Report: ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ discharges cost taxpayers $193 million over 5 years


Military discharges under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” cost taxpayers an estimated $193 million over 5 years from 2004 through 2009, according to a report by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office.

Fulfilling the request by Rep. Susan Davis (D-Calif.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, the GAO Report 11-170 entitled: “Personnel and Cost Data Associated with Implementing DOD’s Homosexual Conduct Policy,” found that the cost borne by taxpayers for the 3,664 service members discharged under the Defense Department‘s homosexual conduct policy was approximately $52,800 per separation, or $193.3 million.

“According to GAO’s analysis of Defense Manpower Data Center data, 3,664 service members were separated under DOD’s homosexual conduct policy from fiscal years 2004 through 2009. Of the 3,664 separations, 1,458 of these separated service members held a critical occupation or an important foreign language skill as determined by GAO and the services.

More specifically, 1,442 (39 percent) of the service members separated under the policy held critical occupations, such as infantryman and security forces, while 23 (less than 1 percent) of the service members held skills in an important foreign language, such as Arabic or Spanish.

Seven separated service members held both a critical occupation and an important foreign language skill. However, the number of separated service members with critical occupations could be an underestimation because of a number of factors.”

Full report available here (PDF).

The GAO obtained and analyzed DOD personnel and cost data; examined DOD regulations and policy documents; and conducted interviews with officials from the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, the Defense Manpower Data Center, and each of the military services.

The GAO calculated the cost to recruit and train replacements amounted to about $185.6 million, according to the report.

In calculating these costs, GAO included variable costs, such as recruiting bonuses, and excluded fixed costs, such as salaries and buildings, to the extent possible because according to service officials there would likely be no significant increase in fixed costs when recruiting and training a relatively small number of replacement personnel.

Administrative costs amounted to about $7.7 million and include costs associated with legal activities, such as board hearings, and nonlegal activities, such as processing separation paperwork.

The GAO staff also took note that during the period from fiscal years 1994 through 2009, the Department of Defense (DOD) separated over 13,000 active military service members under its homosexual conduct policy.

In an earlier study conducted in a 2005, the GAO put the cost of the first decade of “Dn’t Ask, Don’t Tell” at $190.1 million, bringing the total to almost $400 million in taxpayer monies.

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