Irregularities found in Brazilian government’s employment of military personnel

President Bolsonaro during an Army event. Photo: Isac Nóbrega/PR military
President Bolsonaro attends an event in which newly-promoted generals get their certification. Photo: Isac Nóbrega/PR

An internal report has found signs of irregularities in the employment of over 2,000 military personnel who occupy positions in the Brazilian government.

Under President Jair Bolsonaro, a high number of military personnel has been hired to carry out civilian functions within government, from junior positions to ministerial ones. A survey by the Federal Accounts Court found that 6,175 members of the armed forces occupied government positions in 2020, the second year of the Bolsonaro administration – up from 2,765 two years earlier under Mr. Bolsonaro’s predecessor, Michel Temer.

Now, an internal audit carried out by the Federal Comptroller General’s Office (CGU) has found that there are irregularities in the way that some 2,327 military personnel are employed in government.

The most common irregularity is members of the armed forces overstaying the legally permitted two-year time limit for simultaneously carrying out both their active-duty military role and civilian functions in government. The CGU has found 930 such cases.

It has also found that 558 active-duty members of the armed forces also occupy a civilian position without meeting the conditions to do so, and that 729 military personnel working in the government are earning above the maximum threshold established by the constitution, due to the accumulation of salaries and benefits.   

The CGU has further highlighted that the employment of military personnel creates problems in the government’s human resources management, as the Defense Ministry is responsible for the armed forces, but government positions fall within the remit of the Secretariat for Staff Management and Performance in the Economy Ministry.

The Army and the Defense Ministry told the press that they have investigated reports of irregularities and questioned the CGU’s numbers. The CGU is responsible for oversight of the federal executive but has no power over the military.