For the first time in six years, the Defense Department is holding a living-pattern survey in southern Italy to determine if troops are getting the right cost-of-living and certain housing allowances.

Officials are looking for servicemembers with families in the Naples, Gaeta and La Maddalena communities to take part in the Per Diem, Travel and Transportation Allowance Committee survey.

“This benefits all military personnel in the three areas,” said Navy Region Europe’s Lt. j.g. Kenneth Biddle, the regional survey coordinator.

The results of the study will help officials set the COLA and Moving In Housing Allowances, or MIHA, for those communities. The current rates are based on six-year-old figures, Biddle said.

“They haven’t set up … rates using euro as base currency,” he said. “It’s still in lire. Nobody’s done a cost survey since [the changeover to euro in 2002].”

The survey will take into account price increases brought by the changeover to the euro and the dollar’s recent decline.

The survey started Friday and runs through May 18. Only military members stationed in one of the three communities — and also have family living with them — can take the survey. It takes about 30 minutes to complete.

Once results are completed, the next step is to look at the prices of selected items at Italian businesses frequented by military members.

“We’ll have to go out and price a basket of goods at the top four or five places,” he said. This is expected to take place sometime during the summer.

Those prices will be used by the committee to determine the COLA rate. The MIHA is given to military members to help them if they are moving into houses on the economy, so it is dependent on the prices of local goods.

The survey results, which should be implemented by the end of the year, will not affect monthly housing allowances.

The survey is available here.

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