oversight

Defense Acquisition Workforce: DOD Increased Use of Human Capital Flexibilities but Could Improve Monitoring

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 2019-08-15.

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

              United States Government Accountability Office
              Report to Congressional Committees




              DEFENSE
August 2019




              ACQUISITION
              WORKFORCE

              DOD Increased Use
              of Human Capital
              Flexibilities but Could
              Improve Monitoring




GAO-19-509
                                                   August 2019

                                                   DEFENSE ACQUISITION WORKFORCE
                                                   DOD Increased Use of Human Capital Flexibilities but
                                                   Could Improve Monitoring
Highlights of GAO-19-509, a report to
congressional committees




Why GAO Did This Study                             What GAO Found
DOD spends over $300 billion annually              The Department of Defense (DOD) has used human capital flexibilities
on contracts for products and services             extensively to hire, recruit, and retain its civilian acquisition workforce. Since
such as major weapons systems and                  2014, usage rates for hiring flexibilities—alternatives to the traditional,
military support services. By awarding             competitive hiring process—have generally increased. DOD leadership has
and overseeing these contracts, DOD’s              encouraged its hiring personnel to use these flexibilities, such as direct hire
acquisition workforce plays a critical role        authorities, to reduce the length of the hiring process. From fiscal year 2014 to
in maximizing DOD’s buying power.                  2018, DOD used hiring flexibilities for 90 percent of its approximately 44,000
DOD has increased the size of its                  civilian acquisition workforce hiring actions (see figure).
acquisition workforce in recent years,
but has also faced a number of                     The Department of Defense (DOD) Used Hiring Flexibilies for Most of Its Civilian Acquisition
challenges hiring and retaining                    Workforce Hires from Fiscal Year 2014 to 2018
personnel. DOD has a number of
human capital flexibilities that help DOD
in hiring, recruiting, and retaining its
civilian acquisition workforce.
The National Defense Authorization Act
for Fiscal Year 2018 included a
provision for GAO to review DOD’s
implementation of human capital
flexibilities for its acquisition workforce.
This report: (1) provides information on
DOD’s use of human capital flexibilities
and (2) determines the extent to which
DOD has monitored and assessed its
use of these flexibilities. GAO reviewed
relevant statutes, and DOD policies,
guidance, and acquisition workforce                DOD also increased its use of recruitment and retention flexibilities for its civilian
plans; analyzed DOD’s fiscal year 2014-            acquisition workforce, increasing the dollar amount authorized from $13.9 million
2018 civilian acquisition workforce                in fiscal year 2014 to $33.7 million in fiscal year 2018. This increase came as
personnel data; and interviewed DOD
                                                   DOD leadership emphasized the benefits of these flexibilities, and oversaw
officials.
                                                   concerted efforts to increase their usage through the dissemination of information
What GAO Recommends                                to human resource specialists.
GAO recommends that HCI regularly                  While usage of human capital flexibilities has increased, DOD’s Office of Human
monitors DOD’s use of human capital                Capital Initiatives (HCI), which is responsible for DOD-wide acquisition workforce
flexibilities for its civilian acquisition         strategic planning, does not regularly monitor or assess how the department
workforce to help identify challenges,             uses these flexibilities. HCI regularly monitors the overall health of the acquisition
inconsistencies, or needed                         workforce, including by reviewing workforce metrics on a quarterly basis, but
improvements in using these tools. DOD             does not regularly monitor the military departments’ use of human capital
concurred with the recommendation.                 flexibilities. For example, GAO found the Air Force and Navy used direct hire
                                                   authorities twice as often as the Army in fiscal year 2018. Without efforts to gain
                                                   such insights through monitoring, HCI may be missing opportunities to identify
                                                   challenges, inconsistencies, or needed improvements in using these tools. With
                                                   regard to assessing the use of human capital flexibilities, HCI intends to study
                                                   how long it takes to hire personnel when using the flexibilities. According to DOD
                                                   officials, this analysis can begin following development of a plan to ensure that
View GAO-19-509. For more information,             defense components consistently collect data on hiring timeframes. DOD officials
contact Timothy J. DiNapoli at (202) 512-4841 or
dinapolit@gao.gov.                                 said they expect to issue this plan in 2019.

                                                   ______________________________________ United States Government Accountability Office
Contents


Letter                                                                                       1
               Background                                                                   4
               DOD Has Increased Its Use of Hiring, Recruitment, and Retention
                 Flexibilities for Its Civilian Acquisition Workforce                      14
               DOD Does Not Regularly Monitor Hiring, Recruitment, and
                 Retention Flexibilities or Assess Their Effectiveness                     27
               Conclusions                                                                 32
               Recommendation for Executive Action                                         32
               Agency Comments                                                             32

Appendix I     Key Hiring Flexibilities Available to the Department of Defense’s Civilian
               Acquisition Workforce                                                    35



Appendix II    Key Recruitment and Retention Flexibilities Available to the
               Department of Defense’s Civilian Acquisition Workforce                      46



Appendix III   Objectives, Scope, and Methodology                                          48



Appendix IV    The Department of Defense’s Usage of Hiring Flexibilities for the
               Acquisition Workforce by Career Field                                       54



Appendix V     The Department of Defense’s Usage of Hiring Flexibilities for the
               Acquisition Workforce by Military Department                                59



Appendix VI    The Department of Defense’s Usage of Recruitment and Retention
               Flexibilities for the Acquisition Workforce                                 61



Appendix VII   Comments from the Department of Defense                                     66




               Page i                                  GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
Appendix VIII   GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments                                      68


Tables
                Table 1: Department of Defense (DOD) Civilian Acquisition
                        Workforce Personnel by 14 Acquisition Career Fields as
                        of September 2018                                                   6
                Table 2: Department of Defense (DOD) Leaders’ Roles and
                        Responsibilities in Managing Hiring, Recruitment, and
                        Retention Flexibilities for the Civilian Acquisition
                        Workforce                                                          13
                Table 3: Enactment Dates, Implementation Dates, and Use of
                        Department of Defense (DOD) Direct Hire Authorities
                        (DHA) Available to the Civilian Acquisition Workforce from
                        Fiscal Year 2014 to 2018                                           16
                Table 4: Examples of Variations in Requirements for Selected
                        Direct Hire Authorities                                            18
                Table 5: Examples of Requirements that Department of Defense
                        (DOD) Officials Identified as Hindering Implementation of
                        Direct Hire Authorities (DHA)                                      22
                Table 6: Number of DOD-Awarded Civilian Acquisition Workforce
                        Recruitment and Retention Flexibilities in Fiscal Year
                        2014 and 2018                                                      25
                Table 7: Key Hiring Flexibilities Specific to the Department of
                        Defense’s (DOD) Acquisition Workforce (3)                          36
                Table 8: Key Hiring Flexibilities the Department of Defense (DOD)
                        Can Use to Hire Personnel into the Civilian Acquisition
                        Workforce Personnel Demonstration Project (AcqDemo)
                        (6)                                                                37
                Table 9: Key Hiring Flexibilities Available Department of Defense
                        (DOD)-Wide including DOD’s Civilian Acquisition
                        Workforce (20)                                                     38
                Table 10: Key Government-Wide Hiring Flexibilities (17)                    43
                Table 11: Key Monetary Incentives Available to the Department of
                        Defense’s (DOD) Civilian Acquisition Workforce                     46
                Table 12: Key Work-Life Balance Policies and Programs Available
                        to the Department of Defense’s (DOD) Civilian Acquisition
                        Workforce                                                          47
                Table 13: Categories of the Department of Defense’s (DOD)
                        Hiring Actions                                                     51




                Page ii                                GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
Figures
          Figure 1: Department of Defense (DOD) Civilian Acquisition
                   Workforce Presented as a Portion of DOD’s Total Civilian
                   Workforce and Total Acquisition Workforce as of
                   September 2018                                                      5
          Figure 2: The Federal Government Competitive Hiring Process,
                   Including Time-to-Hire Goals                                        9
          Figure 3: The Department of Defense (DOD) Predominantly
                   Relied on Hiring Flexibilities to Hire Civilian Acquisition
                   Workforce Personnel from Fiscal Year 2014 to 2018                  15
          Figure 4: Time Elapsed between Enactment and Implementation
                   of Selected Department of Defense (DOD) Direct Hire
                   Authorities Available to DOD’s Civilian Acquisition
                   Workforce from Fiscal Year 2008 to 2018                            20
          Figure 5: The Department of Defense (DOD) Increased the
                   Authorized Dollar Amount for Recruitment and Retention
                   Flexibilities for the Civilian Acquisition Workforce from
                   Fiscal Year 2014 to 2018                                           24
          Figure 6: The Department of Defense’s (DOD) Usage of Hiring
                   Flexibilities for the Civilian Acquisition Workforce’s
                   Engineering, Contracting, Life Cycle Logistics, and
                   Information Technology Career Fields, Fiscal Years 2014
                   to 2018                                                            55
          Figure 7: The Department of Defense’s (DOD) Usage of Hiring
                   Flexibilities for the Civilian Acquisition Workforce’s
                   Program Management; Production, Quality, and
                   Manufacturing; Facilities Engineering; and Financial
                   Management Career Fields, Fiscal Years 2014 to 2018                56
          Figure 8: The Department of Defense’s (DOD) Usage of Hiring
                   Flexibilities for the Civilian Acquisition Workforce’s Test
                   and Evaluation, Auditing, and Science and Technology
                   Manager Career Fields, Fiscal Years 2014 to 2018                   57
          Figure 9: The Department of Defense’s (DOD) Usage of Hiring
                   Flexibilities for the Civilian Acquisition Workforce’s Cost
                   Estimating, Purchasing, and Industrial Contract Property
                   Management Career Fields, Fiscal Years 2014 to 2018                58
          Figure 10: The Department of Defense’s (DOD) Usage of Hiring
                   Flexibilities for the Civilian Acquisition Workforce by
                   Military Department and the Fourth Estate, Fiscal Years
                   2014 to 2018                                                       60
          Figure 11: Department of Defense-Authorized Dollar Amounts for
                   Recruitment and Retention Flexibilities for the Civilian


          Page iii                                GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
        Acquisition Workforce’s Engineering, Contracting,
        Program Management, and Facilities Engineering Career
        Fields, Fiscal Years 2014 to 2018                                 62
Figure 12: Department of Defense-Authorized Dollar Amounts for
        Recruitment and Retention Flexibilities for the Civilian
        Acquisition Workforce’s Life Cycle Logistics; Test and
        Evaluation; Production, Quality, and Manufacturing; and
        Financial Management Career Fields, Fiscal Years 2014
        to 2018                                                           63
Figure 13: Department of Defense-Authorized Dollar Amounts for
        Recruitment and Retention Flexibilities for the Civilian
        Acquisition Workforce’s Information Technology, Science
        and Technology Manager, and Cost Estimating Career
        Fields, Fiscal Years 2014 to 2018                                 64
Figure 14: Department of Defense-Authorized Dollar Amounts for
        Recruitment and Retention Flexibilities for the Civilian
        Acquisition Workforce’s Industrial Contract Property
        Management, Purchasing, and Auditing Career Fields,
        Fiscal Years 2014 to 2018                                         65




Page iv                               GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
Abbreviations

AcqDemo           Civilian Acquisition Workforce Personnel Demonstration
                  Project
DACM              Director, Acquisition Career Management
DAWDF             Defense Acquisition Workforce Development Fund
DCPAS             Defense Civilian Personnel Advisory Service
DCPDS             Defense Civilian Personnel Data System
DHA               direct hire authority
DOD               Department of Defense
GS                General Schedule
HCI               Human Capital Initiatives
OPM               Office of Personnel Management
STEM              science, technology, engineering, and mathematics
STRL              Science and Technology Reinvention Laboratory
USD (A&S)         Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and
                  Sustainment
USD (P&R)         Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness




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Page v                                          GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
                       Letter




441 G St. N.W.
Washington, DC 20548




                       August 15, 2019

                       Congressional Committees

                       The Department of Defense (DOD) spends over $300 billion annually
                       acquiring products and services spanning major weapon systems like the
                       Joint Strike Fighter, commercially available items including laptop
                       computers, and support for military bases in the form of maintenance and
                       food services, among other things. DOD’s acquisition workforce helps
                       maintain military readiness and maximize DOD’s buying power by
                       managing and overseeing the contracts at the core of these acquisitions.
                       This acquisition workforce consists of program managers, contracting
                       officers, engineers, logisticians, cost estimators, and many others.

