DOD Civilian Personnel:

Improved Strategic Planning Needed to Help Ensure Viability of DOD's Civilian Industrial Workforce

GAO-03-472: Published: Apr 30, 2003. Publicly Released: Apr 30, 2003.

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Between 1987 and 2002, the Department of Defense (DOD) downsized the civilian workforce in 27 key industrial facilities by about 56 percent. Many of the remaining 72,000 workers are nearing retirement. In recent years GAO has identified shortcomings in DOD's strategic planning and was asked to determine (1) whether DOD has implemented our prior recommendation to develop and implement a depot maintenance strategic plan, (2) the extent to which the services have developed and implemented comprehensive strategic workforce plans, and (3) what challenges adversely affect DOD's workforce planning.

DOD has not implemented our October 2001 recommendation to develop and implement a DOD depot strategic plan that would delineate workloads to be accomplished in each of the services' depots. The DOD depot system has been a key part of the department's plan to support military systems in the past, but the increased use of the private sector to perform this work has decreased the role of these activities. While title 10 of the U.S. code requires DOD to retain core capability and also requires that at least 50 percent of depot maintenance funds be spent for public-sector performance, questions remain about the future role of DOD depots. Absent a DOD depot strategic plan, the services have in varying degrees, laid out a framework for strategic depot planning, but this planning is not comprehensive. Questions also remain about the future of arsenals and ammunition plants. GAO reviewed workforce planning efforts for 22 maintenance depots, 3 arsenals, and 2 ammunition plants, which employed about 72,000 civilian workers in fiscal year 2002. The services have not developed and implemented strategic workforce plans to position the civilian workforce in DOD industrial activities to meet future requirements. While workforce planning is done for each of the industrial activities, generally it is short-term rather than strategic. Further, workforce planning is lacking in other areas that the Office of Personnel Management guidance and high-performing organizations identify as key to successful workforce planning. Service workforce planning efforts (1) usually do not assess the competencies; (2) do not develop comprehensive retention plans; and (3) sometimes do not develop performance measures and evaluate workforce plans. Several challenges adversely affect DOD's workforce planning for the viability of its civilian depot workforce. First, given the aging depot workforce and the retirement eligibility of over 40 percent of the workforce over the next 5 to 7 years, the services may have difficulty maintaining the depots' viability. Second, the services are having difficulty implementing multiskilling--an industry and government best practice for improving the flexibility and productivity of the workforce--even though this technique could help depot planners do more with fewer employees. Finally, increased training funding and innovation in the training program will be essential for revitalizing the aging depot workforce.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: To improve the management and direction of DOD's strategic planning for maintenance depots, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Logistics and Materiel Readiness to complete the revisions to DOD's core policy and develop a schedule for the services to complete the computation of core requirements.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Department agreed with GAO's recommendation. In an update, as of October 7, 2004, the Department stated that it had revised its depot maintenance core guidance and required the services to develop core requirements and capabilities. After resolving computational problems, the services provideed the Department the results of their core analysis in support of the 2007 core computation by October 2007. DOD further revised its core guidance and in January 2007, issued DODI 4151.20, Depot Maintenance Core Capabilities Determination Process. We are reviewing the revissed regulation and the services' core computations as a part of our 2007 mandated review of the core process.

    Recommendation: To improve the management and direction of DOD's strategic planning for maintenance depots, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Logistics and Materiel Readiness to require the service secretaries and the Commandant of the Marine Corps to develop revised core capabilities to provide a baseline for defining workloads that should be performed in government facilities by government personnel.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Air Force

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Department noted that development of revised core capabilities would be accomplished as part of the computation of depot maintenance core capabilities requirements. Further, DOD issued DOD Directive 4151.20, Depot Maintenance Core Capabilities Determination Process, which provided the services improved guidance regarding the computation of core. While this guidance was not available to guide the services during the development of the 2007 core computation, the services did have a draft version. In our ongoing review of the DOD core process we are reviewing the requirements and capabilities identified as a part of the 2007 core determination process.

