Servicemember Absences: DOD Actions Wanted to Improve Associated Information, Procedures, and Staffing


What GAO Discovered

The army companies have collected and reported required knowledge on involuntary absences, however the extent of voluntary absences is unknown. Involuntary absences are unintentional and may result from foul play or an accident, whereas voluntary absences are intentional and embody desertions and unauthorized absences. GAO discovered that the companies reported 157 servicemembers as involuntarily absent from fiscal years 2017 by way of 2021. The companies additionally collected some knowledge on voluntary absences throughout that point. Nevertheless, the complete extent of voluntary absences is unknown as a result of some knowledge weren’t full or dependable. Furthermore, the companies didn’t repeatedly report such knowledge to the Division of Protection (DOD). Offering knowledge assortment steering and establishing a reporting course of will higher allow DOD to watch the variety of voluntary absences and assess efforts to discourage and scale back them.

The companies have established procedures for key personnel that deal with some, however not all, of their duties for responding to absences. For instance, all 4 companies have established procedures for unit commanders to report absences to acceptable organizations (see determine). Nevertheless, the Marine Corps has not established procedures to help unit commanders in figuring out whether or not an absence is involuntary or voluntary. Moreover, the Air Power doesn’t have procedures for investigating all sorts of absences. By establishing such procedures, the Marine Corps and Air Power may have better assurance that absences will likely be correctly recognized and investigated.

Key Personnel and Organizations Concerned in Responding to Servicemember Absences

aNavy legislation enforcement contains army prison investigative organizations and army police.

Throughout fiscal years 2017 by way of 2021, the Army, Navy, and Air Power army prison investigative organizations met some staffing targets and recognized some staffing wants for particular brokers who examine servicemember absences. GAO discovered that the Army and Navy met or almost met targets for filling licensed particular agent positions, whereas the Air Power stuffed, on common, about 83 % of its positions, falling wanting its 100-percent objective. Additionally, though the Air Power recognized staffing wants for particular brokers, the Army didn’t establish the variety of particular brokers wanted to completely deal with workload wants and the Navy couldn’t establish the precise variety of particular brokers wanted separate from different investigative positions. Establishing processes to establish Army and Navy particular agent wants and growing a method to fulfill the Air Power staffing objective will higher place these companies to make sure they’ve enough numbers of brokers.

Why GAO Did This Examine

Servicemember absences can negatively have an effect on servicemembers, their households, and their models. Circumstances, such because the 2020 disappearance and homicide of Army Specialist Vanessa GuillĂ©n, have provoked considerations about DOD’s response to absences.

The Convention Report accompanying the Nationwide Protection Authorization Act for Fiscal 12 months 2021 features a provision for GAO to assessment how DOD handles servicemember absences.

This report assesses the extent to which the (1) companies collected and reported knowledge on involuntary and voluntary absences throughout fiscal years 2017 by way of 2021, (2) companies have established procedures for key personnel to answer involuntary and voluntary absences, and (3) army prison investigative organizations met staffing targets and recognized staffing wants for particular brokers who conduct prison investigations throughout fiscal years 2017 by way of 2021.

GAO analyzed absence and staffing knowledge, reviewed insurance policies, and interviewed DOD and repair officers.





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