Military Recruiting: DOD and Services Need Better Data to Enhance
Visibility over Recruiter Irregularities (08-AUG-06, GAO-06-846).
                                                                 
The viability of the All Volunteer Force depends, in large	 
measure, on the Department of Defense's (DOD) ability to recruit 
several hundred thousand individuals each year. Since the	 
involvement of U.S. military forces in Iraq in March 2003,	 
several DOD components have been challenged in meeting their	 
recruiting goals. In fiscal year 2005 alone, three of the eight  
active and reserve components missed their goals. Some		 
recruiters, reportedly, have resorted to overly aggressive	 
tactics, which can adversely affect DOD's ability to recruit and 
erode public confidence in the recruiting process. GAO was asked 
to address the extent to which DOD and the services have	 
visibility over recruiter irregularities; what factors may	 
contribute to recruiter irregularities; and what procedures are  
in place to address them. GAO performed its work primarily at the
service recruiting commands and DOD's Military Entrance 	 
Processing Command; examined recruiting policies, regulations,	 
and directives; and analyzed service data on recruiter		 
irregularities. 						 
-------------------------Indexing Terms------------------------- 
REPORTNUM:   GAO-06-846 					        
    ACCNO:   A58199						        
  TITLE:     Military Recruiting: DOD and Services Need Better Data to
Enhance Visibility over Recruiter Irregularities		 
     DATE:   08/08/2006 
  SUBJECT:   Armed forces regulations				 
	     Data collection					 
	     Military enlistment				 
	     Military personnel 				 
	     Military policies					 
	     Military recruiting				 
	     Performance management				 
	     Personnel management				 
	     Standards						 
	     Policies and procedures				 
	     Transparency					 
	     All Volunteer Force				 
	     Iraq						 

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GAO-06-846

     

     * Report to Congressional Requesters
          * August 2006
     * Military recruiting
          * DOD and Services Need Better Data to Enhance Visibility over
            Recruiter Irregularities
     * Contents
          * Results In Brief
          * Background
          * DOD and the Services Have Limited Visibility over Recruiter
            Irregularities
               * DOD Lacks an Oversight Framework to Provide Guidance on
                 Recruiter Irregularities, and Has Not Established Criteria
                 to Characterize Irregularities
               * Each Service Uses Systems That Are Not Integrated and Do Not
                 Allow the Services to Readily Report All Recruiter
                 Irregularities
               * Services' Decentralized Processes Do Not Allow Them to
                 Account for All Recruiter Irregularities
               * Although Likely Underestimated, Service Data Suggest Most
                 Allegations Are Not Substantiated
          * Many Factors May Affect the Recruiting Environment
               * Many Factors Contribute to a Challenging Recruiting
                 Environment
               * Recruiter Evaluations Are Linked to Monthly Recruiting
                 Results
               * Recruiter Irregularities May Increase as the Deadline to
                 Meet Monthly Goals Nears
          * Services Have Standard Procedures in Place for Administering
            Military Justice to Address Recruiter Irregularities
          * Services Use Information on Recruiter Irregularities to Update
            Their Training
          * Conclusions
          * Recommendations for Executive Action
          * Agency Comments and Our Evaluation
     * Scope and Methodology
     * Comments from the Department of Defense
     * GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments

Report to Congressional Requesters

August 2006

MILITARY RECRUITING

DOD and Services Need Better Data to Enhance Visibility over Recruiter
Irregularities

Contents

Tables

Figures

August 8, 2006Letter

The Honorable Vic Snyder Ranking Minority Member Subcommittee on Military
Personnel Committee on Armed Services House of Representatives

The Honorable Pete Stark House of Representatives

The viability of the All Volunteer Force (AVF) depends, in large measure,
on the Department of Defense's (DOD) ability to successfully recruit
several hundred thousand qualified individuals each year to fill over
1,400 occupational specialties. Since the March 2003 involvement of U.S.
military forces in Iraq, attracting sufficient numbers of high-quality
recruits to military service has proven to be one of the greatest
personnel challenges faced by DOD since the inception of the AVF. The
active Army, the Army Reserve, and the Navy Reserve, for example, failed
to meet their fiscal year 2005 recruiting goals.

Recruitment of high-quality personnel is a tough proposition, made even
more challenging in the current environment when the nation is engaged in
combat operations. To exacerbate the recruitment challenges further, DOD
estimates that over half of the youth in the U.S. population between the
ages of 16 and 21 do not meet the minimum requirements to enter military
service. Moreover, additional factors such as the shrinking numbers of new
recruits in delayed entry programs1 and the Army's use of stop loss, which
delays servicemembers from leaving active duty, indicate that the
components may experience continued recruiting challenges as they attempt
to meet their personnel requirements.

To help overcome recruiting challenges, the military services during the
past several years have assigned roughly 20,000 recruiters to manage their
recruiting programs and achieve their accession goals. In addition, the
services have taken other steps to enhance their recruiting efforts, such
as offering increased enlistment bonuses and other benefits. Despite these
actions, many of the recruiting challenges remain.

Determined to find ways to succeed in a challenging recruiting
environment, some recruiters, reportedly, have resorted to overly
aggressive tactics, such as coercion and harassment. Such tactics are
violations of recruiting policies and diminish the public's perception of,
and confidence in, the recruiting process. Furthermore, recruiter
irregularities can negatively impact the services' recruiting ability by
damaging relationships with potential applicants, and causing those who
have influence over potential applicants to question military service.
These influencers include parents, coaches, teachers, and other family
members. Consequently, a recruiter's actions can be far reaching and have
significant impact. Given the large numbers of servicemembers DOD must
recruit every year, there is ample opportunity for recruiter
irregularities to occur. A 2005 internal DOD survey reports about 20
percent of active duty recruiters believe that irregularities occur
frequently.2 Even one incident of recruiter wrongdoing can erode public
confidence in the recruiting process.

We looked at military recruiting processes in two prior reports dated
January 1997 and January 1998,3 both of which recommended that DOD needed
to improve its recruiter performance criteria across the services. Both of
these reports point to the increased stress on recruiters as a result of
restrictive recruiting goals and long working hours to succeed in a tough
recruiting environment.

This report addresses the following questions: (1) To what extent do DOD
and the services have visibility over recruiter irregularities? (2) What
factors within the current recruiting environment may contribute to
recruiting irregularities? (3) What procedures are in place to address
individuals involved in recruiting irregularities?

Our work covers recruiting irregularities that affect all services' active
and reserve component enlisted personnel. For the purposes of this report,
we define recruiter irregularities as those willful and unwillful acts of
omission and improprieties that are perpetrated by a recruiter or alleged
to be perpetrated by a recruiter to facilitate the recruiting process for
an applicant. These recruiter irregularities range from administrative
paperwork errors, to actions such as failing to disclose disqualifying
eligibility criteria or instructing applicants not to reveal medical
conditions or prior civil litigation, to criminal violations committed by
a recruiter who is subsequently prosecuted under articles of the Uniform
Code of Military Justice. Criminal violations may include such actions as
sexual harassment and falsifying documents. We performed our work
primarily at the service recruiting commands and DOD's Military Entrance
Processing Command. To answer our objectives, we examined DOD and service
policies, regulations, and directives related to recruiting. We also
reviewed data DOD compiled on recruiters and survey results on their
opinions about their jobs. Additionally, we analyzed data the services
compiled and maintained on recruiter irregularities. We also interviewed
DOD and service recruiting officials, and recruiters in each service.
However, we did not review irregularities within DOD's National Guard
components because the National Guard Bureau does not maintain centralized
data. Although we identified weaknesses in the available data, we
determined that, for the purposes of this report, the data were reliable
for providing limited information on recruiter irregularities. We
conducted our work from September 2005 through August 2006 in accordance
with generally accepted government auditing standards. Further details on
the scope and methodology are described in appendix I.

Results In Brief

DOD and the services have limited visibility to determine the extent to
which recruiter irregularities are occurring. The Office of the Under
Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness is responsible for
reviewing and evaluating plans and programs, including DOD's recruitment
program. DOD, however, has not established an oversight framework that
includes guidance requiring the services to maintain and report data on
recruiter irregularities and criteria for characterizing irregularities
and establishing common terminology. Effective federal managers
continually assess and evaluate their programs to provide accountability
and assurance that program objectives are being achieved. Although the
services require their recruiting commands to maintain data on recruiter
irregularities, the lack of DOD criteria for characterizing irregularities
and establishing common terminology makes it difficult to compare and
analyze data across services. Similarly, the individual services'
visibility over recruiting irregularities is problematic. The individual
services use multiple data collection systems that are not integrated and
their processes are decentralized, which makes it difficult to produce a
comprehensive and consolidated report on recruiter irregularities.
Moreover, the services do not track all allegations of recruiter
wrongdoing. Accordingly, service data likely underestimate the true number
of recruiter irregularities. Although likely underestimated, the data the
services reported to us are instructive in that they show all categories
of irregularities increased from fiscal year 2004 to fiscal year 2005:
allegations and service-identified incidents of recruiter wrongdoing
increased from almost 4,400 to about 6,600 cases; substantiated
irregularities increased from just over 400 to almost 630 cases; and
criminal violations more than doubled from just over 30 to almost 70
cases. Without a management framework that provides guidance and specific
criteria to the services to track complete and reliable data, DOD and the
services are not in a position to gauge the extent of recruiter
irregularities or when corrective action is needed, nor is the department
in a sound position to assure Congress and the general public that it
knows the full extent to which recruiter irregularities are occurring.

