This is the accessible text file for GAO report number GAO-09-1019T 
entitled 'Human Capital: Improved Tracking and Additional Actions 
Needed to Ensure the Timely and Accurate Delivery of Compensation and 
Medical Benefits to Deployed Civilians' which was released on September 
17, 2009.

This text file was formatted by the U.S. Government Accountability 
Office (GAO) to be accessible to users with visual impairments, as part 
of a longer term project to improve GAO products' accessibility. Every 
attempt has been made to maintain the structural and data integrity of 
the original printed product. Accessibility features, such as text 
descriptions of tables, consecutively numbered footnotes placed at the 
end of the file, and the text of agency comment letters, are provided 
but may not exactly duplicate the presentation or format of the printed 
version. The portable document format (PDF) file is an exact electronic 
replica of the printed version. We welcome your feedback. Please E-mail 
your comments regarding the contents or accessibility features of this 
document to Webmaster@gao.gov.

This is a work of the U.S. government and is not subject to copyright 
protection in the United States. It may be reproduced and distributed 
in its entirety without further permission from GAO. Because this work 
may contain copyrighted images or other material, permission from the 
copyright holder may be necessary if you wish to reproduce this 
material separately.

Testimony:

Before the Subcommittee on the Federal Workforce, Postal Service, and 
the District of Columbia, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, 
House of Representatives:

United States Government Accountability Office: 
GAO:

For Release on Delivery: 
Expected at 2:00 p.m. EDT:
Wednesday, September 16, 2009:

Human Capital:

Improved Tracking and Additional Actions Needed to Ensure the Timely 
and Accurate Delivery of Compensation and Medical Benefits to Deployed 
Civilians:

Statement of Brenda S. Farrell, Director: Defense Capabilities and 
Management:

GAO-09-1019T: 

GAO Highlights:

Highlights of GAO-09-1019T, a testimony before the Subcommittee on the 
Federal Workforce, Postal Service, and the District of Columbia, 
Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, House of Representatives. 

Why GAO Did This Study:

The Department of Defense (DOD) and other executive agencies 
increasingly deploy civilians in support of contingency operations in 
Iraq and Afghanistan. Prior GAO reports show that the use of deployed 
civilians has raised questions about the potential for differences in 
policies on compensation and medical benefits. When these civilians are 
deployed and serve side by side, differences in compensation or medical 
benefits may become more apparent and could adversely impact morale.

This statement is based on GAO’s June 2009 congressionally requested 
report, which compared agency policies and identified any issues in 
policy or implementation regarding (1) compensation, (2) medical 
benefits, and (3) identification and tracking of deployed civilians.  
GAO reviewed laws, agency policies and guidance; interviewed 
responsible officials at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and 
the six selected agencies, including DOD and State; reviewed workers’ 
compensation claims filed by deployed civilians with the Department of 
Labor from January 1, 2006 through April 30, 2008; and conducted a 
survey of deployed civilians. GAO made ten recommendations for agencies 
to take actions such as reviewing compensation laws and policies, 
establishing medical screening requirements, and creating mechanisms to 
assist and track deployed civilians. At the time of this testimony, the 
agencies were in various stages of taking action. 

What GAO Found:

While policies concerning compensation for deployed civilians are 
generally comparable, GAO found some issues that affect the amount of 
compensation—depending on such things as the pay system—and the 
accuracy, timeliness, and completeness of this compensation. For 
example, two comparable civilian supervisors who deploy under different 
pay systems may receive different rates of overtime pay because this 
rate is set by the employee’s pay system and grade/band. While a 
congressional subcommittee asked OPM to develop a benefits package for 
all civilians deployed to war zones and recommend enabling legislation, 
at the time of GAO’s review, OPM had not yet done so. Also, 
implementation of some policies may not always be accurate or timely.  
For example, GAO estimates that about 40 percent of the deployed 
civilians in its survey reported experiencing problems with 
compensation, including danger pay.  GAO recommended, among other 
things, that OPM oversee an agency working group on compensation to 
address differences and, if necessary, make legislative 
recommendations. OPM generally concurred with this recommendation.

Although agency policies on medical benefits are similar, GAO found 
some issues with medical care following deployment, workers’ 
compensation, and post deployment medical screenings that affect the 
benefits of deployed civilians. Specifically, while DOD allows its 
treatment facilities to care for non-DOD civilians following deployment 
in some cases, the circumstances are not clearly defined and some 
agencies were unaware of DOD’s policy. Civilians who deploy also may be 
eligible for benefits through workers’ compensation. GAO’s analysis of 
188 such claims revealed some significant delays resulting in part from 
a lack of clarity about the documentation required. Without clear 
information on what documents to submit, applicants may continue to 
experience delays. Further, while DOD requires medical screening of 
civilians before and following deployment, State requires screenings 
only before deployment. Prior GAO work found that documenting the 
medical condition of deployed personnel before and following deployment 
was critical to identifying conditions that may have resulted from 
deployment. In June 2009, GAO recommended, among other things, that 
State establish post-deployment screening requirements and that DOD 
establish procedures to ensure its post-deployment screenings 
requirements are completed. 