                       Like other federal agencies, DOD faces a number of challenges in hiring,
                       recruiting, and retaining its civilian employees, including its civilian
                       acquisition workforce personnel. Personnel provisions in Title 5 of the
                       U.S. Code (Title 5) have generally governed much of the federal
                       government’s civil service system, including requirements for hiring,
                       recruiting, and retaining personnel. 1 These provisions ensure a merit-
                       based civil service, for example, by requiring agencies to publicly post job
                       opportunities and screen applications against minimum qualification
                       standards before filling a position. Federal agencies, however, have
                       raised concerns that they have lost job candidates to the private sector
                       due to the length of the hiring process. Over the past 10 years, Congress
                       has enacted various human capital flexibilities in laws that provide DOD
                       with authority and flexibility to shorten the hiring process.

                       Section 843 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year
                       2018 included a provision for us to review DOD’s implementation of hiring
                       and retention flexibilities for the acquisition workforce, with a focus on its
                       civilian acquisition workforce. 2 This report: (1) provides information on
                       DOD’s use of available hiring, recruitment, and retention flexibilities for its
                       civilian acquisition workforce personnel from fiscal years 2014 to 2018;


                       1
                        Title 5 includes, among other things, personnel management laws, procedures, and
                       associated functions generally applicable to federal employees. Federal personnel laws
                       governing topics such as classification, appointment, pay and benefits, and adverse action
                       are contained in sections of Title 5.

                       National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018, Pub. L. No. 115-91, § 843(b).
                       2




                       Page 1                                         GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
and (2) determines the extent to which DOD has monitored and assessed
its use of these flexibilities.

To examine DOD’s use of available hiring, recruitment, and retention
flexibilities for its civilian acquisition workforce personnel from fiscal years
2014 to 2018, we reviewed relevant statutes, reports, and DOD policies
and guidance to identify hiring, recruitment, and retention flexibilities
available. Based on our review, we identified the following hiring
authorities:

•   competitive examination, which we refer to as “the traditional hiring
    method,” and
•   46 alternatives to the traditional hiring method, which we refer to as
    “hiring flexibilities” for the purposes of our review. 3
We also identified four monetary incentives DOD can use to recruit and
retain civilian acquisition workforce personnel—(1) recruitment bonuses,
(2) retention bonuses, (3) relocation bonuses, and (4) student loan
repayments—which we collectively refer to as “recruitment and retention
flexibilities” for the purposes of our review. 4

We also analyzed data from the Defense Civilian Personnel Data System
(DCPDS), DOD’s central repository for civilian personnel transactions
data. We obtained DCPDS data on hiring actions from the Office of the
Under Secretary of Defense (USD) for Personnel and Readiness (P&R) –
Defense Manpower Data Center. We obtained DCPDS data on dollars
authorized for recruitment and retention flexibilities from USD (P&R) –
Defense Civilian Personnel Advisory Service (DCPAS). We electronically
tested these data, reviewed relevant standards and guidance, and

3
 The 46 hiring flexibilities include 14 DOD direct hire authorities provided in statute, and 32
other flexibilities, such as government-wide hiring flexibilities provided in statute. Of the
hiring flexibilities, we focused our analysis on DOD direct hire authorities because they
comprised the single largest category of hiring authorities used by the DOD civilian
acquisition workforce for hiring actions from fiscal year 2014 through 2018 at 60 percent.
Appendix I provides information on each of these 46 flexibilities.
4
 Recruitment and retention flexibilities can also include other monetary incentives, such as
DOD’s permanent change of station incentive, which helps civilian employees pay for the
costs of relocation, as well as work-life programs, such as flexible work schedules and the
ability to telework. For the purposes of our review, we focused on the four government-
wide monetary incentives with data available in the Defense Civilian Personnel Data
System per DOD Instruction 1444.02, Volume 1, Data Submission Requirements for DoD
Civilian Personnel: Appropriated Fund Civilians (Nov. 5, 2013). Appendix II provides
information on each of the four monetary incentives.




Page 2                                            GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
interviewed DCPAS and Defense Manpower Data Center officials to
determine that the data were sufficiently reliable for the purposes of
reporting the frequency with which DOD’s civilian acquisition workforce
used hiring, recruitment, and retention flexibilities for fiscal years 2014
through 2018.

To determine the extent to which DOD has monitored and assessed its
use of these flexibilities, we reviewed acquisition workforce human capital
plans from each of the military departments (Air Force, Army, and Navy)
and the USD for Acquisition and Sustainment (A&S) – Office of Human
Capital Initiatives (HCI). We also reviewed DOD’s policies and guidance
for acquisition workforce management and the use of human capital
flexibilities and data and metrics collected by HCI and DCPAS. We
assessed DOD’s efforts against our key practices for effectively managing
human resource flexibilities and federal internal control standards,
including that management should use quality information to achieve the
entity’s objectives. 5 We also reviewed reports by the Advisory Panel on
Streamlining and Codifying Acquisition Regulations—commonly referred
to as the Section 809 Panel after the legislative provision that created it—
and interviewed Section 809 Panel commissioners to supplement our
analysis. 6

For both objectives, we interviewed officials from

•   HCI, the office responsible for DOD-wide acquisition workforce
    strategic planning;
•   DCPAS, the office responsible for developing DOD’s civilian human
    resources policies and programs;
•   the Defense Manpower Data Center, the office responsible for
    collecting and maintaining DOD’s civilian personnel data;


5
 GAO, Federal Workforce: Key Talent Management Strategies for Agencies to Better Meet
Their Missions, GAO-19-181 (Washington, D.C.: Mar. 28, 2019); Human Capital: Effective
Use of Flexibilities Can Assist Agencies in Managing Their Workforces, GAO-03-2
(Washington, D.C.: Dec. 6, 2002); and Standards for Internal Control in the Federal
Government, GAO-14-704G (Washington, D.C.: Sept. 10, 2014).
6
 Advisory Panel on Streamlining and Codifying Acquisition Regulations, Report of the
Advisory Panel on Streamlining and Codifying Acquisition Regulations Volume 2 of 3,
(Arlington, Va.: June 2018). The panel was established pursuant to Section 809 of the
National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016. The panel also released Volume
1 in January 2018 and Volume 3 in January 2019.




Page 3                                        GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
             •   the Directors for Acquisition Career Management (DACM) for each
                 military department and the Fourth Estate, which is responsible for the
                 30 defense agencies and field activities outside the military
                 departments;
             •   the Air Force Personnel Center;
             •   Army’s Civilian Human Resources Agency;
             •   Navy’s Office of Civilian Human Resources; and
             •   the command within each military department that had the largest
                 number of civilian acquisition workforce personnel in fiscal year 2018:
                 Air Force Materiel Command, Army Combat Capabilities Development
                 Command, and Naval Sea Systems Command. We also interviewed
                 officials from the Defense Contract Management Agency, which had
                 the largest number of civilian acquisition personnel of the other
                 defense agencies with acquisition workforce personnel. Collectively,
                 these four organizations comprised about 38 percent of DOD’s civilian
                 acquisition workforce in fiscal year 2018.
             We also interviewed personnel from the Office of Personnel Management
             (OPM), which is responsible for developing and promulgating
             government-wide human capital policies, and personnel from the Society
             for Human Resource Management, the world’s largest human resources
             membership group, who were familiar with metrics used by the private
             sector to monitor hiring and retention efforts. See appendix III for more
             information about our scope and methodology.

             We conducted this performance audit from August 2018 to August 2019
             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 audit objectives. We believe that
             the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings and
             conclusions based on our audit objectives.


             A skilled acquisition workforce is vital to maintaining military readiness,
Background   increasing the department’s buying power, and achieving substantial
             long-term savings through activities such as systems engineering and
             contract administration. As of September 2018, DOD’s civilian acquisition
             workforce was comprised of about 157,000 civilian personnel (see figure
             1).




             Page 4                                  GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
Figure 1: Department of Defense (DOD) Civilian Acquisition Workforce Presented as a Portion of DOD’s Total Civilian
Workforce and Total Acquisition Workforce as of September 2018




                                         Note: Personnel numbers are rounded to the nearest thousand.


                                         About 60 percent of DOD’s civilian acquisition workforce personnel held
                                         positions in 3 of 14 acquisition career fields: engineering, contracting, and
                                         life cycle logistics (see table 1). 7




                                         7
                                          Pursuant to the Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act, DOD identified 13
                                         career fields and designated acquisition-related positions held by military or civilian
                                         personnel. Pub. L. No. 101-510, §§ 1201-1211 (1990) (relevant sections codified, as
                                         amended, at 10 U.S.C. §§ 1701-1764). The workforce currently includes 14 designated
                                         acquisition career fields.




                                         Page 5                                             GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
                        Table 1: Department of Defense (DOD) Civilian Acquisition Workforce Personnel by
                        14 Acquisition Career Fields as of September 2018

                            Acquisition career field                                      Number of              Percentage of total civilian
                                                                                          personnel                  acquisition workforce
                            Engineering                                                          43,355                                                 28
                            Contracting                                                          26,772                                                 17
                            Life cycle logistics                                                 19,754                                                 13
                            Program management                                                   13,027                                                     8
                            Facilities engineering                                               11,877                                                     8
                            Production, quality, and manufacturing                               10,350                                                     7
                            Information technology                                                 7,648                                                    5
                            Test and evaluation                                                    7,006                                                    4
                            Financial management                                                   6,729                                                    4
                            Auditing                                                               4,219                                                    3
                            Science and technology manager                                         3,522                                                    2
                            Cost estimating                                                        1,388                                               0.9
                            Purchasing                                                             1,260                                               0.8
                            Industrial contract property management                                  395                                               0.3
                            Unknowna                                                                   16                                            0.01
                            Total                                                              157,318                                              100b
                        Source: GAO presentation of the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, Office of Human Capital
                        Initiatives data. | GAO-19-509
                        a
                         The unknown category includes personnel without designated career fields.
                        b
                         The total percentage does not add up to 100 percent due to rounding.




Prior Studies on DOD    We have previously found that DOD has faced various challenges in
Acquisition Workforce   growing and sustaining its acquisition workforce, including challenges
                        with hiring, recruiting, and retaining personnel. 8 In December 2015, we
Challenges
                        found that over the past 20 years, DOD has significantly reduced and
                        then subsequently increased the size of its acquisition workforce. 9


                        8
                         GAO, Defense Acquisition Workforce: Actions Needed to Guide Planning Efforts and
                        Improve Workforce Capability, GAO-16-80 (Washington, D.C.: Dec. 14, 2015); High-Risk
                        Series: Substantial Efforts Needed to Achieve Greater Progress on High-Risk Areas,
                        GAO-19-157SP (Washington, D.C.: Mar. 6, 2019); and DOD Personnel: Further Actions
                        Needed to Strengthen Oversight and Coordination of Defense Laboratories’ Hiring Efforts,
                        GAO-18-417 (Washington, D.C.: May 30, 2018).
                        9
                         GAO-16-80.




                        Page 6                                                                GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
•     During the 1990s, as defense budgets decreased, DOD reduced the
      size of its military and civilian acquisition workforce, and by the early
      2000s it began relying more heavily on contractors to perform many
      acquisition support functions. According to DOD, between 1998 and
      2008, the number of military and civilian personnel performing
      acquisition activities decreased 14 percent, from about 146,000 to
      about 126,000 personnel.
•     Due to concerns about skill gaps within the workforce and growing
      reliance on contractors, the Secretary of Defense announced his
      intention in 2009 to rebalance the workforce mix. In 2010, DOD issued
      an acquisition workforce plan that specified DOD would add 20,000
      military and civilian personnel to its acquisition workforce by fiscal
      year 2015. DOD subsequently increased the size of its military and
      civilian acquisition workforce by 21 percent between 2008 and 2015 to
      about 153,000 personnel, but did not accomplish growth goals set for
      certain priority career fields, such as engineering and contracting.
      DOD officials stated that the shortfalls were largely the result of high
      attrition rates, difficulty hiring qualified personnel, and budget
      constraints.
In May 2018, we found that DOD’s Science and Technology Reinvention
Laboratories (defense laboratories), which include acquisition workforce
personnel, experienced challenges with delays with security clearances
and human resource processing of personnel actions, which contributed
to a lengthy hiring process. 10 We also found that the delays made it
difficult for defense laboratories to hire highly qualified candidates.

Similarly, in June 2018, the Section 809 Panel identified DOD’s
cumbersome hiring process as a challenge for shaping its acquisition
workforce. The Section 809 Panel emphasized that these challenges
undermine DOD’s ability to successfully recruit top candidates into the
acquisition workforce.

Most recently, in March 2019, we reported that DOD had not developed
metrics to track progress associated with shaping the future acquisition
workforce, such as workforce targets as a whole or by specific career
fields. 11 For example, we reported that DOD issued an updated
acquisition workforce strategic plan in October 2016 which, among other

10
    GAO-18-417.
11
    GAO-19-157SP.




Page 7                                      GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
                              things, assessed its current capacity and capability, and identified risks
                              that DOD needed to manage to meet future needs. In addition, in
                              September 2017, DOD issued a workforce rationalization plan. However,
                              neither the October 2016 strategic plan nor the September 2017
                              workforce rationalization plan established specific size targets. We noted
                              that without such metrics, DOD would not be able to demonstrate that its
                              strategic workforce planning efforts and associated initiatives were
                              successful, despite increasing the size of its acquisition workforce beyond
                              its earlier target.


