The U.S. defense acquisition workforce (DAW) experienced significant personnel reductions in the 1990s, leading to concerns regarding the size of and age distribution within the workforce in the early 2000s. Defense officials responded to these concerns, instituting a DAW "growth initiative." The growth initiative was successful in increasing the size of the DAW, but little is known about how the hiring surge changed who the DAW hired into its ranks, and how this might influence workforce outcomes, such as retention. This dissertation examines this issue by focusing on the civilian portion of the DAW (civilian DAW) and on entrants' prior work experience.
This dissertation utilizes DoD personnel data to (1) describe civilian DAW cohorts in terms of past work experience and illustrate how the hiring surge has changed cohort past-work-experience characteristics; (2) evaluate how prior work experience relates to retention in the civilian DAW; and (3) estimate how the growth initiative has influenced overall cohort-level retention rates.
The analyses reveal that the growth initiative was fueled mainly by outside hires with no prior DoD experience, and some evidence suggests that these DoD newcomers — in general — tend to have the highest retention in the civilian DAW. Additionally, the analyses reveal that internal hires are more attached to the DoD civilian workforce than are external hires. In line with these conclusions, the synthetic-cohort analysis finds that the hiring surge likely produced cohorts with greater civilian DAW retention.
Table of Contents
Background: The DAW and the Growth Initiative
Prior DAW-Related Studies
Prior Work Experience, Workforce Socialization, and Retention
Data and Definitions
Retention Analysis Part I: How DoD Experience Relates to Retention
Retention Analysis Part II: How the Growth Initiative Relates to Retention
Conclusions and Discussion
Dropping Observations Does Not Significantly Change Cohort Characteristics
The Cox Proportional Hazard Model and Methods for Controlling for Confounding Factors
Balance Results for DoD-Experienced Entrants vs. Non-DoD-Experienced Entrants
Balance Results for Internal Hires vs. External Hires
Balance Results for DoD-Experienced External Hires vs. Non-DoD-Experienced External Hires
Retention Analysis Part I: Additional Results
The Creation of the Synthetic Cohort Groups
Sensitivity Analysis: Lags Instances Not Included in Civilian DAW Cohorts
External Hires and Internal Hires
Career Level Definitions