A number of factors within the current recruiting environment may
contribute to recruiting irregularities. For example, service recruiting
command officials stated that the economy has been the single most
important factor recently affecting recruiting success. According to
Department of Labor data, the unemployment rate fell each year between
2003 (when it was 6 percent) and 2005 (when it was 5.1 percent). The
better the civilian job market, the harder DOD must compete for talent.
Also, almost three-quarters of active duty recruiters responding to the
department's 2005 internal survey believed that ongoing hostilities in
Iraq made it hard for them to achieve their goals.4 These factors, in
addition to the typical challenges of the job, such as long, demanding
work hours and pressure to meet monthly goals, may lead to recruiter
irregularities. Moreover, performance measures vary among the services.
The Army, Navy, and Air Force measure recruiter performance primarily by
the number of recruits who enlist and report to basic training, rather
than the number who complete basic training, while the Marine Corps uses
basic training attrition rates as a key component of the recruiter's
performance evaluation. This criterion may deter Marine Corps recruiters
from committing recruiter violations because they are expected to perform
more rigorous screening of applicants to prevent them from recruiting
someone who cannot complete basic training and avoid the requirement to
recruit an additional applicant. DOD's Military Entrance Processing
Command data show, in fact, that Marine Corps applicants have a lower rate
of attrition throughout the recruiting process than the other services.
Other Military Entrance Processing Command data from its Chicago station
suggest that recruiter irregularities increase as the end of monthly
recruiting cycles near. In our January 1997 and January 1998 reports on
military recruiting,5 we recommended that the services link recruiter
awards and incentives more closely to recruits' successful completion of
basic training. Although DOD concurred with our recommendation, it has not
made this a requirement across the services. Recruiter irregularities can
result in wasted taxpayer dollars when ineligible applicants are recruited
and processed through a military entrance processing station, begin basic
training, but do not enter military service.

The services have procedures in place, provided in the Uniform Code of
Military Justice and service regulations, to investigate allegations of
recruiter irregularities and to prosecute and discipline recruiters found
guilty of violating recruiting policies and procedures. Each service
recruiting command has a designated investigative authority to handle
allegations and service-identified incidents of irregularities, and the
services' respective Judge Advocates have primary responsibility for
adjudicating criminal violations of the recruiting process. Each commander
in the recruiter's chain of command has the discretion to dispose of
offenses within the limits of that commander's authority and parameters of
the Uniform Code of Military Justice. To help recruiters better understand
the nature and consequences of committing irregularities in the
recruitment process, all services use available information on recruiter
wrongdoing to update their recruiter training. This information includes
results of internal inspection programs and routine recruiter discipline
reports. The services also react to reassure public confidence in the
recruiting process when specific incidents or reports of recruiter
irregularities become widely known.

We are making recommendations that would improve DOD's visibility over
recruiting irregularities and require the services to develop systems and
processes that better capture and integrate data on allegations and
service-identified incidents of recruiter irregularities. We are also
recommending that the Military Entrance Processing Command provide
information on recruiter irregularities to the Office of the Under
Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness.

In written comments on a draft of this report, DOD concurred with three of
our recommendations that address the need for an effective oversight
management framework to improve DOD's visibility over recruiter
irregularities, and partially concurred with our recommendation to
establish a reporting requirement across the services. DOD did not concur
with our recommendation for the Military Entrance Processing Command to
provide the Office of the Secretary of Defense with data on recruiter
irregularities. However, the department did not disagree with the
substance of these recommendations; rather, DOD indicated that it would
implement the recommendations if it determined such requirements were
necessary. DOD's comments and our evaluation of them are discussed on page
36. DOD's comments are included in their entirety in appendix II.

Background

Subject to the authority, direction, and control of the Secretary of
Defense, each military service (Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force)
has the responsibility to recruit and train a force to conduct military
operations.6 In fiscal year 2006, DOD committed over $1.5 billion to its
recruiting effort.7 Each service, in turn, has established a recruiting
command responsible for

that service's recruiting mission and functions.8 The services' recruiting
commands are similarly organized, in general, to accomplish the recruiting
mission. Figure 1 illustrates the organization of the recruiting commands
from the senior headquarters level through the recruiting station where
frontline recruiters work to contact prospective applicants and sell them
on military service.

Figure 1: Service Recruiting Command Organizational Chart

Notes: The Marine Corps organization also includes substations beneath the
recruiting station level where its frontline recruiters work. The
Department of the Air Force is the only military department in which the
recruiting commands for the active and reserve force are still separate
commands. The Air Force Reserve Command Recruiting Service is similarly
organized as the active component and is not depicted separately.

Each service has at least two levels of command between the senior
headquarters and the recruiting station where frontline recruiters work to
contact prospective applicants for military service. The Army Brigades,
Navy and Marine Corps Regions, and Air Force Groups are subordinate
commands of their service recruiting command and have responsibility for
recruiting operations in large portions of the country. The Navy and
Marine Corps organize their servicewide recruiting commands into Eastern
and Western Regions that more or less divide responsibilities east and
west of the Mississippi River. The Army, in comparison, has five Brigades
and the Air Force has four Groups based regionally across the country that
are responsible for their recruiting operations. These commands are
further divided into local levels responsible for coordinating the
frontline recruiting efforts. These 41 Army Battalions, 26 Navy and 6
Marine Corps Districts, and 28 Air Force Squadrons are generally organized
around market demographics, including population density and geographic
location. Finally, the 1,200 to 2,000 recruiting stations per service or
in the case of the Marine Corps-the substations-represent that part of the
recruiting organization with which the general public is most familiar.

Of the approximately 22,000 total military recruiters in fiscal year 2006,
almost 14,000 are frontline recruiters who are assigned a monthly
recruiting goal. The recruiter's monthly goal varies by service, but is
generally 2 recruits per month. The remaining recruiters-roughly 8,000-
hold supervisory and staff positions throughout the services' recruiting
commands. Table 1 provides a summary of the average number of recruiters
by service for fiscal years 2002 through 2006 broken out by total number
of recruiters and frontline recruiters who have a monthly recruiting goal.

Table 1: Summary of the Average Recruiters by Service for Fiscal Years
2002 through 2006

                                        

Service   Total           Frontline  
        recruiters        recruiters 
              2002   2003       2004   2005   2006    2002   2003   2004   2005   2006 
Armya        9,730  9,481      8,517  9,637 10,634   6,367  6,078  5,109  5,953  6,484 
Navy         5,835  5,738      5,016  5,141  4,936   4,714  4,617  4,617  3,365  3,383 
Marine       3,401  3,494      3,287  3,343  3,641   2,650  2,650  2,650  2,650  2,650 
Corps                                                                           
Air          2,942  2,956      2,940  2,990  2,800   1,574  1,494  1,460  1,453  1,412 
Force                                                                           
Total       21,908 21,669     19,760 21,111 22,011  15,305 14,839 13,836 13,421 13,929 

Source: Office of the Secretary of Defense.

a The number of Army recruiters includes civilian contract recruiters.

A typical frontline military recruiter is generally a midlevel enlisted
noncommissioned officer in the rank of Army and Marine Corps Sergeant
(E-5) or Staff Sergeant (E-6), Navy Petty Officer Second Class (E-5) or
First Class (E-6), and Air Force Staff Sergeant (E-5) or Technical
Sergeant (E-6), who is between the ages of 25 and 30 years old and has
between 5 and 10 years of military service. While some frontline
recruiters volunteer for recruiting as a career enhancement, others are
selected from among those the services have identified as their best
performers in their primary military specialties. All services have
comprehensive selection processes in place and specific eligibility
criteria for recruiting duty. For example, recruiters must meet service
appearance standards, have a stable family situation, be able to speak
without any impairment, and be financially responsible. The services
screen all prospective recruiters by interviewing and conducting
personality assessments and ensuring the prospective recruiters meet all
criteria.

To augment its uniformed recruiters, the Army also uses contract civilian
recruiters, and has been doing so under legislative authority since fiscal
year 2001. This pilot program, which authorizes the Army to use civilian
contractors, will run through fiscal year 2007. The goal of the program is
to test the effectiveness of civilian recruiters. If civilian recruiters
prove effective, this would allow the Army to retain more noncommissioned
officers in their primary military specialties within the warfighting
force. Currently, the Army is using almost 370 contract civilian
recruiters, representing approximately 3 percent of the Army's total
recruiting force.

In general, training for frontline recruiters is similar in all services
and has focused on ethics and salesmanship, with a growing emphasis placed
on leadership and mentoring skills to attract today's applicant. Each
service conducts specialized training for approximately 6 weeks for
noncommissioned officers assigned as recruiters.9 The number of hours of
training time specifically devoted to ethics training as a component of
the recruiter training curriculum ranges from 5 hours in the Navy to 34
hours of instruction in the Army.

