The Navy will be scrubbing sailors' paychecks looking for irregularities and checking paperwork on various bonuses such as the hazardous duty pay earned by search and rescue swimmers. (MC3 Paul Kelly / Navy)
CHECK YOUR RECORDS
There are a number of documents within a sailor’s official military personnel file that provide information pertaining to pay and will be vital to supporting the audit. They include:
Agreement to Extend Enlistment (NAVPERS 1070/621)
Agreement to Recall or Extend Active Duty (NAVPERS 1070/622)
Enlistment/Reenlistment Document (DD 4)
Immediate Reenlistment Contract (NAVPERS 1070/601)
Officer Appointment Acceptance and Oath of Office (NAVPERS 1000/4)
Statement of Service
Dependency Application/Record of Emergency Data Record of Emergency Data (NAVPERS 1070/602)
Additionally, sailors should ensure that their records at their personnel support detachment are up to date and any changes to pay and personnel information are communicated to the PSD in a timely manner and supported by the appropriate documentation.
A few examples:
Verification that a sailor was in a hostile fire zone.
Verification that a sailor was on a ship and should be receiving career sea pay.
Verification that the sailor has performed the necessary requirements to receive foreign language proficiency pay.
Documentation to support a marriage or change in dependents.
Nearly every active-duty and Reserve sailor received an email April 5 from the chief of naval personnel informing them their leave and earnings statement could soon be subject to an audit.
Some thought it was an April Fools’ Day joke, albeit a little late. Others, with the specter of budget cuts in their mind, thought the message was more nefarious.
“Today, I received the following email from the chief of naval personnel,” an untrusting lieutenant commander informed Navy Times via email. “To me, this reads like a ‘we’re after your bonuses’ letter.”
Your bonuses are safe. The letter from Vice Adm. Scott Van Buskirk was mainly to remind sailors to get their file in order to help the Navy at-large obtain a clean audit.
“Shipmates,” Van Buskirk wrote in his letter. “Your Leave and Earnings Statement (LES) may soon be selected for audit,” Van Buskirk wrote in the email. “An audit like this involves verifying pay transactions and ensuring personnel documents are updated in your Official Military Personnel File or OMPF.”
Personnel officials who asked not to be named in this story confirmed 382,963 of the emails were sent by the Defense Finance and Accounting Service to nearly all active and Reserve Navy personnel.
If your records are up to date and accurate, you might not even know you’ve been audited. But, if an audit uncovers pay and paperwork that don’t match up, these random audits could result in a sailor owing the Navy money.
“It’s also possible, though, that the audit, or a sailor giving their records a scrub, might just find the opposite — that they’ve been underpaid and might have a special payday coming once they prove it,” said a longtime Navy personnel official familiar with pay audits. He was unauthorized to speak to Navy Times and asked to remain anonymous.
This particular audit is required by the 2010 defense authorization act, which mandated that by 2014, all military services would be able to account for all their financial transactions and produce an annual financial health report.
“The military pay is only one portion of this audit,” explained personnel officials, in an interview with Navy Times. The audit includes anything the Navy spends money on, from chow to ships. There has to be a paper trail for everything.
Not every sailor’s record will be screened. Officials did not know exact figures of how many will be audited. An independent accounting firm will be hired to conduct the random tests. By summer, expect sailor audits to be underway.
“We have to validate that all military pay transactions are complete and valid,” one official said. “To do this, we will take a sample [of people], pull a few transactions to show that the documentation in their records supports the accuracy of what is recorded in the financial system.”
Navy personnel officials have already conducted a couple of dry runs, checking the records of about 100 sailors in January and February.
The biggest issue they found was that sailors receiving pay did not have the proper supporting documents. It did not mean these sailors were necessarily ineligible for that pay, officials said.
Ultimately, it’s the sailor’s responsibility to ensure his personnel records are in order and up to date.
“I encourage our sailors to review their records each year to ensure their records are accurate,” Van Buskirk told Navy Times regarding the audits. “Not only will it help make sure they are receiving the benefits and promotion points they deserve, but it will also help the Navy overall in our effort to have accurate financial accountability.”