YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan – It’s been so long since the cost-of-living stipend for Defense Department civilians working at Yokosuka Naval Base was tested that no one currently working there is quite sure when it last took place.
Local Navy officials are now trying to find out if civilians are receiving the right amount of post allowance, but their findings will only be approved by State Department officials if 67 percent of the base’s civilians turn in a survey gauging their spending by the end of the March. Those surveys, combined with a pricing survey of the most popular local stores named on those surveys, are what State officials would use to calculate a new index for post allowances at Yokosuka.
Some time prior to 2000, the Navy and the State Department agreed that Yokosuka area post allowance – a stipend paid to qualifying civilians to compensate them for more expensive goods and services than those found in Washington D.C. – would be pegged three levels under the allowance for central Tokyo.
However, Navy officials do not have the data to determine whether that disparity is still accurate.
Based on the current post allowance rate of 42, a GS-11 Step 5 Yokosuka employee with three family members earns $13,062 annually in post-allowance, according to State Department figures. That same employee would earn $21,770 annually at the central Tokyo rate.
So far, most civilians are either taking their time, or not participating in a survey that could potentially have a significant impact on their paychecks. As of March 15, only 31 percent of Yokosuka’s civilians had turned in surveys, said Dean Tom, supervisory human resources specialist at Naval Air Facility Atsugi.
“The idea is to get things accurate for all employees taking part in survey,” Tom said. “May go up, down, or be the same, but it will be accurate and truly reflect the Yokosuka population.”
The surveys — which measure both spending on a variety of groceries and services as well as percentages of spending both on and off base — were distributed to each command, but filling them out is voluntary.
Some commands have encouraged their employees more than others, Tom said. The base’s ship repair facility, for instance, has turned in 169 of their 174 surveys, while other commands have turned in only a handful or none of their surveys.
If the base reaches the 67 percent threshold, it would attempt to complete its retail pricing survey of local stores in mid-April, Tom said. The data would then be sent to the State Department for a decision on the new post allowance index rate.