After recruiters successfully convince applicants on the benefits of
joining the military, they complete a prescreening of the applicant, which
includes an initial background review and a physical and moral assessment
of the applicant's eligibility for military service. After the recruiter's
prescreening, the military pays for the applicant to travel to 1 of 65
military entrance processing stations (MEPS) located throughout the
country. At the processing stations, which are under the direction of
DOD's Military Entrance Processing Command, processing station staff
administer the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, a test to
determine whether the applicant is qualified for enlistment and a military
job specialty,10 and conduct a medical examination to determine whether
the applicant meets physical entrance standards. After the processing
station staff determine that an applicant is qualified, the applicant
signs an enlistment contract and is sworn into the service and enters the
delayed entry program. When an applicant enters the delayed entry program,
he or she becomes a member of the Individual Ready Reserve, in an unpaid
status, until reporting for basic training. An individual may remain in
the delayed entry program for 1 day up to 1 year. Just before reporting
for basic training, the applicant returns to the processing station,
undergoes a brief physical examination, and is sworn into the military.

Figure 2, in general, illustrates the recruiting process from a
recruiter's initial contact with a prospective applicant to the
applicant's successful graduation from the service's initial training
school, commonly referred to as basic training.

Figure 2: The Recruiting Process

DOD and the Services Have Limited Visibility over Recruiter Irregularities

DOD and the services have limited visibility to determine the extent to
which recruiter irregularities are occurring. The Office of the Under
Secretary of Defense (OUSD) for Personnel and Readiness has the
responsibility for overseeing the recruiting program. However, OUSD has
not established a framework to conduct oversight of recruiter
irregularities and provide guidance requiring the services to maintain
data on recruiter wrongdoing. Although not required by OUSD to do so, the
services require their recruiting commands to maintain data for 2 years;
the Army Recruiting Command maintains data for 3 years and can retrieve
case files back to fiscal year 1998. Furthermore, OUSD has not established
criteria for the services to characterize recruiter irregularities or
developed common terminology for irregularities. Accordingly, the services
use different terminology, which makes it difficult to compare and analyze
data across the services. Moreover, each of the services uses multiple
systems for maintaining data that are not integrated and decentralized
processes for identifying and tracking allegations and service-identified
incidents of recruiter irregularities. Perhaps most significantly, none of
the services accounts for all allegations or incidents of recruiter
irregularities. Therefore, service data likely underestimate the true
number of recruiter irregularities. Nevertheless, our analysis of service
data suggests that most allegations are not substantiated.

DOD Lacks an Oversight Framework to Provide Guidance on Recruiter
Irregularities, and Has Not Established Criteria to Characterize
Irregularities

Effective federal managers continually assess and evaluate their programs
to provide accountability and to assure that they are well designed and
operated, appropriately updated to meet changing conditions, and achieving
program objectives. Specifically, managers need to examine internal
control to determine how well it is performing, how it may be improved,
and the degree to which it helps identify and address major risks for
fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement. According to the mission statement
for the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and
Readiness, its responsibilities include reviewing and evaluating plans and
programs to ensure adherence to approved policies and standards, including
DOD's recruitment program. OUSD officials stated that they review service
recruiter irregularity issues infrequently usually in response to a
congressional inquiry, and they do not perform oversight of recruiter
irregularities. OUSD has not issued guidance requiring the services to
maintain data on recruiter irregularities. Nevertheless, the services
require their recruiting commands to maintain data on recruiter
irregularities for 2 years; the Army Recruiting Command maintains data for
3 years and can retrieve case files dating back to fiscal year 1998.

Moreover, OUSD has not established or provided criteria to the services
for how they should characterize various recruiter irregularities and has
not developed common terminology because it responds to individual
inquiries and, in general, uses the terminology of the service in
question. Accordingly, the services use different terminology to refer to
recruiter irregularities. How the services categorize the irregularity
affects how they maintain data on recruiter irregularities. For example,
the Army uses the term impropriety while the Navy, Marine Corps, and Air
Force use the term malpractice to characterize the intentional enlistment
of an unqualified applicant. Only the Army uses the term recruiter error
to describe those irregularities not resulting from malicious intent or
gross negligence. Consequently, if DOD were to require services to report
on recruiter wrongdoing, the Army might not include its recruiter error
category because these cases are not willful violations of recruiting
policies and procedures and the Army does not identify such cases as
substantiated or unsubstantiated in their data system. The Air Force uses
the term procedural error to refer to an irregularity occurring as a
result of an administrative error by the recruiter due to lack of
knowledge or inattention to detail. If DOD were to require services to
report on recruiter wrongdoing, the Air Force might not include its
procedural error category because these cases are not intentional acts to
facilitate the recruiting process for an ineligible applicant. In both
cases, however, wasted taxpayer dollars result; unintentional recruiter
errors can have the same effect as intentional recruiter irregularities
because both result in inefficiencies in the recruiting process.

DOD's need for oversight may become more critical if the department
decides to rely more heavily on civilian contract recruiters in the
future. As we previously stated, the civilian recruiter pilot program
currently authorizes the Army to use civilian recruiters, through fiscal
year 2007, to test their effectiveness. Future reliance on civilian
recruiters, in any service, would allow a service to retain more
noncommissioned officers in their primary military specialties. However,
OUSD would also need to be in a position to assure that this type of
change is well designed and operated, and that its recruiting programs are
appropriately updated to reflect a change in recruiting operations.

Each Service Uses Systems That Are Not Integrated and Do Not Allow the
Services to Readily Report All Recruiter Irregularities

None of the services can readily provide a comprehensive and consolidated
report on recruiter irregularities within their own service because they
use multiple systems that are not integrated. Currently, the services use
systems that range from electronic databases to hard-copy paper files to
track recruiter irregularities and do not have a central database
dedicated to compiling, monitoring, and archiving information about
recruiter irregularities. When we asked officials in each of the services
for a comprehensive report of recruiter irregularities that occurred
within their own service, they were unable to readily provide these data.
Officials had to query and compile data from separate systems. For
example, the Navy Recruiting Command had to access paper files for
allegations of recruiter irregularities, while the Air Force Judge
Advocate provided information from an electronic database from which we
were able to extract cases specifically related to recruiter
irregularities.

Furthermore, the services cannot assure the reliability of their data
because the services lack standardized procedures for recording data,
their multiple systems use different formats for maintaining data, and in
some instances the services do not conduct quality reviews or edit checks
of the data. The services used the following systems to maintain data on
recruiter irregularities at the time of our review:

o Army:  The Army maintains three separate data systems that contain
information about recruiter irregularities.  The Army Recruiting Command's
Enlistment Standards Division has a database that houses recruiting
irregularities that pertain to applicant eligibility. The Army Recruiting
Command Inspector General maintains a separate database that houses other
irregularities, including recruiter misconduct that may result in
nonjudicial punishment. The Judge Advocate maintains hard-copy case files
for recruiter irregularities that are criminal violations of the
recruiting process that may result in judicial punishment.

o Navy:  The Navy maintains four separate data systems that contain
information about recruiter irregularities. The Naval Inspector General,
the Navy Bureau of Personnel Inspector General, and the Navy Recruiting
Command Inspector General all maintain some data on allegations of
recruiter irregularities. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service
investigates and maintains data on Navy criminal recruiting violations.

o Marine Corps: The Marine Corps Recruiting Command maintains two systems
that track information on recruiting irregularities, one that captures
reported allegations and another that only tracks the disposition of
allegations and service-identified incidents that a commander or
recruiting official at some level in the recruiting command structure
determined to merit an inquiry or investigation. The Naval Criminal
Investigative Service investigates and maintains data on Marine Corps
criminal recruiting violations.

o Air Force:  The Air Force maintains three separate databases with
information about recruiter irregularities. The Air Force Recruiting
Service Inspector General maintains a database that houses data on
allegations of recruiter irregularities. The liaison from the Air Force
Recruiting Service, located at the Air Force basic training site,
maintains data within a separate electronic system on allegations of
recruiter irregularities that applicants raise about their recruiters when
they report to basic training. The Air Force Judge Advocate maintains a
database containing criminal violations of recruiting practices and
procedures.11

At the time of our review, Navy officials told us they believe there is
value in having servicewide visibility over the recruiting process and
they plan to improve their systems for maintaining data on recruiter
irregularities. Navy officials stated that the Navy Bureau of Personnel
Inspector General is working with the Navy Recruiting Command Inspector
General and the Naval Education and Training Command to develop a system
that maintains recruiting and training data that will include allegations
and service-identified incidents of recruiter irregularities. Marine Corps
officials told us they are in the process of improving their systems for
maintaining data on recruiter irregularities by merging all data on
allegations and service-identified incidents of recruiter irregularities
into one database that can be accessed at all command levels of the Marine
Corps Recruiting Command. An Air Force official told us that as a result
of our review, the Air Force modified its system for capturing allegations
and service-identified incidents surfacing at basic training by improving
its ability to query the system for information on the type of allegation
or incident and whether or not it was a substantiated case of recruiter
wrongdoing.

