Many countries deploy personnel from their Armed Forces & Services outside their national borders for a variety of missions. For such members, these services typically will have put in place several benefits and allowances to ensure that members should be neither better nor worse off than their counterparts serving at home.
Benefits and Allowances – Background
Defense personnel on international duty are entitled to a large and complex array of benefits. These benefits can be in the form of allowances, bonuses, reimbursements and so on. Here are some examples of such benefits
Post Combat Reintegration Allowance
Daily Meal Allowance
Purchase of Furniture & Appliances
Medical Coverage of Special Dependant
Various flavors of Home Leave Travel Allowance
Emergency Evacuation & Loss
Health Club Fees
There are very clear definitions and guidelines on how such benefits are to be awarded, and in case of reimbursements, how claims are to be validated and settled.
It is very important for the Defense Services to not only maintain and provide such allowances, but also to ensure that these benefits are awarded in a smooth and transparent fashion and validation of claims where applicable is done quickly and settlements released in the fastest possible time. The reason being that handling these benefits badly will have a direct impact on the morale of the defense personnel
The benefits schemes used by defense forces come in a huge variety and complexity. All defense forces use such benefits schemes to incentivize the Services. Here are some illustrative examples of such benefits schemes
- Benefits related Regulations in Canada
- Pay and Conditions in Australia
- US Army Hardship Duty Pay
- UK Royal Navy Allowances
Managing Benefits – How do they do it?
So, the question now is how do defense services conventionally manage such complex benefits schemes? Here are two of the ways this is done.
Good Old Manual Determination
When using this method, you will have clerks who will be responsible for interpreting the guidelines as they apply for each member. As is obvious, the work here is labor intensive and involves absolutely no automation.
These clerks will be experts in benefits guidelines and bring long experience to their work. They will use published guidelines either in hard-copy format or in the form of a PDF or online to use as a reference in their daily decisioning.
Guidelines in Code (No or Semi Automation)
In some minority of cases, some of these guidelines are hardwired and hardcoded inside of application code.
Only those parts of the regulations that are simple are automated. But many of the regulations are very complex and have complex dependencies with others. These are not automated at all.
Examples of cases where such automation is possible are “Benefits Calculators”. For an example, see here,
what are the challenges that defense organizations face when managing such complex benefits schemes
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