Personnel Growth

By Kate Brannen / May 4, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Inside the Army this week reports on what the service is doing to scale back its recruitment efforts now that it has met its end strength goals early. It has postponed several recruiting programs and closed enlistment waivers for “adult major misconduct,” or felonies, as well as testing positive for drug and alcohol at military entrance processing stations.

Similar issues are addressed in a new Government Accountability Office report, released today, in which the Army is applauded for meeting its recruitment and retention goals early in its attempts to increase end strength by roughly 7 percent by 2013.

The report also examines how the Army managed this growth and the cost-effectiveness of the financial incentives used to recruit and retain enlistees. The GAO concludes that the Army's use of bonuses could be more cost-effective, stating that the service has not taken advantage of existing research on how best to use recruiting resources to calculate its bonus amounts. The GAO also found that bonus amounts vary widely across the Army's components. However, the Army states in the report that since the GAO completed its study, the service has reduced the numbers and amounts of bonuses it offers.

GAO is also critical of the Army for loosening its quality goals for new recruits, including the practice of giving waivers to those who don't meet academic, physical and conduct standards. GAO recommends that the Army collect data on the costs of recruiting and training soldiers with conduct waivers. According to the report, existing analyses show these recruits perform similarly as those without conduct waivers, but they are more likely to be separated from the Army for "adverse reasons."