Federal Hiring Process        DOD’s challenges with hiring civilian acquisition workforce personnel are
and Available Flexibilities   not unique within the federal government. The traditional method of hiring
                              for the federal government, also known as the competitive examining
                              process, has been characterized by federal agencies as rigid and lacking
                              in flexibility. The traditional hiring method generally requires agencies to,
                              among other things, notify the public that the government will accept job
                              applications for a position, screen applications against minimum
                              qualification standards, apply selection priorities such as veterans’
                              preference, and assess applicants’ relative competencies or knowledge,
                              skills, and abilities against job-related criteria to identify the most qualified
                              applicants. 12 In 2008, OPM established a roadmap for the traditional
                              hiring method, including an 80-day time-to-hire goal (see figure 2). 13




                              12
                                Federal civil service employees, other than those in the Senior Executive Service, are
                              employed in either the competitive service, 5 U.S.C. §2102(a), or the excepted service, 5
                              U.S.C. § 2103(a). The competitive service examination process is one of the processes
                              intended to ensure that agencies’ hiring activities comply with merit principles. Excepted
                              service positions are those positions which are excepted from the competitive service by
                              or pursuant to statute, by the President, or by OPM. 5 C.F.R. § 213.101. OPM may except
                              positions from the competitive service, for example, when it determines that appointments
                              into such positions through competitive examination are not practicable or for recruitment
                              of certain types of students or individuals who recently completed qualifying educational
                              programs. 5 C.F.R. § 6.1(a) and §213.102(b).

                               OPM, End-to-End Hiring Initiative (2008).
                              13




                              Page 8                                          GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
Figure 2: The Federal Government Competitive Hiring Process, Including Time-to-Hire Goals




                                        To address some of the human capital challenges federal agencies face,
                                        statutes have provided hiring, recruitment, and retention flexibilities that
                                        provide agencies with tools to help manage their workforces. Legislation
                                        has also provided hiring flexibilities exclusively to DOD for specified
                                        purposes, including hiring acquisition workforce personnel.

Hiring Flexibilities                    Hiring flexibilities can help the government fill critical skills gaps or
                                        achieve certain public policy goals, such as employing veterans. As of
                                        September 2018, we identified 46 hiring flexibilities that DOD could use to
                                        hire civilian acquisition workforce personnel, including the following.

                                        •   DOD Direct Hire Authorities. These authorities help expedite the hiring
                                            process by allowing DOD to hire candidates without regard to certain
                                            provisions in Title 5, such as veterans’ preference and applicant rating
                                            and ranking. According to DOD officials, using direct hire authorities
                                            can reduce the time to hire personnel by nearly half as compared to
                                            the traditional hiring method. We identified 14 DOD direct hire




                                        Page 9                                     GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
       authorities in effect as of fiscal year 2018 that DOD could use to hire
       civilian acquisition workforce personnel. 14 For example, the “expedited
       hiring authority for certain defense acquisition workforce positions”
       (expedited hiring authority for acquisition positions) permits the
       Secretary of Defense to determine that a shortage of candidates or a
       critical hiring need exists for certain acquisition workforce positions,
       and to recruit and appoint qualified persons directly to those
       positions. 15 For the purposes of the expedited hiring authority, in
       December 2015, the Secretary of Defense had designated 12 of the
       14 acquisition career fields as critical or understaffed, including the
       engineering, contracting, and life cycle logistics career fields. 16
•      DOD Civilian Acquisition Workforce Personnel Demonstration Project
       (AcqDemo) Hiring Authorities. According to HCI officials, about 19
       percent of DOD’s civilian acquisition workforce personnel participate
       in the AcqDemo performance management system, an alternative to
       the General Schedule pay system. 17 Hiring managers under
       AcqDemo may use AcqDemo-specific hiring flexibilities, such as direct
       hire appointments for the business and technical management
       professional career path, in addition to hiring flexibilities available
       DOD-wide.
•      Veterans-Related Hiring Authorities. These authorities allow agencies
       to hire certain veterans without regard to certain provisions in Title 5. 18
       For example, agencies may appoint eligible veterans under the
       Veterans’ Recruitment Appointment authority without competition


 See appendix I, tables 7 and 9 for additional information on the 14 DOD direct hire
14

authorities provided in statute.
15
    10 U.S.C. § 1705(f).
 DOD did not designate purchasing or industrial contract property management as critical
16

or understaffed career fields.
17
  Section 1762 of Title 10, United States Code, provides the Secretary of Defense
authority to establish personnel management system demonstration projects. DOD
implemented AcqDemo in 1999. 82 Fed. Reg. 52104 (November 9, 2017) provides
additional information on AcqDemo regulations and procedures, including AcqDemo hiring
flexibilities initiated by DOD.
 For the purposes of this report, veterans-related hiring authorities refer to the special
18

selection procedures for certain veterans under merit promotion authority for competitive
service appointments, Veterans’ Recruitment Appointment, and noncompetitive
appointments for veterans with a service-connected disability of 30 percent or more. See
appendix I, table 10 for more information on these three veterans-related hiring
authorities.




Page 10                                         GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
                                   under limited circumstances or otherwise through excepted service
                                   hiring procedures. 19
                            •      Pathways Programs. These programs promote employment
                                   opportunities in the federal government for students and recent
                                   graduates through an exception to the competitive hiring rules for
                                   certain positions in the federal workforce. 20
                            Appendix I provides additional information on the hiring flexibilities that
                            were available to DOD’s civilian acquisition workforce as of September
                            2018.

Recruitment and Retention   Sections of Title 5 outline recruitment and retention flexibilities that
Flexibilities               agencies can offer to prospective and current employees to help recruit
                            and retain highly qualified personnel. Like other federal agencies, DOD
                            can use these incentives to recruit and retain civilian personnel, including
                            those in the acquisition workforce.

                            •      Recruitment bonuses may be paid to a newly hired federal employee
                                   if the agency determines that the position would be difficult to fill in the
                                   absence of a bonus. 21
                            •      Relocation bonuses may be paid to a current employee who must
                                   relocate for a position in a different geographic area if the agency
                                   determines that the position would be difficult to fill in the absence of a
                                   bonus. 22
                            •      Retention bonuses may be paid to a current employee if the agency
                                   determines that the unusually high or unique qualifications of the
                                   employee or a special need of the agency for the employee’s services
                                   makes it essential to retain the employee who would likely leave
                                   federal service in the absence of such a bonus. 23


                            19
                                38 U.S.C. § 4214(b), 5 C.F.R. § 307.103, and 5 C.F.R. part 302.
                            20
                              Executive Order 13562 established the Pathways Programs in 2010. The Executive
                            Order established the Internship Program and the Recent Graduates Program and
                            modified the Presidential Management Fellows program, which are collectively known as
                            the Pathway Programs. See Exec. Order 13562, Recruiting and Hiring Students and
                            Recent Graduates. 75 Fed. Reg. 82585 (Dec. 30, 2010), 5 C.F.R. part 362.
                            21
                                5 U.S.C. § 5753; 5 C.F.R. part 575, subpart A.
                            22
                                5 U.S.C. § 5753; 5 C.F.R. part 575, subpart B.
                            23
                                5 U.S.C. § 5754; 5 C.F.R. part 575, subpart C.




                            Page 11                                              GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
                         •      Student loan repayments may be paid on behalf of a job candidate or
                                a current employee to recruit or retain highly qualified personnel. 24
                                The employees must sign a service agreement of at least 3 years with
                                the agency that pays the loans. Federal agencies may pay up to
                                $10,000 per employee per calendar year, totaling no more than
                                $60,000 for any one employee.
                         DOD can fund the four monetary incentives with the Defense Acquisition
                         Workforce Development Fund (DAWDF)—a dedicated funding source for
                         the recruitment, training, and retention of DOD’s acquisition personnel—
                         as well as other sources, such as operations and maintenance
                         appropriations. 25

                         Appendix II provides additional information on the recruitment and
                         retention flexibilities available to DOD’s civilian acquisition workforce as of
                         September 2018.


DOD Acquisition          Several offices within DOD play key roles in managing how the
Workforce and Civilian   department uses hiring, recruitment, and retention flexibilities for the
                         civilian acquisition workforce. For example, HCI oversees department-
Personnel Leaders
                         wide acquisition workforce strategic planning; DCPAS develops
                         implementation guidance on how DOD flexibilities should be used; and
                         civilian personnel centers track the extent to which flexibilities are used
                         (see table 2).




                         24
                             5 U.S.C. § 5379; 5 C.F.R. part 537.
                         25
                           In 2008, DAWDF was established to provide DOD with a dedicated funding source to
                         ensure that the DOD acquisition workforce has the capacity, in both personnel and skills,
                         needed to properly perform its mission, provide appropriate oversight of contractor
                         performance, and ensure that DOD receives the best value for the expenditure of public
                         resources. DAWDF was codified in section 1705 of Title 10 of the U.S. Code. DOD has
                         used DAWDF to fund three categories of activities: recruitment and hiring; training and
                         development; and retention and recognition of personnel. According to HCI officials, from
                         fiscal years 2008 through 2018, DAWDF was funded by approximately $4.6 billion through
                         congressional appropriations, credits remitted by the military departments, or transfers of
                         expired funds.




                         Page 12                                         GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
Table 2: Department of Defense (DOD) Leaders’ Roles and Responsibilities in
Managing Hiring, Recruitment, and Retention Flexibilities for the Civilian
Acquisition Workforce

 DOD leader(s)                            Roles and responsibilities
 Office of the Under                      •   Oversee department-wide acquisition workforce
 Secretary of Defense for                     strategic planning
 Acquisition and                          •   Implement DOD-wide workforce strategies and
 Sustainment – Director,                      policies to help attract and retain acquisition workforce
 Human Capital Initiatives                    personnel
 (HCI)
                                          •   Develop implementation guidance for DOD Civilian
                                              Acquisition Workforce Personnel Demonstration
                                              Project hiring authorities
                                          •   Manage the Defense Acquisition Workforce
                                              Development Fund, a key source of funding for
                                              recruitment and retention flexibilities in the civilian
                                              acquisition workforce
 Director, Defense Civilian               •     Develop department-wide policies and implementation
 Personnel Advisory Service                     guidance on how flexibilities should be used
                                          •     Develop department-wide metrics for assessing hiring,
                                                recruitment, and retention efforts
                                          •     Provide HCI with data on flexibilities usage for the
                                                civilian acquisition workforce
                                          •     Report data on flexibilities usage in response to
                                                congressional requests
 Director, Acquisition Career             •     In consultation with HCI, oversee component-wide
 Management for each                            acquisition workforce strategic planning
 military department and                  •     Implement component-wide workforce initiatives to
 other defense agencies                         help attract and retain acquisition workforce personnel
                                          •     Serve as program manager for the component’s
                                                Defense Acquisition Workforce Development Fund
                                                program, including compiling and providing future
                                                requirements and spending plans
 Directors, civilian personnel            •     Develop component-level policies and implementation
 centers for each military                      guidance on how hiring, recruitment, and retention
 department and other                           flexibilities should be used for the civilian acquisition
 defense agencies                               workforce
                                          •     Track data on flexibilities usage within their respective
                                                components
 Civilian personnel centers’              •     Advise hiring managers on flexibilities usage
 human resource specialists               •     Develop and post job vacancy announcements,
                                                including whether flexibilities will be used
                                          •     Process personnel actions related to hiring and
                                                authorization of recruitment and retention flexibilities
 Major commands’ hiring                   •     In consultation with human resource specialists,
 managers                                       determine which flexibility to use—if any—when hiring,
                                                recruiting, and retaining civilian acquisition workforce
                                                personnel
Source: GAO analysis of DOD information. | GAO-19-509




Page 13                                                      GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
                          From fiscal year 2014 to 2018, DOD increased its use of hiring,
DOD Has Increased         recruitment, and retention flexibilities for its civilian acquisition workforce.
Its Use of Hiring,        During this period, DOD used hiring flexibilities for 90 percent of its
                          approximately 44,000 civilian acquisition workforce hiring actions. This
Recruitment, and          high usage rate came as USD (A&S), USD (P&R), and the military
Retention Flexibilities   departments’ leadership encouraged their hiring managers and human
                          resource specialists to use the hiring flexibilities to help reduce the length
for Its Civilian          of the hiring process. Additionally, during this period, DOD’s human
Acquisition Workforce     resource specialists issued guidance that helped address confusion about
                          the requirements governing the hiring authorities. Currently, USD (P&R)
                          is leading a DOD-wide effort to consolidate direct hire authorities in an
                          attempt to simplify their application. During this 5-year period, DOD also
                          increased its use of recruitment and retention flexibilities for the civilian
                          acquisition workforce, increasing the dollar amount authorized for these
                          flexibilities from $13.9 million in fiscal year 2014 to $33.7 million in fiscal
                          year 2018. This increase came as DOD leadership emphasized the
                          benefits of recruitment and retention flexibilities and oversaw concerted
                          efforts to increase their usage through the dissemination of information to
                          human resource specialists.