Each agency provided GAO with a list of deployed civilians, but none 
had fully implemented policies to identify and track these civilians. 
DOD, for example, had procedures to identify and track civilians but 
concluded that its guidance was not consistently implemented. While the 
other agencies had some ability to identify and track civilians, some 
had to manually search their systems. Thus, agencies may lack critical 
information on the location and movement of personnel, which may hamper 
their ability to intervene promptly to address emerging health issues. 
GAO recommended that DOD enforce its tracking requirements and the 
other five agencies establish tracking procedures. DOD and four 
agencies concurred with the recommendations; one agency did not. 

View [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-09-1019T] or key 
components. For more information, contact Brenda S. Farrell at (202) 
512-3604 or farrellb@gao.gov. 

[End of section]

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee:

Thank you for the opportunity to discuss our recent report on the 
actions needed to better track and provide timely and accurate 
compensation and medical benefits to deployed federal civilians. 
[Footnote 1] As the Department of Defense (DOD) has expanded its 
involvement in overseas military operations, it has grown increasingly 
reliant on its federal civilian workforce to provide support. The 
civilian workforce performs, among other things, combat support 
functions that traditionally have been performed by the uniformed 
military, such as logistics support and maintenance. DOD acknowledged 
its growing reliance on civilian personnel in its 2006 Quadrennial 
Defense Review, and since fiscal year 2004 the department has converted 
thousands of military positions to civilian positions and is planning 
to convert more. In addition, in April 2009, the Secretary of Defense 
announced plans to convert 33,600 contractor positions to federal 
civilian positions. The Department of State (State) and other federal 
agencies also play an important role in the stabilization and 
reconstruction of at-risk countries and regions, consistent with a 
collaborative, "whole of government"[Footnote 2] approach.

According to DOD and State estimates, the federal government has 
deployed, since 2001, over 10,000 civilians in support of the 
stabilization and reconstruction efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. 
[Footnote 3] These deployed civilians work in close proximity to one 
another and represent a cross section of employees from a number of 
different agencies, including the six covered in our review: DOD, the 
Departments of State, Homeland Security, Agriculture, and Justice, and 
the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).[Footnote 4] 
While in theater, deployed civilians--regardless of which executive 
agency employs them--fall under the purview of either DOD or State, but 
remain subject to the administrative processes of their employing 
agencies for compensation.[Footnote 5] This civilian workforce consists 
of employees who are compensated under several different pay systems in 
use at the time of our review, including the General Schedule (GS), 
Foreign Service (FS), and the recently implemented National Security 
Personnel System (NSPS)[Footnote 6] for DOD civilian employees. Each of 
these pay systems is governed by unique authorizing statutes, most of 
which existed prior to the current operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. 
The statutes, as implemented in accordance with Office of Personnel 
Management (OPM)[Footnote 7] and agency regulations and policies, 
outline the monetary and nonmonetary compensation to which employees 
under each system are entitled, certain elements of which are set 
without regard to the location in which they are working. Monetary 
compensation includes payments such as salary and danger pay and 
nonmonetary compensation includes benefits such as leave and retirement 
contributions.[Footnote 8] In addition, these deployed civilians are 
entitled to certain medical benefits.

As we previously reported, DOD's use of civilian personnel to support 
military operations has long raised questions about its policies on 
compensation and medical benefits for such civilians.[Footnote 9] For 
example, in 2006 DOD did not have quality assurance procedures in place 
to ensure that deployed civilians completed (1) pre-deployment health 
assessments to make certain they were medically fit to deploy and (2) 
post-deployment health assessments to document their health status 
following deployment, environmental exposures, and health concerns 
related to their work while deployed. Consequently, DOD had no 
assurance that civilians were medically fit to deploy and could not 
identify any follow-up medical treatment these civilians required 
following deployment. In addition, we reported that procedures were not 
in place during the Gulf War to provide for overtime or danger pay that 
deployed civilians were entitled to receive.[Footnote 10] Now that 
other executive agencies in addition to DOD and State are deploying 
civilians to Iraq and Afghanistan,[Footnote 11] Congress has noted that 
although these civilians are working under similar conditions and being 
exposed to the same risks, they may be receiving different levels of 
compensation and medical benefits. The unique working conditions 
employees may encounter in Iraq and Afghanistan can create an 
environment that increases the visibility of issues associated with pay 
systems and compensation that employees working under normal 
circumstances would not encounter. When these civilians are deployed 
and serve side by side, the differences in pay systems may become more 
apparent and may adversely impact morale. As a result, Congress has 
enacted a number of laws aimed at leveling compensation for deployed 
civilians across agencies and pay systems. For example, beginning in 
2006, Congress granted agency heads the discretion to provide their 
deployed civilians certain compensation and benefits comparable to 
those of the Foreign Service, such as death gratuities and leave 
benefits. Congress has also enacted laws that allow agency heads to 
waive premium pay caps for deployed civilians.[Footnote 12]