    Recommendation: To improve the management and direction of DOD's strategic planning for maintenance depots, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Logistics and Materiel Readiness to require the service secretaries and the Commandant of the Marine Corps to develop revised core capabilities to provide a baseline for defining workloads that should be performed in government facilities by government personnel.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Department noted that development of revised core capabilities would be accomplished as part of the computation of depot maintenance core capabilities requirements. Further, in January 2007, DOD issued DOD Directive 4151.20, Depot Maintenance Core Capabilities Determination Process, which provided the services improved guidance regarding the computation of core. While this guidance was not available to guide the services during the development of the 2007 core computation, the services did have a draft version. In our ongoing review of the DOD core process we are reviewing the requirements and capabilities identified as a part of the 2007 DOD core determination process.

    Recommendation: To improve the management and direction of DOD's strategic planning for maintenance depots, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Logistics and Materiel Readiness to require the service secretaries and the Commandant of the Marine Corps to develop revised core capabilities to provide a baseline for defining workloads that should be performed in government facilities by government personnel.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Department noted that development of revised core capabilities would be accomplished as part of the computation of depot maintenance core capabilities requirements. Further, in January 2007, DOD issued DOD Directive 4151.20, Depot Maintenance Core Capabilities Determination Process, which provided the services improved guidance regarding the computation of core. While this guidance was not available to guide the services during the development of the 2007 core computation, the services did have a draft version. In our ongoing review of the DOD core process we are reviewing the requirements and capabilities identified as a part of the 2007 core determination process.

    Recommendation: To improve the management and direction of DOD's strategic planning for maintenance depots, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Logistics and Materiel Readiness to require the service secretaries and the Commandant of the Marine Corps to develop revised core capabilities to provide a baseline for defining workloads that should be performed in government facilities by government personnel.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Department noted that development of revised core capabilities would be accomplished as part of the computation of depot maintenance core capabilities requirements. Further, in January 2007, DOD issued DOD Directive 4151.20, Depot Maintenance Core Capabilities Determination Process, which provided the services improved guidance regarding the computation of core. While this guidance was not available to guide the services during the development of the 2007 core computation, the services did have a draft version. In our ongoing review of the DOD core process we are reviewing the requirements and capabilities identified as a part of the 2007 core determination process.

    Recommendation: To improve the management and direction of DOD's strategic planning for maintenance depots, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Logistics and Materiel Readiness to require the service secretaries and the Commandant of the Marine Corps to develop, or complete the development of, and implement strategic plans that are linked to the services' mission and objectives and the Office of the Secretary of Defense's depot strategic plan when it is developed and that delineate industrial workloads to be accomplished in each service's depots, other service's depots, by contractors at their own sites and at government sites and using partnerships and identify the workforce requirements to support the performance of this work.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: United States Marine Corps

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In commenting orally to GAO's draft report, the Department concurred with this recommendation. In its update, dated October 7, 2004, the Department noted that it was developing a DOD Depot Maintenance Long-Term Strategy for a congressional reporting requirement due in November 1, 2004. This report included service specific plans. The department provided Congress the 2004 depot maintenance strategy and based on congressional direction, also provided a revised DOD strategic plan in April 2007, which will be followed up with service specific plans in September 2007. We are reviewing these plans as a part of our 2007 analysis of DOD depot strategic planning.

    Recommendation: To improve the management and direction of DOD's strategic planning for maintenance depots, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Logistics and Materiel Readiness to require the service secretaries and the Commandant of the Marine Corps to develop, or complete the development of, and implement strategic plans that are linked to the services' mission and objectives and the Office of the Secretary of Defense's depot strategic plan when it is developed and that delineate industrial workloads to be accomplished in each service's depots, other service's depots, by contractors at their own sites and at government sites and using partnerships and identify the workforce requirements to support the performance of this work.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Air Force

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In commenting orally to GAO's draft report, the Department concurred with this recommendation. In its update, dated October 7, 2004, the Department noted that it was developing a DOD Depot Maintenance Long-Term Strategy for a congressional reporting requirement due in November 1, 2004. This report included service specific plans. The department provided Congress the 2004 depot maintenance strategy and based on congressional direction, also provided a revised DOD strategic plan in April 2007, which will be followed up with service specific plans in September 2007. We are reviewing these plans as a part of our 2007 analysis of DOD depot strategic planning.