DOD Used Hiring           We found that DOD used hiring flexibilities for about 90 percent of DOD’s
Flexibilities for Vast    approximately 44,000 civilian acquisition workforce hiring actions between
                          fiscal years 2014 and 2018. 26 Further, DOD increased its use of these
Majority of Civilian
                          flexibilities, which include direct hire authorities, from 80 percent in fiscal
Acquisition Workforce     year 2014 to 95 percent in fiscal year 2018 (see figure 3). 27
Hires from Fiscal Years
2014 to 2018


                          26
                            According to HCI’s publicly reported data, from fiscal year 2014 to 2018, DOD hired
                          about 43,000 new civilian acquisition workforce personnel, which does not include
                          personnel who transferred from within the department or the re-categorization of existing
                          positions as acquisition. The number of hiring actions—about 44,000—is slightly greater
                          than the number of new personnel hired because personnel can separate from and re-
                          enter DOD as another hire, and personnel can be hired under multiple term or temporary
                          appointments within a year. Annually, the number of hiring actions was 0.1 to 6 percent
                          greater than the number of new personnel from fiscal year 2014 to 2018.
                          27
                            Appendix IV provides additional information on DOD’s use of hiring flexibilities by career
                          field. Appendix V provides additional information on DOD’s use of hiring flexibilities by
                          military department and defense agencies.




                          Page 14                                          GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
Figure 3: The Department of Defense (DOD) Predominantly Relied on Hiring
Flexibilities to Hire Civilian Acquisition Workforce Personnel from Fiscal Year 2014
to 2018




Note: “Traditional hiring method” is the competitive examining method outlined in sections of Title 5 of
the U.S. Code. “DOD direct hire authorities” are a type of hiring flexibility and include DOD-specific
direct hire authorities provided in statute, including the expedited hiring authority for certain defense
acquisition workforce positions, as well as DOD Civilian Acquisition Workforce Personnel
Demonstration Project (AcqDemo) hiring authorities. “Other hiring flexibilities” include veterans-
related hiring authorities and Pathways Programs authorities among other hiring authorities.
a
 The decrease in DOD hiring actions for fiscal year 2017 is largely attributed to a government-wide
hiring freeze.


From fiscal year 2014 to 2018, DOD used the expedited hiring authority
for acquisition positions more than any other direct hire authority for its
civilian acquisition workforce. 28 Congress enacted this authority in fiscal
year 2009 and in fiscal year 2010, amended the authority to, among other
things, allow hiring of all qualified applicants instead of only highly


28
    10 U.S.C. § 1705(f).




Page 15                                                GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
                                          qualified applicants. 29 Additionally, in November 2015, legislation
                                          eliminated the expedited hiring authority’s expiration date and made the
                                          authority permanent. 30 Command officials told us that they used this
                                          authority often because it does not have as many requirements as other
                                          direct hire authorities and because of their familiarity with it. Nine of the
                                          14 DOD direct hire authorities identified were not available for use until
                                          fiscal year 2017 because they were enacted after that year or DOD had
                                          not yet implemented the authority, either through memorandums or
                                          federal register notices (see table 3).

Table 3: Enactment Dates, Implementation Dates, and Use of Department of Defense (DOD) Direct Hire Authorities (DHA)
Available to the Civilian Acquisition Workforce from Fiscal Year 2014 to 2018

                                                                                Number of hiring actions using DHA by
                                                                                              fiscal year
DOD direct hire authority                 Enactment date     Implementation    2014      2015     2016      2017       2018
                                                             date
Expedited hiring authority for certain    Oct. 2008          Dec. 2008         1,490    3,534     4,794     3,494    5,412
defense acquisition workforce positions
DHA for defense laboratory STEM           Oct. 2008, as      July 2014            98      417       396      306        433
advanced degrees                          amended, Jan.
                                          2011a
DHA for defense laboratory STEM           Dec. 2013          July 2014            23      684       893     1,043    1,423
bachelor’s degrees
DHA for defense laboratory STEM           Dec. 2013          July 2014             3       64        47        45       104
veterans
DHA for senior scientific and technical   Dec. 2013          July 2014             0        0         0         0         0
managers at research and engineering
facilities
DHA for defense laboratory STEM           Dec. 2014          June 2017            ––        ◌         ◌         1         5
students
DHA for select technical acquisition      Nov. 2015          Dec. 2016            ––       ––         ◌        17       211
experts
DHA for select veteran technical          Nov. 2015          Dec. 2016            ––       ––         ◌         2        15
acquisition experts
DHA for post-secondary students and       Dec. 2016          Feb. 2017            ––       ––        ––        33       155
recent graduates
DHA for defense industrial base and major Dec. 2016          June 2017            ––       ––        ––        19       674
range and test facilities base
DHA for financial management experts      Dec. 2016          June 2017            ––       ––        ––         4       117


                                           Pub. L. No. 111-84, § 831.
                                          29



                                           Pub. L. No. 114-92, § 841(a)(3).
                                          30




                                          Page 16                                   GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
                                                                                                                           Number of hiring actions using DHA by
                                                                                                                                         fiscal year
DOD direct hire authority                                     Enactment date              Implementation                   2014          2015    2016    2017      2018
                                                                                          date
DHA for the Director of Operational Test                      Dec. 2016                   June 2017                           ––           ––      ––        1        0
and Evaluation
DHA for cyber workforce positions                             Dec. 2016                   Aug. 2017                           ––           ––      ––        0       37
DHA for business transformation and                           Dec. 2017                   Aug. 2018                           ––           ––      ––       ––        0
management innovation
Other DHAsb                                                                                                                   33           36      30     124       168
Total                                                                                                                     1,647          4,735   6,160   5,089    8,754

Abbreviations
DHA      Direct hire authority
STEM Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics
Key
–– DHA not yet enacted
◌   DHA enacted but implementing guidance not yet available
Source: GAO analysis of Defense Civilian Personnel Data System data, laws, DOD memorandums, and Federal Register notices. | GAO-19-509
                                                              a
                                                               The DHA for defense laboratory STEM advanced degrees was enacted in October 2008. In January
                                                              2011, the authority was amended to clarify and correct provisions in the October 2008 law, as
                                                              enacted.
                                                              b
                                                               Other DHAs include those under DOD’s Civilian Acquisition Workforce Personnel Demonstration
                                                              Project (AcqDemo) and those actions where the Defense Civilian Personnel Data System did not
                                                              include information on the specific DHA used.


Factors That Contributed to the                               Since 2015, USD (A&S), USD (P&R), and leadership of the military
Increased Use of Hiring                                       departments have encouraged the use of hiring flexibilities—particularly
Flexibilities                                                 direct hire authorities—over the traditional method.

                                                              •      From July 2015 to November 2017, USD (A&S) and USD (P&R)
                                                                     convened five joint acquisition and human resource summits to
                                                                     provide a recurring forum for discussing leading practices in
                                                                     sustaining the acquisition workforce, including the improved use of
                                                                     hiring flexibilities.
                                                              •      In October 2016, USD (A&S) issued its current acquisition workforce
                                                                     strategic plan for DOD and used this document to encourage
                                                                     implementation of direct hire authorities as appropriate.
                                                              •      In November 2017, senior leadership in the USD (P&R) office issued
                                                                     a Federal Register Notice that updated and consolidated AcqDemo’s
                                                                     rules and guidance, including introducing additional AcqDemo hiring
                                                                     flexibilities (see appendix I, table 8 for additional information on these
                                                                     flexibilities).




                                                              Page 17                                                            GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
                                                  •    In 2018, the Secretary of the Navy, the Assistant Secretary of the
                                                       Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, and the Assistant Secretary
                                                       of the Air Force for Manpower and Reserve Affairs each issued
                                                       memorandums to their respective departments stating that the use of
                                                       direct hire authorities be considered first in the hiring process, as
                                                       appropriate. These memorandums note that direct hire authorities
                                                       provide significant advantages in timeliness compared to the
                                                       traditional hiring process, and encourage maximum use of direct hire
                                                       authorities to the extent appropriate.
                                                  In addition to DOD leadership emphasis, command officials credited
                                                  DCPAS and the military departments’ civilian personnel centers for taking
                                                  actions to help DOD increase its use of direct hire authorities. These
                                                  officials explained that confusion among hiring managers and human
                                                  resource specialists over the numerous requirements that apply to each
                                                  direct hire authority constituted one of the main challenges that had
                                                  previously limited DOD’s use of direct hire authorities. To illustrate the
                                                  potential for confusion, table 4 presents some of the direct hire authority
                                                  requirements a hiring manager would have to consider under two different
                                                  hiring authorities.

Table 4: Examples of Variations in Requirements for Selected Direct Hire Authorities

Type of direct hire               Expiration   Limit on the number of    Public                   Positions covered    Veterans’
authority                         date         personnel that can be     announcement                                  preference
                                               hired                     requirement
Expedited hiring                  None         None                      Yes                      DOD acquisition      Yes, qualified
authority for certain                                                                             personnel in 13 of   candidates with
defense acquisition                                                                               14 career fields     veterans’
workforce positions                                                                                                    preference should
                                                                                                                       be considered for
                                                                                                                       appointments when
                                                                                                                       they are found to
                                                                                                                       best meet mission
                                                                                                                       requirements
Direct hire authority for Sept. 30, 2025       25 percent of the number Yes, publicly advertise   Post-secondary      No
DOD post-secondary                             of hires made into DOD to the extent practical     students and recent
students and recent                            professional and                                   graduates in
graduates                                      administrative                                     professional and
                                               occupations at the                                 administrative
                                               General Schedule (GS)-                             positions which are
                                               11 level and below under                           at the GS-11 level
                                               competitive examining                              and below
                                               procedures during the
                                               previous fiscal year
Source: DOD information. | GAO-19-509




                                                  Page 18                                         GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
                              To help address the confusion stemming from the direct hire authorities’
                              numerous requirements, in 2017 and 2018, DCPAS and the personnel
                              centers consolidated information on the available direct hire authorities
                              and the requirements that govern each of them into concise and
                              comprehensive guidance documents. As a result, command-level and
                              personnel center officials told us that human resource specialists can now
                              quickly find and compare available direct hire authorities to determine
                              what may work best for their hiring needs.

Factors That Contributed to   We found that the military departments’ use of certain direct hire
Limiting the Use of Hiring    authorities was limited by the amount of time it took DOD leadership to
Flexibilities                 implement some of the authorities. 31 DCPAS officials told us that although
                              Congress enacts direct hire authorities in legislation, DOD human
                              resource personnel and hiring managers do not use the authorities until
                              DOD and the components issue implementing guidance. We found that
                              DOD implemented the 14 DOD direct hire authorities anywhere from 2 to
                              42 months after an authority’s enactment (see figure 4). 32




                               Direct hire authorities under AcqDemo and the defense laboratory personnel
                              31

                              demonstration projects were implemented through federal register notices. For other direct
                              hire authorities, DCPAS issued DOD-wide implementing guidance.
                              32
                                We did not include the AcqDemo direct hire authorities in this analysis because DOD
                              received authority to conduct AcqDemo, with OPM’s approval, and the AcqDemo hiring
                              authorities established within AcqDemo were implemented through federal register
                              notices.




                              Page 19                                        GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
Figure 4: Time Elapsed between Enactment and Implementation of Selected Department of Defense (DOD) Direct Hire
Authorities Available to DOD’s Civilian Acquisition Workforce from Fiscal Year 2008 to 2018




                                       Note: For the purposes of this analysis, we focused on 14 DOD direct hire authorities provided in
                                       statute and available as of September 2018 that DOD could use to hire DOD civilian acquisition
                                       workforce personnel.


                                       In May 2018, we reported on the 30-month lapse between the enactment
                                       of the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics direct hire
                                       authority for students at the defense laboratories and DOD’s issuance of
                                       corresponding implementation guidance. 33 Defense laboratory officials
                                       told us it took longer than anticipated to publish the federal register notice
                                       that allowed the laboratories to use the hiring authority, and they
                                       attributed the delays to coordination issues among relevant offices during

                                       33
                                         GAO-18-417.




                                       Page 20                                               GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
the approval process. 34 In December 2018, we found that the defense
laboratories hired significantly fewer students than authorized because of
the delays. 35 To address the delays, in May 2018, we recommended that
DOD establish and document time frames for its coordination process to
help ensure the timely implementation of defense laboratory hiring
authorities in the future. DOD concurred with our recommendation and
identified actions the department plans to take to improve oversight and
coordination of the defense laboratories’ hiring efforts.