Services' Decentralized Processes Do Not Allow Them to Account for All
Recruiter Irregularities

Where and how an irregularity is identified will often determine where and
how it will be resolved. The services identify an allegation or incident
of recruiter wrongdoing in a number of ways. These include input from
service hotlines, internal inspections, congressional inquiries, and data
collected by DOD's Military Entrance Processing Command. The services'
recruiting command headquarters typically handle allegations and
service-identified incidents of recruiter irregularities that surface
through any of these means during the recruiting process. At other times,
allegations surface in the recruiting process at command levels below the
service recruiting command headquarters, and commanders at the Army
Battalion, Navy and Marine Corps District, and Air Force Squadron level
handle allegations that typically surface during supervisory reviews at
the recruiting stations and substations. We were unable to determine the
extent of these allegations, however, because the service recruiting
commands do not maintain complete data. For example, Military Entrance
Processing Command officials, responsible for assessing an applicant's
moral, mental, and physical eligibility for military service, stated that
they forward all allegations and service-identified incidents of recruiter
irregularities that surface during the screening process at the military
entrance processing station to the services' recruiting commanders.
However, officials also stated that the services' recruiting commanders do
not provide feedback to them regarding the disposition of these cases. In
fact, the services' recruiting command headquarters data did not show
records of allegations and service-identified incidents of recruiter
irregularities received from the Military Entrance Processing Command.

Additionally, each service provides applicants an opportunity to disclose
any special circumstances relating to their enlistment process, including
allegations of recruiter wrongdoing, when they enter basic training. Army
and Air Force officials told us that they record all allegations of
recruiter irregularities made by applicants at basic training. Army
Recruiting Command officials stated that liaison officers at each of the
basic training installations forward all allegations received from
applicants to the Army Recruiting Command Enlisted Standards Division to
record in its database. The Air Force implemented a new database in fiscal
year 2005 specifically to record and resolve all allegations and
service-identified incidents of recruiter wrongdoing that surface at basic
training. The Navy and Marine Corps, on the other hand, do not record all
allegations of recruiter irregularities made by applicants at basic
training.

o Navy:  The Navy gives applicants a final opportunity to disclose any
irregularity that they believe occurred in their recruiting process when
they arrive at basic training. The Recruiting Command Inspector General
has the authority to investigate allegations or service-identified
incidents of recruiter wrongdoing and uses its Navy Recruit Quality
Assurance Team to conduct the final Navy recruiting quality assurance
check before applicants begin basic training. In turn, the Assurance Team
generates reports on allegations raised by applicants who claim they were
misled during the recruiting process and submits its reports to the Navy
Recruiting Command Inspector General. Navy recruiting command officials
explained that the Inspector General investigates those allegations that
the Assurance Team, based on the professional judgment and experience of
its team members, recommends for further investigation. The Navy
Recruiting Command Inspector General, however, does not maintain data on
allegations that it does not investigate. The Assurance Team also sends
its reports to the Navy Recruiting District Commanders who are responsible
for overseeing the recruiters who appear on the reports. The District
Commanders use the Assurance Team's reports to monitor recruiter
wrongdoing. Again, however, the District Commanders do not provide
feedback to the Assurance Team as to how they resolve these allegations,
nor do they report this information to the Navy Recruiting Command
Inspector General unless they deem the case to merit further investigation
or judicial processing. Moreover, the Assurance Team members do not record
allegations of wrongdoing as a recruiter irregularity in those cases where
they can easily resolve the discrepancy by granting an applicant an
enlistment waiver to begin basic training. Assurance Team officials told
us that they believe that some recruiters encourage applicants to conceal
potentially disqualifying information until they arrive at basic training
because the recruiters perceive that it is relatively easy to process a
waiver at basic training. In addition, these same officials told us that
this behavior saves recruiters the burden of collecting supporting
documentation and expedites the time it takes a recruiter to sign a
contract with an applicant and complete the recruiting process.

o Marine Corps: The Marine Corps also gives applicants a final opportunity
to disclose any irregularity that they believe occurred in their
recruiting process prior to beginning basic training. However, the Marine
Corps' Eastern and Western Recruiting Region staff use different criteria
to handle allegations of recruiter irregularities that they cannot
corroborate. Recruiting staff at the Eastern Region basic training site in
Parris Island, South Carolina, enter all allegations applicants make
against recruiters, while recruiting staff at the Western Region basic
training site in San Diego, California, only enter those allegations that
a third party can verify. A Marine Corps Recruiting Command official told
us that, as a result of our review, Marine Corps officials discussed
accounting procedures for allegations of recruiter irregularities at the
command's national operations conference held in May 2006. The official
further stated that the Marine Corps Recruiting Command's goal is to
standardize procedures to account for all allegations of recruiter
irregularities.

Although Likely Underestimated, Service Data Suggest Most Allegations Are
Not Substantiated

Existing data suggest that substantiated cases of recruiter wrongdoing
make up a small percent of all allegations and service-identified
incidents, although, for reasons previously cited, we believe the service
data likely underestimate the true number of recruiter irregularities.
Substantiated cases of recruiter irregularities are those cases in which
the services determined a recruiter violated recruiting policies or
procedures based on a review of the facts of the case. (A more detailed
discussion of the procedures that are in place to address substantiated
cases of recruiter irregularity are discussed later in this report.) While
the services cannot assure that they have a complete accounting of
recruiter irregularities, the data that they reported to us are
instructive in that they show the number of allegations, substantiated
cases, and criminal violations increased overall from fiscal year 2004 to
fiscal year 2005. At the same time, the number of accessions into the
military decreased from just under 250,000 in fiscal year 2004 to about
215,000 in fiscal year 2005.

Table 2 shows that, DOD-wide, the services substantiated about 10 percent
of all allegations and service-identified incidents of recruiter
irregularities. The services categorized cases as substantiated when the
preponderance of the evidence supported the allegation of wrongdoing
against a recruiter. Similarly, the services categorized cases as
unsubstantiated when the preponderance of the evidence did not support the
allegation against a recruiter.

Table 2: Recruiter Irregularities by Service for Fiscal Years 2004 and
2005 That Are Unsubstantiated, Substantiated, or Othera

                                        

                      Irregularitiesb Unsubstantiated Substantiated    Otherc 
FY 2004 Army                 1,037       682 (66%)     121 (12%) 234 (23%) 
           Navy                 1,482        296 (20)      245 (17)  941 (63) 
           Marine               1,840         162 (9)        28 (2)     1,650 
           Corps                                                         (90) 
           Air Force               29         14 (48)       15 (52)         0 
           Total                4,388     1,154 (26%)      409 (9%)     2,825 
                                                                        (64%) 
FY 2005 Army                   913         551(60)      123 (13)  239 (26) 
           Navy                 2,397        513 (21)       226 (9)     1,658 
                                                                         (69) 
           Marine               1,877        227 (12)        32 (2)     1,582 
           Corps                                                         (84) 
           Air Forced           1,415         127 (9)      248 (18)     1,034 
                                                                         (73) 
           Total                6,602     1,418 (21%)     629 (10%)     4,513 
                                                                        (68%) 

Source: GAO analysis based on information provided by the services.

aPercents may not add to 100 due to rounding.

bData include allegations and service-identified incidents of recruiter
irregularities for both the active and reserve components. For the purpose
of this report, we combined the Air Force active and reserve data because
the Air Force is the only service that has separate active and reserve
recruiting commands and therefore maintains these data separately.

cArmy data we categorized as other includes those irregularities that the
Army has defined as unintentional recruiter error and cases of unresolved
intentional recruiter misconduct, which were forwarded to either the Army
Recruiting Command Inspector General for investigation or Judge Advocate
for judicial processing. Navy data that we categorized as other are
uncorroborated allegations recorded by the Navy's Recruit Quality
Assurance Team and not investigated. Marine Corps data we categorized as
other are those allegations that Marine Corps officials determined not to
merit an official investigation following a preliminary review and
therefore did not report as either substantiated or unsubstantiated
allegations. Air Force data that we categorized as other include those
cases where the Air Force determined someone other than the applicant or
the recruiter to be at fault.

dSome of the increase in Air Force irregularities is at least partially a
result of implementing a new tracking system in fiscal year 2005 that now
captures allegations and service-identified incidents of recruiter
irregularities, and other issues that surface at basic training.

Table 3 shows the number of recruiter irregularities that were criminal
violations of the recruiting process and addressed by the services' Judge
Advocate or criminal investigative service. The number of criminal
violations in the recruiting process increased in fiscal year 2005;
however, in both fiscal years, this number represented approximately 1
percent of all allegations and service-identified incidents of recruiter
irregularities. The large increase in the number of Navy cases in fiscal
year 2005 is likely a result of a special investigation where four cases
led to nine additional cases of criminal wrongdoing.

Table 3: Cases of Recruiter Criminal Violations in Fiscal Years 2004 and
2005 by Service

                                        

             Service                           FY 2004                FY 2005 
Army                                             19                     38 
Navy                                              1                     13 
Marine Corps                                      0                      2 
Air Force                                        11                     12 
Total                                            33                     68 

Source: GAO analysis based on information provided by the services.