    Recommendation: To improve the management and direction of DOD's strategic planning for maintenance depots, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Logistics and Materiel Readiness to require the service secretaries and the Commandant of the Marine Corps to develop, or complete the development of, and implement strategic plans that are linked to the services' mission and objectives and the Office of the Secretary of Defense's depot strategic plan when it is developed and that delineate industrial workloads to be accomplished in each service's depots, other service's depots, by contractors at their own sites and at government sites and using partnerships and identify the workforce requirements to support the performance of this work.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In commenting orally to GAO's draft report, the Department concurred with this recommendation. In its update, dated October 7, 2004, the Department noted that it was developing a DOD Depot Maintenance Long-Term Strategy for a congressional reporting requirement due in November 1, 2004. This report included service specific plans. The department provided Congress the 2004 depot maintenance strategy and based on congressional direction, also provided a revised DOD strategic plan in April 2007, which will be followed up with service specific plans in September 2007. We are reviewing these plans as a part of our 2007 analysis of DOD depot strategic planning.

    Recommendation: To improve the management and direction of DOD's strategic planning for maintenance depots, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Logistics and Materiel Readiness to require the service secretaries and the Commandant of the Marine Corps to develop, or complete the development of, and implement strategic plans that are linked to the services' mission and objectives and the Office of the Secretary of Defense's depot strategic plan when it is developed and that delineate industrial workloads to be accomplished in each service's depots, other service's depots, by contractors at their own sites and at government sites and using partnerships and identify the workforce requirements to support the performance of this work.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In commenting orally to GAO's draft report, the Department concurred with this recommendation. In its update, dated October 7, 2004, the Department noted that it was developing a DOD Depot Maintenance Long-Term Strategy for a congressional reporting requirement due in November 1, 2004. This report included service specific plans. The department provided Congress the 2004 depot maintenance strategy and based on congressional direction, also provided a revised DOD strategic plan in April 2007, which will be followed up with service specific plans in September 2007. We are reviewing these plans as a part of our 2007 analysis of DOD depot strategic planning.

    Recommendation: To improve the management and strategic direction of DOD's strategic planning for arsenals and ammunition plants, the Secretary of Defense should require the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics to develop a strategic plan that provides guidance and a schedule for identifying long-term capabilities to be provided by the private sector, those to be provided in government-owned and -operated plants; and those to be provided in government-owned and contractor-operated plants.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In commenting orally to GAO's draft report, the Department concurred with this recommendation. In its October 7, 2004 update, the Department stated that it has an objective to develop a responsive, innovative, and efficient ammunition manufacturing base, capable of meeting national security requirements while preserving critical core competencies and relying to the maximum practical extent on competition and private ownership. In meeting this objective, the Department has developed a strategic plan that will improve the defense ammunition industrial base. However, the Department noted that specific plans and timeframes associated with this action could not be determined until after the results of BRAC 2005. By January 2007, the department had developed a draft strategic plan for the defense ammunition industrial base that will standup the Joint Munitions and Lethality Life Cycem Management Command. This Command is a combination of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Logistics, and Technology functions of the Program Executive Office Ammo and the Army Materiel Command functions of the Joint Munitions Command. As such, the plan is being expanded and revised to capture logistics, demilitarization, and other life cycle industrial base ammunition functions.