DOD acquisition workforce and human resource officials told us that they
also did not use certain direct hire authorities as much from fiscal years
2014 to 2018 because the requirements associated with them made them
harder to use. For example, according to DOD guidance documents we
reviewed, most of the DOD direct hire authorities applicable to the civilian
acquisition workforce have expiration dates or limits on the number of
hires. Table 5 provides examples of requirements governing direct hire
authorities that officials identified as making the authorities more difficult
to use.




 The federal register notice process has traditionally been used by the department to
34

implement the personnel demonstration projects at the defense laboratories, according to
DOD officials.
35
  GAO, Defense Science and Technology: Actions Needed to Enhance Use of Laboratory
Initiated Research Authority, GAO-19-64 (Washington, D.C.: Dec. 20, 2018).




Page 21                                        GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
Table 5: Examples of Requirements that Department of Defense (DOD) Officials
Identified as Hindering Implementation of Direct Hire Authorities (DHA)

 Requirements                   Example of challenges implementing DHA due to
                                requirements
 Expiration dates               Air Force Personnel Center officials said that they sometimes
                                avoided using DHAs when the authorities were close to expiring
                                because they were concerned that they would have to start the
                                hiring process over if a job offer was not provided before the
                                expiration date of the DHA.
 Limits on the number Naval Sea Systems Command officials said that some defense
 of hires             laboratories hired up to their limits—which are provided in statute
                      for certain positions for the defense laboratory DHAs—and could
                      have hired additional personnel had the limits been higher.
 Public                         An Army Director for Acquisition Career Management official told
 announcements                  us that the public announcement requirement for the expedited
                                hiring authority for certain defense acquisition workforce positions
                                adds time to the hiring process.
 DOD’s Priority                 DOD’s Priority Placement Program provides certain DOD
 Placement Program              employees whose positions are eliminated—e.g. through base
                                closures—priority placement in vacant positions within DOD. An
                                official from the Office of Human Capital Initiatives (HCI) told us
                                that most DHAs do not waive the requirements of the Priority
                                Placement Program. As a result, human resource specialists
                                cannot use these DHAs until they have determined no eligible
                                employees qualify for a position. HCI officials told us this process
                                involves a database search, which can be time-consuming and
                                hinder usage of those DHAs. HCI officials stated that alternatively,
                                some DHAs waive the Priority Placement Program requirements,
                                and it is easier to implement these DHAs as a result.
Source: GAO analysis DOD information. | GAO-19-509



Going forward, HCI and DCPAS officials told us that USD (P&R) is
leading a DOD-wide effort to advise Congress on which direct hire
authorities could be consolidated and which requirements could be
eliminated. For example, HCI officials said that USD (P&R) recently
provided Congress input on consolidating four cybersecurity-related
authorities into one authority. DCPAS officials also told us they previously
provided input to Congress on certain challenges hiring managers
experienced in using some of the direct hire authorities. According to
command officials, DCPAS recommended that Congress raise the limits
on the number of personnel that could be hired under the defense
laboratory direct hire authorities.




Page 22                                                  GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
DOD Increased Its Use of    We found that DOD increased its use of recruitment and retention
Recruitment and Retention   flexibilities from fiscal year 2014 to fiscal year 2018. We also examined
                            two other issues related to recruitment and retention—post-employment
Flexibilities from Fiscal
                            restrictions on military personnel and authorities to remove civilian
Years 2014 to 2018          acquisition workforce employees for unacceptable performance. DOD
                            officials did not identify either issue as a major challenge for managing
                            the civilian acquisition workforce.

Recruitment and Retention   We found that DOD increased its use of recruitment bonuses, relocation
Flexibilities               bonuses, retention bonuses, and student loan repayments from $13.9
                            million in fiscal year 2014 to $33.7 million in fiscal year 2018 (see figure
                            5). 36




                            36
                              Appendix VI provides additional information on DOD’s use of recruitment and retention
                            flexibilities by career field.




                            Page 23                                        GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
Figure 5: The Department of Defense (DOD) Increased the Authorized Dollar
Amount for Recruitment and Retention Flexibilities for the Civilian Acquisition
Workforce from Fiscal Year 2014 to 2018




Note: The award amounts authorized for the recruitment and retention flexibilities in a fiscal year may
not equal the amount paid in that fiscal year. DOD officials explained that the total amount authorized




Page 24                                                GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
                                                               in a fiscal year may be paid in installments and not paid to the employee until the subsequent fiscal
                                                               year.
                                                               a
                                                                The decrease in dollars authorized in fiscal year 2017 is largely attributed to a government-wide
                                                               hiring freeze and significant unplanned mid-year funding reductions in Defense Acquisition Workforce
                                                               Development Fund dollars.


                                                               As part of the increased total amount of funds authorized for recruitment
                                                               and retention flexibilities, DOD had increased the number of awarded
                                                               recruitment and retention flexibilities by approximately 140 percent
                                                               between fiscal years 2014 to 2018 (see table 6).

Table 6: Number of DOD-Awarded Civilian Acquisition Workforce Recruitment and Retention Flexibilities in Fiscal Year 2014
and 2018

                                                       Fiscal year 2014 number                 Fiscal year 2018 number of           Percent increase in number
                                                                      of awards                                   awards             of awards from fiscal year
                                                                                                                                                   2014 to 2018
 Student loan repayments                                                             725                                  1,513                                109%
 Retention bonuses                                                                    63                                     97                                  54%
 Relocation bonuses                                                                  487                                    701                                  44%
 Recruitment bonuses                                                                 282                                  1,417                                402%
 Total                                                                              1,557                                 3,728                                139%
Source: GAO analysis of Defense Civilian Personnel Data System data. | GAO-19-509



                                                               DOD leadership has emphasized the benefits of recruitment and retention
                                                               flexibilities, which helped increase their use. For example, in DOD’s
                                                               October 2016 acquisition workforce strategic plan, USD (A&S) stated that
                                                               the acquisition workforce would increase the use of these flexibilities by
                                                               leveraging DAWDF. Additionally, in November 2016, USD (A&S) and
                                                               USD (P&R) held a joint acquisition and human resource summit, which
                                                               highlighted efforts of an integrated product team established to expand
                                                               the use recruitment and retention flexibilities. For example, the integrated
                                                               product team developed a fact sheet to answer frequently asked
                                                               questions about incentives from human resource specialists and hiring
                                                               managers within the military departments.

                                                               Officials from the commands and DACMs generally agreed that
                                                               recruitment and retention flexibilities were useful tools in helping them
                                                               recruit and retain acquisition workforce talent. To receive these monetary
                                                               incentives, employees must enter into written service agreements to
                                                               remain with the department for a specific period.

                                                               DACM and defense agency officials, however, noted that retention
                                                               bonuses were the least effective of the monetary recruitment and


                                                               Page 25                                                GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
                               retention flexibilities. For example, Defense Contract Management
                               Agency and Air Force officials told us they do not use retention bonuses
                               as widely because they do not view them as effective tools in retaining
                               talent. Defense Contract Management Agency officials explained that
                               most of the personnel who leave their agency for other jobs go to other
                               DOD organizations or federal agencies, and retention bonuses are
                               generally used only for employees who are likely to leave federal service.
                               The Air Force DACM’s representatives told us the Air Force decreased its
                               use of DAWDF for retention bonuses as a result of a 2016 RAND
                               Corporation study that found that private sector companies made minimal
                               use of retention bonuses. According to this study, none of the 21
                               companies in RAND’s sample—among Fortune’s “100 best companies to
                               work for”—identified retention bonuses as a primary tool to retain talent.
                               Lastly, command and personnel center officials we interviewed also noted
                               that a number of factors outside of monetary recruitment and retention
                               flexibilities influence an employee’s decision to join or remain with DOD.
                               These factors include the organization’s mission and work-life programs
                               and policies.

Post-Employment Restrictions   DOD military personnel are subject to certain post-employment
                               restrictions that could potentially dissuade them from seeking further
                               employment with the department as civilian personnel, but DACM and
                               command officials told us these restrictions have not significantly affected
                               their ability to recruit new hires. For example, the “180-day rule” prevents
                               DOD from appointing retired military personnel to civil service positions
                               within 180 days of the military person’s retirement unless the
                               appointment, which must be in the competitive service, is authorized by
                               the Secretary of Defense or a designee, OPM approves the appointment,
                               and the minimum rate of basic pay has been increased. 37 DACM and
                               command officials noted that retired military personnel could elect to work
                               for private sector companies during the 180-day period. However, these
                               officials did not cite post-employment restrictions as a major recruitment
                               challenge for the civilian acquisition workforce and instead cited other
                               challenges, such as limited resources dedicated to recruiting civilian
                               personnel and hiring delays due to the security clearance process.

Removal Authority              DOD does not have specific statutory authority in Title 10, U.S. Code for
                               removing civilian acquisition workforce personnel for unacceptable



                                5 U.S.C. § 3326(b).
                               37




                               Page 26                                 GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
                          performance. 38 However, DOD’s civilian employees are subject to a
                          longer probationary period than other civilian federal employees, and
                          DACM and command officials told us that removing underperforming staff
                          is easier during a probationary period than when staff are permanently
                          employed.39 Officials also noted that staff tend to leave on their own
                          accord if they are not performing well within the department.


                          DOD does not regularly monitor its use of hiring, recruitment, and
DOD Does Not              retention flexibilities for its civilian acquisition workforce, and despite
Regularly Monitor         ongoing efforts, is not yet able to systematically assess the effectiveness
                          of these flexibilities. HCI, the office responsible for DOD-wide acquisition
Hiring, Recruitment,      workforce strategic planning, regularly monitors the overall health of the
and Retention             acquisition workforce, in part by reviewing and reporting statistics on
                          workforce size, workforce gains and losses, and other workforce-related
Flexibilities or Assess   metrics on a quarterly basis. Further, as previously noted, DOD has
Their Effectiveness       increased its overall use of human capital flexibilities. However, HCI does
                          not regularly monitor the military departments and defense components’
                          specific use of hiring, recruitment, and retention flexibilities. As a result,
                          HCI is missing opportunities to identify variations in usage rates, and use
                          that information to determine whether there are specific issues or
                          challenges being encountered. For example, we found that the Air Force
                          and Navy used direct hire authorities twice as often as the Army in fiscal
                          year 2018. Further, while DOD leadership has emphasized that using
                          hiring flexibilities improves DOD’s ability to recruit and hire high-quality
                          talent in a timely manner, HCI is not yet able to assess how effective the
                          hiring flexibilities have been in achieving these goals. This is because
                          DCPAS has not yet developed a plan to consistently measure how long it
                          takes to hire new personnel across the department. Similarly, DCPAS has
                          not yet established metrics to assess the quality of the new personnel


                          38
                            The requirements related to removing personnel from the federal workforce, including
                          DOD’s civilian acquisition workforce, due to unacceptable performance, including a
                          member of DOD’s civilian acquisition workforce, are set forth in chapters 43 and 75 of title
                          5, United States Code. Specifically, 5 U.S.C. §§ 4302-4303 address removal for
                          unacceptable performance and § 7513 addressed removal for performance or conduct-
                          based reasons. OPM’s implementing regulations are found at 5 C.F.R parts 432 and 752,
                          respectively. If personnel are employed through DOD’s AcqDemo, these requirements
                          generally apply and are outlined in Department of Defense, Civilian Acquisition Workforce
                          Personnel Demonstration (AcqDemo) Project; Department of Defense (DoD). 82 Fed.
                          Reg. 52104 (Nov. 9, 2017).

                           10 U.S.C. § 1599e.
                          39




                          Page 27                                          GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
                          DOD hires. DCPAS has efforts underway to address these issues and
                          plans to start using these metrics in 2019.


HCI Does Not Regularly    DOD policy states HCI should implement strategies and policies to help
Monitor Usage of Hiring   attract and retain acquisition workforce personnel. 40 To this end, HCI
Flexibilities             officials told us they monitor the overall health of the acquisition workforce
                          in various ways, including outreach to the DACMs on workforce
                          challenges, as well as holding knowledge-sharing events, such as a May
                          2018 acquisition workforce human capital symposium. Additionally, HCI
                          reviews and reports statistics on workforce size, workforce gains and
                          losses, and other workforce-related metrics on a quarterly basis. For
                          example, in its fiscal year 2019 first quarter assessment, HCI reported
                          data on the current size of the acquisition workforce; acquisition
                          workforce education and certification levels; and workforce gains, losses,
                          retirement eligibility and attrition rates, among other things, both on a
                          DOD-wide basis as well as by acquisition career field. HCI officials told us
                          they use these data to identify potential or emerging workforce
                          challenges. HCI officials noted that if they identify any issues, they further
                          analyze data to identify the root cause of the issues.

