Flexibility Can Save DOD Money

: The Pentagon could tailor military compensation to meet service members’ preferences and save money in the process, according to a new study by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. Between 2001 and 2011, the cost of compensating active duty members rose 46 percent, excluding war funding and adjusting for inflation, said Todd Harrison, CSBA senior fellow for defense budget studies, during a press event in Washington, D.C., on July 12. “The high cost of our military compensation system would be worth paying if there was no alternative. But it is intolerable when there is an alternative that is consistent with our national security interests and the preferences of those who serve. We can do better and the troops deserve that,” said Harrison, who authored the study. For instance, the cost of allowing service members to choose a duty station is negligible, he said. However, it is highly valued by service members and could potentially counterbalance a fee on dependent healthcare, said Harrison. He encouraged DOD to conduct a more comprehensive study and, with the data, develop compensation programs that are more responsive to service members’ needs.