    Recommendation: To improve the quality and comprehensiveness of the services' workforce planning efforts, the Secretaries of the services and the Commandant of the Marine Corps should develop strategic workforce plans that include improvements in areas identified in this report as being deficient, such as assessing workforce competencies required for the current and future workforce; implementing action plans that include comprehensive retention plans; and establishing performance metrics to use in evaluating workforce planning efforts and a mechanism for performing assessments of prior workforce planning efforts. The strategic workforce plans should be linked to DOD's strategic plan for depot maintenance and the strategic plan for arsenals and ammunition plants when they are developed.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: To address the recommendation, DOD issued the DOD Civilian Human Capital Strategic Plan (CHCSP) that included metrics and measures. The plan was published in July 2006. The CHCSP is fully aligned with the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review, the DOD Human Capital Strategic Plan, and the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel & Readiness (OUSD(P&R)) Strategic Plan, and integrates the implementation of the National Security Personnel System to establish four Department-wide human capital goals and objectives. It was also developed with respect to the OPM Human Capital Assessment and Accountability Framework to better reflect the intent and focus of the President?s Management Agenda. To complement and measure effectiveness of the CHCSP, DOD has developed the DOD Civilian Human Capital Accountability System. The CHCSP provides the fundamental framework to evaluate the effectiveness of the CHCSP and will ensure that DOD effectively and efficiently accomplishes its human capital goals and objectives. DOD will use multiple methodologies in order to fully evaluate the Department?s human capital policies, programs, and operations. Methodologies will include on-site audits, program reviews, self-assessment surveys, and analysis of human capital metrics and data. On September 29 2006, the CHCAS was approved and certified by the DOD Chief Human Capital Officer, the USD(P&R), and OPM. The certification of the CHCAS allowed for immediate deployment and full operational status.

    Recommendation: To improve the quality and comprehensiveness of the services' workforce planning efforts, the Secretaries of the services and the Commandant of the Marine Corps should develop strategic workforce plans that include improvements in areas identified in this report as being deficient, such as assessing workforce competencies required for the current and future workforce; implementing action plans that include comprehensive retention plans; and establishing performance metrics to use in evaluating workforce planning efforts and a mechanism for performing assessments of prior workforce planning efforts. The strategic workforce plans should be linked to DOD's strategic plan for depot maintenance and the strategic plan for arsenals and ammunition plants when they are developed.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In commenting orally to GAO's draft report, the Department concurred with this recommendation. In its October 7, 2004 update, the Department stated that it now requires results-performance measures in the DOD Human Resources Strategic Plan and in all service components human resources strategic plans. During fiscal year 2003, the Department developed standard metrics, modeled on Fortune 500 company metrics, to evaluate the effectiveness of its human resources operations. As of September 2004, 16 measures had been implemented and the remaining are scheduled for implementation during fiscal year 2005. Also, the Department's semi-annual Workforce Restructuring Plan outlined service component restructuring goals and accomplishments. The results of their workforce restructuring plans for the first half of fiscal year 2004 were discussed with OPM during the first quarter of fiscal year 2004. Finally, each service component was taking action to address GAO's recommendation. 01/2007 To address the recommendation, DOD issued the DOD Civilian Human Capital Strategic Plan (CHCSP) that included metrics and measures. The plan was published in July 2006. The CHCSP is fully aligned with the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review, the DOD Human Capital Strategic Plan, and the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel & Readiness (OUSD(P&R)) Strategic Plan, and integrates the implementation of the National Security Personnel System to establish four Department-wide human capital goals and objectives. It was also developed with respect to the OPM Human Capital Assessment and Accountability Framework to better reflect the intent and focus of the President?s Management Agenda. To complement and measure effectiveness of the CHCSP, DOD has developed the DOD Civilian Human Capital Accountability System. The CHCSP provides the fundamental framework to evaluate the effectiveness of the CHCSP and will ensure that DOD effectively and efficiently accomplishes its human capital goals and objectives. DOD will use multiple methodologies in order to fully evaluate the Department?s human capital policies, programs, and operations. Methodologies will include on-site audits, program reviews, self-assessment surveys, and analysis of human capital metrics and data. On September 29 2006, the CHCAS was approved and certified by the DOD Chief Human Capital Officer, the USD(P&R), and OPM. The certification of the CHCAS allowed for immediate deployment and full operational status.

