Words by Wes O'Donnell.
Members of the Air Force must prepare themselves to submit documentation to re-verify dependent information as part of an Air Force-wide audit readiness effort. This is being done to ensure that the funds the Air Force spends on basic housing allowance yearly are auditable. This push to improve financial audit readiness comes from the 2010 National Defense Authorization Act.
Among the documents that will be necessary to provide are marriage certificates, children's birth certificates, child support documentation and divorce decrees. Airmen will be receiving an email when it is their turn to submit documentation. These emails will be sent out through this December and indicate to each individual airmen which documents will be necessary for them to provide. At that point the airman then must provide this documentation within 30 days or they could potentially have their BAH reduced to the singles rate. Exceptions will be made for those airmen who are deployed, on extended leave or on temporary duty.
The problem the Air Force financial officials are having is not that they feel they are improperly paying out benefits to airman, but some of the documentation that would be required for an audit has already been disposed of. Records are usually only kept for approximately six years and then they are discarded. The problem that has been found is that those airmen who experienced a life change such as another child, a change in rank, a marriage or divorce after a significant amount of time from the first submission of documentation are finding that their original documents have already been discarded when attempting to add the new information. Verification as to these airmen's eligibility in regards to BAH are still available, however, the paper documentation necessary for audits performed years after the serviceman has first receive benefits may not be complete.
With current tight military budget cuts it is important, now more than ever, to account for every dollar spent and be able to show documented proof of where that money has been allocated.