Defense opens special pay center for Guard, Reserves

Cleveland office intended to centralize pay expertise in the wake of recent snafus.

The Defense Finance and Accounting Service has opened a "center of excellence" in Cleveland to deal with pay issues involving military Guard and Reserve forces.

DFAS officials believe that consolidating into one location will facilitate the sharing of "best practices" about pay account support for Guard and Reserve personnel, according to a press statement.

Previously, the Army, Air Force and Navy Reserves, and Army and Air National Guard, had all dealt with pay issues separately. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld called that approach "seriously inadequate when we are mobilizing to the extent we have had to during the Iraq conflict," in a March memo to Pentagon and military officials.

Last November, the General Accounting Office reported that Army National Guard members called to active duty often experience problems in the processing of their paychecks. Earlier this year, Pentagon officials admitted that the Guard's pay system had been severely taxed by extended deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq.

Patrick T. Shine, director of DFAS' Military and Civilian Pay Services, said, "DFAS is constantly striving to improve the way we serve our customers. This center of excellence will make us more responsive to the needs of a critical component of America's defense--the Reserve and Guard."

The center, established within the DFAS Military and Civilian Pay Services operation, will have "surge capability" to deal with large-scale deployments, DFAS officials said.

While the center will not make policy related to reservists' pay, it will be "responsible for interpretation and dissemination of pay-related policy and procedural guidance that affects Guard and Reserve members," said Zanell L. Osowski, a DFAS spokeswoman.

The center is designed not only to consolidate and streamline the pay process, Osowski said, but also to serve as an advocate for guard and reserve members on pay issues. While the change should be "relatively transparent to the average soldier or airman," Osowski said she expects the timeliness and accuracy of their pay to improve.