In addition, in April 2008, the Subcommittee on Oversight and 
Investigations, House Armed Services Committee issued a report on 
incentives, benefits, and medical care for deployed civilians.[Footnote 
13] In this report, the Subcommittee recommended, among other things, 
that OPM develop an incentive and benefits package that would apply to 
all federal civilians deployed to a war zone and submit legislative 
recommendations, if necessary, to Congress. In June 2008, OPM issued a 
memorandum urging the executive agencies that deploy civilians to make 
every effort to eliminate any disparities or inconsistencies in these 
deployed civilians' compensation by applying any available and 
appropriate compensation authorities.[Footnote 14]

My statement today focuses on our review of executive agencies' 
policies and practices regarding the compensation and medical benefits 
they provide to civilian employees who deploy to Iraq or Afghanistan. 
[Footnote 15] Specifically, we examined the extent to which the six 
agencies we reviewed have (1) comparable policies concerning 
compensation and any issues that may affect the compensation to which 
deployed civilians are entitled; (2) comparable policies and practices 
concerning medical benefits for deployed civilians and any issues that 
may affect the medical benefits to which deployed civilians are 
entitled; and (3) policies and procedures to identify and track 
deployed civilians to address any future medical issues that may emerge 
as a result of their deployment. It is based on work we conducted for 
our June 2009 report.[Footnote 16]

To determine whether the six selected executive branch agencies have 
comparable policies on compensation and medical benefits for their 
deployed civilians, we reviewed applicable federal statutes, guidance, 
memoranda, and other policy documents, and we conducted a comparative 
analysis of these documents. We also interviewed agency officials, 
including officials at OPM, to identify their perspectives on the 
compensation and medical benefits to which civilians are entitled both 
during and following their deployments. To determine the extent to 
which these agencies have any implementation issues that may affect the 
compensation and medical benefits to which deployed civilians are 
entitled, we reviewed pre-deployment information and instructional 
documents pertaining to the compensation and medical benefits to which 
deployed civilians are entitled, as well as agency practices for 
medically screening civilians both before and following their 
deployments. We also conducted a Web survey of a probability sample of 
civilians who were deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan between January 1, 
2006, and April 30, 2008, to gather information on their experiences. 
[Footnote 17] Specifically, this survey gathered, among other things, 
information from deployed civilians about instructional documents 
received, medical screening, and receipt of compensation and medical 
care during and following their deployments. To further explore issues 
that were identified by survey respondents, we conducted small group 
discussions with deployed DOD and State civilians serving in Iraq at 
the time of our review. We also conducted interviews with DOD and State 
officials, including medical personnel, and reviewed the universe of 
workers' compensation claims filed with the Department of Labor 
[Footnote 18] between January 1, 2006, and April 30, 2008, by civilians 
deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, and we interviewed Labor officials 
concerning the workers' compensation claims process. To determine the 
extent to which agencies identify and track deployed civilians for 
medical purposes, we reviewed applicable agency guidance and 
interviewed knowledgeable agency officials. In addition, we obtained 
and reviewed lists of deployed civilians from each of the agencies. To 
assess the reliability of the data in these lists and workers' 
compensation claims, we (1) reviewed existing information about the 
systems that generated these lists and claims information and (2) 
interviewed agency officials knowledgeable about the systems and 
information. We determined that the information was sufficiently 
reliable for the purposes of our review.

We conducted our performance audit in accordance with generally 
accepted government auditing standards. Those standards require that we 
plan and perform the audit to obtain sufficient, appropriate evidence 
to provide a reasonable basis for our findings and conclusions based on 
our audit objectives. We believe that the evidence obtained provides a 
reasonable basis for our findings and conclusions based on our audit 
objectives.

While Policies on Compensation Are Generally Comparable, Some Policy 
and Implementation Issues Affect the Amount, Accuracy, and Completeness 
of Compensation:

Although policies concerning compensation for deployed civilians are 
generally comparable across agencies, we found some issues that affect 
the amount of compensation they receive--depending on such things as 
the agency's pay system or the civilian's grade/band level--and the 
accuracy, timeliness, and completeness of this compensation. 
Specifically, the six agencies included in our review provided similar 
types of deployment related compensation to civilians deployed to Iraq 
or Afghanistan. Agency policies regarding compensation for federal 
employees--including deployed civilians--are subject to regulations and 
guidance issued either by OPM or other executive agencies, in 
accordance with underlying statutory personnel authorities. In some 
cases, the statutes and implementing regulations provided agency heads 
with flexibility in how they administer their compensation policies. 
For example, agency heads are currently authorized by statute to 
provide their civilians deployed to combat zones with certain benefits--
such as death gratuities and leave benefits--comparable to those 
provided the Foreign Service, regardless of the underlying pay system 
of the employee.

