Human Capital: Opportunities Exist to Further Improve DOD's Methodology for Estimating the Costs of Its Workforces

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A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The Department of Defense (DOD) has improved its methodology for estimating and comparing the full cost to the taxpayer of work performed by military and civilian personnel and contractor support, but the methodology continues to have certain limitations. Best practices state that cost estimating rules should include a common set of standards that minimize conflicts in definitions, but DOD's methodology does not provide guidance for certain costs. For instance, its estimate of service training costs divides total training funding by the number of servicemembers. Using this ... continued below

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United States. Government Accountability Office. September 25, 2013.

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A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The Department of Defense (DOD) has improved its methodology for estimating and comparing the full cost to the taxpayer of work performed by military and civilian personnel and contractor support, but the methodology continues to have certain limitations. Best practices state that cost estimating rules should include a common set of standards that minimize conflicts in definitions, but DOD's methodology does not provide guidance for certain costs. For instance, its estimate of service training costs divides total training funding by the number of servicemembers. Using this method yields an average training cost of $6,490 per servicemember in the Army for fiscal year 2012. However, Army data show that training for a general aviation officer can be as high as $93,600 a year, while the training for an enlisted infantryman can be as low as about $4,600 a year. DOD's Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE) office has not provided more specific direction on training costs, although some officials have requested it. Additionally, CAPE officials told GAO they did not include Reserve and National Guard personnel in the methodology because usually these personnel are used on a short-term basis. However, a portion of these personnel do serve in a full-time capacity. The Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board has noted that a cost methodology should include any resources directly or indirectly used to perform work, and DOD relies on Reserve and National Guard personnel, for example, to provide airlift capabilities in support of military operations. Further, CAPE has not yet evaluated certain retirement-related cost elements. A portion of these cost elements may not be appropriate to include because they are not attributable to current military and civilian personnel. Without more specific direction in these areas, it will be more difficult for DOD to have reasonable assurance that its cost estimates and comparisons reflect the full and most accurate cost to the taxpayer of work performed by its various workforces."

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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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  • September 25, 2013

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  • June 12, 2014, 7:50 p.m.

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United States. Government Accountability Office. Human Capital: Opportunities Exist to Further Improve DOD's Methodology for Estimating the Costs of Its Workforces, report, September 25, 2013; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc295770/: accessed June 25, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.