Table 4 shows that on average, the percentage of substantiated cases of
recruiter wrongdoing compared to the number of actual accessions was under
1 percent in each service during the past 2 fiscal years.

Table 4: Substantiated Irregularities as a Percentage of Actual Accessions
by Service for Fiscal Years 2004 and 2005

                                        

Service   FY 2004                 FY 2005       
            Accessions               Substantiated Accessions   Substantiated 
                                   irregularitiesa            irregularitiesa 
Army        110,296     121                         97,232     123 (0.13%) 
                       (0.11%)                                
Navy         51,117     245                         47,491      226 (0.48) 
                        (0.48)                                
Marine       38,866      28                         41,311       32 (0.08) 
Corps                (0.07)                                
Air          43,265      15                         29,164      248 (0.85) 
Forceb               (0.03)                                
Total       243,544     409                        215,198     629 (0.29%) 
                       (0.17%)                                

Source: GAO analysis based on information provided by the services.
Accessions data obtained from GAO, Military Personnel: DOD Needs Action
Plan to Address Enlisted Personnel Recruitment and Retention Challenges,
GAO-06-134 (Washington, D.C.: Nov. 17, 2005).

aData include substantiated allegations and service-identified incidents
of recruiter irregularities for both the active and reserve components.
For the purpose of this report, we combined the Air Force active and
reserve data as the Air Force is the only service that has separate active
and reserve recruiting commands and therefore maintains these data
separately.

bSome of the increase in Air Force data is at least partially a result of
implementing of a new tracking system in fiscal year 2005 that now
captures allegations and service-identified incidents of recruiter
irregularities, and other issues that surface at basic training.

Table 5 shows that when we compared the number of substantiated cases of
recruiter wrongdoing to the number of frontline recruiters, 4.7 percent of
recruiters would have had a substantiated case against them in fiscal year
2005 if each recruiter who committed an irregularity had committed only
one. (However, this is not to say that 4.7 percent of frontline recruiters
committed an irregularity, given that some recruiters may have committed
more than one irregularity).

Table 5: Irregularities as a Percentage of Recruiters by Service for
Fiscal Years 2004 and 2005

                                        

    Service    FY 2004               FY 2005       
              Recruiters             Substantiated Recruiters   Substantiated 
                                   irregularitiesa            irregularitiesa 
Army            5,109    121                         5,953      123 (2.1%) 
                         (2.4%)                               
Navy            4,617    245                         3,365       226 (6.7) 
                          (5.3)                               
Marine          2,650     28                         2,650        32 (1.2) 
Corps                  (1.1)                               
Air Forceb      1,460     15                         1,453      248 (17.1) 
                          (1.0)                               
Total          13,836    409                        13,421      629 (4.7%) 
                         (3.0%)                               

Source: GAO analysis based on information provided by the services. Data
on recruiters obtained from DOD.

aData include allegations and service-identified incidents of recruiter
irregularities for both the active and reserve components. For the purpose
of this report, we combined the Air Force active and reserve data as the
Air Force is the only service that has separate active and reserve
recruiting commands and therefore maintains these data separately.

bSome of the increase in Air Force irregularities is at least partially a
result of implementing a new tracking system in fiscal year 2005 that now
captures allegations and service-identified incidents of recruiter
irregularities, and other issues that surface at basic training.

Without an oversight framework to provide complete and reliable data, DOD
and the services are not in a position to gauge the extent of recruiter
irregularities or when corrective action is needed, nor is the department
in a sound position to give Congress and the general public assurance that
recruiter irregularities are being addressed.

Many Factors May Affect the Recruiting Environment

A number of factors within the current recruiting environment may
contribute to recruiting irregularities. Such factors include the economy,
ongoing hostilities in Iraq, and fewer applicants who can meet military
entrance standards. These factors, coupled with the typical difficulties
of the job and pressure to meet monthly recruiting goals, challenge the
recruiter and can lead to recruiter irregularities in the recruiting
process. Data show that as the end of the monthly recruiting cycle draws
near, the number of recruiter irregularities may increase.

Many Factors Contribute to a Challenging Recruiting Environment

Among a number of factors that contribute to a challenging recruiting
environment are the current economic situation and the ongoing hostilities
in Iraq. Service recruiting officials told us that the state of the
economy, specifically the low unemployment rate, has had the single
largest effect recently on meeting recruiting goals. These officials
stated DOD must compete harder for qualified talent to join the military
when the economy is strong. According to U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau
of Labor Statistics data, the national unemployment rate fell each year
between 2003 (when it was at 6 percent) and 2005 (when it was 5.1
percent). In fiscal year 2005, three of the eight active and reserve
components we reviewed-the Army, Army Reserve, and Navy Reserve-failed to
meet their recruiting goals.

Recruiters also believe that the ongoing hostilities in Iraq have made
their job harder. Results of a DOD internal survey show that almost
three-quarters of active duty recruiters agreed with the statement that
current military operations made it hard for them to achieve recruiting
goals and missions.12 Recruiters we interviewed expressed the same
opinion. DOD has found that the public's perceptions about military
enlistment have changed because youth and their parents believe that
deployment to a hostile environment is very likely for servicemembers with
some types of military specialties.13 Officials further stated that adults
who influence a prospective applicant's decision about whether to join the
military are increasingly fearful of the possibility of death or serious
injury to the applicant.

Recruiters also must overcome specific factors that routinely make their
job hard. Recruiters told us that their work hours were dictated by the
schedules of prospective high school applicants, which meant working most
evenings and weekends. Almost three-quarters of active duty recruiters who
responded to DOD's survey stated that they worked more than 60 hours a
week on recruiting or recruiting-related duties. Other factors that affect
the recruiting environment include a recruiter's location and access to
eligible applicants. For example, service officials stated that it was
easier to recruit in or near locations with a military presence.
Recruiters also have difficulty finding eligible applicants. DOD
researchers have estimated that over half of U.S. youth aged 16 to 21 are
ineligible to join the military because they cannot meet DOD or service
entry standards.14 DOD officials stated that the inability to meet medical
and physical requirements accounts for much of the reason youth are
ineligible for military service. Additionally, many youth are ineligible
because they cannot meet service standards for education, as indicated by
DOD's preference for recruits with a high school diploma; mental aptitude,
as indicated by receipt of an acceptable score on the armed forces
vocational aptitude test; and moral character, as indicated by few or no
criminal convictions or antisocial behavior. All of these factors
contribute to a difficult recruiting environment that is challenging for
recruiters to succeed.

Pressure to meet monthly goals contributes to recruiter dissatisfaction.
Over 50 percent of active duty military recruiters responding to the 2005
internal DOD survey stated that they were dissatisfied with their jobs.
Approximately two-thirds of Army recruiters reported that they were
dissatisfied with recruiting, while over a third of Air Force recruiters
stated they were dissatisfied. The Navy and Marine Corps rates of
recruiter dissatisfaction fell within these extremes, with just under half
of Navy and Marine Corps recruiters reporting that they were dissatisfied
with their jobs. When asked in this same survey if they would select
another assignment if they had the freedom to do so, over three-quarters
of active duty DOD recruiters said they would not remain in recruiting.

On the one hand, the services expect recruiters to recruit fully qualified
personnel; while on the other hand, the services primarily evaluate
recruiters' performance on the number of contracts they write, which
corresponds to the number of applicants who enter the delayed entry
program each month. In 2005, over two-thirds of those active duty
recruiters responding to the internal DOD survey believed that their
success in making their monthly quota for enlistment contracts had a
make-or-break effect on their military career. Over 80 percent of Marine
Corps recruiters held that opinion, as did almost two-thirds of Army and
over half of Air Force recruiters. Navy officials stated that individual
recruiters are not tasked with a monthly goal; rather, the goal belongs to
the recruiting station as a whole. Still, approximately two-thirds of Navy
recruiters responding to DOD's survey indicated they felt their careers
were affected by their success in making their individual recruiting goal.
The recruiters who we interviewed also believed their careers were
affected by how successful they were in achieving monthly recruiting
goals.

Recruiter Evaluations Are Linked to Monthly Recruiting Results

Recruiters, like all servicemembers, receive performance evaluations at
least once a year. Our review of service performance evaluations and
conversations with the services' recruiting command officials show that
Army, Navy, and Air Force recruiter evaluations are not directly linked to
an applicant successfully completing his or her service's basic training
course. Instead, we found that the Army, Navy, and Air Force generally
evaluate recruiters on their ability to achieve their monthly goal to
write contracts to bring applicants into the delayed entry program. The
Army's civilian contractor recruiters, for example, receive approximately
75 percent of their monetary compensation for recruiting an applicant when
that applicant enters the delayed entry program and the remaining 25
percent of their compensation when the applicant begins basic training.
The Army's contract, therefore, does not tie compensation to the
applicant's successful completion of basic training and joining the Army.
Even though Navy officials told us that recruiters do not have individual
goals because the monthly mission is assigned to the recruiting station,
Navy performance metrics include data on the number of contracts written.
However, the Navy does not hold recruiters directly accountable for
attrition rates from either the delayed entry program or basic training.

