Cover: The Defense Acquisition Workforce Growth Initiative

The Defense Acquisition Workforce Growth Initiative

Changing Workforce Characteristics and the Implications for Workforce Retention

Published Mar 23, 2017

by Michael H. Powell

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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.

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This document was submitted as a dissertation in September 2016 in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the doctoral degree in public policy analysis at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. The faculty committee that supervised and approved the dissertation consisted of Susan Gates (Chair), Ed Keating, and William Shelton.

This publication is part of the RAND dissertation series. Pardee RAND dissertations are produced by graduate fellows of the Pardee RAND Graduate School, the world's leading producer of Ph.D.'s in policy analysis. The dissertations are supervised, reviewed, and approved by a Pardee RAND faculty committee overseeing each dissertation.

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