    Recommendation: To improve the quality and comprehensiveness of the services' workforce planning efforts, the Secretaries of the services and the Commandant of the Marine Corps should develop strategic workforce plans that include improvements in areas identified in this report as being deficient, such as assessing workforce competencies required for the current and future workforce; implementing action plans that include comprehensive retention plans; and establishing performance metrics to use in evaluating workforce planning efforts and a mechanism for performing assessments of prior workforce planning efforts. The strategic workforce plans should be linked to DOD's strategic plan for depot maintenance and the strategic plan for arsenals and ammunition plants when they are developed.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In commenting orally to GAO's draft report, the Department concurred with this recommendation. In its October 7, 2004 update, the Department stated that it now requires results-performance measures in the DOD Human Resources Strategic Plan and in all service components human resources strategic plans. During fiscal year 2003, the Department developed standard metrics, modeled on Fortune 500 company metrics, to evaluate the effectiveness of its human resources operations. As of September 2004, 16 measures had been implemented and the remaining are scheduled for implementation during fiscal year 2005. Also, the Department's semi-annual Workforce Restructuring Plan outlined service component restructuring goals and accomplishments. The results of their workforce restructuring plans for the first half of fiscal year 2004 were discussed with OPM during the first quarter of fiscal year 2004. The Army's Fiscal Year 2004-2011 Civilian HR Strategic Plan has a requirement to measure and evaluate its system processes in terms of efficiency and effectiveness in satisfying the needs identified by major commands' workforce hiring plans. Army depots have developed strategic workforce plans that incorporate assessment of competencies required for current and future workforce, retention strategies, and metrics. 01/07 -- To address the recommendation, DOD issued the DOD Civilian Human Capital Strategic Plan (CHCSP)that included metrics and measures. The plan was published in July 2006. The CHCSP is fully aligned with the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review, the DOD Human Capital Strategic Plan, and the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel & Readiness (OUSD(P&R)) Strategic Plan, and integrates the implementation of the National Security Personnel System to establish four Department-wide human capital goals and objectives. It was also developed with respect to the OPM Human Capital Assessment and Accountability Framework to better reflect the intent and focus of the President?s Management Agenda. To complement and measure effectiveness of the CHCSP, DOD has developed the DOD Civilian Human Capital Accountability System. The CHCSP provides the fundamental framework to evaluate the effectiveness of the CHCSP and will ensure that DOD effectively and efficiently accomplishes its human capital goals and objectives. DOD will use multiple methodologies in order to fully evaluate the Department?s human capital policies, programs, and operations. Methodologies will include on-site audits, program reviews, self-assessment surveys, and analysis of human capital metrics and data. On September 29 2006, the CHCAS was approved and certified by the DOD Chief Human Capital Officer, the USD(P&R), and OPM. The certification of the CHCAS allowed for immediate deployment and full operational status.

    Recommendation: To improve the quality and comprehensiveness of the services' workforce planning efforts, the Secretaries of the services and the Commandant of the Marine Corps should develop strategic workforce plans that include improvements in areas identified in this report as being deficient, such as assessing workforce competencies required for the current and future workforce; implementing action plans that include comprehensive retention plans; and establishing performance metrics to use in evaluating workforce planning efforts and a mechanism for performing assessments of prior workforce planning efforts. The strategic workforce plans should be linked to DOD's strategic plan for depot maintenance and the strategic plan for arsenals and ammunition plants when they are developed.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Air Force

