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Research Questions

  1. Do all members of the reserve components have access to some type of employment assistance? Are some receiving more assistance than others? Are there gaps or areas of duplication?
  2. Are there perceptions among key stakeholders about other ways that employment programs can be streamlined or expanded to better serve the needs of reserve component members?

As required by the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act, this report examines the efforts of the Department of Defense (DoD) to directly provide job placement assistance and related employment services to members of the reserve components.

The authors of Review of the Provision of Job Placement Assistance and Related Employment Services to Members of the Reserve Components accounted for the key characteristics of the federal programs, resources, and offices that provide job placement assistance and related employment services to reserve component members. For each program, resource, and office, the authors identified the types of services provided, the intensity of those services, and the populations that are served. The authors then assessed this summary information to determine where gaps and overlaps might exist. The authors also conducted informational discussions with key stakeholders from each of the major agencies that provide job assistance to reserve component members.

The authors found 40 federal programs, resources, and offices that provide job placement assistance that can be accessed by reserve component members. The bulk of the job placement assistance and related employment services available to reserve component members are provided by agencies in DoD, the Department of Labor, and the Department of Veterans Affairs. A broad set of services is covered by existing programs, and the stakeholders did not perceive any significant gaps among the many federal programs and resources that are available, but the authors did find some potential areas of overlap. There are many programs providing basic employment services, and while several of these programs target different populations and offer unique approaches to service provision, these programs could potentially represent overlap. In addition, there are a number of programs that offer slight variations on very similar tools and resources, and these resources could potentially be streamlined to cut costs and ensure consistency in information.

Key Findings

There Are 40 Federal Programs, Resources, and Offices Providing Job Placement Assistance That Can Be Accessed by Reserve Component Members

  • The bulk of the assistance and services available to reserve component members are provided by agencies in DoD, the Department of Labor, and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
  • Many of the programs are targeted to a limited population.
  • Half of these programs provide one-on-one services that are typically personalized to meet individual needs.

There Are No Gaps in Services in the Current Portfolio of Federal Job Placement Assistance and Employment Services

  • The most commonly offered services include access to information and tools, assistance with job search and placement, assistance with job and career planning, and assistance with résumé and interview preparation.

There Is Potential Overlap Among the Existing Programs

  • There were a large number of high-touch programs providing basic employment services, and while many of these programs target different populations and offer unique approaches to service provision, these programs could represent overlap.
  • There are a number of programs that offer slight variations on very similar tools and resources, and these resources could potentially be streamlined to cut costs and ensure consistency in information.

It Is Difficult to Navigate the Large Number of Programs and Resources

  • There is a lack of clear guidance on how to navigate this complex web of programs.
  • Universal access to complete and updated information on federal programs and guidance for unique individual needs could be of great assistance to reserve component members.

Recommendations

  • The federal government should conduct a comprehensive assessment of the current employment needs of reserve component members.
  • The federal government should conduct in-depth program evaluations of the effectiveness of major programs across federal agencies in meeting the employment needs of reserve component members.
  • DoD and the rest of the federal government should assess the costs and benefits of streamlining existing federal programs and resources. However, it is critical to first identify whether those overlaps exist for a reason. It is also important to recognize that while streamlining programs and resources could reduce salary costs, it could also limit service delivery to some populations.
  • The federal government should consider the pros and cons of moving primary responsibility for reserve component employment assistance from DoD to other federal departments. Simply adding reserve component employment needs to programs that already serve broader populations might save costs, streamline services, and make it easier for service members to navigate employment resources. However, these benefits should be weighed against the downsides. If the primary responsibility for the administration of reserve component employment assistance is moved, a DoD position should be established to monitor employment services for reserve component members.
  • The federal government should make the most of programs that already exist and increase awareness of those programs among reserve component members.
  • The federal government should improve coordination and information-sharing across employment programs.

Related Products

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Overview of Federal Employment Programs for Reserve Component Members

  • Chapter Three

    Gaps and Overlaps in Federal Job Placement Assistance for Reserve Component Members

  • Chapter Four

    Recommendations for Improving Federal Job Placement Assistance for Reserve Component Members

  • Appendix A

    Summary Table of Federal Job Assistance Programs, Resources, and Offices

  • Appendix B

    Literature Review Data-Abstraction Form

  • Appendix C

    Informational Discussion Protocol

  • Appendix D

    Program Data Sources

This research was sponsored by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs and conducted within the Forces and Resources Policy Center of RAND's National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, 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 Corporation research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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