Marine Corps recruiters, unlike recruiters in the other services, are held
accountable when an applicant does not complete basic training and remain
responsible for recruiting an additional applicant to replace the former
basic trainee. Marine Corps recruiter evaluation performance standards
measure both the number of contracts written each month as well as
attrition rates of applicants from the delayed entry program and basic
training. Marine Corps Recruiting Command officials stated that they
believe their practice of holding recruiters accountable for attrition
rates helps to limit irregularities because recruiters are likely to
perform more rigorous prescreening of applicants to ensure that a recruit
is likely to complete Marine Corps basic training. In fact, Military
Entrance Processing Command data show that Marine Corps recruiters have
been the most consistently successful of all service recruiters at
prescreening and processing applicants through their initial physical
assessments, subsequently maintaining applicants' physical eligibility
while in the delayed entry program, and finally ensuring that applicants
pass the final physical assessment and enter basic training. Table 6 shows
the low medical disqualification rate of the Marine Corps in comparison
with the other services.

Table 6: Disqualifications by Service from Fiscal Year 2003 through Fiscal
Year 2005

                                        

    Percentage of total Military Entrance Processing Station   
                    medical disqualifications                  
                                                               2003 2004 2005 
Army                                                         6.3  4.6  4.7 
Navy                                                         5.0  3.3  3.7 
Marine Corps                                                 3.9  2.6  2.4 
Air Force                                                    4.9  3.6  4.1 

Source: GAO analysis of Military Entrance Processing Command data.

Note: Applicants who were disqualified but were able to obtain a medical
waiver are not included in the percent of disqualifications.

In addition to performance evaluations, the services provide awards to
recruiters that are generally based on the number of contracts that a
recruiter writes, rather than on the number of applicants that graduate
from basic training and join the military. We reported in 1998 that only
the Marine Corps and the Navy used recruits' basic training graduation
rates as key criteria when evaluating recruiters for awards.15 Recruiters
in some services and other service recruiting command officials stated
their belief that recruiters who write large numbers of contracts over and
above their monthly quota are almost always rewarded. Such rewards can
include medals and trophies for recruiter of the month, quarter, or year;
preferential duty stations for their next assignment; incentives such as
paid vacations; and meritorious promotion to the next rank.

When unqualified applicants are recruited or when applicants who lack
eligibility documentation are processed through the military entrance
processing station in the effort to satisfy end-of-month recruiting cycle
goals, wasted taxpayer dollars result. For example, the Army spends
approximately $17,000 to recruit and process one applicant, and as much as
$57,500 to recruit and train that applicant through basic training.

We continue to believe our 1997 and 1998 recommendations to the Secretary
of Defense have merit. Specifically, we recommended that the Secretary of
Defense require all the services to review and revise their recruiter
performance evaluation and award systems to strengthen incentives for
recruiters to thoroughly prescreen applicants and to more closely link
recruiting quotas to applicants' successful completion of basic training.
The department concurred with our recommendations in order to enhance
recruiter success and help recruiters focus on DOD's strategic retention
goal, and it indicated that the Secretary of Defense would instruct the
services to link recruiter awards more closely to recruits' successful
completion of basic training. Our review shows that the Army, Navy, and
Air Force have not implemented this recommendation.

Recruiter Irregularities May Increase as the Deadline to Meet Monthly
Goals Nears

DOD Military Entrance Processing Command officials told us that they
believe data from the Chicago military entrance processing station for the
first 6 months of fiscal year 2006 indicate that it may be possible to
anticipate when irregularities may occur. While service data show that the
numbers of irregularities that occur in the recruiting process are
relatively small when compared with the total number of applicants that
access into the military, the Chicago station data suggest that recruiter
irregularities increase as the end of the monthly recruiting cycle nears
and recruiting goals are tallied. The end-of-month recruiting cycle for
the Army occurs midmonth and data from DOD's Chicago processing station
show that irregularities peaked at the midmonth point. Figure 3
illustrates the increase in recruiter irregularities that occurred at the
Chicago station at the end of the Army's monthly recruiting cycle. We
present Army data because the Chicago station processes more applicants
for the Army than it does for the other services. However, Chicago station
data show similar results for the Navy, Marines, and Air Force.

Figure 3: Recruiter Irregularities Occurring at the End of the Army
Monthly Recruiting Cycles

When we asked U.S. Military Entrance Processing Command officials for data
from the other stations, they said that the other stations did not
maintain these data and that this data collection effort was the
initiative of the Chicago station commander. We believe these data can be
instructive and inform recruiting command officials whether monthly goals
have an adverse affect on recruiter behaviors, and if so, whether actions
to address increases in irregularities near the end of the monthly
recruiting cycle may be necessary.

Services Have Standard Procedures in Place for Administering Military
Justice to Address Recruiter Irregularities

The services have standard procedures in place, provided in the Uniform
Code of Military Justice and service regulations, to investigate
allegations and service-identified incidents of recruiter irregularities
and to prosecute and discipline recruiters found guilty of violating
recruiting policies and procedures. Each service recruiting command has a
designated investigative authority to handle allegations of
irregularities, and the services' respective Judge Advocates have primary
responsibility for adjudicating criminal violations of the recruitment
process. Moreover, each service has mechanisms by which to update its
recruiter training as a result of information on recruiter irregularities.

As previously discussed, the services identify allegations and
service-identified incidents of recruiter wrongdoing in a number of ways.
Allegations made or discovered at the Army Battalion, Navy and Marine
Corps District, and Air Force Squadron command level are generally
resolved by that commander using administrative actions and nonjudicial
punishment under authority granted by the Uniformed Code of Military
Justice. The commander forwards allegations and service-identified
incidents of recruiter irregularities arising at that level that he or she
deems sufficiently egregious to require further investigation, or as
service regulations require, to the service recruiting command or to the
Judge Advocate for judicial processing of possible criminal violations in
the recruitment process.

Commanders in the service recruiting commands, like all commanders
throughout the military, exercise discretion in deciding whether a
servicemember should be charged with an offense, just as prosecutors do in
the civilian justice system. Army Battalion, Navy and Marine Corps
District, and Air Force Squadron commanders initiate a preliminary inquiry
into allegations of wrongdoing against recruiters after receiving a report
of a possible recruiter irregularity.16 When the preliminary inquiry is
complete, the commander must make a decision on how to resolve the case.
The commander can decide that no action is warranted or take
administrative action, such as a reprimand or counseling. The commander
can also decide to pursue nonjudicial punishment under Article 15 of the
Uniform Code of Military Justice,17 or refer the case to trial and decide
what charges will be brought against the recruiter.

Limitations in data we previously discussed prevent a thorough review of
how services discipline recruiters found guilty of violating recruiting
policies and procedures. In addition, we found that in some cases, the
services did not document the disciplinary action a commander took against
a recruiter. Even though service data are not complete, data the Army
provided allow us to illustrate the range of disciplinary actions
commanders may take to resolve cases of recruiter irregularities. These
actions range from counseling a recruiter for an irregularity up to
discharge from the Army. For example, in fiscal year 2005, Army data show
that commanders imposed disciplinary actions ranging from a verbal
reprimand to court martial for recruiters who concealed an applicant's
medical information. Service recruiting officials stated that the range of
possible disciplinary actions a commander may impose is mitigated by the
circumstances of each case, including the recruiter's overall service
record, duty performance, and number of irregularities the recruiter may
have previously committed. Table 7 summarizes disciplinary actions taken
against Army recruiters in the past 2 fiscal years for specific kinds of
irregularities.

Table 7: All Army Allegations and Service-identified Incidents of
Recruiter Irregularities by Disciplinary Action for Fiscal Years 2004 and
2005

Source: GAO analysis of data provided by the Army.

Note: Most of the cases in the disciplinary category identified as "No
action taken" were for allegations that were unsubstantiated and
service-identified incidents deemed as recruiter error in which the Army
determined no wrongdoing occurred.

