Military Personnel ::

DOD Efforts Under Way to Improve Financial Literacy and Responsibility of Military Members

We recently reported that DOD identified a need to improve the financial literacy and responsibility of military members in its July 2002 human capital strategic plan.[Footnote 21],[Footnote 22] As part of DOD's balanced scorecard, the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness reviews issues affecting force management risk. One of the indicators used in the review is personal finances, which is evaluated in terms of the self-reported financial condition of junior enlisted personnel (E1-E4) and their self-reported ability to pay bills on time. Data to support these evaluations are supplied on an annual basis through Defense Manpower and Data Center surveys of active duty service members. Among other things, DOD is reviewing a draft personal financial management policy that seeks to establish a uniform approach to educating and training all military service members.

In May 2003, DOD formally launched a "financial readiness campaign" to address military service members' poor financial habits and to increase financial management awareness, savings, and protection against predatory practices. DOD has also entered into a number of partnerships with nonprofit organizations and government agencies that have agreed to support counselors who offer financial assistance programs to military service members. The services have also made improvements. For example, the Navy has raised its mandatory number of personal financial management training hours, and it is using mobile financial management teams to train financial specialists, including those in geographically remote regions where there are no financial educators to provide training. The services also provide financial planning information on their Web sites.

[21] See GAO-03-1004.

[22] Department of Defense, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Military Community and Family Policy), A New Social Compact: A Reciprocal Partnership between the Department of Defense Service Members, and Families (July 2002).