Personnel issues top concern for DOD financial execs

Workload pressures, aging workforce pose major challenges

Personnel issues represent the dominant concern among Defense Department financial executives, a new study found.

DOD financial executives listed workload pressures from the global war on terror and an aging workforce as overarching challenges, according to a survey released June 1 by the American Society of Military Comptrollers and Grant Thornton LLP.

Specifically, executives identified a wide range of human-capital problems at three staffing levels:

  • Entry-level staffers (GS 5 to GS 7) suffer from low salaries, limited advancement potential and hiring delays at agencies that don’t have direct-hire authority, all of which make government jobs less attractive. In addition, qualifications for entry-level staff don’t always align with future, higher-level positions. On the plus side, internship programs have demonstrated substantial results in recruiting qualified entry-level personnel.
  • Middle managers (GS 9 to GS 13) often lack the management and leadership skills crucial to their positions. Job rotation and mobility would help prepare middle managers for higher positions, executives said.
  • Senior managers (GS 14 and GS 15) and Senior Executive Service members need better succession planning. Moreover, some executives in this category lack leadership skills and broad experience in the defense sphere when they arrive on the job.

Executives also said that the Defense financial community lacks clear road maps to guide professional development — despite an abundance of training programs.

“The milestones on the road map — education, certifications, different assignments — would give executives more confidence and assurance that people have the right knowledge for their jobs,” researchers said.

Of far less concern for executives in the study were adjusting to new financial information systems and audits. On the whole, executives reported success in implementing new systems.

The survey results are based on in-person interviews with 41 executives and online interviews with 606 ASMC members. Fifty-seven percent represented the four uniformed services, 24 percent worked for the Defense Finance and Accounting Service and 19 percent were from other DOD organizations.

The report will be available June 4 at www.grantthornton.com.

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