However, some variations in compensation available to deployed 
civilians result directly from the employing agency's pay system and 
the employee's pay grade/band level. For example, deployed civilians, 
who are often subject to extended work hours, may expect to work 10- 
hour days, 5 days a week, resulting in 20 hours of overtime per pay 
period over the course of a year-long deployment. A nonsupervisory GS- 
12 step 1 employee receives a different amount of compensation for 
overtime hours than a nonsupervisory NSPS employee who earns an 
equivalent salary. Specifically, the NSPS nonsupervisory employee is 
compensated at a rate equivalent to 1.5 times the normal hourly rate 
for overtime while the GS nonsupervisory employee is compensated at a 
rate equivalent to 1.14 times the normal hourly rate for overtime 
hours.[Footnote 19]

Additionally, deployed civilians may receive different compensation 
based on their deployment status. Agencies have some discretion to 
determine the travel status of their deployed civilians based on a 
variety of factors--DOD, for example, looks at factors including length 
of deployment, employee and agency preference, and cost. Generally 
though, deployments scheduled for 180 days or less are classified as 
"temporary duty" assignments, whereas deployments lasting more than a 
year generally result in an official "change of station" assignment. 
Nonetheless, when civilians are to be deployed long term, agencies have 
some discretion to place them in either temporary duty or change of 
station status, subject to certain criteria.[Footnote 20] The status 
under which civilians deploy affects the type and amount of 
compensation they receive. For example, approximately 73 percent of the 
civilians who were deployed between January 1, 2006, and April 30, 
2008, by the six agencies we reviewed were deployed in temporary duty 
status[Footnote 21] and retained their base salaries, including the 
locality pay associated with their home duty stations. Civilians 
deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan as a change of station do not receive 
locality pay, but do receive base salary and may be eligible for a 
separate maintenance allowance which varies in amount based on the 
number of dependents the civilian has. The civilian's base salary also 
impacts the computation of certain deployment-related pays, such as 
danger pay and post hardship differential, as well as the computation 
of premium pay such as overtime. Consequently, whether a civilian's 
base salary includes locality pay or not can significantly affect the 
total compensation to which that civilian is entitled--resulting in 
differences of several thousand dollars.

As a result of these variations, deployed civilians at equivalent pay 
grades who work under the same conditions and face the same risks may 
receive different compensation. As mentioned previously, the 
Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, House Armed Services 
Committee, recommended in April 2008 that OPM develop a benefits 
package for all federal civilians deployed to war zones, to ensure that 
they receive equitable benefits. But, at the time of our review, OPM 
had not developed such a package or provided legislative 
recommendations. OPM officials stated that DOD had initiated an 
interagency working group to discuss compensation issues and that this 
group had developed some proposals for legislative changes. However, 
they noted that these proposals had not yet been submitted to Congress, 
and they do not, according to DOD officials, represent a comprehensive 
package for all civilians deployed to war zones, as recommended by the 
Subcommittee.

Furthermore, compensation policies were not always implemented 
accurately or in a timely manner. For example, we project that 
approximately 40 percent of the estimated 2,100 civilians deployed from 
January 1, 2006, to April 30, 2008, experienced problems with 
compensation--including not receiving danger pay or receiving it late, 
for instance--in part because they were unaware of their eligibility or 
did not know where to go for assistance to start and stop these 
deployment-related pays. In fact, officials at four agencies 
acknowledged that they have experienced difficulties in effectively 
administering deployment-related pays, in part because there is no 
single source delineating the various pays associated with deployment. 
As we previously reported, concerning their military 
counterparts,[Footnote 22] unless deployed personnel are adequately 
supported in this area, they may not be receiving all of the 
compensation to which they are entitled.

Additionally, in January 2008, Congress authorized an expanded death 
gratuity--under the Federal Employees' Compensation Act (FECA)--of up 
to $100,000 to be paid to the survivor of a deployed civilian whose 
death resulted from injuries incurred in connection with service with 
an armed force in support of a contingency operation.[Footnote 23] 
Congress also gave agency heads discretion to apply this death gratuity 
provision retroactively for any such deaths occurring on or after 
October 7, 2001, as a result of injuries incurred in connection with 
the civilian's service with an armed force in Iraq or Afghanistan. 
[Footnote 24] At the time of our review, Labor--the agency responsible 
for the implementing regulations under FECA--had not yet issued its 
formal policy. Labor officials told us that, because of the recent 
change in administration, they could not provide us with an anticipated 
issue date for the final policy. Officials from the six agencies 
included in our review stated that they were delaying the development 
of policies and procedures to implement the death gratuity until after 
Labor issues its policy. As a result, some of these agencies had not 
moved forward on these provisions.

