Options for Department of Defense Total Workforce Supply and Demand Analysis

Potential Approaches and Available Data Sources

by Shanthi Nataraj, Christopher Guo, Philip Hall-Partyka, Susan M. Gates, Douglas Yeung

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Research Questions

  1. What workforce analysis approaches and data sources are available to the U.S. Department of Defense to support its strategic workforce plan?
  2. What are limitations of existing analysis approaches and data sources?
  3. How could data sources be improved in order to support more effective workforce analysis?

This report provides a review of approaches used in the private sector and in government organizations for determining workforce supply and demand and describes the data sources available to U.S. Department of Defense managers to support workforce analysis from a total force perspective. Each of the approaches discussed in this document has strengths and weaknesses. The best approach will depend on the question that needs to be addressed and the resources (data and expertise) available. The report highlights critical workforce analysis choices facing managers regarding the scope of analysis, the level of aggregation, the type of projection techniques that will be used, the time period over which historical analysis of projections will be conducted, and the data sources to be used. The authors describe existing data sources and discuss their strengths and weaknesses as an input into the workforce supply and demand analysis approaches described in this report. They also evaluate existing data sources in light of their ability to support workforce gap analyses at the organizational and occupational levels, as well as by competency.

Key Findings

Tools for Workforce Supply and Demand Analysis

  • A number of analytical tools exist to support workforce supply and demand analysis.
  • When applying these tools, managers are faced with critical choices about the scope of analysis, the level of aggregation, the type of projection techniques that will be used, the time period over which historical analysis of projections will be conducted, and the data sources to be used.

Data for Workforce Supply and Demand Analysis in the Department of Defense (DoD)

  • DoD personnel systems have rich data on the workforce.
  • DoD manpower databases also have detailed data on workforce authorizations and requirements, which are contained in manpower databases.

Data Challenges for DoD Workforce Analysis

  • Personnel and manpower (authorizations) data are difficult to link, impeding workforce gap analysis.
  • Data on civilian and contractor authorizations are often incomplete and out of date.
  • Data on contractor personnel and on workforce competencies are extremely limited.

Recommendations

  • The best tool or approach will depend on the question that needs to be addressed and the resources (data and expertise) available.
  • In the short term, workforce analysts can conduct occupation-level analyses based on existing data systems and tools through more effective use of requirements and authorizations data.
  • Strategies to address data limitations include targeted or nonsystematic exit surveys, bottom-up analyses focused on high-priority functional areas, and, over the long term, collection and alignment of data to enable top-down analysis of manpower gaps.
  • Capacity for workforce analysis could also be enhanced at the local level.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Overview of Supply and Demand Modeling Approaches

  • Chapter Three

    Supply Models: Issues and Options

  • Chapter Four

    Demand Models: Issues and Options

  • Chapter Five

    Availability of Data for Workforce Analysis in DoD

  • Chapter Six

    Key DoD Data Challenges and Opportunities

  • Chapter Seven

    Conclusions and Recommendations

This research was sponsored by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Civilian Personnel Policy (DASD [CPP]) and conducted within the Forces and Resources Policy Center of the RAND 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 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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