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This report presents an analysis of the pay competitiveness, and quality of employees recruited and retained, for civilian scientific and engineering positions in Department of Defense (DoD) laboratories. This study uses pay, promotion, performance, and demographic data drawn from personnel records on scientists and engineers (S/Es) employed in DoD labs from 1982 through 1996. This report examines whether returns to skills (increases in pay due to investments in worker skills, such as higher education or on-the-job training that increases productivity) rose in the DoD labs during 1982 through 1996 as they did in the private sector. The report also analyzes whether there were changes in the quality of S/E lab employees the DoD was able to attract and retain during that period. For DoD lab scientists and engineers, the report finds little evidence of changes in returns to skills or the quality of the workforce. Similarly, little evidence exists that the quality of S/Es hired or retained declined during the defense drawdown in the 1990s. The report also analyzes whether personnel outcomes differed among three pay systems: the General Schedule (GS), the Performance Management Recognition System (PMRS), and the experimental China Lake system. The study finds little evidence that the additional flexibility in personnel management provided by the PMRS or China Lake pay systems led to substantially different personnel outcomes for the S/E segment of the DoD labor force.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One


  • Chapter Two

    Literature Survey and Data

  • Chapter Three

    Returns to Education and Unobserved Skills

  • Chapter Four

    Recruitment of High-Quality Scientists and Engineers

  • Chapter Five

    Retention of High-Quality Scientists and Engineers

  • Chapter Six


The research described in this report was performed under the auspices of RAND's National Security Research Division.

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.

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