Our review of the California Military Department (department) revealed that:
The California Military Department (department) is responsible for the command, leadership, and management of the California National Guard (Guard), including its army and air force components, and related programs, such as the State Military Reserve and the Guard's youth programs. The Guard provides military service to California and the nation and serves a threefold mission: as a reserve component of the U.S. Army and Air Force, the Guard provides mission-ready forces to the federal government, as directed by the president; it supports the public safety efforts of civil authorities during emergencies, as directed by the governor; and it provides military support to communities, as approved by the proper authorities. The state adjutant general, who is appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state Senate, serves as director of the department and commander of the Guard.
The Guard comprises the Joint Staff, the Army National Guard (Army Guard), and the Air National Guard (Air Guard). The Joint Staff provides planning and operations, logistics, and support functions for the Army Guard and Air Guard. The federal National Guard Bureau—a joint bureau of the Department of the Army and the Department of the Air Force—allocates funds to the states for the equipment and training necessary to provide military reserve capabilities.
State and federal military personnel and civilians staff the Guard. Most members of the Guard are part-time federal personnel who train in monthly and annual sessions to maintain their military occupational skills. As of September 2005, the Army Guard had a strength of 15,489 part-time members and the Air Guard employed 4,525 part-time members. State law allows the adjutant general, subject to budget act authorization, to appoint state military staff to help meet the department's mission. These military staff appointments are referred to as state active duty positions and members.
The department has not effectively reviewed its state active duty positions, as required by its regulations, to determine whether those positions could be filled with state civil service employees. These state active duty positions are staffed with military personnel who receive federal military pay and allowances that in some cases greatly exceed the costs to employ state civil service employees. For example, a colonel responsible for records management, printing, mail services, and supplies management receives an annual salary of about $125,500, while a civil service counterpart in another state department with similar responsibilities receives an annual salary of $62,300.
The department's adjutant general has recently convened the State Active Duty Reform Panel (panel) to review the department's use of state active duty members. The panel's tasks include reviewing the state active duty positions to determine if the responsibilities of those positions could be performed by other state or federal position classifications available to the department. The panel is also addressing other past personnel practices of the department, such as creating more state active duty positions than the budget authorized. The department estimates it will take three to five years to implement any changes the panel recommends.
The department engaged in questionable practices related to its state active duty workforce. For example, the department temporarily appointed numerous state active duty members to positions that do not appear to be temporary in nature. In many cases, the department repeatedly extended temporary appointments for set periods—usually one year—which in effect converted them into appointments of indefinite duration. The department's regulations define temporary appointments as those with specified end dates. Further, the department has not always followed its requirement of announcing a vacant state active duty position before filling it. Also, the department did not follow state law and its regulations when, in September 2001, it granted an indefinite appointment to a state active duty employee who had reached the mandatory retirement age. State law sets the mandatory retirement age for most state active duty members at 60. For an employee to remain in a state active duty position beyond age 60, he or she must obtain approval from the adjutant general and then can hold only a temporary position.
Moreover, the department's overall management of its federal employees is deficient. The National Guard Bureau pays for the federal full-time military members and civilian employees the department uses to support the department's large part-time force. Yet the department does not always use those federal personnel in the positions and for the duties authorized by the National Guard Bureau. In addition, although regulations and department procedures require the department to inform all members who are called to active duty and deployed for service of the benefits available to them as active members of the Guard, the department could not provide evidence that it had done so. Nevertheless, nothing came to our attention that led us to believe these members did not receive benefits briefings. Further, state active duty members who become whistleblowers do not have access to an independent authority to resolve complaints regarding retaliation. Finally, because the Staff Judge Advocate's Office does not keep logs of the requests for outside activities it reviews or records of the recommendations it provides to leadership, it cannot demonstrate, nor can we confirm, that the department consistently follows the guidance issued by the Department of Defense.
The Guard's strategic planning process was interrupted after the events of 9/11 and was subsequently abandoned altogether by the former adjutant general. Without a current strategic plan and a formal strategic planning process for identifying and analyzing threats and opportunities, the department cannot measure how well it is accomplishing its federal and state missions. In the absence of a properly prepared strategic plan, the former adjutant general chose to place a greater emphasis on providing military support to civil authorities. In doing so, he sponsored the creation of unauthorized entities, such as a new headquarters division, an expanded intelligence unit, and a field brigade to command military support to civil authorities. However, because the department at that time did not have a strategic planning process that would have justified the need for those entities, we cannot conclude that the former adjutant general's change in emphasis was warranted. Although the department recently took steps to reimplement a strategic planning process, had it adhered to the principles of strategic planning in the past, many of the problems associated with the former adjutant general's organizational changes might have been avoided.
In its efforts to implement the former adjutant general's perception of the organizational mission, the department violated various state and federal laws and regulations. First, the department established organizational entities without obtaining state and federal approval. For example, the department did not obtain the required state approval to establish two new divisions within the headquarters and create a large intelligence unit within one of the divisions. Second, the department used federal troop command units for unauthorized purposes when it combined the resources assigned to the units and formed a field command headquarters to support civil authorities. Lastly, the department directed the use of resources from the federal counterdrug program to operate the field command headquarters and to establish weapons of mass destruction response teams beyond what was federally authorized and funded. We believe this misuse of resources violated federal counterdrug laws and regulations, and the department could not prove that it ensured that all the misused funds were reimbursed from other federal sources.