                          HCI officials acknowledged, however, that HCI does not regularly collect
                          or review data on the defense components’ specific use of hiring,
                          recruitment, and retention flexibilities as part of its quarterly assessments.
                          HCI officials stated that they collect and review hiring flexibilities data on
                          an as-needed basis, such as in preparation for DOD acquisition workforce
                          governance forums, including senior steering board and workforce
                          management group meetings, in which the use of the flexibilities will be
                          on the agenda, or in response to Congressional requests. HCI officials
                          also noted that because the use of hiring, recruitment, and retention
                          flexibilities are made at the command level within the military
                          departments, the military departments are better positioned to regularly
                          monitor usage. However, the military departments are not in a position to
                          identify variations in usage rates across DOD’s civilian acquisition
                          workforce, which are significant. For example, we found that the Air Force
                          and the Navy used direct hire authorities for 85 percent and 84 percent of
                          their respective hiring actions in fiscal year 2018, while the Army used
                          direct hire authorities for 42 percent of its hiring actions that year.


                          40
                            DOD, USD (A&S), DOD Instruction 5000.66: Defense Acquisition Workforce Education,
                          Training, Experience, and Career Development Program (July 27, 2017).




                          Page 28                                     GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
Similarly, some career fields use the hiring flexibilities at higher rates than
others. While hiring flexibilities comprised 95 percent of total civilian
acquisition workforce hiring actions in fiscal year 2018, the auditing and
purchasing career fields used hiring flexibilities for only 68 percent and 62
percent of their respective hiring actions that year. 41 Without regularly
monitoring usage rates for hiring flexibilities across the civilian acquisition
workforce, HCI lacks visibility into these types of variations and
opportunities to investigate and address them, as appropriate.

Lastly, HCI focuses its efforts on those recruitment and retention
flexibilities funded by DAWDF because HCI is responsible for DAWDF’s
management. Based on DAWDF reports and DCPDS data, we found that
the amount of dollars obligated for DAWDF-funded recruitment, retention,
and recognition initiatives in 2017 was $15 million or about two-thirds of
the total dollars authorized for the recruitment and retention flexibilities for
DOD’s civilian acquisition workforce in fiscal year 2017. The remaining
amount (about one-third) was funded by other sources, such as the
military departments’ operations and maintenance appropriations, but is
not included as part of HCI’s annual review.

Since 2002, we have repeatedly found that agencies should strategically
manage their use of human capital flexibilities—including hiring,
recruitment, and retention flexibilities—to address human capital
challenges. 42 Additionally, federal internal control standards state that an
agency’s management should obtain relevant data on a timely basis to
effectively monitor activities to achieve objectives. 43 Based on these
standards, in May 2018, we recommended that DOD’s defense
laboratories routinely monitor data on its use of hiring authorities. 44 DOD
concurred with our recommendation and planned to determine the
appropriate data to be collected and establish routine reporting
requirements. Because HCI is not regularly reviewing hiring flexibility
usage, it may be similarly missing opportunities to help identify
challenges, inconsistencies, or needed improvements in using the
flexibilities.


 Appendixes IV and V provide additional data on the use of various flexibilities by the
41

career fields, military departments, and defense agencies.

 GAO-03-2, GAO-18-417, and GAO-19-181.
42



 GAO-14-704G.
43



 GAO-18-417.
44




Page 29                                          GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
DOD Cannot Yet                DOD leaders have repeatedly emphasized that hiring flexibilities—
Accurately Report on How      particularly direct hire authorities—can help the department hire high-
                              quality talent in a more timely manner. We have previously found that
Long It Takes to Hire New
                              time-to-hire and quality-of-hire are useful metrics that help agencies
Personnel or the Quality of   evaluate their hiring efforts, which can include the use of hiring
New Hires                     flexibilities. 45 To this end, DCPAS collects and reports time-to-hire data to
                              measure DOD’s progress in improving hiring practices. For example,
                              according to DCPAS, from fiscal year 2016 through 2018, DOD took an
                              average of 127 days to hire civilian personnel under the traditional hiring
                              method compared to an average of 110 days when using DOD direct hire
                              authorities. 46 DCPAS also noted variations in time-to-hire across the
                              direct hire authorities, reporting that DOD took anywhere from 77 to 111
                              days to hire civilian personnel using the 14 DOD direct hire authorities
                              applicable to the civilian acquisition workforce. 47 For the expedited hiring
                              authority for acquisition positions—the direct hire authority used most
                              frequently to hire civilian acquisition workforce personnel—DCPAS
                              reported an average time-to-hire of 106 days from fiscal year 2016
                              through 2018.

                              While these time-to-hire metrics could be helpful in determining which
                              direct hire authorities most effectively expedite the hiring process, HCI
                              officials told us they do not use these metrics to inform management
                              decisions for the civilian acquisition workforce because they are not yet
                              consistently measured. DCPAS officials explained that the military
                              departments and their major commands developed their own approaches
                              for inputting and reporting time-to-hire data based on their individual
                              needs and data systems. HCI and DCPAS officials acknowledged that
                              this resulted in different ways to record and track the data, which in turn
                              prevented meaningful comparisons between the time-to-hire metrics
                              produced by each of the components.

                               GAO, Defense Management: DOD Needs to Address Inefficiencies and Implement
                              45

                              Reform across Its Defense Agencies and DOD Field Activities, GAO-18-592 (Washington,
                              D.C.: Sept. 6, 2018); GAO-18-417; and Federal Hiring: OPM Needs to Improve
                              Management and Oversight of Hiring Authorities, GAO-16-521 (Washington, D.C.: Aug. 2,
                              2016).
                               DCPAS officials stated that other factors, such as delays in the security clearance
                              46

                              process, may offset some of the benefits associated when using direct hiring authorities.
                              47
                                DCPAS did not include time-to-hire data for 3 of the 14 DOD direct hire authorities.
                              According to our analysis, DOD made minimal use of these 3 DOD direct hire authorities
                              for the civilian acquisition workforce from fiscal year 2016 through fiscal year 2018.




                              Page 30                                         GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
According to HCI and DCPAS officials, this difference, in part, is
attributable to the variation in how DOD personnel input certain data. For
example, one human resource specialist may initiate a request for a
personnel action—which is generally the starting date for time-to-hire
metrics—on the day the hiring manager submits a job description, while
another human resource specialist may initiate a request for personnel
action after the job announcement has been posted publicly. Moreover,
our analysis of DCPAS data for all DOD civilian personnel hires from
fiscal year 2014 to 2018 shows that about 36,000 of 420,000 personnel
actions, or about 9 percent, were initiated on or after the individuals’ start
dates, producing a zero or negative time-to-hire figure. DCPAS officials
told us they omit these figures when they report time-to-hire metrics. Until
time-to-hire metrics are consistently measured DOD-wide, HCI will not be
able to use this data to assess which direct hire authorities have most
effectively expedited the hiring process, which DOD components have
been the most successful in using these authorities, or identify potential
issues in using these authorities.

In September 2018, to address inconsistent time-to-hire methodologies
across DOD, we recommended that the DOD Chief Management Officer
require that all DOD human resource providers adopt consistent time-to-
hire measures. 48 DOD concurred with our recommendation, and in June
2019, DCPAS officials told us they were in the process of developing a
plan to implement consistent time-to-hire metrics across the department.
DCPAS officials anticipate completing the plan by July 2019 and will start
implementation after DOD leadership approves this plan. HCI officials told
us that they plan to use the time-to-hire metrics to assess the civilian
acquisition workforce’s hiring efforts, including the use of flexibilities,
when the metrics are comparable.

Similarly, HCI officials told us that they cannot systematically assess
quality-of-hire across the civilian acquisition workforce because DCPAS
has not developed guidance that outlines how quality-of-hire should be
measured. DOD’s June 2018 civilian human capital operating plan
outlines an initiative to improve the quality of civilian hires, among other
things. 49 As part of this initiative, DCPAS is to establish quality-of-hire


 GAO-18-592.
48


49
  DOD, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Civilian Personnel Policy, Fiscal Year
2018 - Fiscal Year 2019 Department of Defense Civilian Human Capital Operating Plan
(June 2018).




Page 31                                        GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
                     metrics using data collected from an OPM hiring satisfaction survey tool.
                     Using the OPM survey, DOD’s hiring managers are to rate the
                     performance of new employees 6 months after they are hired. DCPAS
                     officials stated that various DOD components have used the survey since
                     2011, but acknowledged hiring managers completed the survey for only 1
                     percent of all DOD hires in fiscal year 2018. In March 2019, USD (P&R)
                     leadership issued a memorandum to DOD human capital offices
                     encouraging wider implementation of the survey, including outlining roles
                     and responsibilities and milestones for implementation. Starting in fiscal
                     year 2020, USD (P&R) plans to set quality-of-hire goals using the fiscal
                     year 2019 survey results and incorporating these into future civilian
                     human capital operating plans. HCI officials told us that they plan to use
                     the quality-of-hire metrics to evaluate the civilian acquisition workforce’s
                     hiring efforts, including the use of flexibilities, once DCPAS completes its
                     efforts.


                     Congress has provided DOD with a number of hiring, recruitment, and
Conclusions          retention flexibilities to help the department manage its acquisition
                     workforce. DOD leadership has encouraged the use of these flexibilities
                     across the department in recent years, and usage has increased
                     significantly since 2014. However, HCI does not regularly monitor
                     defense components’ use of hiring, recruitment, and retention flexibilities
                     for their civilian acquisition workforce to identify challenges,
                     inconsistencies, or needed improvements in using these tools. As a
                     result, HCI may be missing opportunities to develop strategies or inform
                     efforts aimed at improving the usage of these flexibilities.


                     The Secretary of Defense should ensure that the Director of Human
Recommendation for   Capital Initiatives regularly monitors usage of hiring, recruitment, and
Executive Action     retention flexibilities for the civilian acquisition workforce—across the
                     military departments and acquisition career fields—to help develop
                     strategies or inform efforts aimed at improving the usage of these
                     flexibilities. (Recommendation 1)


                     We provided a draft of this report to DOD for review and comment. DOD
Agency Comments      provided written comments, which are reprinted in appendix VII, and
                     concurred with our recommendation. In concurring with our
                     recommendation, DOD stated it would provide guidance to DOD
                     components to monitor usage of flexibilities and provide the results to HCI
                     at least annually.


                     Page 32                                  GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
We are sending copies of this report to the appropriate congressional
committees; the Secretary of Defense; the Secretaries of the Army, the
Air Force, and the Navy; the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition
and Sustainment; the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and
Readiness; the Director of the Defense Civilian Personnel Advisory
Service, and the Director of Human Capital Initiatives. In addition, the
report is available at no charge on the GAO website at
http://www.gao.gov.

If you or your staff have any questions about this report, please contact
me at (202) 512-4841 or dinapolit@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 key contributions to this
report are listed in appendix VIII.




Timothy J. DiNapoli
Director, Contracting and National Security Acquisitions




Page 33                                 GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
List of Committees

The Honorable James M. Inhofe
Chairman
The Honorable Jack Reed
Ranking Member
Committee on Armed Services
United States Senate

The Honorable Richard Shelby
Chairman
The Honorable Dick Durbin
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Defense
Committee on Appropriations
United States Senate

The Honorable Adam Smith
Chairman
The Honorable Mac Thornberry
Ranking Member
Committee on Armed Services
House of Representatives

The Honorable Pete Visclosky
Chairman
The Honorable Ken Calvert
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Defense
Committee on Appropriations
House of Representatives




Page 34                         GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
Appendix I: Key Hiring Flexibilities Available
               Appendix I: Key Hiring Flexibilities Available to
               the Department of Defense’s Civilian
               Acquisition Workforce


to the Department of Defense’s Civilian
Acquisition Workforce
               Sections of Title 5 of the U.S. Code include, among other things,
               requirements that agencies must follow to hire personnel, such as those
               associated with the competitive examining hiring authority. Competitive
               examining has been the traditional method of hiring for the federal
               government since 1978. 1 The traditional hiring method requires agencies
               to notify the public that the government will accept applications for a job;
               screen applications against minimum qualification standards; apply
               selection priorities such as veterans’ preference, where applicable; and
               assess applicants’ relative competencies or knowledge, skills, and
               abilities against job-related criteria to identify the most qualified
               applicants.

               Hiring flexibilities were established beyond the traditional hiring method to
               expedite the hiring process and achieve certain public policy goals. We
               identified 46 hiring flexibilities available to the Department of Defense’s
               (DOD) civilian acquisition workforce as of September 2018—3 specific to
               the DOD acquisition workforce; 6 specific to DOD’s Civilian Acquisition
               Workforce Personnel Demonstration Project; 20 available DOD-wide,
               including its acquisition workforce; and 17 available government-wide.
               Further, of the 46 hiring flexibilities, 14 are DOD direct hire authorities
               provided in statute that we have identified as being directly applicable to
               the DOD civilian acquisition workforce—3 of which are specific to the
               DOD acquisition workforce and 11 of which are available DOD-wide.
               Tables 7 through 10 provide additional information on each of the 46
               hiring flexibilities and denote the 14 DOD direct hire authorities and their
               legal authorities.




