DOD rethinks workforce plans
- By George I. Seffers
- Sep 25, 2000
The Defense Department has reversed a longtime policy of reducing the civilian
acquisition and technology workforce.
The Pentagon has reduced its acquisition workforce from about 1.1 million
in 1989 to about 700,000 this year while it also downsized the military
and other civilian personnel forces. Now, up to 50 percent of the acquisition
and technology workforce, made up largely of baby boomers, will become eligible
for retirement in the next five years, and the entire government is faced
with growing competition from the more financially rewarding commercial
sector. The military's civilian workforce is projected to be about 625,000
in 2005. These factors motivated Jacques Gansler, undersecretary of Defense
for acquisition, technology and logistics, earlier this month to change
the Pentagon's policy of actively downsizing its acquisition and technology
"Dr. Gansler, in many visits to [Capitol Hill] earlier this year, has
actually told members of Congress that in fact the workforce may have to
grow larger in the next couple of years in order to deal with the massive
retirement issue," said Keith Charles, the Pentagon's director of acquisition,
technology and logistics workforce management, during an Internet broadcast
Gansler signed a memo stating that there will no longer be any goal
to reduce the acquisition workforce under the Government Performance and
Results Act, Charles said.
"We reduced the [acquisition] workforce by 50 percent, and the rest
of DOD came down 37 percent, and DOD was way ahead of all the civilian agencies.
We are going to be impacted first," Charles said. "I really don't think
you are going to see a lot of management directives from within the department
calling for reductions in defense acquisition."
Gansler said the rapid advances in information technologies and the
increased military focus on information dominance is driving the need for
a future workforce that will be "doing different things and doing things
"The whole way of fighting wars has changed to information dominance
and sensor-to-shooter information technologies. All of that is demanding
a rapid response. We need to have the ability in our acquisition force to
respond to that," Gansler said.
Meanwhile, DOD is working to identify the next wave of acquisition workers.
Charles leads a task force that is researching ways to better recruit and
retain acquisition personnel. He said the task force has come up with more
than 30 recommendations, most of which can be implemented immediately (see
The task force made public in July a working draft of its report, which
concludes that the country's security will depend on a DOD acquisition workforce
that is appropriately trained and prepared for the future. "The nation's
warfighters depend on technologically superior weapon systems provided by
the acquisition system," the report stated. "DOD cannot afford to wait;
it must address the needs of the future acquisition workforce immediately
to ensure that it attracts quality people and provides challenging opportunities."
The document recommends new initiatives, pilot programs and best practices
and can be found on the Internet at www.acq.osd.mil/yourfuture/ report072000.PDF.