The department in recent years has not met the force strength goals issued by the U.S. armed forces. Although California's Army Guard met its goal for federal fiscal year 2003, its performance in meeting its goals for federal fiscal years 2004 and 2005 declined. According to the Army Guard, maintaining prescribed force levels has become increasingly difficult because of several factors, including a perceived lack of state incentives. However, if the department does not meet its force strength targets, the National Guard Bureau may redistribute federal resources to states that do meet their targets—resources the department needs to achieve its state mission of providing military assistance to California's civil authorities in times of insurgence or catastrophic events.
Like the Army Guard, the Air Guard has not met its force strength targets, and its performance in meeting those targets has slipped over the past three years. Although the Air Guard achieved 93 percent of its force strength goal in federal fiscal year 2005, it ranked 38th among the 54 jurisdictions (states, territories, and the District of Columbia). The Air Guard attributes its diminished ability to meet force strength goals to the fact that goals are consciously set high to achieve optimum force strength, the ongoing war, and a smaller pool of personnel with prior service to recruit from.
In addition, the department does not have adequate procedures to report and monitor Guard members' attendance at training sessions. We found discrepancies in the attendance data reported by the Army Guard units, and neither the Army Guard nor the Air Guard fully responded to our requests for evidence of actions taken for members with excessive unexcused absences from training. By retaining on its rosters members who do not meet their training obligations, the Guard could report an inflated number of members adequately trained and prepared to meet its missions.
The State Military Reserve—a corps of volunteers, most with military experience, who support the Guard—also has not met its force strength goals in recent years. For calendar years 2003 through 2005, the State Military Reserve achieved only 56 percent to 65 percent of its goals. More importantly, as of April 2006, the department has not yet formally identified its mission for the State Military Reserve through its strategic planning process.
Finally, of the department's 109 armories, 95 (about 87 percent) are in need of repair and improvement. As of March 2006, the department had identified about $32 million in backlogged repairs, maintenance, and improvements it could not fund. Funding to maintain the armories is provided primarily through appropriations from the State's General Fund and matching funds through cooperative agreements with the federal government. Some additional funding comes from the Armory Fund and the Armory Discretionary Improvement Account through the sale or lease of unneeded armories and the receipts from renting armories when not in use, but those amounts are minor compared with the armories' overall needs. Moreover, as a result of a ballot initiative passed by the voters in 2004, most Armory Fund revenue will be used to reduce the outstanding Economic Recovery Bond debt and will no longer be available to the department.
To reform its use of state active duty personnel and comply with its senior leadership's wishes in the use of state active duty personnel, the department should ensure that the State Active Duty Reform Panel completes the tasks assigned to it by the adjutant general and follows through with the panel's recommendations. In addition, the department should review its hiring policy and practices for state active duty members, as directed by the adjutant general, and make the necessary changes in its policy and regulations to provide adequate guidance to its commanders and directors.
The department should develop and implement procedures to ensure that it complies with authorizations for federal full-time military personnel to support its part-time Guard forces. Those procedures should include designating the responsibility for issuing orders for full-time personnel to a single entity.
Because the department has a responsibility under federal regulations to inform deploying members of the benefits available to them while on active duty, the department should consider implementing a procedure for both the Army Guard and the Air Guard to demonstrate that it complies with that requirement.
To ensure that its state active duty personnel can report any alleged violations of statutes, regulations, or rules without fear of retaliation, the department should establish a process independent of the chain of command to protect those state active duty personnel who wish to file complaints alleging retaliation by a superior.
To avoid public concern and promote transparency and to comply with state and federal laws, regulations, and administrative policies, the department should continue its efforts to reimplement a strategic planning process. This process should include the in-depth analyses of the threats and opportunities facing the department, including changes in the environment and leadership. Further, the department should obtain appropriate approvals from the state Department of Finance and the federal National Guard Bureau before making organizational changes in the future.
To ensure that all federal counterdrug program funds used for non-counterdrug activities are properly reimbursed, the department should work with the U.S. fiscal officer to identify all the non-counterdrug costs that have yet to be reimbursed and to ensure that the transfer of costs from the appropriate accounts occurs. In the future, the department should not use counterdrug program funds for non-counterdrug activities.
The department should identify and pursue the steps necessary to meet the force strength goals set by the National Guard Bureau, including but not limited to, identifying the most effective manner to use the additional recruiting resources provided by the National Guard Bureau and continuing to pursue, through the State's legislative process, incentives it believes will encourage citizens to join the Guard.
The department should develop and implement procedures to monitor training attendance by its Guard members to ensure that it can verify the accuracy of reported training attendance. It should also ensure that it does not retain on its rosters members who qualify as unsatisfactory participants because they are not meeting their training obligations.
The department should include the State Military Reserve in its current strategic planning process and ensure that it defines the State Military Reserve's role and responsibilities so as to maximize the support it provides to the Guard. Once its role and responsibilities are identified, the State Military Reserve should target its recruiting goals and efforts accordingly.
To help ensure that the department works toward improved maintenance of its armories, the department should pursue the balanced program for replacement, modernization, and maintenance and repair advocated by its facilities director. In addition, the department should continue to work with the Department of Finance and the Legislature to establish a baseline budget for the maintenance and repair of its armories.
The adjutant general stated that the report would receive the utmost attention, and those areas where corrective action is needed, if it is not already underway or complete, will be initiated. The adjutant general further stated that he looks forward to providing updates on the status of those items identified as needing attention. Finally, the adjutant general believes that some of the items identified in our report either do not require action or are outside his authority.