               1
                The federal government consists of three types of services: the competitive service, the
               excepted service, and the Senior Executive Service. The competitive service consists of
               all civil service positions in the executive branch of the federal government with some
               exceptions. The exceptions are defined in section 2102(a) of Title 5, United States Code.
               In the competitive service, an individual generally must go through a competitive process
               (i.e., competitive examining) which is open to all applicants. Appointments to the excepted
               service are civil service appointments within the federal government that do not confer
               competitive status. There are a number of ways to be appointed to the excepted service
               such as through the Veterans Recruitment Appointment or the Pathways Programs. The
               Senior Executive Service includes most managerial, supervisory, and policy positions
               classified above General Schedule grade 15 or equivalent positions.




               Page 35                                             GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
                                                             Appendix I: Key Hiring Flexibilities Available to
                                                             the Department of Defense’s Civilian
                                                             Acquisition Workforce




Table 7: Key Hiring Flexibilities Specific to the Department of Defense’s (DOD) Acquisition Workforce (3)

 Hiring flexibility                   Year current                  Description
                                      requirements were
                                      establisheda
 Expedited Hiring                     2008                          The Secretary of Defense may designate any category of positions in the
 Authority for Certain                                              acquisition workforce as positions for which there exists a shortage of candidates
 Defense Acquisition                                                or there is a critical hiring need; and use the authorities in sections 3304, 5333, and
 Workforce Positionsb                                               5753 of Title 5, U.S. Code to recruit and appoint qualified persons directly to
                                                                    positions so designated. 10 U.S.C. § 1705(f)
 Direct Hire Authority                2015                          Each Secretary of a military department may generally appoint a limited number of
 (DHA) for Select                                                   full-time, qualified candidates possessing a scientific or engineering degree to
 Technical Acquisition                                              scientific and engineering positions within the defense acquisition workforce for that
 Expertsb                                                           military department, without regard to the provisions of subchapter I of chapter 33
                                                                    of Title 5, U.S. Code. 10 U.S.C. § 1701 note
 DHA for Select Veteran               2015                          The Secretary of Defense may carry out a pilot program to assess the feasibility
 Technical Expertsb                                                 and advisability of appointing a limited number of qualified veteran candidates to
                                                                    scientific, technical, engineering, and mathematics positions, including technicians,
                                                                    within the defense acquisition workforce of the military departments without regard
                                                                    to the provisions of subchapter I of chapter 33 of Title 5, United States Code. 10
                                                                    U.S.C. § 1701 note
Source: GAO analysis of laws and regulations. | GAO-19-509
                                                             a
                                                              The year current requirements were established represents the date of the source which contains
                                                             each hiring flexibility’s current requirements, including, for example, (1) the date a statute was
                                                             enacted; (2) the date a statute was amended; or (3) the date in a federal register notice which
                                                             implemented a flexibility where its requirements were not specifically included in statute.
                                                             b
                                                             These hiring flexibilities are DOD direct hire authorities provided in statute.




                                                             Page 36                                                 GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
                                          Appendix I: Key Hiring Flexibilities Available to
                                          the Department of Defense’s Civilian
                                          Acquisition Workforce




Table 8: Key Hiring Flexibilities the Department of Defense (DOD) Can Use to Hire Personnel into the Civilian Acquisition
Workforce Personnel Demonstration Project (AcqDemo) (6)

Hiring flexibility      Year current            Description
                        requirements were
                                    a
                        established
AcqDemo Acquisition     2017                    Heads of organizations participating in AcqDemo, without regard to the provisions
Student Intern                                  in subchapter I of Chapter 33 of Title 5, U.S. Code (except sections 3303 and 3328
Appointment                                     in the title), may appoint candidates enrolled in a program of undergraduate or
                                                graduate instruction at an institution of higher education leading to either:
                                                (1) A baccalaureate degree in a course of study required by OPM or DOD
                                                qualification standards for an acquisition position in a critical acquisition career
                                                field; or
                                                (2) A degree, when completed, provides competencies, knowledge, and skills
                                                directly linked to an acquisition position’s requirements for one of the critical
                                                acquisition career fields.
AcqDemo Direct Hire    2017                     The head of an organization participating in AcqDemo may appoint qualified
Appointments for the                            candidates who possess at least a baccalaureate degree or DOD qualification
Business and Technical                          standards covering acquisition positions, or those positions involving 51 percent or
Management                                      more of time in direct support of acquisition positions, in a critical acquisition career
Professional Career                             field in the Business and Technical Management Professional career path, without
Path                                            regard to the provisions in subchapter I of Chapter 33 of Title 5, U.S. Code (except
                                                sections 3303, 3308 and 3328 in the Title).
AcqDemo Scholastic      2017                    Heads of organizations participating in AcqDemo provide the authority to appoint
Achievement                                     candidates with degrees to acquisition positions with positive education
Appointment                                     requirements without regard to the provisions in subchapter I of Chapter 33 of Title
                                                5, U.S. Code (except sections 3303 and 3328 in the title). This authority allows for
                                                competitive appointment to acquisition positions classified to certain broadband
                                                levels of the Business and Technical Management Professional career path.
                                                Candidates may also be appointed under this procedure if:
                                                (1) they have at least a baccalaureate required by OPM or DOD qualification
                                                standards, or the equivalent;
                                                (2) the candidate has at least a cumulative grade point average of 3.25 on a 4.00
                                                scale in certain courses of study;
                                                (3) the appointment is into a permanent or term position at a pay level within
                                                certain broadband level basic pay range.
AcqDemo Simplified      2017                    Enables organizations participating in AcqDemo to expedite the hiring and
Hiring Processes                                appointment of qualified persons to acquisition positions in any of the 14
                                                acquisition career fields using the following approaches:
                                                (1) a name request may be submitted to expedite the hiring of a qualified candidate
                                                identified by a participating organization’s targeted recruitment actions;
                                                (2) a certificate of eligible persons may be developed from qualified applicants to a
                                                vacancy announcement who have been evaluated or rated using certain
                                                assessments; or
                                                (3) establish a streamlined AcqDemo delegated examining-category rating process
                                                to be used to fill both acquisition positions and those in direct support of acquisition
                                                positions covered by AcqDemo.




                                          Page 37                                             GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
                                                             Appendix I: Key Hiring Flexibilities Available to
                                                             the Department of Defense’s Civilian
                                                             Acquisition Workforce




 Hiring flexibility                  Year current                   Description
                                     requirements were
                                     establisheda
 AcqDemo Veteran                     2017                           The head of an organization participating in AcqDemo may appoint qualified
 Direct Hire                                                        veteran candidates to acquisition positions in a critical acquisition career field, and
 Appointments for the                                               to those positions involving 51 percent or more of time in direct support of an
 Business Management                                                acquisition position, classified under Business and Technical Management
 and Technical                                                      Professional career path, or to the Technical Management Support career path,
 Management                                                         without regard to the provisions in subchapter I of Chapter 33 of Title 5, U.S. Code
 Professional and                                                   (except sections 3303 and 3328 in the title).
 Technical Management
 Support Career Paths
 AcqDemo Voluntary                   2017                           Heads of organizations participating in AcqDemo have the authority to offer
 Emeritus Program                                                   voluntary assignments and to accept the gratuitous services of:
                                                                    (1) AcqDemo retired or separated civilian employees who served in certain
                                                                    positions before retirement;
                                                                    (2) Non-AcqDemo DOD retired or separated civilian employees and former military
                                                                    members who worked certain positions.
Source: GAO analysis of laws and regulations. | GAO-19-509

                                                             Note: DOD’s authority was codified in 10 U.S.C. §1762 and was consolidated, modified, and
                                                             republished in the Federal Register, 82 Fed. Reg. 52,104 (Nov. 9, 2017).
                                                             a
                                                              The year current requirements were established represents the date of the source which contains
                                                             each hiring flexibility’s current requirements, including, for example, (1) the date a statute was
                                                             enacted; (2) the date a statute was amended; or (3) the date in a federal register notice which
                                                             implemented a flexibility where its requirements were not specifically included in statute.



Table 9: Key Hiring Flexibilities Available Department of Defense (DOD)-Wide including DOD’s Civilian Acquisition Workforce
(20)

 Hiring flexibility                  Year current                   Description
                                     requirements were
                                     establisheda
 Attracting Highly                   2003                           The Secretary of Defense may carry out a program to (1) appoint personnel from
 Qualified Experts                                                  outside the civil service and uniformed services to positions in DOD without regard
                                                                    to any provision of Title 5 governing the appointment of employees to positions in
                                                                    DOD, (2) prescribe the rates of basic pay for positions to which these employees
                                                                    are appointed, and (3) pay these employees payments in addition to basic pay
                                                                    within certain prescribed limits in order to attract highly qualified experts in needed
                                                                    occupations, as determined by the Secretary.
 Civilian Intelligence               1996                           The Secretary of Defense may: (1) establish, as positions in the excepted service,
 Personnel: General                                                 defense intelligence positions in the DOD as the Secretary determines necessary
 Authority to Establish                                             to carry out DOD’s intelligence functions, including Intelligence Senior Level and
 Excepted Positions,                                                Defense Intelligence Senior Executive Service positions; (2) appoint individuals to
 Appoint Personnel, and                                             those positions; (3) and fix the individuals’ compensation for service in those
 Fix Rates of Pay                                                   positions, without regard to the provisions of any other law relating to the
                                                                    appointment, number, classification, or compensation of employees.




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                                        Appendix I: Key Hiring Flexibilities Available to
                                        the Department of Defense’s Civilian
                                        Acquisition Workforce




Hiring flexibility       Year current         Description
                         requirements were
                         establisheda
DHA for Cyber            2016                 Pending completion of an implementation plan for U.S. Cyber Command workforce
Workforce Positionsb                          positions, the Secretary of Defense approves direct hire authority for cyber
                                              workforce positions up to the Government Grade or General Schedule-15 level in
                                              accordance with the criteria in section 3304 of Title 5, U.S.C. Pub. L. No. 114-328,
                                              § 1643 (2016)
DHA for Post-            2016                 The Secretary of Defense may recruit and appoint a limited number of qualified
Secondary Students                            recent graduates and current post-secondary students to competitive service
                     b
and Recent Graduates                          positions in professional and administrative occupations within DOD, without
                                              regard to sections 3309 through 3318, 3327, and 3330 of Title 5, U.S.C. 10 U.S.C.
                                              § 1580 note prec.
DHA for Financial        2016                 The Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of each military department may
Management Expertsb                           appoint a limited number, per calendar year, of qualified candidates possessing a
                                              finance, accounting, management, actuarial science degree, or a related degree or
                                              equivalent experience, to certain specified positions within the DOD workforce,
                                              including in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, a Defense Agency, the Office of
                                              the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Joint Staff, a combatant command,
                                              the DOD Office of the Inspector General, a Field Activity, the Army, Navy, and Air
                                              Force, without regard to the provisions of subchapter I of chapter 33 of Title 5,
                                              U.S.C. 10 U.S.C. § 1580 note prec.
DHA for Defense          2013                 The director of any Science and Technology Reinvention Laboratory (STRL) may
Laboratory Science,                           appoint qualified candidates possessing a bachelor’s degree to scientific and
Technology,                                   engineering positions in certain DOD STRLs as employees, without regard to the
Engineering, and                              provisions of subchapter I of chapter 33 of title 5 (other than sections 3303 and
Mathematics (STEM)                            3328 of this title). 10 U.S.C. § 2358a (a)(1)
Bachelor’s Degreesb
DHA for Defense          2011c                The Secretary of Defense may appoint a limited number of qualified candidates
Laboratory STEM                               possessing an advanced degree to scientific and engineering positions within
Advanced Degreesb                             certain DOD STRLs as employees, without regard to the provisions of subchapter I
                                              of chapter 33 of Title 5, U. S.C., (other than sections 3303 and 3328 of this title). 10
                                              U.S.C. § 1580 note prec.
DHA for Business         2017                 The Secretary of Defense may appoint a specified limited number of individuals on
Transformation and                            a term basis with management or business background; experience working with
Management                                    large or complex organizations; and expertise in management and organizational
Innovationb                                   change, data analytics, or business process design, without regard to the
                                              provisions of subchapter I of chapter 33 of Title 5, U.S.C., to assist and facilitate
                                              DOD’s efforts in business transformation and management innovation. 10 U.S.C. §
                                              1580 note prec.