We therefore recommended that (1) OPM oversee an executive agency 
working group on compensation for deployed civilians to address any 
differences and if necessary make legislative recommendations; (2) the 
agencies included in our review establish ombudsman programs or, for 
agencies deploying small numbers of civilians, focal points to help 
ensure that deployed civilians receive the compensation to which they 
are entitled; and (3) Labor set a time frame for issuing implementing 
guidance for the death gratuity. We provided a copy of the draft report 
to the agencies in our review. With the exception of USAID, which 
stated that it already had an ombudsman to assist its civilians, all of 
the agencies generally concurred with these recommendations. USAID 
officials, however, did not provide any documentation to support the 
establishment of the ombudsman position. In the absence of such 
documentation, we continue to believe our recommendation has merit. 
Finally, the Department of Labor has subsequently published an interim 
final rule implementing the $100,000 death gratuity under FECA. 
[Footnote 25]

While Policies on Medical Benefits Are Generally Comparable, Some 
Issues Exist in Both Policies and Implementation:

Although agency policies on medical benefits are similar, we found some 
issues with policies related to medical treatment following deployment 
and with the implementation of workers' compensation and post- 
deployment medical screening that affect the medical benefits of these 
civilians. DOD and State guidance provides for medical care of all 
civilians during their deployments--regardless of the employing agency. 
For example, DOD policies entitle all deployed civilians to the same 
level of medical treatment while they are in theater as military 
personnel. State policies entitle civilians serving under the authority 
of the Chief of Mission to treatment for routine medical needs at State 
facilities while they are in theater.

While DOD guidance provides for care at military treatment facilities 
for all DOD civilians--under workers' compensation--following their 
deployments, the guidance does not clearly define the "compelling 
circumstances" under which non-DOD civilians would be eligible for such 
care. Because DOD's policy is unclear, confusion exists within DOD and 
other agencies regarding civilians' eligibility for care at military 
treatment facilities following deployment. Furthermore, officials at 
several agencies were unaware that civilians from their agencies were 
potentially eligible for care at DOD facilities following deployment, 
in part because these agencies had not received the guidance from DOD 
about this eligibility. Because some agencies are not aware of their 
civilians' eligibility for care at military treatment facilities 
following deployment, these civilians cannot benefit from the efforts 
DOD has undertaken in areas such as post traumatic stress disorder.

Moreover, civilians who deploy may also be eligible for medical 
benefits through workers' compensation if Labor determines that their 
medical condition resulted from personal injury sustained in the 
performance of duty during deployment.[Footnote 26] Our review of all 
188 workers' compensation claims[Footnote 27] related to deployments to 
Iraq or Afghanistan that were filed with the Labor between January 1, 
2006, and April 30, 2008, found that Labor requested additional 
information in support of these claims in 125 cases, resulting in 
increased processing times that in some instances exceeded the 
department's standard goals for processing claims.[Footnote 28] Twenty- 
two percent of the respondents to our survey who had filed workers' 
compensation claims stated that their agencies provided them with 
little or no support in completing the paperwork for their claims. 
Labor officials stated that applicants failed to provide adequate 
documentation, in part because they were unaware of the type of 
information they needed to provide. Furthermore, our review of Labor's 
claims process indicated that Labor's form for a traumatic injury did 
not specify what supporting documents applicants had to submit to 
substantiate a claim.[Footnote 29] Specifically, while this form states 
that the claimant must "provide medical evidence in support of a 
disability," the type of evidence required is not specifically 
identified. Without clear information on what documentation to submit 
in support of their claims, applicants may continue to experience 
delays in the process.

Additionally, DOD requires deploying civilians to be medically screened 
both before and following their deployments. However, post-deployment 
screenings are not always conducted, because DOD lacks standardized 
procedures for processing returning civilians. Approximately 21 percent 
of DOD civilians who responded to our survey stated that they did not 
complete a post-deployment health assessment. In contrast, State 
generally requires a medical clearance as a precondition to deployment 
but has no formal requirement for post-deployment screenings of 
civilians who deploy under its purview. Our prior work has found that 
documenting the medical condition of deployed civilians both before and 
following deployment is critical to identifying conditions that may 
have resulted from deployment, such as traumatic brain injury.[Footnote 
30]

To address these matters, we recommended that (1) DOD clarify its 
guidance concerning the circumstances under which civilians are 
entitled to treatment at military treatment facilities following 
deployment and formally advise other agencies that deploy civilians of 
its policy governing treatment at these facilities; (2) Labor revise 
the application materials for workers' compensation claims to make 
clear what documentation applicants must submit with their claims; (3) 
the agencies included in our review establish ombudsman programs or, 
for agencies deploying small numbers of civilians, focal points to help 
ensure that deployed civilians get timely responses to their 
applications and receive the medical benefits to which they are 
entitled; (4) DOD establish standard procedures to ensure that 
returning civilians complete required post-deployment medical 
screenings; and (5) State develop post-deployment medical screening 
requirements for civilians deployed under its purview. The agencies 
generally concurred with these recommendations, with the exception of 
USAID, which stated that it already had an ombudsman to assist its 
civilians. USAID officials, however, did not provide any documentation 
to support the establishment of the ombudsman position. In the absence 
of such documentation, we continue to believe our recommendation has 
merit.

