The Case for Compensation Reform

The 15 recommendations outlined in the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission report, released late last month, were not a cost-cutting exercise but an attempt to add value to long-term compensation across the all-volunteer force, commission members told Senate legislators on Tuesday. Rather than scrapping the old system, the commission wanted to maximize incentives and help ensure retention, which demanded a “blended approach” to reforming military retirement, Chairman Alphonso Maldon said during the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. Commissioner Michael Higgins told Sen. John McCain the MCRMC used a RAND Corp. model called the “dynamic retention model,” which takes into account the profile of the force over time. Higgins said people told the commission they would be inclined to respond to such a model. By utilizing incentive pays, thrift savings with matching and other benefits, a broader range of incentives will exist to supplement a defined benefit, which will be a smaller percentage of the retirement. This sentiment informed proposed TRICARE reforms as well, Commissioner Steve Buyer said. TRICARE’s limited network has led to frustrations with families, he noted, and by allowing families to select plans themselves it ensures cost savings to both the government and families.