oversight

Human Capital: Complete Information and More Analyses Needed to Enhance DOD's Civilian Senior Leader Strategic Workforce Plan

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 2012-09-19.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

United States Government Accountability Office
Washington, DC 20548



  September 19, 2012


  Congressional Committees


  Subject: Human Capital: Complete Information and More Analyses Needed to Enhance DOD’s
  Civilian Senior Leader Strategic Workforce Plan

  The ability of the Department of Defense (DOD) to achieve its mission and carry out its
  responsibilities depends in large part on whether it can sustain a civilian senior leader workforce
  that possesses necessary skills and competencies. Managing civilian senior leaders effectively is
  imperative, especially in light of DOD’s plans to reduce at least 150 civilian senior leader positions,
  the department’s current cap on civilian personnel numbers, and the existing pay freeze. 1 Further,
  as DOD faces fiscal constraints, implements its efficiency initiatives, and prepares for an
  anticipated drawdown in Afghanistan, the department is faced with the complex task of re-shaping
  its workforce to meet future needs. This includes assessing the requirements for approximately
  2,900 civilian senior leaders who help manage DOD’s overall civilian workforce of more than
  780,000 personnel. In managing these senior leaders, the department must ensure that they are
  sufficient in number and properly prepared to achieve DOD’s mission. One particular challenge,
  noted in DOD’s 2010-2018 strategic workforce plan, is that more than 60 percent of DOD’s civilian
  senior leader workforce will be eligible to retire by 2015. 2

  Accordingly, section 115b Title 10 of the United States Code, enacted in October 2009, requires
  DOD to submit to congressional defense committees, on a recurring basis, 3 a strategic workforce
  plan to shape and improve its civilian senior leader workforces. While this law does not specify a
  date for DOD to submit the plan, it does stipulate several requirements for the plan. These include
  an assessment of
      • the critical skills and competencies 4 of the existing workforce of the department and
          projected trends in that workforce based on expected losses due to retirement and other
          attrition, and

  1
    DOD froze the number of full time equivalent civilian employees for fiscal years 2011 and 2012 at fiscal year 2010
  budgeted levels, subject to certain exceptions. Additionally, in December 2010 Congress enacted legislation to prohibit
  statutory pay adjustments for most federal civilian employees that would otherwise take effect in calendar years 2011
  and 2012.
  2
    Department of Defense, Strategic Workforce Plan 2010-2018 (Mar. 27, 2012). In its 2009 strategic workforce plan, DOD
  reported that over 80 percent of its civilian senior leaders would be eligible to retire by 2018.
  3
    Previously, section 115b required DOD to report annually. In December of 2011, section 115b was amended to require
  this report on a biennial basis rather than an annual basis, among other changes. See National Defense Authorization
  Act for Fiscal Year 2012, Pub. L. No. 112-81, § 935 (2011).

  4
   While Title 10 does not define competencies in this context, DOD Instruction 1430.16, Growing Civilian Senior Leaders
  (Nov. 19, 2009), states that a competency is an observable, measurable pattern of knowledge, skills, abilities, behaviors,
  and other characteristics that an individual needs to perform work roles or occupational functions successfully.


                                                                                           GAO-12-990R Human Capital
       •gaps in the existing or projected workforce of the department that should be addressed to
        ensure that the department has continued access to the critical skills and competencies it
        needs.
DOD’s mandate previously required that the department’s assessments cover a 7-year period
following the year in which the plan is submitted to Congress. 5 Therefore, DOD’s latest civilian
senior leader workforce plan covered the period 2010-2018.

Following the enactment of this legislation, the Secretary of Defense, in August 2010, announced
an efficiency initiative to eliminate unnecessary overhead costs by, among other things, reviewing
DOD’s entire senior leader workforce and reducing the total number of civilian senior leader
positions by at least 150. 6 The Secretary’s guidance called for these reductions to take place in
fiscal years 2011 and 2012. After the Secretary’s announcement, DOD’s Office of the Under
Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness created the Civilian Senior Executive Study
Group, and directed the group to conduct a DOD-wide survey of the number, placement, skills, and
competencies of civilian senior leader positions and to provide recommendations for restructuring
civilian senior leader positions to best align with missions and responsibilities. The Office of the
Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness also directed the group to consider how
to inform follow-on efforts to further analyze civilian senior leader appointment, management, and
renewal policies. The Civilian Senior Executive Study Group, which consisted of Senior Executive
Service and General Schedule-15 representatives from the Office of the Secretary of Defense,
each of the military departments, the Joint Staff, and the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense
for Intelligence, issued its final report to the Secretary on November 23, 2010. 7 The Secretary of
Defense announced his decisions based on recommendations developed as part of the efficiency
initiative, including recommendations made in this report on March 14, 2011. 8

Subsequently, on March 27, 2012, DOD issued its 2010-2018 Strategic Workforce Plan, and GAO,
as mandated by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010, 9 is required to report
on that plan within 180 days of its submission to Congress. 10 For this report on DOD’s 2010-2018
plan we (1) reviewed DOD’s approach for determining its civilian senior leader projections to meet
future requirements and (2) evaluated the extent to which DOD’s assessment of the critical skills,
competencies, and gaps in the existing and future civilian senior leader workforces identified areas
that will require increased focus to help the department meet its vital missions.


