IG finds civilians received more than $57 million in undeserved allowances
August 21, 2010
A Defense Department civilian received more than $19,000 in hardship pay ... for living in Germany.
Another DOD worker received $3,857 in danger pay for 30 days he spent ... in the United States.
An Inspector General’s report released Thursday showed that more than $57 million in special pay allowances meant to compensate workers in hardship posts went to civilian employees who might not have qualified for the extra money. The report notes that some others who did qualify could have been underpaid.
The IG report details two years of improper payments made to almost 8,700 civilian employees between 2007 and 2008.
The extra pay — called an allowance or differential — is used as a recruitment incentive to entice workers to take certain overseas assignments in areas such as war zones or other places considered hardship or hazardous duty locations.
Improper payments cited in the report included:
• Several instances where DOD civilian employees received danger pay allowances for dates on which they were not at the specified location. For example, a DOD civilian employee was in Kuwait for two days before arriving in Iraq. The DOD civilian employee was authorized the Iraq danger pay allowance rate of 35 percent while in Kuwait, which has a danger pay allowance rate of 15 percent.
• A DOD civilian employee traveled to the United States for 30 days but continued to be incorrectly authorized a total of $3,857 in danger pay allowance for Iraq.
• One civilian employee was incorrectly authorized a total of $19,228 in post hardship differentials while in Germany in fiscal year 2007. Hardship pay is not authorized for Germany.
• A worker was authorized more than $28,000 in living quarters allowance for FY2007 and FY2008, but the local human resource office didn’t have proper paperwork to support the claim.
The improper payments occurred because the Office of Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Civilian Personnel Policy failed to provide adequate guidance to the Army, Navy and Air Force human resource offices that process civilian pay, the report states. Furthermore, the civilian personnel office failed to monitor payments being made to ensure the program was properly carried out.
Because the Defense Civilian Personnel Data System does not include codes that specifically identify workers supporting overseas contingency operations, IG inspectors had to review almost 12,000 employee records. They were able to narrow the field down to 8,700 who received improper payments for either post hardship or danger pay between 2007 and 2008.
But the investigation, carried out between April 2009 and May of this year, was hampered by missing or incomplete payroll information.
“In many instances, we did not receive any documentation, or the documentation was incomplete,” the report states.
In response to the report, DFAS said it added more downrange payroll personnel, and said it will work to reimburse or recover improper payments, once the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Civilian Personnel Policy identifies those accounts.
The Civilian Personnel Policy office has yet to comment on the report, according to the IG who has requested a response from the agency by mid-September.