Thursday, December 22, 2005

Pentagon bureaucrats lining their pockets at my expense

Here is the letter I sent to the per diem committee, the organization in the Pentagon that determines what servicemen are paid:

The 2006 BAH for an 03E assigned to the Pentagon is $2340 while the BAH for an O3E assigned to Quantico is $1897, a difference of $443 a month. The explanation for this difference (commuting time; rental costs) is insufficient.


1) Using rental data to compute BAH is statistically inappropriate and keeps BAH artificially low. According to the latest census data, more than 68% of Americans own their own home. Given that fact, why then would you approve a statistical analysis that samples data that is irrelevant to the majority of those who rely on BAH to pay their mortgages? Since your website is silent on that, I have to assume the reason is because using rental data accomplishes your unstated goal, which is to artificially depress the amount of the allowance.

2) Applying an arbitrary commuting time AND commuting distance to and from the duty station zip code, and at the same time arbitrarily excluding some areas within the commute time perimeter when calculating the BAH, suspiciously skews the data. Giving the analyst this much leeway to introduce so many variables into the calculation essentially lets that analyst "pick" a number for BAH which is no more or less valid than the old VHA.


Under the current system, the Pentagon zip code, where you all work, is calculated with the highest BAH in the region regardless of where your all live. Marines ordered to Quantico, paid BAH which is a fraction of yours, nonetheless compete for housing with you and your self-inflated BAH. You are far outside your notional 20 mile/one hour commuting range, yet here you are, pricing me out of housing in MY OWN BAH COMMUTING RADIUS.


A fairer calculation would be to poll each paygrade, using statistically sound methods to determine either where the servicemembers in the duty zip code actually live and calculate BAH based on those results OR to poll servicemembers on what they actually pay and provide them that amount. I am hesitant to call your calculations dishonest, but it is puzzling why so many in my paygrade who work in the Pentagon yet live in my neighborhood are paid so much more than me.

You may choose to ignore this email, but I am forwarding it to my Congressional representative (Mr Johnson of Texas) and my Senators (Mrs Hutchinson and Mr Cornyn) to see if they think the per diem committee is treating servicemembers fairly.