5
  Section 935 of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 amended this requirement to a 5-year
period, which corresponds to the current Future-Years Defense Program. Prior to 2009, section 1122 of the National
Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2006, Pub. L. No. 109-163 (2006), which contained the original legislative
requirement for DOD to develop a strategic workforce plan, required DOD’s assessments to cover a 10-year period.
6
    DOD Memorandum, Department of Defense Efficiency Initiatives (Aug. 16, 2010).
7
    DOD, CSE Study Group Findings and Recommendations (Nov. 23, 2010).
8
    DOD, Track Four Efficiency Initiatives Decisions (Mar. 14, 2011).
9
  The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010, Pub. L. No. 111-84, § 1108 (2009) also requires GAO to
report on DOD’s overall civilian strategic workforce plan. This GAO report is scheduled to be issued in late September,
2012. DOD’s 2010-2018 strategic workforce plan for its civilian senior leaders is actually an appendix to DOD’s overall
Strategic Workforce Plan for Fiscal Years 2010-2018. As such, its late submission was due to the late submission of
DOD’s entire Strategic Workforce Plan for Fiscal Years 2010-2018.
10
   For GAO’s prior work on DOD’s strategic human capital planning efforts see Human Capital: Further Actions Needed
to Enhance DOD’s Civilian Strategic Workforce Plan, GAO-10-814R (Washington, D.C.: Sept. 27, 2010); Human Capital:
Opportunities Exist to Build on Recent Progress to Strengthen DOD’s Civilian Human Capital Strategic Plan, GAO-09-
235 (Washington, D.C.: Feb. 10, 2009); and Human Capital: The Department of Defense’s Civilian Human Capital
Strategic Plan Does Not Meet Most Statutory Requirements, GAO-08-439R (Washington, D.C.: Feb. 6, 2008).

Page 2                                                                              GAO-12-990R Human Capital
For both objectives, we reviewed and analyzed documents related to DOD’s efforts to assess
civilian senior leader workforce requirements, including the 2010-2018 strategic workforce plan,
and our previous work on DOD’s workforce planning. For our first objective, to review DOD’s
approach for determining its civilian senior leader projections to meet future requirements, we
analyzed DOD’s report on its civilian senior leader efficiency initiative and internal briefings on the
methodology, findings, and recommendations resulting from this initiative. We also reviewed the
response from the Secretary of Defense. In addition, we interviewed DOD officials responsible for
developing the civilian senior leader plan and the report on the efficiency initiative. These included
officials from the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, the Office
of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, and the military departments. For our second
objective, to evaluate the extent to which DOD’s assessment of the critical skills, competencies,
and gaps in the existing and future civilian senior leader workforces identified areas that will require
increased focus to help the department meet its vital missions, we interviewed officials responsible
for managing DOD’s civilian senior leader workforces and for identifying critical skills,
competencies, and gaps in these workforces. These included officials from the Defense Civilian
Personnel Advisory Service within the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and
Readiness and the Office of the Director of Administration and Management.

We conducted this performance audit from July 2011 to September 2012 in accordance with
generally accepted government auditing standards. Those standards require that we plan and
perform the audit to obtain sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for our
findings and conclusions based on our objectives. We believe that the evidence obtained provides
a reasonable basis for our findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. For more
information about our scope and methodology, see enclosure I. 11

Results in Brief

DOD’s approach for determining its civilian senior leader workforce projections to meet future
requirements incorporated the results of two separate assessments. In its 2010-2018 strategic
workforce plan, DOD presented data that projected reductions of 178 civilian senior leader
positions within its five career civilian senior leader workforces during fiscal years 2011 and 2012. 12
To conduct its assessment for the strategic workforce plan, DOD used a computer modeling
system that is managed by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and used by several
agencies across the federal government. The system models significant career events, such as
promotions, reassignments, and retirements, to produce projections. During this same time period,
DOD also completed an efficiency initiative at the direction of the Secretary of Defense to, among
other things, ensure that DOD’s senior leader workforce is properly sized and aligned with DOD’s
mission and priorities. For its efficiency initiative, the department devised an internal DOD
methodology in which it rank ordered positions in terms of higher and lower priority in order to
identify reductions. This assessment identified a reduction of 178 civilian senior leader positions
within DOD’s civilian senior leader workforce for fiscal years 2011 and 2012. From the plan, it is
not clear how these two efforts fit together, or how DOD drew from the strengths of each analysis.
DOD officials explained to us, however, that they incorporated the results of the efficiency initiative
into the strategic workforce plan when they issued that plan, so that the projections of the
workforce plan and the results of the efficiency initiative would be consistent.

11
   We began this engagement in July 2011, when DOD provided us with a draft of its 2010 Strategic Workforce Plan and
indicated that the final version would be issued soon thereafter. We suspended this work when we did not receive the
final plan and resumed our review when DOD submitted its final Strategic Workforce Plan to Congress on March 27,
2012.
12
   DOD’s strategic workforce plan projected a net reduction of 117 positions over the longer term from fiscal year 2010 to
fiscal year 2018.

Page 3                                                                               GAO-12-990R Human Capital
DOD assessments of the critical skills, competencies, and gaps of its career civilian senior leader
workforces did not identify areas that will require increased focus to help the department meet its
vital missions. Most of DOD’s civilian senior leader workforce can be categorized into five separate
workforces, and our review found that DOD conducted assessments of skills, competencies, and
gaps for two of them—the Senior Executive Service and Defense Intelligence Senior Executive
Service workforces. However, the department did not include the results of either assessment in
its 2010-2018 strategic workforce plan and only discussed the processes it used for conducting the
assessment of its Senior Executive Service workforce. Further, DOD did not conduct assessments
of skills, competencies, and gaps for the remaining three career civilian senior leader workforces—
its Senior Level, Senior Technical, and Defense Intelligence Senior Level workforces. Officials told
us that they did not assess these three workforces because the skills and competencies of these
workforces are position-specific. However, section 115b of Title 10 of the United States Code
requires that DOD conduct assessments of the skills, competencies, and gaps within all its senior
leader workforces. Without conducting such assessments and reporting on them, it is difficult to
identify those areas that will require increased focus on recruiting, retention, and training.
Therefore, we are recommending that DOD conduct assessments of the skills, competencies, and
gaps within all five of its career senior leader workforces and report the results in its future strategic
workforce plans.

In written comments on a draft of this report, DOD concurred with our recommendation. DOD’s
comments are reprinted in enclosure II.