Executive Agencies' Ability to Track Deployed Civilians Is Limited:

While each of the agencies we reviewed was able to provide a list of 
deployed civilians, none of these agencies has fully implemented 
policies and procedures to identify and track its civilians who have 
deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. DOD, for example, issued guidance and 
established procedures for identifying and tracking deployed civilians 
in 2006 but concluded in 2008 that its guidance and associated 
procedures were not being consistently implemented across the agency. 
In 2008 and 2009, DOD reiterated its policy requirements and again 
called for DOD components to comply.[Footnote 31] The other agencies we 
reviewed have some ability to identify deployed civilians, but they did 
not have any specific mechanisms designed to identify or track location-
specific information on these civilians. As we have previously 
reported, the ability of agencies to report location-specific 
information on employees is necessary to enable them to identify 
potential exposures or other incidents related to deployment.[Footnote 
32] Lack of such information may hamper these agencies' ability to 
intervene quickly to address any future health issues that may result 
from deployments in support of contingency operations. We therefore 
recommended that (1) DOD establish mechanisms to ensure that its 
policies to identify and track deployed civilians are implemented and 
(2) the five other executive agencies included in our review develop 
policies and procedures to accurately identify and track standardized 
information on deployed civilians. The agencies generally concurred 
with these recommendations, with the exception of USAID, which stated 
that it already had an appropriate mechanism to track its civilians. We 
disagree with USAID's position since it does not have an agencywide 
system for tracking civilians and continue to believe that our 
recommendation is appropriate.

Concluding Observations:

Deployed civilians are a crucial resource for success in the ongoing 
military, stabilization, and reconstruction operations in Iraq and 
Afghanistan. Most of the civilians--68 percent of those in our review--
who deploy to these assignments volunteered to do so, are motivated by 
a strong sense of patriotism, and are often exposed to the same risks 
as military personnel. Because these civilians are deployed from a 
number of executive agencies and work under a variety of pay systems, 
any inconsistencies in the benefits and compensation they receive could 
affect that volunteerism. Moreover, ongoing efforts within DOD and 
State to establish a cadre of deployable civilians further emphasizes 
that the federal government realizes the important role these federal 
civilians play in supporting ongoing and future contingency operations 
and stabilization and reconstruction efforts throughout the world. 
Given the importance of the missions these civilians support and the 
potential dangers in the environments in which they work, agencies 
should make every reasonable effort to ensure that the compensation and 
benefits packages associated with such service overseas are appropriate 
and comparable for civilians who take on these assignments. It is 
equally important that federal executive agencies that deploy civilians 
make every reasonable effort to ensure that these civilians receive all 
of the compensation and medical benefits to which they are entitled. 
These efforts include maintaining sufficient data to enable agencies to 
inform deployed civilians about any emerging health issues that might 
affect them.

Mr. Chairman, this concludes my prepared statement. I would be happy to 
respond to any questions that you or Members of the Subcommittee may 
have at this time.

[End of section] 

Footnotes: 

[1] GAO, Human Capital: Actions Needed to Better Track and Provide 
Timely and Accurate Compensation and Medical Benefits to Federal 
Civilians, [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-09-562] 
(Washington D.C.: June 26, 2009).

[2] According to the Project on National Security Reform, Case Studies 
Volume I, (Washington, D.C.), "whole of government" refers to an 
approach that fosters governmentwide collaboration on purpose, actions, 
and results in coherent combined application of available resources to 
achieve the desired objective or end state. This approach addresses the 
military and civilian coordination discussed in National Security 
Presidential Directive/NSPD-44, Management of Interagency Efforts 
Concerning Reconstruction and Stabilization (Dec. 7, 2005).

[3] [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-09-562].

[4] We selected the Department of Defense because it deploys the 
greatest number of civilians to Iraq and Afghanistan. We also included 
the Departments of State, Homeland Security, Agriculture, and Justice, 
and the U.S. Agency for International Development because these 
agencies deployed most of the civilians assigned to the embassies and 
provincial reconstruction teams in Iraq and Afghanistan.

[5] Under 22 U.S.C. § 3927, the Chief of Mission "shall have full 
responsibility for the direction, coordination, and supervision of all 
Government executive branch employees in that country (except for Voice 
of America correspondents on official assignment and employees under 
the command of a United States area military commander)." 

[6] DOD began converting civilian employees into NSPS in 2005. As we 
recently testified, as of February 2009, over 205,000 DOD civilians had 
been converted into NSPS. GAO, Human Capital: Improved Implementation 
of Safeguards and an Action Plan to Address Employee Concerns Could 
Increase Employee Acceptance of the National Security Personnel System, 
[hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-09-464T] (Washington, D.C.: 
Apr. 1, 2009).