Services Use Information on Recruiter Irregularities to Update Their
Training

All of the services have mechanisms for updating their recruiter training
as a result of information on recruiter irregularities. These mechanisms
include internal inspection programs and routine recruiter discipline
reports. The services also react to reassure public confidence in the
recruiting process when specific incidents or reports of recruiter
irregularities become widely known. Each service recruiting command
assesses and evaluates how recruiting policies and procedures are being
followed, the results of which are focused on training at the Army
Battalion, Navy and Marine Corps District, and Air Force Squadron command
level. For example, the Navy Recruiting Command's National Inspection Team
conducts unannounced inspections at the Navy recruiting districts and
forwards the results of the inspection to the Navy Recruiting Command
headquarters. The Navy Recruiting Command's National Training Team follows
up by conducting refresher training at the recruiting station locations or
in the subject areas where the National Training Team identified
discrepancies. The Marine Corps' National Training Team also conducts
periodic inspections and training based on the results of their
inspections. Additionally, the Marine Corps National Training Team
provides input and guidance to the Marine Corps recruiter school course
curriculum. The Air Force Recruiting Command Judge Advocate distributes
quarterly recruiter discipline reports to heighten awareness of wrongdoing
and encourage proper recruiter behavior. In addition, these reports are
used to show examples of wrongdoing during new recruiter training. The
Army Recruiting Command conducted commandwide refresher training on May
20, 2005, in response to a series of press reports of recruiters using
inappropriate tactics in their attempts to enlist new servicemembers. The
Army stated that the training goal was to reinforce that recruiting
operations must be conducted within the rules and regulations and in
accordance with Army values.18

Conclusions

Military recruiters represent the first point of contact between potential
servicemembers and those who influence them-their parents, coaches,
teachers, and other family members. Consequently, a recruiter's actions
can be far reaching. Although existing data suggest that the overwhelming
number of recruiters are not committing irregularities and irregularities
are not widespread, even one incident of recruiter wrongdoing can erode
public confidence in DOD's recruiting process. Existing data show, in
fact, that allegations and service-identified incidents of recruiter
wrongdoing increased between fiscal years 2004 and 2005. DOD, however, is
not in a position to answer questions about these allegations and
service-identified incidents because it does not know the true extent to
which the services are tracking recruiter irregularities or addressing
them. Moreover, DOD is unable to compile a comprehensive and consolidated
report because the services do not use consistent terminology regarding
recruiter irregularities. Individual service systems are not integrated,
processes are decentralized, and many allegations are undocumented.
Although DOD officials can point to external factors, such as a strong
economy and current military operations in Iraq as recruiting challenges,
data suggest that internal requirements to meet monthly recruiting goals
may also contribute to recruiter irregularities. Having readily available,
complete, and consistent data from the services would place DOD in a
better position to know the nature and extent of recruiter irregularities
and identify opportunities when corrective action is needed.

Recommendations for Executive Action

To improve DOD's visibility over recruiter irregularities, we recommend
that the Secretary of Defense take the following action:

o Direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to
establish an oversight framework to assess recruiter irregularities and
provide overall guidance to the services.

To assist in developing its oversight framework, we recommend that the
Secretary of Defense direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel
and Readiness to take the following three actions:

o Establish criteria and common definitions across the services for
maintaining data on allegations of recruiter irregularities.

o Establish a reporting requirement across the services to help ensure a
full accounting of all allegations and service-identified incidents of
recruiter irregularities.

o Direct the services to develop internal systems and processes that
better capture and integrate data on allegations and service-identified
incidents of recruiter irregularities.

To assist DOD in developing a complete accounting of recruiter
irregularities, we further recommend that the Secretary of Defense direct
the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to take the
following action:

o Direct the commander of DOD's Military Entrance Processing Command to
track and report allegations and service-identified incidents of recruiter
irregularities to the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for
Personnel and Readiness. Such analysis would include irregularities by
service and the time during the monthly recruiting cycle when the
irregularities occur.

Agency Comments and Our Evaluation

In written comments on a draft of this report, DOD concurred with three of
our recommendations that address the need for an effective oversight
management framework to improve DOD's visibility over recruiter
irregularities. While DOD partially concurred with our recommendation to
establish a reporting requirement across the services and did not concur
with our recommendation for the Military Entrance Processing Command to
provide OSD with data on recruiter irregularities, the department did not
disagree with the substance of these recommendations. Rather, DOD
indicated that it would implement these recommendations if it determined
such requirements were necessary. DOD's comments are included in this
report as appendix II.

DOD concurred with our recommendations to establish an oversight framework
to assess recruiter irregularities and provide overall guidance to the
services; to establish criteria and common definitions across the services
for maintaining data on recruiter irregularities; and for the services to
develop internal systems and processes that better capture and integrate
data on recruiter irregularities.

DOD partially concurred with our recommendation to establish a reporting
requirement across the services to help ensure a full accounting of
recruiter irregularities, but agreed that some type of reporting
requirement be established. The department believes that implementing this
recommendation may be premature until it has established an over-arching
management framework to provide oversight that uses like terms for
recruiter irregularities, and that the requirement and frequency should be
left to the judgment of the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for
Personnel and Readiness. DOD stated its intent to establish an initial
reporting requirement to ensure the processes it develops are functioning
as planned and to use this time period to assess the severity of recruiter
irregularities issues. DOD further stated that regardless of whether or
not it establishes a fixed reporting requirement, the services will be
required to maintain data on recruiter irregularities in a format that
would facilitate timely and accurate reports upon request. We do not
believe it would be premature to establish a reporting requirement at this
time. As we stated in our report, data that the services reported to us
show that the number of allegations, substantiated cases, and criminal
violations all increased from fiscal year 2004 to fiscal year 2005.
Without a reporting requirement, we believe it would be difficult for OUSD
to identify trends in recruiter irregularities and determine if corrective
action is needed. Accordingly, we continue to believe that a reporting
requirement for the services would help the Office of the Under Secretary
of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to carry out its responsibilities
to review DOD's recruitment program to ensure adherence to approved
policies and standards.

The department did not concur with our recommendation for DOD's Military
Entrance Processing Command to track and report allegations and incidents
of recruiter irregularities to OUSD because it believed this reporting
would duplicate service reporting, and added that we had stated that
recruiter irregularities are not widespread. However, DOD acknowledged, as
our report points out, that even one incident of recruiter wrongdoing can
erode public confidence in the recruiting process and agreed to consider
this recommendation at a later date if it determines that recruiter
irregularities are a significant problem and further analyses are
required. While we did conclude from the data services provided to us that
recruiter wrongdoing did not appear to be widespread, we also stated our
belief that service data likely underestimate the true number of recruiter
irregularities, and further concluded that DOD is not in a position to
answer questions about these allegations and service-identified incidents
because it does not know the full extent to which the services are
tracking recruiter irregularities or addressing them. We believe,
therefore, that the significance of recruiter irregularities is not fully
understood, and that addressing this recommendation should not be delayed.
As we reported, Military Entrance Processing Command officials told us
that they forward all allegations and service-identified incidents of
recruiter irregularities that surface during the screening process at the
military entrance processing stations to the services' recruiting
commands. We found, however, that the services' recruiting command
headquarters data do not show records of allegations and
service-identified incidents of recruiter irregularities received from the
Military Entrance Processing Command. Data currently captured by the
Military Entrance Processing Command would be instructive, particularly
because these data show an increase in irregularities as Army recruiters
approach the end of their monthly recruiting cycle, and we believe that
these data would further inform DOD about the effectiveness of the
oversight management framework it has agreed to establish.

As arranged with your office, unless you publically announce its contents
earlier, we plan no further distribution of this report until 30 days from
the date of this report. At that time, we will send copies of this report
to interested congressional members; the Secretaries of Defense, the Army,
the Navy, and the Air Force; and the Commandant of the Marine Corps. We
will also make copies available to others upon request. In addition, the
report will be available at no charge on GAO's Web site at
http://www.gao.gov.

Should you or your staff have any questions regarding this report, please
contact me at (202) 512-5559 or [email protected] Contact points for our
Offices of Congressional Relations and Public Affairs may be found on the
last page of this report. GAO staff members who made key contributions to
this report are listed in appendix III.

Derek B. Stewart, Director Defense Capabilities and Management

Appendix I

Scope and Methodology

To conduct our work, we examined Department of Defense (DOD) and military
services' policies, regulations, orders, and instructions that govern the
recruitment of military servicemembers and the investigation and
resolution of allegations and service-identified incidents of recruiter
wrongdoing. We also reviewed recruiting-related reports issued by GAO,
DOD, and the services. We analyzed data on allegations and
service-identified incidents of recruiter irregularities from the active
and reserve components of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force
databases, reports, and individual paper files. Additionally, we
interviewed individuals at several DOD and service offices and recruiters
in each service, and visited a number of recruiting and recruiting-related
commands.1 In the course of our work, we contacted and visited the
organizations and offices listed in table 8.2

Table 8: Organizations and Offices Contacted During Our Review

                                        

          Name of organization or office                  Location            
Air Force Recruiting Service                 Randolph Air Force Base, Tex. 
Air Force Recruiting School                  Lackland Air Force Base, Tex. 
Air Force Reserve Command Recruiting Service Robins Air Force Base, Ga.    
Air Force Recruiting Office                  San Antonio, Tex.             
Air Force Recruiting Office                  Universal City, Tex.          
Army Recruiting Command                      Fort Knox, Ky.                
Army Recruiting and Retention School         Fort Jackson, S.C.            
Army Recruiting Station                      Elizabethtown, Ky.            
Marine Corps Recruiting Command              Quantico, Va.                 
Marine Corps Recruit Depot                   San Diego, Calif.             
Marine Corps District Command                San Diego, Calif.             
Marine Corps Recruiting Station              San Diego, Calif.             
Marine Corps Recruiting Sub-Station          San Diego, Calif.             
Marine Corps Recruit Liaison Office          San Diego, Calif.             
Marine Corps Recruiting School               San Diego, Calif.             
Military Entrance Processing Command         North Chicago, Ill.           
Military Entrance Processing Command         North Chicago, Ill.           
Inspector General                            
Military Entrance Processing Stations        Des Plaines, Ill.             
                                                                              
                                                San Diego, Calif.             
Navy Recruiting Command                      Millington, Tenn.             
Navy Recruiting Command Inspector General    Millington, Tenn.             
Navy Orientation and Recruiting Unit         Pensacola, Fla.               
Naval Inspector General                      Washington Navy Yard, D.C.    
Navy Bureau of Personnel Inspector General   Millington, Tenn.             
Naval Criminal Investigative Service         Washington Navy Yard, D.C.    
Navy Judge Advocate General                  Washington Navy Yard, D.C.    
Navy Recruit Quality Assurance Team          Great Lakes, Ill.             
Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Washington, D.C.              
Personnel and Readiness                      
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense Washington, D.C.              
for Reserve Affairs, Manpower and Personnel  

Source: GAO.