Background

 To operate and oversee nearly every activity in its department, DOD relies primarily on five career
 civilian senior leader workforces. 13 These include the:
 • Senior Executive Service workforce. Most of the department relies on these officials to fill
      positions with managerial, supervisory, or policy advisory responsibilities;
 • Senior Level workforce. These officials fill positions that require less than 25 percent of their
      time to be spent on supervisory or related managerial responsibilities;
 • Senior Technical workforce. 14 These officials perform high-level research and development in
      the physical, biological, medical, and engineering science fields;
 • Defense Intelligence Senior Executive Service workforce. These officials fill positions with
      managerial, supervisory, or policy advisory responsibilities in the intelligence community that
      falls within DOD; and the
 • Defense Intelligence Senior Level workforce. These officials fill senior positions within DOD’s
      intelligence community that require less than 25 percent of the time to be spent on managerial
      or supervisory responsibilities.

The total number of Senior Executive Service, Senior Level, and Senior Technical positions is
allocated to the department by OPM, in consultation with the Office of Management and Budget
(OMB). Every 2 years, in accordance with statutory guidelines, OPM, in consultation with OMB,
allocates Senior Executive Service positions to federal departments and agencies across the
13
   This report does not cover limited term or temporary appointment DOD civilian senior leaders to include: (1) limited
term or temporary appointments within the Senior Executive Service; (2) certain temporary appointment of highly
qualified experts; and (3) certain temporary appointments of scientists and engineers. Due to the limited term
appointment of these civilian senior leader categories we did not include them in the scope of our work.
14
  For the purposes of this report, Senior Technical workforce is used when referring to DOD’s senior
scientific/professional workforces.


Page 4                                                                               GAO-12-990R Human Capital
executive branch. This biennial allocation process provides OPM and OMB the opportunity to
review organizational missions, plans, and structures and assess whether executive resources are
being used in the most efficient manner. To facilitate strategic management of the federal
government’s total executive resources pool, OPM uses this same process to allocate positions in
the Senior Level and Senior Technical workforces.

In contrast, since the establishment of the Defense Intelligence Senior Executive Service in fiscal
year 1997, Congress has set the total number of positions in the Defense Intelligence Senior
Executive Service by statute. 15 The number of Defense Intelligence Senior Level positions is set as
a percentage of the intelligence community’s total civilian personnel workforce. 16 The defense
intelligence community does not have a “Defense Intelligence Senior Technical” or equivalent
workforce.

Prior reports by GAO 17 have shown that successful public and private organizations use strategic
management approaches to prepare their workforces to meet present and future mission
requirements. Strategic human capital management—which includes workforce planning—helps
ensure that agencies have the talent and skill mix they need to address their current and emerging
human capital challenges. Since 2001, we have listed federal human capital management as a
governmentwide high-risk area because of the federal government’s long-standing lack of a
consistent approach to human capital management, and, in 2009, we stated that ample
opportunities remained for improving strategic human capital management to respond to
21st century challenges. 18 Today, while agencies and Congress have taken steps to address the
federal government’s human capital shortfalls, strategic human capital management remains a
high-risk area because of the continuing need for a governmentwide framework to advance human
capital reform. Specifically, in our 2011 High-Risk Series report, 19 we identified the need to conduct
gap analysis of critical skills as a significant challenge within the federal government.

DOD’s Approach for Determining its Civilian Senior Leader Projections to Meet Future
Requirements Incorporated the Results of Two Different Assessments
Section 115b of Title 10 of the United States Code requires DOD to include in its strategic
workforce plan a plan of action to address, among other things, an assessment of any changes in
the number of personnel authorized in certain categories of personnel that may be needed to
address gaps and effectively meet the needs of the department. DOD’s 2010-2018 strategic
workforce plan included the results of two separate assessments—for both the 2010-2018 strategic
workforce plan and DOD’s efficiency initiative—of projected changes in the number of personnel
for each category of DOD’s civilian senior leader workforces.



15
  The maximum number of Defense Intelligence Senior Executive Service positions is established by 10 U.S.C. §
1606(a).
16
   According to a January 7, 2009, memorandum signed by the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, the defense
intelligence components are authorized to establish up to 1.35 percent of their authorized civilian end strength as
Defense Intelligence Senior Level positions. Office of the Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, Defense Intelligence
Senior Level Staffing as a Percentage of Authorized Civilian End Strength (Jan. 7, 2009).
17
  See GAO, Human Capital: Key Principles for Effective Strategic Workforce Planning, GAO-04-39 (Washington, D.C.:
Dec. 11, 2003) and High Risk Series: Strategic Human Capital Management, GAO-03-120 (Washington, D.C.: January
2003).

18
     GAO, High-Risk Series: An Update, GAO-09-271 (Washington, D.C.: January, 2009).
19
     GAO, High Risk Series: An Update, GAO-11-278 (Washington, D.C.: February, 2011).

Page 5                                                                            GAO-12-990R Human Capital
DOD included in its 2010-2018 strategic workforce plan projected requirements for its civilian
senior leader workforces for fiscal years 2010-2018. According to DOD’s plan, the department
conducted its assessment of projected requirements for its civilian senior leader workforces in early
2011 using 2010 data. DOD used OPM’s Workforce Analysis Support System and Civilian
Forecasting System to develop its workforce projections. The Workforce Analysis Support System
is a computer modeling system that evaluates workforce trends and can perform simple to complex
analyses from counts and averages to trend analyses, using such characteristics as employee
age, retirement plan participation, and historical retirement data. The Civilian Forecasting System
is a life cycle modeling and projection tool developed by OPM in conjunction with 19 federal
agencies, including DOD. The system models significant career events, including personnel
actions such as promotions, reassignments, and retirements. The Civilian Forecasting System was
adapted for civilian use in 1987 from an Army military forecasting model, and uses data from
DOD’s Defense Civilian Personnel Data System. 20 Officials can use a default projection model or
create their own, which can be tailored to examine issues such as projected vacancies of hard-to-
fill occupations or turnover in specific regions by occupation. We have previously reported on
DOD’s use of OPM’s workforce forecasting system and found the systems to be sufficiently reliable
for DOD to use in its workforce planning. 21 DOD’s workforce projections showed no change
between fiscal year 2010 and 2011, a reduction of 178 positions from fiscal years 2011 to 2013,
and, overall, a slight increase from fiscal years 2013 to 2018—with a net total decline from fiscal
year 2010 to fiscal year 2018 of 117 civilian senior leader positions. Table 1 shows the results of
DOD’s civilian senior leader workforce projections for fiscal years 2010-2018 for each category of
its civilian senior leader workforce. The table further shows the net near-term change for fiscal
years 2010-2013 and also the total long-term change for fiscal years 2010-2018.