[7] Specifically, OPM issues regulations and provides policy guidance 
to executive branch agencies on matters involving personnel management.

[8] In this report, we use the term "monetary compensation" to refer to 
payments made to the employee for work performed such as salary, danger 
pay, post hardship differential, and overtime. "Nonmonetary 
compensation" refers to benefits such as leave, retirement 
contributions, and insurance premiums paid on behalf of the employee.

[9] GAO, DOD Civilian Personnel: Medical Policies for Deployed DOD 
Federal Civilians and Associated Compensation for Those Deployed, 
[hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-07-1235T] (Washington, 
D.C.: Sept. 18, 2007); and DOD Civilian Personnel: Greater Oversight 
and Quality Assurance Needed to Ensure Force Health Protection and 
Surveillance for Those Deployed, [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-06-1085] (Washington, D.C.: Sept. 29, 
2006).

[10] [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-07-1235T]; [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-06-1085].

[11] In addition to DOD, State, and the other agencies involved in this 
review, we have identified several other executive agencies that have 
deployed civilians to Iraq or Afghanistan. These include the 
Departments of Commerce, Health and Human Services, Treasury, 
Transportation, and Energy.

[12] The premium pay cap places a ceiling on the amount of basic pay 
(salary plus locality pay) plus premium pay (overtime pay, Sunday pay, 
holiday pay, and night differential) that an employee can earn during a 
calendar year.

[13] U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Armed Services, 
Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, Deploying Federal 
Civilians to the Battlefield: Incentives, Benefits, and Medical Care 
(April 2008).

[14] Memorandum from Linda M. Springer, Director, OPM, to Chief Human 
Capital Officers, Consistent Compensation for Federal Civilians in 
Combat Zones (June 10, 2008). This memorandum listed various legal 
authorities, such as § 1603 of Public Law No. 109-234 (granting federal 
agencies discretion to apply certain Foreign Service benefits to their 
employees), § 1101 of Public Law No. 110-181 (raising annual maximum 
limitations on premium pay), and § 1105 of Public Law No. 110-181 
(authorizing payment of up to $100,000 as a "death gratuity" in certain 
instances).

[15] We use the term "medical benefits" to refer to any medical or 
dental treatment associated with travel to Iraq or Afghanistan, 
including medical screenings before and after deployment, as well as 
any benefits received under the Federal Employees' Compensation Act, 5 
U.S.C. §§ 8101-8193.

[16] [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-09-562].

[17] We selected a sample of 297 from an initial population of 2,493 
civilians whom the six executive agencies in our review identified as 
having been deployed during the period from January 1, 2006, to April 
30, 2008. Some observations in the sample were deemed to be beyond the 
scope of our review, in part because the employee did not deploy to 
Iraq or Afghanistan during the prescribed timeframe; consequently, we 
are 95 percent confident that the actual population size is between 
1,930 and 2,254. The results of the survey can be projected to the 
population from which the survey sample was selected.

[18] These claims are filed under the Federal Employees' Compensation 
Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 8101-8193.

[19] Under this example, these employees are exempt from the Fair Labor 
Standards Act. Overtime rates are authorized by law for GS employees by 
5 U.S.C. section 5542 and for NSPS employees by NSPS regulations at 5 
CFR section 9901.362. The NSPS overtime factor is based on DOD's 
Civilian Personnel Manual, DOD 1400.25-M, subchapter 1930. The overtime 
factor for GS-12 step 1 is calculated by dividing the overtime hourly 
rate by the hourly rate found in OPM's hourly rate table for GS salary. 
Within the GS system, the overtime hourly rate for employees paid at a 
rate greater than the rate for GS-10 step 1, but less than the rate for 
GS-12 step 6, is equal to the hourly rate of basic pay for GS-10 step 1 
multiplied by 1.5. The overtime hourly rate for employees paid at a 
rate equivalent to the GS-10 step 1 level or lower is 1.5 times their 
hourly rate, and for employees paid at the GS-12 step 6 level or 
higher, the overtime hourly rate is 1.0.

[20] GAO has stated that "Whether an assignment to a particular station 
is temporary or permanent is a question of fact to be determined from 
the orders under which the assignment is made, the character of the 
assignment, its duration, and the nature of the duties." In DOD's 
Civilian Personnel Joint Travel Regulations Vol. II, DOD states that 
the following criteria must be met for an assignment to be temporary 
duty (68 Comp. Gen. 465 (1989)): "(a) The duties to be performed are 
temporary in nature, (b) the assignment is for a reasonable time 
duration, and (c) temporary duty costs are lower than round-trip 
temporary change of station or permanent change of station expenses." 
Joint Travel Regulations, vol. 2, ch. 4, para. C4430 (current as of 
Feb. 1, 2009).

