Davis, colleagues push on Army Guard pay

Three House lawmakers this month told the Army to make its top priority the fixing of payroll problems for at least 450 Army National Guard soldiers while many of them are risking their lives in Iraq.

Late last month, a General Accounting Office report (Click for GCN story) of an investigation that began in October 2003 found stovepiped systems, insufficient payroll staff, inadequate training and poor customer service. Members of the House Government Reform Committee said enough is enough.

'The committee appreciates all the long-term actions and efforts you are making to reform the current pay system,' the members wrote in a letter to Ernest Gregory, acting assistant secretary of the Army. But, they said, the Army has failed to correct the errors for six Guard units involved, although an ombudsman has been appointed to handle pay issues.

Chairman Tom Davis (R-Va.), vice-chairman Christopher Shays (R-Conn.) and member Edward Schrock (R-Va.) said GAO continues to receive e-mails and phone calls from other Guard members who also have pay problems.

GAO's investigation found that at least 450 Guard soldiers, including the Colorado Army Guard's 220th Military Police Company currently deployed in Iraq, were not being paid on time or accurately.

The report called the current stovepiped systems too labor-intensive with extensive manual data entry and re-entry. The Defense Joint Military Pay System'Reserve Component, originally designed to process pay for weekend drills, is being used to pay soldiers for up to two years, GAO said.

Army officials told the committee that they have resolved the issues, according to the letter, but 'four months have gone by [since the GAO report], and some of these guardsmen are still strapped with payroll errors,' the members wrote. 'The committee respectfully requests that you correct these remaining problems immediately."


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