20
   The Defense Civilian Personnel Data System is a human resource system that supports civilian personnel operations
in DOD. It allows DOD to use a single information management system for DOD civilian employees.
21
     GAO-09-235.

Page 6                                                                           GAO-12-990R Human Capital
            Table 1: DOD’s Projected Civilian Senior Leader Workforce Requirements for Fiscal Years 2010-
            2018.
                                                    Fiscal Year
                                                                                                                  Total  Percent
                                                            Total                                                Change Change
                                                           Change                                                 from    from
                      2010     2011      2012     2013      from        2014     2015      2016     2017    2018 2010 to 2010 to
                                                           2010 to                                                2018    2018
                                                            2013
Senior
Executive             1423     1423      1368     1323                  1333     1342      1352     1364    1373     -50        -4%
Service                                                      -100
Senior
                       149      149      135       132                  133       133      135       135    136      -13        - 9%
Technical                                                     -17
Senior Level           57        57       55       53          -4        58        60       61        62     63      +6         +11%
Defense
Intelligence
Senior                 594      594      594       591                  588       588      588       588    588       -6        -1%
Executive
Service                                                        -3
Defense
Intelligence           759      759      759       705                  705       705      705       705    705      -54        -7%
Senior Level                                                  -54
Total                 2982     2982      2911     2804       -178       2817     2828      2841     2854    2865    -117        -4%
            Source: GAO analysis of DOD’s 2010 Strategic Workforce Plan


            During the same time period that DOD was preparing its 2010-2018 strategic workforce plan, the
            department was also undertaking its efficiency initiative reviews. According to August 16, 2010
            guidance issued by the Secretary of Defense, the efficiency initiative review was to include a
            comprehensive assessment of the numbers and locations of all of the department’s senior leaders.
            At a minimum, this assessment was to result in a reduction of at least 150 senior civilian executive
            positions across DOD. 22 Accordingly, the department evaluated which civilian senior leader
            positions could be eliminated, starting with this pre-set objective.


            During its efficiency initiative review, DOD’s Civilian Senior Executive Efficiency Study Group
            evaluated all of the department’s civilian senior leader positions to identify eliminations to reduce
            duplication, overhead, and excess. 23 In conducting its review, the study group first looked at
            vacant civilian senior leader positions, positions already scheduled for elimination, and positions
            already identified for downgrade to General Schedule-15 level positions. The group then used a
            three-step process to evaluate the remaining civilian senior leader positions for possible
            reductions. First, DOD’s components 24 rank ordered all of their civilian senior leader positions
            22
                 DOD Memo, Department of Defense Efficiency Initiatives (Aug. 16, 2010).
            23
                 DOD, CSE Study Group on Civilian Senior Executives (Nov. 23, 2010).
            24
               The components consisted of the Departments of the Army, Navy, and Air Force, Washington Headquarters Service,
            and the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence.

            Page 7                                                                               GAO-12-990R Human Capital
based on factors such as the amount of budgetary authority the position has, chain of command,
and influence on the mission, and provided the study group with a list of positions that fell within
the bottom third. Next, the study group applied an algorithm that used criteria such as the positions’
priority in relation to the mission and budget to create a master rank-ordered list of all the positions
provided by the components. Finally, the working group conducted a bottom-up review of the
lowest third of the master rank-ordered list of positions. At the conclusion of the three-step process
the co-chairs of the study group conducted a follow-up review that resulted in the addition and
removal of some positions. 25 This assessment identified the reduction of 178 senior leader
positions within DOD’s civilian senior leader workforces for fiscal years 2011 and 2012.

From DOD’s 2010-2018 strategic workforce plan, it is unclear how the two efforts fit together, or
how DOD drew from the strengths of each analysis. DOD officials responsible for the plan
explained to us, however, that in the course of conducting their assessments, they incorporated the
work of the efficiency initiatives into the strategic workforce plan by subtracting the results of the
efficiency initiative from the original projections in the strategic workforce plan. Officials added that
they did this so that the projections of the workforce plan and the results of the efficiency initiative
would be aligned and consistent.

DOD’s Assessments of the Skills, Competencies, and Gaps of Its Civilian Senior Leader
Workforces Did Not Identify Areas That Will Require Increased Focus to Help the
Department Meet Its Vital Missions
DOD conducted assessments of the critical skills, competencies, and gaps of two of its civilian
senior leader workforces in its 2010-2018 strategic workforce plan, but DOD only discussed the
processes it used to conduct these assessments for one of its five career civilian senior leader
workforces, and did not report the results of this assessment. As a result, the 2010-2018 strategic
workforce plan does not identify areas that will require increased focus to help the department
meet its vital missions. Specifically, the plan described the assessment that the Office of the Under
Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness undertook of the skills, competencies, and
gaps in its Senior Executive Service workforce. Further, while DOD’s intelligence agencies
conducted similar assessments of the skills, competencies, and gaps within the Defense
Intelligence Senior Executive Service workforce, DOD did not include discussion of their processes
in the plan. In addition, officials responsible for developing the plan told us that DOD did not assess
the skills and competencies of and gaps in the Senior Level, Senior Technical, or Defense
Intelligence Senior Level workforces. Section 115b of Title 10 of the United States Code, however,
requires DOD to assess the critical skills, competencies, and gaps of all of its civilian senior leader
workforces. Without assessing and reporting on the critical skills and competencies of and gaps in
all of these workforces it may be difficult for DOD to conduct effective workforce planning for these
positions. Further, the plan’s function as an oversight tool for those with such authority is greatly
reduced.