To assess the extent to which DOD and the services have visibility over
recruiter irregularities, we examined DOD and service policies,
procedures, regulations, and instructions related to recruiting. In
addition, we interviewed officials in the Office of the Under Secretary of
Defense for Personnel and Readiness and the services' recruiting officials
and Inspectors General to obtain an understanding of various aspects of
the data DOD and the services collect on allegations and
service-identified incidents of recruiting irregularities. We obtained
data on recruiter irregularities from service recruiting commands'
Inspectors General or other designated recruiting command offices, the
Headquarters Air Force Recruiting Service Basic Training Inspector General
Liaison, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and the recruiting
commands' Staff Judge Advocates. Specifically, within each service, we
analyzed fiscal years 2004 and 2005 data.

o For the Army, we obtained data on allegations and service-identified
incidents of recruiter irregularities from its Recruiting Improprieties
All Years database. We also obtained data on recruiting irregularities
that were processed as criminal violations from the Army Recruiting
Command Judge Advocate's paper files.

o For the Navy, we obtained data on allegations and service-identified
incidents of recruiter irregularities from the Naval Inspector General's
Case Management Information System, the Navy Bureau of Personnel Inspector
General, the Navy Recruiting Command Inspector General's paper files, and
the Navy Recruiting Quality Assurance Team. We also obtained data on Navy
recruiter criminal violations from the Navy's Criminal Investigative
Service.

o For the Marine Corps, we obtained data on allegations and
service-identified incidents of recruiter irregularities from its Marine
Corps Recruiting Information Support System. We also obtained data on
recruiter criminal violations from the Navy's Criminal Investigative
Service data system.

o For the Air Force, we obtained data on allegations and
service-identified incidents of recruiter irregularities from its
Automated Case Tracking System and Trainee Tracking System, and data on
criminal violations from its Automated Military Justice Administrative
Management System. We also obtained data from the Air Force Reserve
Command Recruiting Service's Headquarters Queries database.

To identify the factors within the current recruiting environment that may
contribute to recruiting irregularities, we reviewed prior GAO work,
Congressional Research Service reports addressing the recruiting
environment, and the 2005 DOD Recruiter Quality of Life Survey Topline
Report. We reviewed the sampling and estimation documentation for this
survey and determined that it conforms to commonly accepted statistical
methods for probability samples; the response rate for the DOD internal
survey was 46 percent. Because DOD did not conduct a nonresponse bias
analysis, we cannot determine whether estimates from this survey may be
affected by nonresponse bias. Such bias might arise if nonrespondents'
answers to survey items would have been systematically different from
those of respondents. We reviewed service policies and processes governing
recruiter selection, training, and performance evaluation, and interviewed
key service officials about the types of challenges that exist in the
recruiting environment and the methods used to evaluate recruiter
performance. Additionally, we gathered and analyzed statistical
information from the Department of Labor and reviewed Military Entrance
Processing Command data on the frequency and occurrence of applicant
disqualifications by service and reports on recruiter irregularities.
Finally, we interviewed officials at the U.S. Military Entrance Processing
Command and two military entrance processing stations regarding recruiter
irregularities.

To identify what procedures DOD and the services have in place to address
individuals involved in recruiting irregularities, we examined service
case data and spoke with service recruiting command officials to determine
how services imposed disciplinary action and what, if any, other actions
they took to mitigate wrongdoing in the recruiting process. For each
service, we obtained data on disciplinary actions imposed for cases of
recruiter irregularities but specifically examined and analyzed Army data
as they appeared to be the most comprehensive. We present these data for
fiscal years 2004 and 2005. We also reviewed service regulations and the
Uniform Code of Military Justice to understand departmentwide standards
and the authorities that are granted to commanders to administer military
justice. Finally, we reviewed service training materials and spoke with
service recruiting command officials to identify other ways services use
information on recruiter wrongdoing to try to mitigate errors and
irregularities in the recruiting process.

To assess the reliability of the services' data on allegations and
service-identified incidents of recruiter irregularities, we interviewed
officials about the processes used to capture data on recruiter
irregularities, the controls over those processes, and the data systems
used; and we reviewed documentation related to those systems. Based on
responses to our questions, follow-up discussions, and the documentation
we reviewed, we found limitations in many service data systems, including
reliance on paper files; databases that cannot be fully queried, if at
all; and in some cases, lack of edit checks and data quality reviews.
Although we identified weaknesses in the available data, we determined,
for the purposes of this report, that the data were reliable for providing
limited information on recruiter irregularities.

Appendix II

Comments from the Department of Defense

Appendix III

GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments

GAO Contact

Derek B. Stewart, (202) 512-5559 or [email protected]

Acknowledgments

In addition to those named above, David E. Moser, Assistant Director,
Grace A. Coleman, Tanya Cruz, Nicole Gore, Gregg J. Justice III, Mitchell
B. Karpman, Warren Lowman, Julia C. Matta, Charles W. Purdue, and Shana
Wallace made key contributions to this report.

(350752)

www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt? GAO-06-846 .

To view the full product, including the scope and methodology,
click on the link above.

For more information, contact Derek B. Stewart at (202) 512-5559 or
[email protected]

Highlights of GAO-06-846 , a report to congressional requesters

August 2006

MILITARY RECRUITING

DOD and Services Need Better Data to Enhance Visibility over Recruiter
Irregularities

The viability of the All Volunteer Force depends, in large measure, on the
Department of Defense's (DOD) ability to recruit several hundred thousand
individuals each year. Since the involvement of U.S. military forces in
Iraq in March 2003, several DOD components have been challenged in meeting
their recruiting goals. In fiscal year 2005 alone, three of the eight
active and reserve components missed their goals. Some recruiters,
reportedly, have resorted to overly aggressive tactics, which can
adversely affect DOD's ability to recruit and erode public confidence in
the recruiting process. GAO was asked to address the extent to which DOD
and the services have visibility over recruiter irregularities; what
factors may contribute to recruiter irregularities; and what procedures
are in place to address them. GAO performed its work primarily at the
service recruiting commands and DOD's Military Entrance Processing
Command; examined recruiting policies, regulations, and directives; and
analyzed service data on recruiter irregularities.

What GAO Recommends

GAO is making several recommendations to improve DOD's visibility over
recruiter irregularities and the services' ability to track and report
allegations and incidents of irregularities. In commenting on a draft of
this report, DOD concurred or partially concurred with four of GAO's five
recommendations.

Results In Brief

DOD and the services have limited visibility to determine the extent to
which recruiter irregularities are occurring. DOD, for example, has not
established an oversight framework that includes guidance requiring the
services to maintain and report data on recruiter irregularities and
criteria for characterizing irregularities and establishing common
terminology. The absence of guidance and criteria makes it difficult to
compare and analyze data across services and limit's DOD's ability to
determine when corrective action is needed. Effective federal managers
continually assess and evaluate their programs to provide accountability
and assurance that program objectives are being achieved. Additionally,
the services do not track all allegations of recruiter wrongdoing.
Accordingly, service data likely underestimate the true number of
recruiter irregularities. Nevertheless, available service data show that
between fiscal years 2004 and 2005, allegations and service-identified
incidents of recruiter wrongdoing increased, collectively, from 4,400
cases to 6,600 cases; substantiated cases increased from just over 400 to
almost 630 cases; and criminal violations more than doubled from just over
30 to almost 70 cases. The department, however, is not in a sound position
to assure Congress and the general public that it knows the full extent to
which recruiter irregularities are occurring.

A number of factors within the recruiting environment may contribute to
irregularities. Service recruiting officials stated that the economy has
been the most important factor affecting recruiting success. Almost
three-quarters of active duty recruiters responding to DOD's internal
survey also believed that ongoing hostilities in Iraq made it hard to
achieve their goals. These factors, in addition to the typical challenges
of the job, such as demanding work hours and pressure to meet monthly
goals, may lead to recruiter irregularities. The recruiters' performance
evaluation and reward systems are generally based on the number of
contracts they write for applicants to enter the military. The Marine
Corps is the only service that uses basic training attrition rates as a
key component of the recruiter's evaluation. GAO previously recommended
that the services link recruiter awards and incentives more closely to
applicants' successful completion of basic training. DOD concurred with
GAO's recommendation, but has not made this a requirement across the
services.

The services have standard procedures in place, provided in the Uniform
Code of Military Justice and service regulations, to investigate
allegations of recruiter irregularities and to prosecute and discipline
recruiters found guilty of violating recruiting policies and procedures.
In addition, to help recruiters better understand the nature and
consequences of committing irregularities in the recruitment process, all
services use available information on recruiter wrongdoing to update their
training.
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