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Report To The Secretary Of Defense: Military Overseas Housing Allowances Should Be More Realistic

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Technical Report

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United States Government Accountability Office Washington United States

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Military members residing in private housing overseas can be reimbursed in addition to receiving normal quarters allowance for excess housing costs. These payments, known as station housing allowances, were about 200 million in fiscal year 1979 and have risen 500 percent in 9 years and 70 percent in the last year alone. GAO recommends that the method of calculating station housing allowances be changed so that the allowances more accurately represent the difference between housing costs in the continental United States and overseas. The Department of Defense should also revise procedures for determining the amount of each persons allowance. In 1970 the Congress amended the authorizing legislation to permit the allowance to beset at the difference between basic allowance for quarters BAQ and overseas housing costs. The following year the Congress also set BAQ at amounts that could be reasonably related to housing costs in the United States. Although annual pay increases to overall military compensation basic pay and allowances since that time have been generally comparable to private sector increases, the portion of the increases allocated to BAQ has not kept pace with rising housing costs in the United States or overseas. Studies show that military personnel in the United States pay as much for private housing as others with comparable incomes and that those costs are much higher than BAQ. As a result of not allocating more of the increases to BAQ, it is not now a reasonable standard for determining excess housing costs overseas.

Subject Categories:

  • Economics and Cost Analysis
  • Structural Engineering and Building Technology
  • Logistics, Military Facilities and Supplies

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