Senior Executive Service Workforce
The Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness identified and
assessed the skills and competencies of and gaps in DOD’s Senior Executive Service, and
described the process it used to conduct this assessment in its 2010-2018 strategic workforce
plan. In a directive issued in 2007, 26 DOD states that career Senior Executive Service leadership

25
     DOD, CSE Study Group Findings and Recommendations (Nov. 23, 2010).
26
   DOD Directive 1403.03, The Career Lifecycle Management of the Senior Executive Service Leaders within the
Department of Defense (Oct. 25, 2007).

Page 8                                                                          GAO-12-990R Human Capital
capability will be sustained to meet mission requirements, and that these positions will be managed
using a comprehensive strategic planning process. The directive also states that both
organizational and individual Senior Executive Service capability will be assessed at least annually
to understand the competencies available in the career Senior Executive Service workforce to
meet mission requirements.


DOD used the Defense Talent Management System— a data system developed by DOD to align
senior leader resources and talent to the department’s best advantage— to assess the critical skills
and competencies of its Senior Executive Service workforce. According to draft DOD
documentation, this system supports the department’s objective to optimally develop, apply and
align resources and talent. 27 As part of the Defense Talent Management System, Senior Executive
Service members use the system to assess themselves to identify areas of strength and
weakness. Once executives have completed their self-assessments, their supervisors use the
system to assess and identify developmental opportunities for these executives. The supervisors
are responsible for providing a readiness rating and competency assessment for the executives
within their chain of command. Once the supervisors have completed their assessments of the
executives, an endorser—another senior executive or a panel of senior executives—uses the
system to validate the executives’ assessments and identify any additional developmental
opportunities. 28


To facilitate these assessments within the Defense Talent Management System, DOD used the
five Executive Core Qualifications (core competencies) that OPM uses as criteria for admission into
the Senior Executive Service, plus one additional DOD-unique core competency—enterprise-wide
perspective—that has been validated and approved by OPM. The department defines enterprise-
wide perspective as a broad point of view of the department’s mission and an understanding of
individual or organizational responsibilities in relation to the department’s larger strategic priorities.
Further, the perspective is shaped by experience and education and characterized by a strategic,
top-level focus on broad requirements, joint experiences, fusion of information, collaboration, and
vertical and horizontal integration of information. Table 2 provides a description of the five OPM
core competencies for all federal Senior Executive Service, as well as DOD’s unique core
competency.




27
   DOD, Defense Talent Management System Business Rules and Logic: Guide for Administrators, Developers and
Interested Observers (n.d. draft).
28
     DOD, Defense Talent Management System Demo (June 7, 2011).

Page 9                                                                        GAO-12-990R Human Capital
Table 2: Competencies for DOD’s Senior Executive Service and Defense Intelligence Senior
Executive Service Workforces
Core Competency              Description of Core Competency
Leading Change                The ability to bring about strategic change, both within and
                              outside the organization, to meet organizational goals. Inherent
                              to this competency is the ability to establish an organizational
                              vision and to implement it in a continuously changing
                              environment.
Leading People                The ability to lead people toward meeting the organization’s
                              vision, mission, and goals. Inherent to this competency is the
                              ability to provide an inclusive workplace that fosters the
                              development of others, facilitates cooperation and teamwork,
                              and supports constructive resolution of conflicts.
Results Driven                The ability to meet organizational goals and customer
                              expectations. Inherent to this competency is the ability to make
                              decisions that produce high-quality results by applying technical
                              knowledge, analyzing problems, and calculating risks.
Business Acumen               The ability to manage human, financial, and information
                              resources strategically.
Building Coalitions           The ability to build coalitions internally and with other federal
                              agencies, state and local governments, nonprofit and private
                              sector organizations, foreign governments, or international
                              organizations to achieve common goals.
Enterprise-wide Perspective   A broad point of view of the DOD mission and an understanding
(DOD-unique core              of individual or organizational responsibilities in relation to the
competency)                   larger DOD strategic priorities. The perspective is shaped by
                              experience and education and characterized by a strategic, top-
                              level focus on broad requirements, joint experiences, fusion of
                              information, collaboration, and vertical and horizontal integration
                              of information.
Source: OPM and DOD




Page 10                                                             GAO-12-990R Human Capital
DOD’s Defense Talent Management System further breaks down the 6 core competencies into
18 sub-competencies to provide more detail in its skills and competencies assessments. 29 Table 3
shows the 18 sub-competencies according to their corresponding core competency.

Table 3: Competencies and Sub-Competencies for DOD’s Senior Executive Service and Defense
Intelligence Senior Executive Service Workforces
Core Competency                        Sub-competency
Leading Change                                        •   Creativity and Innovation
                                                      •   External Awareness
                                                      •   Strategic Thinking
                                                      •   Vision
Leading People                                        •   Leveraging Diversity
                                                      •   Developing Others
                                                      •   Team Building
Results Driven                                        •   Accountability
                                                      •   Decisiveness
                                                      •   Customer Service
                                                      •   Problem Solving
Business Acumen                                       •   Financial Management
                                                      •   Human Capital Management
                                                      •   Technology Management
Building Coalitions                                   •   Political Savvy
                                                      •   Influencing and Negotiating
Enterprise Perspective                                •   Joint Perspective
(DOD-unique core competency)                          •   National Security
Source: DOD

According to the 2010-2018 strategic workforce plan, DOD also used its civilian senior leader talent
management process to identify gaps in the critical skills and competencies of its existing and
projected Senior Executive Service workforce. Specifically, DOD used the Defense Talent
Management System to assess its current workforce and conduct Senior Executive Service
readiness assessments to identify candidates for future civilian senior leader vacancies. Officials in
the Defense Civilian Personnel Advisory Service told us that they used a slating process, which
provides DOD’s Senior Executive Service members the opportunity to identify future positions for
which they might be interested when those positions become vacant. During the slating process, a
talent management panel consisting of top-level members of the Senior Executive Service and
General of Flag Officers assesses each member against the Senior Executive Service core
competencies. According to DOD officials, the use of talent management panels allows the
department to measure the level of proficiency of its current Senior Executive Service workforce
and identify and understand the skills and competencies available in the workforce to ensure
visibility of talent and promote career opportunities across the department. This process, in turn,
also enables DOD to identify gaps within its Senior Executive Service workforce across the
department. According to DOD’s 2010-2018 strategic workforce plan, this process allowed DOD to
assess competency and skill gaps in its Senior Executive Service workforce up to 7 years into the
future. Our analysis found, however, that DOD did not report the results of this assessment in its
plan. In discussion with agency officials, they did not specify reasons for not doing so, and stated
that information on gaps could be included in future strategic workforce plans.
29
     DOD Instruction 1430.16, Growing Civilian Leaders (Nov. 19, 2009).

