One-fourth of Pentagon’s war zone pay to civilians was improper

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The Pentagon improperly spent $57.7 million on danger and hardship pay and other special allowances and pay differentials for nearly 9,000 civilian employees working In Afghanistan and Iraq, according to the Defense Department’s Office of Inspector General.

The $57.7 million accounts for more than one-fourth of the total $212.9 million spent on the special pay allowances and differentials for 11,691 civilian employees in the two countries during fiscal years 2007 and 2008, the Pentagon watchdog said in a new report.

Some of the payments should not have been made or were made in an incorrect amount because the Pentagon lacks uniform rules for its human resources offices to calculate, process, and monitor accurate payments, the report said. For example, some civilian employees received an Iraq danger pay allowance rate of 35 percent even though they were still in Kuwait, which has a danger pay allowance rate of 15 percent. Another employee left Iraq for a 30-day trip to the United States, but continued to receive $3,857 in danger pay for that month.

To recruit civilian employees for dangerous or hardship posts overseas, the Pentagon offers more than a dozen types of pay differentials, incentive payments for hard-to-fill jobs, and special allowances for living quarters.

Quick Fact: The Defense Department’s Financial Management Regulation was updated in June 2010 and allows for a danger pay allowance and hardship differential of up to 70 percent of a civilian employee’s base pay.

Other new reports released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) or various federal Offices of Inspector General (OIG):

FINANCE

* OIGs government-wide spent $26 million in first six months of monitoring economic stimulus spending (OIG)

* Puerto Rico public housing authority should repay HUD $3.6 million for unused or missing surveillance cameras and equipment (OIG)

NATIONAL SECURITY

* Homeland Security Dept. should repay the U.S. Treasury $211,445 in conference fees it improperly collected for an annual process control systems forum (OIG)

* Oak Ridge National Laboratory lost track of hard drives containing classified information (OIG)

* Air Force personnel did not consistently follow laws on undefinitized contractual actions (OIG)

* Homeland Security Dept. science and technology program manager abused his position (OIG)

* Air Force did not adequately monitor “Title II” contractors in Southwest Asia (OIG)

HEALTH CARE

* Veterans Administration improperly paid 28 percent of inpatient fee claims (GAO)

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