[21] The approximately 73 percent includes both DOD civilians deployed 
for 180 days or less as well as employees deployed for more than 180 
days. For civilians deployed more than 180 days, about 42 percent were 
deployed in temporary duty status and retained locality pay. 

[22] GAO, Military Pay: Army Reserve Soldiers Mobilized to Active Duty 
Experienced Significant Pay Problems, [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-04-911] (Washington, D.C.: Aug. 20, 
2004); Military Pay: Army National Guard Personnel Mobilized to Active 
Duty Experienced Significant Pay Problems, [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-04-413T] (Washington, D.C.: Jan. 28, 
2004); and Military Pay: Army National Guard Personnel Mobilized to 
Active Duty Experienced Significant Pay Problems, [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-04-89] (Washington, D.C.: Nov. 13, 
2003).

[23] Pub. L. No. 110-181 § 1105 (2008).

[24] 5 U.S.C. § 8102(a) states that the head of an agency may 
retroactively apply this provision in the case of an employee who died 
on or after October 7, 2001, and before the date of enactment of this 
section as a result of injuries incurred in connection with the 
employee's service with an armed force in the theater of operations of 
Operation Enduring Freedom or Operation Iraqi Freedom.

[25] Claims for Compensation; Death Gratuity Under the Federal 
Employees' Compensation Act, 74 Fed. Reg. 41617 (Aug. 18, 2009).

[26] Under FECA, any disability resulting from a war-risk hazard is 
generally deemed to have resulted from personal injury sustained while 
in the performance of duty. 5 U.S.C. § 8102(b).

[27] FECA claims by agency: DOD - 116; State - 32; Justice - 19; DHS - 
5; USDA - 2; USAID - 1; other agencies not included in this review and 
claims where the agency is not identified - 13. 

[28] Of these 125 cases, 74 were approved, 42 were denied, and 9 cases 
were still being processed at the time of our review.

[29] Labor defines "traumatic injury" as any wound or other condition 
of the body caused by external force, including stress or strain, 
caused by a specific event or incident within a single workday or shift.

[30] [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-06-1085].

[31] Memorandum from Patricia Bradshaw, Deputy Under Secretary for 
Civilian Personnel Policy, Documentation of Department of Defense 
Civilian Employees Officially Assigned to Military Contingency 
Operations Overseas, (Jun. 6, 2006); Memorandum from Brad Bunn, 
Director, Department of Defense Civilian Personnel Management Service, 
Documentation of Department of Defense Civilian Employees Officially 
Assigned to Military Contingency Operations Overseas, (Feb. 8, 2008); 
and DOD Directive 1404.10, DoD Civilian Expeditionary Workforce (Jan. 
23, 2009).

[32] GAO, Defense Health Care: Improvements Needed in Occupational and 
Environmental Health Surveillance during Deployments to Address 
Immediate and Long-term Health Issues, [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-05-632] (Washington D.C.: Jul. 14, 
2005). 

[End of section] 

GAO's Mission: 

The Government Accountability Office, the audit, evaluation and 
investigative arm of Congress, exists to support Congress in meeting 
its constitutional responsibilities and to help improve the performance 
and accountability of the federal government for the American people. 
GAO examines the use of public funds; evaluates federal programs and 
policies; and provides analyses, recommendations, and other assistance 
to help Congress make informed oversight, policy, and funding 
decisions. GAO's commitment to good government is reflected in its core 
values of accountability, integrity, and reliability. 

Obtaining Copies of GAO Reports and Testimony: 

The fastest and easiest way to obtain copies of GAO documents at no 
cost is through GAO's Web site [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov]. Each 
weekday, GAO posts newly released reports, testimony, and 
correspondence on its Web site. To have GAO e-mail you a list of newly 
posted products every afternoon, go to [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov] 
and select "E-mail Updates." 

Order by Phone: 

The price of each GAO publication reflects GAO’s actual cost of
production and distribution and depends on the number of pages in the
publication and whether the publication is printed in color or black and
white. Pricing and ordering information is posted on GAO’s Web site, 
[hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/ordering.htm]. 

Place orders by calling (202) 512-6000, toll free (866) 801-7077, or
TDD (202) 512-2537. 

Orders may be paid for using American Express, Discover Card,
MasterCard, Visa, check, or money order. Call for additional 
information. 

To Report Fraud, Waste, and Abuse in Federal Programs: 

Contact: 

Web site: [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/fraudnet/fraudnet.htm]: 
E-mail: fraudnet@gao.gov: 
Automated answering system: (800) 424-5454 or (202) 512-7470: 

Congressional Relations: 

Ralph Dawn, Managing Director, dawnr@gao.gov: 
(202) 512-4400: 
U.S. Government Accountability Office: 
441 G Street NW, Room 7125: 
Washington, D.C. 20548: 

Public Affairs: 

Chuck Young, Managing Director, youngc1@gao.gov: 
(202) 512-4800: 
U.S. Government Accountability Office: 
441 G Street NW, Room 7149: 
Washington, D.C. 20548: