20 January 2011

GAO releases report on costs associated with DoD's policy on gays in the military

The U.S. Government Accountability Office, or GAO, released this report today entitled "Personnel and Cost Data Associated With Implementing the DOD'S Homosexual Conduct Policy."

The report was originally requested by Rep. Susan Davis (D-Calif.) who was chair of the House Armed Services' Subcommittee on Military Personnel in the last (111th Congress).

According to GAO’s analysis of Defense Manpower Data Center data, 3,664 servicemembers were separated under DoD’s homosexual conduct policy from fiscal years 2004 through 2009. Of the 3,664 separations, 1,458 of these separated servicemembers held a critical occupation or an important foreign language skill as determined by GAO and the services. More specifically, 1,442 (39 percent) of the servicemembers separated under the policy held critical occupations, such as infantryman and security forces, while 23 (less than 1 percent) of the servicemembers held skills in an important foreign language, such as Arabic or Spanish. Seven separated servicemembers held both a critical occupation and an important foreign language skill.

Using available Department of Defense, or DoD, cost data, GAO calculated that it cost DoD about $193.3 million ($52,800 per separation) in constant fiscal year 2009 dollars to separate and replace the 3,664 servicemembers separated under the homosexual conduct policy. This $193.3 million comprises $185.6 million in replacement costs and $7.7 million in administrative costs. The cost to recruit and train replacements amounted to about $185.6 million. In calculating these costs, GAO included variable costs, such as recruiting bonuses, and excluded fixed costs, such as salaries and buildings, to the extent possible because according to service officials there would likely be no significant increase in fixed costs when recruiting and training a relatively small number of replacement personnel.

The Air Force, Army, and Marine Corps provided GAO with administrative cost estimates; however, Navy officials explained that changes in separation processes from fiscal years 2004 through 2009 prevented them from providing an accurate administrative cost estimate in time for the data to be included in GAO’s analyses. Because the Navy did not provide these data, GAO’s calculation is an underestimation of DoD’s likely total administrative costs.

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