Arizona Republican Senator John McCain released a statement criticizing the government for wasting money by not budgeting for PCS (Permanent Change of Station) moves.
More than 600,000 service members and their families PCS each year. As chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, McCain received the Government Accountability Office’s report which criticized the government for not tracking the money spent on PCS moves and did the math. This lack of oversight is costing the government a lot of money.
In a statement Sen. McCain said
Despite the crippling effects that sequestration is having on our military services, the Defense Department continues to throw millions of dollars out the door as it fails to adequately manage the costs and budget for service member relocations.
The government has been spending more on PCS moves lately, with a remarkable increase over the last 14 years. That is an increase from $3.8 billion annually to $4.3 billion last year according to the Government Accountability Office’s report.
Interestingly enough, these costs are rising while the number of PCS moves continue to go down. Annual moves are actually down 12 percent. In 2001 for example 731,000 troops had PCS moves while only 646,000 moved in 2014.
Why are PCS costs so high?
PCS moves incur fees for shipping household goods, storing them and issuing travel allowances, temporary lodging expenses and other costs. Officers are allocated more money for PCS moves than enlisted service members and the Air Force has more officers than any other branch. Having troops PCS more frequently then they are suppose to is also causing an increase in cost.
There are time frames set by the government for how long a service member is suppose to be stationed in one location. The time actually allocated between PCS moves is not being followed or tracked. While commands are suppose to report how long service members are in a location, they are not doing so. They are also allowing troops to PCS before they are scheduled to.
The entire PCS system is not being monitored at all. With all the government monitoring out there, it is hard to believe that there is no government oversight here. Because DoD does not evaluate whether the PCS system is efficient, it cannot identify changes that need to be made to lower costs or to determine how to control it.
The Government Accountability Office’s report recommends that DoD initiates a system to report all PCS budget data, evaluate the PCS program often and make a point to seek out data on why service members are moved before their minimum station length is reached. It would also recommend required waivers for early PCS moves.
DoD agrees with Government Accountability Office’s recommendations. What will actually happen now or how long it will take is undetermined. One thing for sure is that military families will be keeping an eye out for changes to PCS moves.
What do you think? Do you agree with Sen. McCain? Do you have any suggestions on how DoD can save money when military families PCS?