The Pay, Promotion, and Retention of High-Quality Civil Service Workers in the Department of Defense

by Beth J. Asch


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This report uses data on the promotion, pay, and retention profiles of groups of General Schedule civil service workers in the Department of Defense (DoD) to evaluate whether high-quality workers are promoted faster, are paid more, and stay longer in civil service than other workers. It also provides some evidence on whether these profiles and results have changed in recent years since the drawdown in the DoD changed the nature of civilian careers in the organization. The evaluation uses three measures of personnel quality: supervisor ratings, level of education on entering the DoD, and promotion speed. The analytical results indicate that higher-quality personnel are generally paid more and are promoted faster than lower-quality personnel, regardless of which measure of quality is used. However, the effectiveness of these factors in inducing longer retention is not clear. Results vary depending on the quality measure used, the cohort examined, and a number of other variables. Retention patterns also vary significantly by occupational area and education. Areas for future research are suggested, including the effects of the retirement system on retention, the definition and refinement of measures of personnel quality, the role of bonuses, and whether the career outcomes examined in this study are sufficient to attract and retain a workforce that meets current and future personnel requirements.

Table of Contents

  • Preface

  • Figures

  • Tables

  • Summary

  • Acknowledgements


  • Chapter One


  • Chapter Two

    Analytical Framework

  • Chapter Three

    Empirical Methods and Data

  • Chapter Four

    Career Outcomes by Occupational Area

  • Chapter Five

    Pay, Promotion, and Retention of Higher-Quality Personnel

  • Chapter Six

    Conclusions and Directions for Future Research

  • Appendix

    Occupations Included in the Analysis

  • References

This research was conducted within RAND's National Defense Research Institute.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Monograph report series. The monograph/report was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1993 to 2003. RAND monograph/reports presented major research findings that addressed the challenges facing the public and private sectors. They included executive summaries, technical documentation, and synthesis pieces.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.