Page 11                                                                       GAO-12-990R Human Capital
Defense Intelligence Senior Executive Service Workforce
Although the plan is silent on whether DOD assessed the skills, competencies, and gaps
assessments for the other workforces, we reviewed assessments conducted by the defense
intelligence components. The Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence used a
decentralized approach to initiate its strategic workforce planning and consolidate its submission
for the 2010-2018 strategic workforce plan. In so doing, it requested data from the nine separate
defense intelligence components and the Defense Security Service 30 which, at the time, retained
the responsibility for conducting the baseline reviews of the skills, competencies, and gaps in the
defense intelligence civilian senior leader workforce within the intelligence components. Officials
within this office explained that this has been the practice over time, given the sensitive nature of
the missions of the components. These components used the same core competencies and sub-
competencies that the department used to assess its Senior Executive Service workforce.
However, they did not use the Defense Talent Management System and, instead, used their own
human capital database systems. During the course of our review, the Office of the Under
Secretary of Defense for Intelligence completed work to integrate the nine defense intelligence
components’ processes for evaluating their Defense Intelligence Senior Executive Service
workforces. Regardless of any changes to the process, our analysis of DOD’s 2010-2018 strategic
workforce plan shows that DOD did not report the results of any assessments of the skills,
competencies, and gaps within the defense intelligence community, either at the individual or
organizational level. In discussions with officials in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for
Intelligence, they stated that they planned to report these numbers separately in conjunction with
other intelligence community reporting requirements. However, they did acknowledge the
requirement to report these numbers in DOD’s strategic workforce plan.


Senior Level and Senior Technical Workforces
DOD did not identify skills, competencies, and gaps for its Senior Level and Senior Technical
workforces and did not report on the skills and competencies of and gaps in these workforces in its
2010-2018 strategic workforce plan. Officials in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for
Personnel and Readiness’s Office of Defense Civilian Personnel Advisory Service told us that the
skills and competencies required for these workforces are unique to the individual positions that
members of these workforces fill. For the same reason, the department did not assess gaps in its
Senior Level and Senior Technical workforces.


OPM defines Senior Level and Senior Technical positions as positions that are classifiable above
the General Schedule-15 level but do not meet the Senior Executive Service criteria. 31 Senior
Technical positions involve performance of high-level research and development 32 in the physical,

30
   The nine defense intelligence components are: the Defense Intelligence Agency; the National-Geospatial Intelligence
Agency; the National Reconnaissance Office; the National Security Agency; the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense
for Intelligence; and the intelligence elements of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force. The Defense Security
Service also employs Defense Intelligence Senior Executive Service personnel and for the purpose of this report is
included as an intelligence component.

31
     Office of Personnel Management, Senior Executive Service Desk Guide (January 2010).
32
   OPM defines research and development positions as those positions consisting of systematic investigation of theory,
experimentation, or simulation of experiments; application of the scientific method, including problem exploration and
definition, planning of the approach and sequence of steps, execution of experiments or studies, interpretations of
findings, and documentation or reporting of findings; and exercise of creativity and critical judgment, variation in which
may materially affect the nature of the end product.



Page 12                                                                               GAO-12-990R Human Capital
biological, medical, or engineering sciences or a closely related field. Senior Level positions are
classified as above the General Schedule-15 level but meet neither the executive criteria
characteristics of the Senior Executive Service nor the fundamental research and development
responsibilities that are characteristics of the Senior Technical workforce. Neither Senior Level nor
Senior Technical positions may include supervisory and managerial related duties that occupy
more than 25 percent of the position’s time.


While DOD has not identified a common set of skills and competencies that would apply to all of its
Senior Level and Senior Technical positions, the department has identified a number of position-
specific skills, such as auditing, research, acquisitions, and legal skills. Despite identifying these
position-specific skills, DOD does not centrally track or assess these positions as it does the Senior
Executive Service workforces. DOD officials told us that they have not done so because tracking
and monitoring of individual Senior Level and Senior Technical positions would be resource
intensive and result in a limited return on investment. At the time of our review, however, DOD had
206 Senior Level and Senior Technical positions. These represent many of the most important
positions of technical expertise in DOD in a number of critical areas. As noted previously, Section
115b of Title 10 of the United States Code requires DOD to assess the critical skills and
competencies of and gaps in all of its civilian senior leader workforces. Without assessing the
critical skills and competencies of and gaps in these workforces it may be difficult for DOD to
conduct effective workforce planning for these positions.


Defense Intelligence Senior Level Workforce
Interim guidance provided by the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence 33 states
that Defense Intelligence Senior Level positions are similar to DOD’s Senior Level and Senior
Technical positions, and, similarly, the 2010-2018 plan did not include an assessment of critical
skills, competencies, or gaps for this workforce. An individual serving in a Defense Intelligence
Senior Level position is a functional or technical expert who is recognized as a leader and authority
figure in a specialized field or functional area, but exercises no more than minimal supervisory
responsibilities that are performed less than 25 percent of the time. The difficulty and complexity of
this work requires creativity, mastery of subject-matter, and recognition by the professional
community. Officials in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence told us that
the defense intelligence community did not assess the individual skills and competencies of their
Defense Intelligence Senior Level workforce for the same reason that DOD did not assess the
skills, competencies, or gaps of their Senior Level and Senior Technical workforces— because the
skills and competencies of those workforces are unique to the individual positions to which they are
assigned. As mentioned previously, however, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal
Year 2010 requires DOD to assess the critical skills, competencies and gaps of all of its civilian
senior leader workforces. Without assessing the critical skills, competencies, and gaps of all of its
civilian senior leader workforces it may be difficult for DOD to conduct effective workforce planning
for these positions.




