Pentagon project seeks to streamline human-resource process

The new system centers around continuously improving employee contributions and minimizes administrative requirements.

Defense Department officials are testing a new project on hiring and managing employees to change the process-oriented structure of human resource management.

The demonstration project would build a framework with flexibilities to attract and hire the best employees in several areas, including engineering, science and the business side of DOD operations, according to a notice in the Aug. 24 Federal Register. The project “must have the flexibility needed to respond quickly to changes in mission, organizational constraints, workload and market conditions,” the notice states.

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"A traditional, process-oriented and reactive construct will serve neither the mission nor the management needs of the two organizations” involved in the demonstration, officials wrote in the notice.

The project is not departmentwide. It includes science and technology reinvention laboratory personnel at the Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Centers, one based in Charleston, S.C., and the other in San Diego, the notice reads.

Although many aspects of the project are experimental, officials expect the project to enable the Navy to attract highly qualified people, as well as make job offers without delay that include compensation packages that rival those in the private sector. They also want employees to be satisfied with their jobs, as they receive pay increases for exceptional work and opportunities to advance in their careers, the notice states.

In DOD's laboratories, there are 35,000 scientists and engineers. Of those employees, 27 percent have master’s degrees and 10 percent have doctorates. The systems centers have roughly 3,308 scientists and engineers. Of those, 29 percent have master’s degrees and 4 percent have doctorates. Officials expect the centers will hire 400 top scientists and engineers over the next five years just to keep pace with attrition. Other factors can also play into losing employees, which the centers would have to replace, the notice states.

Under the new project, the centers will develop streamlined career path pay bands to replace the Office of Personnel Management classification standards, the notice states.

The pay bands are wider and more distinct. The wider scope provides more flexibility in moving employees to other positions quickly within the pay band as mission needs dictate, according to the notice.

The new system also will have fewer classification grades of difficulty and responsibilities of work than the General Schedule (GS). With the new structure, the responsibilities reflected in each pay band typically will encompass the responsibilities of two or more GS grades, according to the notice.

“The philosophical base of this demonstration project is that employees are valued and trusted and are the organization’s most critical assets,” the notice states. Because of that, the project’s primary objectives are to develop employees to meet the changing organizational needs, improve contribution in current positions, and retain high performers, according to the notice.

“The system focuses on continuous contribution improvement and minimizes administrative requirements,” the notice says.


About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.


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