Cover: Civilian Workforce Planning in the Department of Defense

Civilian Workforce Planning in the Department of Defense

Different Levels, Different Roles

Published May 1, 2006

by Susan M. Gates, Christine Eibner, Edward G. Keating


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The Department of Defense (DoD), along with other federal agencies, is striving to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of its civilian workforce and to address impending personnel challenges, such as a significant increase in retirement rates. The Department is evaluating the extent to which a data-driven and Department-wide approach to civilian workforce planning, drawing on lessons learned from workforce planning, can facilitate achievement of these goals.

The DoD asked the RAND Corporation to explore how workforce planning and requirements determination are accomplished at specific installations, to identify potential roles for the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) in the planning process, and to identify potential data sources for Department-wide workforce planning.

This monograph presents the results of our effort. The research was based on a review of the literature on workforce planning and requirements determination, an analysis of existing data sources, and interviews with individuals involved in workforce-planning activities at the service, agency, and local levels. Workforce planning typically involves four basic steps: forecasting workforce demand, characterizing the projected workforce supply, conducting a gap analysis by comparing supply and demand, and, finally, identifying strategies to address those gaps. Our research shows that while Defense Civilian Personnel Data System (DCPDS) data provide rich information for characterizing workforce supply both DoD-wide and at various organizational levels, no DoD-wide sources of data are available for forecasting workforce demand. Demand analysis involves two important types of data: projections of customer demand and data that allow that demand to be translated into workforce requirements. The most significant barrier to demand analyses for the civilian workforce appears to be a lack of customer-demand projections. Recognizing that additional data collection is costly, the monograph recommends that DoD carefully consider the specific occupations and/or geographic regions that might benefit from a Department-wide (rather than a local) workforce-planning perspective, and focus additional data-gathering and coordination efforts in these areas.

This monograph will be of interest to officials responsible for DoD civilian workforce planning, as well as to those responsible for workforce requirements in other government agencies.

The research described in this report was prepared for the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD). The research was conducted in the RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the OSD, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Department of the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense Intelligence Community.

This report is part of the RAND monograph series. RAND monographs present major research findings that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND monographs undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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