33
  Interim DOD 1400.25-M, Defense Intelligence Senior Level Program (May 2005); and Office of the Under Secretary of
Defense for Intelligence, Defense Intelligence Senior Level Staffing as a Percentage of Authorized Civilian End Strength
(Jan. 7, 2009).

Page 13                                                                             GAO-12-990R Human Capital
Conclusions
A strategic workforce plan that contains relevant and timely information and analyses is critical for
DOD to manage its civilian senior leader workforces and position itself to meet the demands of the
future. However, DOD did not conduct competency, skill, and gap assessments for all of its civilian
senior leader workforces and did not include the results of specific assessments that it had
conducted for its plan. As a result, the plan’s usefulness for guiding workforce planning is limited.
In the absence of complete reporting, users of DOD’s 2010-2018 senior leader workforce plan will
have limited information concerning the size, composition, and needs of the department’s civilian
senior leader workforce. Strategic workforce information will likely grow in importance as DOD
implements initiatives to reduce overhead and makes difficult budget decisions. As such, it is
essential that DOD strategically manage and plan for its civilian senior leader workforces to ensure
it understands its future workforce needs and uses resources effectively.


Recommendation for Executive Action

To help ensure that Congress has the necessary information to provide effective oversight over all
of DOD’s civilian senior leader workforces, we recommend that the Secretary of Defense direct the
Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness and the Under Secretary of Defense for
Intelligence to conduct assessments of the skills, competencies, and gaps within all five career
civilian senior leader workforces and report them in DOD’s future strategic workforce plans.

Agency Comments

In written comments on a draft of this report, DOD concurred with our recommendation. DOD
stated that the department fell short of conducting assessments of skills, competencies, and gaps
within three of the five civilian senior leader workforces as a result of their technical roles in the
DOD leadership hierarchy, and that, as roles are refined, this work will be reflected in future plans
as appropriate. DOD’s comments are reprinted in enclosure II.
                                               –––––
We are sending copies of this report to the Secretary of Defense, the Under Secretary of Defense
for Personnel and Readiness, the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, and appropriate
congressional committees. In addition, this report will also be available at no charge on the GAO
Web site at http://www.gao.gov.
If you or your staff have any questions regarding this report, please contact me at (202) 512-3604
or farrellb@gao.gov. Contact points for our Offices of Congressional Relations and Public Affairs
may be found on the last page of this report. GAO staff who made major contributions to this report
are listed in enclosure III.




Brenda S. Farrell
Director,
Defense Capabilities and Management


Page 14                                                                 GAO-12-990R Human Capital
List of Committees
The Honorable Carl Levin
Chairman
The Honorable John McCain
Ranking Member
Committee on Armed Services
United States Senate

The Honorable Daniel K. Inouye
Chairman
The Honorable Thad Cochran
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Defense
Committee on Appropriations
United States Senate

The Honorable Howard P. “Buck” McKeon
Chairman
The Honorable Adam Smith
Ranking Member
Committee on Armed Services
House of Representatives

The Honorable C.W. Bill Young
Chairman
The Honorable Norman D. Dicks
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Defense
Committee on Appropriations
House of Representatives




Page 15                                 GAO-12-990R Human Capital
Enclosure I: Scope and Methodology

For this engagement, we obtained and reviewed the Department of Defense (DOD) strategic
workforce plan for the department’s civilian senior leader workforce for fiscal years 2010-2018. 34
We interviewed officials in DOD’s Defense Civilian Personnel Advisory Service within the Office of
the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, the military departments,
Washington Headquarters Service, and the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for
Intelligence. Further, we reviewed prior GAO reports that address human capital challenges within
DOD as well as our previous work on strategic workforce planning.


For our first objective, to review DOD’s approach for determining its civilian senior leader
projections to meet future requirements, we evaluated the contents of DOD’s 2010-2018 strategic
workforce plan and related documents. In addition, we reviewed documents and interviewed
officials with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) who are responsible for OPM’s
Workforce Analysis Support System and Civilian Forecasting System that DOD used to develop
the department’s overall civilian workforce forecasts and projections. We also interviewed DOD
officials responsible for developing the department’s report on the efficiency initiatives as they
related to DOD’s civilian senior leader workforces. These included officials from the Office of the
Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, the Defense Civilian Personnel
Advisory Service within the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness,
the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, the military departments, and
Washington Headquarters Service. Additionally, we reviewed and analyzed DOD’s final report on
its senior leader efficiency initiative and internal briefings on the methodology, findings, and
recommendations resulting from this initiative. We also reviewed the response from the Secretary
of Defense.


For our second objective, to determine the extent to which DOD’s assessment of the critical skills,
competencies, and gaps in the existing and future civilian senior leader workforces identified areas
that will require increased focus to help the department meet its vital missions, we evaluated the
contents of DOD’s 2010-2018 strategic workforce plan and supporting documentation. We
interviewed officials responsible for managing DOD’s civilian senior leader workforces, to include
those who identify critical skills and competencies and assessed gaps in the department’s civilian
senior leader workforces. These included officials from the Office of the Under Secretary of
Defense for Personnel and Readiness, the Defense Civilian Personnel Advisory Service within the
Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, the Office of the Under
Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, and Office of the Director of Administration and
Management. In addition, we met with knowledgeable officials to ascertain how DOD used the
Defense Talent Management System to conduct specific skills, competencies, and gap analyses.
Finally, we met with officials from OPM to gain an understanding of the Senior Executive Service
core qualifications that are used across the federal government.


We conducted this performance audit from July 2011 to September 2012 in accordance with
generally accepted government auditing standards. Those standards require that we plan and

34
  We began this engagement in July 2011, when DOD provided us with a draft of its 2010-2018 Strategic Workforce
Plan and indicated that the final version would be issued soon thereafter. We suspended this work when we did not
receive the final plan and resumed our review when DOD submitted its final Strategic Workforce Plan to Congress on
March 27, 2012.


