Web site explains military pay, TSP changes

Web site explains military pay, TSP changes

The Defense Department has posted a new site on the World Wide Web that explains the military pay changes taking effect Jan. 1, including the 4.8 percent pay raise.

Pay2000 (pay2000.dtic.mil) provides details on the January pay raise and briefly covers new retirement options; the Thrift Savings Plan that would allow service members to build a retirement nest egg; special pay and incentive pay improvements; and new rules on housing allowances, temporary lodging expenses and leave sell-back. The site also offers a means to provide e-mail feedback.

According to Thomas Tower, an assistant director for compensation in the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, user feedback will contribute to the site's providing more in-depth information during its second phase, expected to go online by mid-November. The third stage, toward the end of this year, will be interactive and allow service members to calculate and compare retirement choices they have after 15 years' active duty, he said.

The option of choosing retirement plans is one of the most important improvements to military pay according to Tower. "Members now have a choice of retirement plans, including a reduced monthly payment with a $30,000 lump sum payment at 15 years or a higher annuity at 20 years, " he said. Those who elect the lump sum payment at 15 years are still required to serve on active duty through their 20th year, he said. "We will provide financial comparisons of what they can save."

Pay2000 doesn't duplicate information like pay tables that are available on the Defense Finance and Accounting Service Web site, said Tower. He said, Pay2000 conveys information pertaining directly to compensation issues in the fiscal 2000 Defense Authorization Act, while the DFAS site contains more standardized information.

"The message we want to convey is that military compensation has been dramatically improved," Tower said. "A military career is a more attractive option, particularly in relation to the private sector, because service members each year will get a .5 percent higher pay raise than the private sector."

Defense Secretary William S. Cohen called the pay changes an "investment in our warriors" at the signing of the defense authorization act Oct. 5. "We can never pay you enough," he said, "but we can pay you more. And that is precisely what this bill is going to do."