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In commenting orally to GAO's draft report, the Department concurred with this recommendation. In its October 7, 2004 update, the Department stated that it now requires results-performance measures in the DOD Human Resources Strategic Plan and in all service components human resources strategic plans. During fiscal year 2003, the Department developed standard metrics, modeled on Fortune 500 company metrics, to evaluate the effectiveness of its human resources operations. As of September 2004, 16 measures had been implemented and the remaining are scheduled for implementation during fiscal year 2005. Also, the Department's semi-annual Workforce Restructuring Plan outlined service component restructuring goals and accomplishments. The results of their workforce restructuring plans for the first half of fiscal year 2004 were discussed with OPM during the first quarter of fiscal year 2004. The Air Force Total Force Personnel Strategic Plan, May 2004, links the Air Force's personnel strategies to broader institutional guidance and Air Force mission, vision, core values and competencies, and capabilities. To strengthen depot workforce planning strategies, the Air Force has updated its Depot Maintenance Master Plan to include strategies for its maintenance centers. All these plans will guide the Air Force's efforts to define, renew, develop, and sustain its current and future workforce. 01/07 - To address the recommendation, DOD developed the DOD Civilian Human Capital Strategic Plan (CHCSP)to include metrics and measures was published in July 2006. The CHCSP is fully aligned with the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review, the DOD Human Capital Strategic Plan, and the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel & Readiness (OUSD(P&R)) Strategic Plan, and integrates the implementation of the National Security Personnel System to establish four Department-wide human capital goals and objectives. It was also developed with respect to the OPM Human Capital Assessment and Accountability Framework to better reflect the intent and focus of the President?s Management Agenda. To complement and measure effectiveness of the CHCSP, DOD has developed the DOD Civilian Human Capital Accountability System. The CHCSP provides the fundamental framework to evaluate the effectiveness of the CHCSP and will ensure that DOD effectively and efficiently accomplishes its human capital goals and objectives. DOD will use multiple methodologies in order to fully evaluate the Department?s human capital policies, programs, and operations. Methodologies will include on-site audits, program reviews, self-assessment surveys, and analysis of human capital metrics and data. On September 29 2006, the CHCAS was approved and certified by the DOD Chief Human Capital Officer, the USD(P&R), and OPM. The certification of the CHCAS allowed for immediate deployment and full operational status.

    Recommendation: To improve DOD's strategic workforce planning to ensure the viability of its depot maintenance workforce, the Secretary of Defense should require the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, in coordination with the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Logistics and Materiel Readiness, to coordinate the implementation of an initiative to provide guidance for developing workforce revitalization strategies and strategic plans to address expected depot attrition over the next 5 to 7 years.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: United States Marine Corps

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Department commented orally to GAO's draft report, partially concurring with this recommendation. In its October 7, 2004 update, the Department noted that the Fiscal Year 2004 National Defense Authorization Act gave the Department the authority to establish a more flexible civilian personnel management system. The Department's National Security Personnel System (NSPS) allows the Department to be a more competitive and progressive employer and will establish new rules for hiring, assigning, compensating, promoting, and disciplining civilian employees. The Department plans to publish a set of proposed regulations in the "Federal Register" for comment by the end of calendar year 2004, and have final regulations in the spring of 2005. The first phase of NSPS implementation will begin in July 2005. In 2003, PL 108-136 Sec. 338 required the Department of the Navy to carry out a demonstration project during fiscal years 2004 through 2006 under which three naval aviation depots would be given the flexibility to promote by one grade level workers who were certified at the journey level as able to perform multiple trades. In 2007, the Navy provided a status report to Congress on the multi-trade project. The Navy reported that the flexibilities under the National Security Personnel System (NSPS) would achieve the same outcome as the proposed multi-trade demonstration project. However, depot maintenance workers were not included in the initial phase of NSPS implementation. The federal courts delayed the implementation of NSPS. Therefore, the Navy said it used a modified approach for multi-skilling. GAO evaluated the Navy's report and informed HASC congressional staff that the Navy had not implemented a depot maintenance multi-trade pilot program that met the statutory requirements. In the FY 08 HASC Report on the FY 08 Defense Authorization Act, the committee reauthorized and expanded section 338 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004 to allow the Air Force Logistics Centers and the Navy Fleet Readiness Centers to conduct demonstration projects during fiscal years 2008 to 2013 to evaluate the benefits of promoting workers who perform multiple trades. The multi-trade demonstration project is to be separate from the NSPS.

