retention of members of the Armed Forces. Earlier this month, we issued our report. This testimony today summarizes the findings of that report."

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Government Accountability Office Reports

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for the U.S. Congress investigating how the federal government spends taxpayers' money. Its goal is to increase accountability and improve the performance of the federal government. The Government Accountability Office Reports Collection consists of over 13,000 documents on a variety of topics ranging from fiscal issues to international affairs.

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  • April 28, 2010

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  • June 11, 2014, 5:03 a.m.

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United States. Government Accountability Office. Military Personnel: Comparisons between Military and Civilian Compensation Can be Useful, but Data Limitations Prevent Exact Comparisons, text, April 28, 2010; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc291368/: accessed December 15, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.