The Future of the Army’s Civilian Workforce

Comparing Projected Inventory with Anticipated Requirements and Estimating Cost Under Different Personnel Policies

by Shanthi Nataraj, Lawrence M. Hanser, Frank Camm, Jessica Yeats


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Research Questions

  1. How is the supply of Army civilian employees projected to change over the next few years under various hiring conditions?
  2. How can hiring or force reductions be used to bring projected supply of Army civilians into balance with projected requirements?
  3. What is the projected cost of the Army civilian workforce, given various hiring conditions or force reductions?

In keeping with the coming drawdown in military end strength, the Department of Defense is planning to scale back its civilian workforce over the next several years. After reaching nearly 295,000 full-time employees in fiscal year (FY) 2010, the size of Army's civilian workforce has started to fall. It is necessary to manage this drawdown so that sufficient people remain available in key positions. The authors projected the future supply of Army civilians under various scenarios and examined how the Army might manage supply to meet projected demand, by bringing together workforce supply and demand models. The RAND Inventory Model was used to project the supply of Army civilians, by command and occupation, based on historical patterns of internal transfers and separations, and various scenarios for future hiring. The supply projections were matched with demand projections from RAND's Generating-Force-to-Operator model, which translates budgets for the Army's operating force into projected changes in the institutional Army, to estimate the numbers of new hires or force reductions needed to meet the demand for civilians. The findings suggest that meeting future targets will require reducing hiring rates below historical levels but that substantial hiring will still be needed in most commands. If demand drops considerably below current projections, larger cuts would likely be required. Workforce cost is projected to change largely in line with the number of personnel. If requirements based on the FY 2014 President's Budget are met by FY 2017, nominal costs are projected to remain approximately constant, with expected civilian pay raises offsetting workforce reductions.

Key Findings

Meeting Projected Future Targets Will Require Substantial Hiring, Although at Reduced Levels

  • Requirements for Army civilian employees, based on the FY 2014 President's Budget, are projected to fall by approximately 4 percent between FY 2013 and FY 2017.
  • Meeting requirements for Army civilian employees based on the FY 2014 President's Budget will require reducing hiring rates below historical levels. However, most commands will still require substantial hiring.
  • Many large commands will likely require reductions in force if considerable additional cuts in personnel are sought beyond those indicated by the FY 2014 President's Budget.

Workforce Cost Will Change Largely in Line with Personnel Numbers

  • If requirements projected based on the FY 2014 President's Budget are met, nominal costs are projected to remain approximately constant, with expected civilian pay raises offsetting workforce reductions.
  • Some cost savings could be achieved by continued pay freezes or by limiting promotions, but such savings should be weighed against potentially negative impacts on the workforce.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One


  • Chapter Two


  • Chapter Three

    Descriptive Analyses

  • Chapter Four

    Personnel Projections

  • Chapter Five

    Potential Implications for Civilian Policies

  • Appendix A

    RAND Inventory Model Details

  • Appendix B

    Cost Projection Details

  • Appendix C

    Mission-Critical Occupations

  • Appendix D

    Alternative Target Scenarios

  • Appendix E

    Historical Data for Network Enterprise Technology Command

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was sponsored by the United States Army and conducted by the RAND Arroyo Center.

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