Page 16                                                                           GAO-12-990R Human Capital
perform the audit to obtain sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for our
findings and conclusions based on our objectives. We believe that the evidence obtained provides
a reasonable basis for our findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives.




Page 17                                                             GAO-12-990R Human Capital
Enclosure II
               Comments from the Department of Defense




Page 18                                           GAO-12-990R Human Capital
Page 19   GAO-12-990R Human Capital
Enclosure III


                          GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments
Contact
Brenda S. Farrell, (202) 512-3604 or farrellb@gao.gov


Staff Acknowledgments
In addition to the individual named above, Marion Gatling, Assistant Director; David Moser,
Assistant Director; Chris Miller; Brian Pegram; Terry L. Richardson; Erik Wilkins-McKee; and
Michael Willems made key contributions to this report.




Page 20                                                             GAO-12-990R Human Capital
Related GAO Products


DOD Civilian Workforce: Observations on DOD’s Efforts to Plan for Civilian Workforce
Requirements. GAO-12-962T. Washington, D.C.: July 26, 2012.
Defense Workforce: DOD Needs to Better Oversee In-sourcing Data and Align In-sourcing Efforts
with Strategic Workforce Plans. GAO-12-319. Washington, D.C.: February 9, 2012.
Streamlining Government: Key Practices from Select Efficiency Initiatives Should Be Shared
Governmentwide. GAO-11-908. Washington, D.C.: September 30, 2011.
DOD Civilian Personnel: Competency Gap Analyses and Other Actions Needed to Enhance DOD’s
Strategic Workforce Plans. GAO-11-827T. Washington, D.C.: July 14, 2011.
Government Operations: Opportunities to Reduce Potential Duplication in Government Programs,
Save Tax Dollars, and Enhance Revenue. GAO-11-318SP. Washington, D.C.: March 1, 2011.
High Risk Series: An Update. GAO-11-278. Washington, D.C.: February, 2011.
Human Capital: Opportunities Exist for DOD to Enhance Its Approach for Determining Civilian
Senior Leader Workforce Needs. GAO-11-136. Washington, D.C.: November 4, 2010.
Human Capital: Further Actions Needed to Enhance DOD’s Civilian Strategic Workforce Plan.
GAO-10-814R. Washington, D.C.: September 27, 2010.
High-Risk Series: An Update. GAO-09-271. Washington, D.C.: January, 2009.
Human Capital: Opportunities Exist to Build on Recent Progress to Strengthen DOD’s Civilian
Human Capital Strategic Plan. GAO-09-235. Washington, D.C.: February 10, 2009.
The Department of Defense’s Civilian Human Capital Strategic Plan Does Not Meet Most Statutory
Requirements. GAO-08-439R. Washington, D.C.: February 6, 2008.
High Risk Series: An Update. GAO-07-310. Washington, D.C.: January, 2007.
DOD Civilian Personnel: Comprehensive Strategic Workforce Plans Needed. GAO-04-753.
Washington, D.C.: June 30, 2004.
Human Capital: Key Principles for Effective Strategic Workforce Planning. GAO-04-39.
Washington, D.C.: December 11, 2003.
High-Risk Series: Strategic Human Capital Management. GAO-03-120. Washington, D.C.:
January, 2003.
Human Capital: Strategic Approach Should Guide DOD Civilian Workforce Management. GAO/T-
GGD/NSIAD-00-120. Washington, D.C.: March 9, 2000.




(351633)


Page 21                                                            GAO-12-990R Human Capital
This is a work of the U.S. government and is not subject to copyright protection in the
United States. The published product may be reproduced and distributed in its entirety
without further permission from GAO. However, because this work may contain
copyrighted images or other material, permission from the copyright holder may be
necessary if you wish to reproduce this material separately.
                      The Government Accountability Office, the audit, evaluation, and
GAO’s Mission         investigative arm of Congress, exists to support Congress in meeting its
                      constitutional responsibilities and to help improve the performance and
                      accountability of the federal government for the American people. GAO
                      examines the use of public funds; evaluates federal programs and
                      policies; and provides analyses, recommendations, and other assistance
                      to help Congress make informed oversight, policy, and funding decisions.
                      GAO’s commitment to good government is reflected in its core values of
                      accountability, integrity, and reliability.

                      The fastest and easiest way to obtain copies of GAO documents at no
Obtaining Copies of   cost is through GAO’s website (www.gao.gov). Each weekday afternoon,
GAO Reports and       GAO posts on its website newly released reports, testimony, and
                      correspondence. To have GAO e-mail you a list of newly posted products,
Testimony             go to www.gao.gov and select “E-mail Updates.”

Order by Phone        The price of each GAO publication reflects GAO’s actual cost of
                      production and distribution and depends on the number of pages in the
                      publication and whether the publication is printed in color or black and
                      white. Pricing and ordering information is posted on GAO’s website,
                      http://www.gao.gov/ordering.htm.
                      Place orders by calling (202) 512-6000, toll free (866) 801-7077, or
                      TDD (202) 512-2537.
                      Orders may be paid for using American Express, Discover Card,
                      MasterCard, Visa, check, or money order. Call for additional information.
                      Connect with GAO on Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, and YouTube.
Connect with GAO      Subscribe to our RSS Feeds or E-mail Updates. Listen to our Podcasts.
                      Visit GAO on the web at www.gao.gov.
                      Contact:
To Report Fraud,
Waste, and Abuse in   Website: www.gao.gov/fraudnet/fraudnet.htm
                      E-mail: fraudnet@gao.gov
Federal Programs      Automated answering system: (800) 424-5454 or (202) 512-7470

                      Katherine Siggerud, Managing Director, siggerudk@gao.gov, (202) 512-
Congressional         4400, U.S. Government Accountability Office, 441 G Street NW, Room
Relations             7125, Washington, DC 20548

                      Chuck Young, Managing Director, youngc1@gao.gov, (202) 512-4800
Public Affairs        U.S. Government Accountability Office, 441 G Street NW, Room 7149
                      Washington, DC 20548




                        Please Print on Recycled Paper.