    Recommendation: To improve DOD's strategic workforce planning to ensure the viability of its depot maintenance workforce, the Secretary of Defense should require the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, in coordination with the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Logistics and Materiel Readiness, to coordinate the implementation of an initiative to provide options for incorporating multiskilling into depot workforce planning initiatives.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In its oral comments to GAO's draft report, the Department concurred with this recommendation. The Department stated that its proposed National Security Personnel System (NSPS) would provide personnel flexibilities designed to address multiskilling requirements. In its October 7, 2004 update, the Department noted that the Fiscal Year 2004 National Defense Authorization Act gave the Department the authority to establish a more flexible civilian personnel management system. The Department's NSPS allows the Department to be a more competitive and progressive employer and will establish new rules for hiring, assigning, compensating, promoting, and disciplining civilian employees. The Department plans to publish a set of proposed regulations in the "Federal Register" for comment by the end of calendar year 2004, and have final regulations in the spring of 2005. The first phase of NSPS implementation will begin in July 2005. Reported in 5/07 - In 2003, PL 108-136 Sec. 338 required the Department of the Navy to carry out a demonstration project during fiscal years 2004 through 2006 under which three naval aviation depots would be given the flexibility to promote by one grade level workers who were certified at the journey level as able to perform multiple trades. In 2007, the Navy provided a status report to Congress on the multi-trade project. The Navy reported that the flexibilities under the National Security Personnel System (NSPS) would achieve the same outcome as the proposed multi-trade demonstration project. However, depot maintenance workers were not included in the initial phased of NSPS. The federal courts delayed the implementation of NSPS. Therefore, the Navy said it used a modified approach for multi-skilling. GAO evaluated the Navy's report and informed HASC congressional staff that the Navy had not implemented a depot maintenance multi-trade pilot program that met the statutory requirements. Also, GAO observed that one approach to move the project forward outside the NSPS system would be to implement a pilot program with a narrower focus to include the Fleet Readiness Center East (formerly Cherry Point Naval Aviation Depot). In the FY 08 HASC FY 08 Defense Authorization Bill and Report, the committee reauthorized and expanded section 338 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004 to allow the Air Force Logistics Centers and the Navy Fleet Readiness Centers to conduct demonstration projects during fiscal years 2008 to 2014 to evaluate the benefits of promoting workers who perform multiple trades. The multi-trade demonstration project is to be separate from the NSPS.

    Recommendation: To improve DOD's strategic workforce planning to ensure the viability of its depot maintenance workforce, the Secretary of Defense should require the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, in coordination with the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Logistics and Materiel Readiness, to coordinate the implementation of an initiative to implement a working group to explore options for innovative and cost-effective training and to explore appropriate funding alternatives, to include centralized funding, to revitalize the depot workforce.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Air Force

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Even though DOD nonconcurred that a working group was necessary to explore options that already were offered by new authorities and flexibilities in the National Security Personnel System (NSPS), DOD did implement a demonstration project for the multi-skill trades.DOD noted that its demonstration projects paved the way for a broader approach than specialized training for the depot workforce, including streamlined recruitment and candidate ranking, universal pay banding for five career groups, compensation linked to quality performance, supervisory pay, and simplified appointments and assignments. DOD also noted that NSPS incorporates the results from a review of best practices from inside and outside DOD, and provides greater flexibility to recruit, develop, assess, compensate, assign, and retain employees with critical skills.

    Recommendation: Given the difficulties the Department of Defense is having implementing multiskilling and its potential for improving the flexibility and productivity of the department's maintenance workforce, the Secretary of Defense should require the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to implement a demonstration project that would give the military depots the flexibility to provide additional compensation for multiskilled depot workers when the services have demonstrated by a cost-benefit analysis the benefits of such a program.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Even though DOD nonconcurred because it is seeking authority through the National Security Personnel System (NSPS) to implement human resources management flexibility across the Department that would support multi-skillling, the Navy did implement a mmodified multi-trade project that involved the awarding of bonuses rather than a higher grade. We looked at the results of that modified approach and believe that this provided additional evidence that the depots need the flexibility to be able to offer an additional grade to workers--whether through the implementation of NSPS or through modifications to the current system.

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