Army to cut workforce, secretary says

Long-term reductions in the Army’s civilian and contract workforce are central to the Army’s business transformation strategy, Army Secretary Francis Harvey said.

The Army will use process improvement, organizational redesign and outsourcing to trim the number of civilian Army personnel, Harvey said during a keynote speech July 11 at the Army IT Day sponsored by AFCEA International’s Northern Virginia chapter.

“We are taking the work out of the system,” he said “And therefore, we need less workers.”

The Army is using Lean Six Sigma (LSS) to achieve its goals. The set of management reforms is a descendant of the Lean manufacturing structure that Toyota popularized in the 1980s and the Six Sigma process-improvement methodology that Motorola made famous. The Army is using the George Group, led by consultant Michael George, to help implement LSS. That includes hiring expensive black belt LSS experts to train Army managers in the new system.

Harvey identified contract service employees as a prime target for hiring controls. The service will examine contracts when they are up for renewal and determine if it can reduce the total number of workers, he said. The Army will reduce its civilian workforce primarily through attrition, he added.

The Army is also using other strategies to keep employee figures in check. For example, three-star or higher generals control all civilian and contractor hiring for the first time, according to a new policy, Harvey said.

Additionally, the service is reducing administrative costs whenever possible. The Army Secretary’s administrative office has reduced its size by 10 percent, for instance. The service will also privatize installation management and utilities to save money, Harvey said.

Information technology has a role in achieving workforce reductions. “The first thing you do is re-engineer the processes to take the work out and then you apply” IT, Harvey said.

Ongoing military operations and tighter budgets spurred the changes. “We need to reduce the cost of running the Army,” Harvey said. The service faces huge costs related to modernizing and deploying its forces, necessitating reform in noncombat operations, he said.

As reported by Federal Computer Week, the Army took drastic steps to curb spending in June while waiting for the tardy passage of the emergency supplemental funding bill.

At the same time, the Army instituted new long-term policies for managing its civilian and contractor workforce. The number of civilian employees will be cut 5 percent from 2008 to 2013, and the number of contract service employees will be cut by 10 percent, according to recent directives.

By contrast, the operational side of the Army is set to increase the number of active forces from 315,000 to 355,000 by fiscal 2011.


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