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                                           Appendix I: Key Hiring Flexibilities Available to
                                           the Department of Defense’s Civilian
                                           Acquisition Workforce




Hiring flexibility          Year current         Description
                            requirements were
                            establisheda
DHA for Defense             2014                 The director of any STRL may appoint qualified candidates enrolled in a program of
Laboratory STEM                                  undergraduate or graduate instruction leading to a bachelor’s or an advanced
Studentsb                                        degree in a scientific, technical, engineering or mathematical course of study at an
                                                 institution of higher education to scientific and engineering positions as temporary
                                                 or term employees in certain STRLs, without regard to the provisions of subchapter
                                                 I of chapter 33 of Title 5, U.S. Code (other than sections 3303 and 3328 of this
                                                 title).
                                                 With respect to any student appointed by the director of an STRL to a temporary or
                                                 term appointment, upon graduation from the institution of higher education, the
                                                 director may noncompetitively convert the student to another temporary
                                                 appointment or to a term or permanent appointment within the STRL without regard
                                                 to the provisions of subchapter I of chapter 33 of Title 5 (other than sections 3303
                                                 and 3328 of such title), if the student meets all eligibility and OPM qualification
                                                 requirements for the position. 10 U.S.C. § 2358a (a)(3)
DHA for Defense             2013                 The director of any STRL may appoint a limited number of qualified veteran
Laboratory STEM                                  candidates to scientific, engineering, mathematical, and technical positions as
         b
Veterans                                         employees in certain DOD STRLs or other DOD research and engineering
                                                 agencies or organizations designated by the Secretary of Defense, without regard
                                                 to the provisions in subchapter I of Chapter 33 of Title 5, U.S. Code. 10 U.S.C. §
                                                 2358a (a)(2)
DOD Information             2012                 To encourage the recruitment and retention of DOD personnel who have the
Assurance Scholarship                            computer and network security skills necessary to meet the cyber requirements of
Program                                          the DOD, the Secretary of Defense may carry out programs to provide financial
                                                 support for education in disciplines relevant to those requirements at institutions of
                                                 higher education, including: (1) scholarships for pursuit of programs of education in
                                                 cyber disciplines at institutions of higher education; and (2) grants to institutions of
                                                 higher education to provide financial support for education in disciplines relevant to
                                                 those requirements at institutions of higher education.
Extensions of Term          2016                 The Secretary of Defense may make a temporary appointment (an employee in the
Appointments in the                              competitive service for no longer than 1 year) or a term appointment (an employee
Competitive Service in                           in the competitive service for more than 1 year and up to 5 years), which can be
the DOD                                          extended, in the Department when the need for the employee’s services is not
                                                 permanent.
Flexibilities Relating to   2009                 The Secretary, in coordination with the Director of OPM, must promulgate
Appointments                                     regulations to redesign the procedures which are applied by DOD in making
                                                 appointments to positions within the competitive service. In redesigning the
                                                 procedures, the Secretary, in coordination with the Director of OPM, may waive the
                                                 requirements of chapter 33 of Title 5, U.S.C., and the regulations implementing this
                                                 chapter, to the extent necessary to achieve the objectives of section 9902, such as
                                                 redesigning the procedures which are applied by DOD in making appointments to
                                                 positions within the competitive service to better meet mission needs; and respond
                                                 to managers’ needs and the needs of applicants; and promote competitive job
                                                 offers.




                                           Page 40                                             GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
                                        Appendix I: Key Hiring Flexibilities Available to
                                        the Department of Defense’s Civilian
                                        Acquisition Workforce




Hiring flexibility       Year current         Description
                         requirements were
                         establisheda
Personnel Management 2016                     DOD was provided authority to carry out a program of personnel management
Authority to Attract                          authority to recruit eminent experts in science or engineering for a limited period,
Experts in Science and                        which was renewable, without regard to any provision of Title 5 governing the
Engineering                                   appointment of employees in the civil service as follows:
                                              For specified laboratories of the military departments the Secretary of Defense
                                              shall designate for the program’s purpose for the laboratories’ research and
                                              development projects; may appoint scientists and engineers to a total of up to 40
                                              scientific and engineering positions in the laboratories.
                                              For Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Director of the Defense
                                              Advanced Research Projects Agency may appoint individuals to a total of not more
                                              than 100 positions in the Agency, of which up to 5 of these positions may be
                                              positions of administration or management of the Agency.
                                              For the Office of Operational Test and Evaluation, the Director of the Office of
                                              Operational Test and Evaluation may appoint scientists and engineers to a total of
                                              up to 10 scientific and engineering positions in the Office.
                                              For the Strategic Capabilities Office, the Director of the Strategic Capabilities Office
                                              may appoint scientists and engineers to a total of up to 5 scientific and engineering
                                              positions in the Office
                                              For the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental, the Director of the Defense
                                              Innovation Unit Experimental may appoint scientists and engineers to a total of up
                                              to 5 scientific and engineering positions in the Unit.
Pilot Program on         2017                 The Secretary of Defense is required to carry out a pilot program to assess the
Enhanced Personnel                            feasibility and advisability of an enhanced personnel management system for
Management System                             civilian DOD cybersecurity professionals and DOD legal professionals who enter
for Cybersecurity and                         civilian service with DOD on or after January 1, 2020. The Secretary of Defense,
Legal Professionals in                        with respect to the Defense Agencies, and the Secretary of the military department
the Department of                             concerned, with respect to the military departments, may appoint qualified
Defense                                       candidates on a direct-hire basis for an initial appointment to service with DOD for
                                              a term of 2 to 8 years, which are renewable, without regard to the provisions of
                                              subchapter I of chapter 33 of Title 5, U.S.C. The pilot program is required to
                                              provide for the professional development of individuals serving as cybersecurity
                                              and legal professionals by creating opportunities for education, training, and
                                              career-broadening experiences, among other things.
Science, Mathematics, 2006                    The Secretary of Defense is required to carry out a program to provide financial
and Research for                              assistance (a scholarship or fellowship) to a student who enters into a service
Transformation Defense                        agreement with the Secretary of Defense and is pursuing an associate degree,
Education Program                             undergraduate degree, or advanced degree in science, mathematics, engineering,
                                              and technology skills and disciplines that, as determined by the Secretary, are
                                              critical to the national security functions of the Department of Defense and are
                                              needed in the Department of Defense workforce.




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                                                             Appendix I: Key Hiring Flexibilities Available to
                                                             the Department of Defense’s Civilian
                                                             Acquisition Workforce




 Hiring flexibility                  Year current                      Description
                                     requirements were
                                     establisheda
 DHA for Senior                      2013                              Senior scientific managers are classified above General Schedule (GS)–15, but are
 Scientific Technical                                                  not Senior Executive Service positions, notwithstanding section 5108(a) of Title 5,
 Managers at Research                                                  U.S.C. This authority established in each STRL, each facility of the Major Range
 and Engineering                                                       and Test Facility Base, and the Defense Test Resource Management Center a
 Facilitiesb                                                           category of senior professional scientific and technical positions, the incumbents of
                                                                       which are called “senior scientific technical managers.” These laboratory positions
                                                                       may be filled by the director of an STRL for a position in an STRL and the director
                                                                       of the Major Range and Test Facility Base, in the case of a position at a facility of
                                                                       the Major Range and Test Facility Base under criteria established pursuant to 10
                                                                       U.S.C. § 2358a (d).
 Temporary and Term                  2016                              If there is a critical hiring need, the Secretary of Defense may make a
 Appointments in the                                                   noncompetitive temporary appointment (an employee in the competitive service for
 Competitive Service in                                                not more than 1 year) or a noncompetitive term appointment (generally, an
 DOD                                                                   employee in the competitive service for more than 1 year and up to 5 years) in
                                                                       DOD, which cannot be extended, without regard to the requirements of sections
                                                                       3327 and 3330 of Title 5, U.S.C., for not more than 18 months.
 DHA for the Director of             2016                              During fiscal years 2017 through 2021, the Secretary of Defense may, acting
 Operational Test and                                                  through the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation, appoint qualified
 Evaluationb                                                           candidates with advanced degrees to scientific and engineering positions within the
                                                                       Office of the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation, without regard to the
                                                                       provisions of subchapter I of chapter 33 of Title 5, U.S.C. (other than sections 3303
                                                                       and 3328 of this title). 10 U.S.C. § 1580 note prec.
 DHA for Defense                     2016                              The Secretary of Defense may appoint, during each of fiscal years 2017 through
 Industrial Base and                                                   2021, qualified candidates to positions in the competitive service at any defense
 Major Range and Test                                                  industrial base facility or the Major Range and Test Facilities Base, without regard
                b
 Facilities Base                                                       to the provisions of subchapter I of chapter 33 of Title 5, U.S.C. (other than
                                                                       sections 3303 and 3328 of this title). 10 U.S.C. § 1580 note prec.
Source: GAO analysis of laws and regulations. | GAO-19-509
                                                             a
                                                              The year current requirements were established represents the date of the source which contains
                                                             each hiring flexibility’s current requirements, including, for example, (1) the date a statute was
                                                             enacted; (2) the date a statute was amended; or (3) the date in a federal register notice which
                                                             implemented a flexibility where its requirements were not specifically included in statute.
                                                             b
                                                                 These hiring flexibilities are DOD direct hire authorities provided in statute.
                                                             c
                                                                 Statute, as amended with clarifications and corrections.




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                                         Appendix I: Key Hiring Flexibilities Available to
                                         the Department of Defense’s Civilian
                                         Acquisition Workforce




Table 10: Key Government-Wide Hiring Flexibilities (17)

Hiring flexibility       Year current          Description
                         requirements were
                         establisheda
30 Percent or More       1978                  Under regulations that OPM must prescribe, an agency may make a
Disabled Veteransb                             noncompetitive appointment leading to conversion to career or career-conditional
                                               employment of a disabled veteran who has a compensable service-connected
                                               disability of 30 percent or more.
DHA for Acquisitions     2018                  Agencies may appoint candidates directly to positions without regard to the
                                               requirements in 5 U.S.C. §§ 3309 through 3318 where public notice has been
                                               given and OPM determined that there is either a severe shortage of candidates or
                                               a critical hiring need.
                                               Pursuant to this authority, OPM approved the use of a DHA for Scientific,
                                               Technical, Engineering and Mathematics positions at the GS-11 through GS-15
                                               grade levels (or equivalent)—including acquisition positions in occupational series
                                               1102—nationwide for enabling simple and strategic hiring to attract top talent to
                                               create a workforce for the 21st century where a severe-shortage or critical hiring
                                               need has been identified.
DHA for Information   2003                     The President may prescribe rules which must provide for, among other things,
Technology Management                          authority for agencies to appoint, without regard to sections 3309 - 3318, Title 5,
                                               U.S.C., candidates directly to positions for which public notice has been given, and
                                               OPM has determined that a severe shortage of candidates exists or that there is a
                                               critical hiring need.
                                               Pursuant to this authority, the OPM has approved the use of direct hire authority for
                                               positions in Information Technology Management (Information Security). Agencies
                                               may use this authority to appoint individuals to these positions at GS-9 and above,
                                               at all locations, in support of government-wide efforts to carry out the requirements
                                               of the Government Information Security Reform Act and the Federal Information
                                               Security Management Act.
DHA for Positions        2003                  The President may prescribe rules which must provide for authority for agencies to
Involved in Iraqi                              appoint, without regard to the provision of sections 3309 through 3318, Title 5,
Reconstruction Efforts                         U.S.C., candidates directly to positions for which public notice has been given, and
                                               OPM has determined that a severe shortage of candidates exists or that there is a
                                               critical hiring need.
                                               Pursuant to this authority, OPM approved the use of direct hire authority for
                                               positions involved in Iraqi Reconstruction Efforts that require fluency in Arabic or
                                               other related Middle Eastern languages at all Wage Grade levels, single-grade
                                               interval occupations in the GS, and two-grade interval GS occupations at GS-9 and
                                               above. Agencies may appoint U.S. citizens to positions at all locations.
Employment of Experts     1992                 When authorized by an appropriation or other statute, the head of an agency may
and Consultants;                               procure through a contract the temporary (not in excess of 1 year) or intermittent
Temporary or Intermittent                      services of experts or consultants, among others, without regard to the provisions
                                               of title 5 governing appointment in the competitive service; chapter 51 and
                                               subchapter III of chapter 53 of Title 5; and section 6101(b) to (d) of Title 41, with
                                               certain exceptions.




                                         Page 43                                             GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
                                          Appendix I: Key Hiring Flexibilities Available to
                                          the Department of Defense’s Civilian
                                          Acquisition Workforce




Hiring flexibility          Year current        Description
                            requirements were
                            establisheda
Noncompetitive              2012                An executive agency may noncompetitively appoint to a competitive service
Appointment of Certain                          position in the executive branch within the United States, a family member (child,
Former Overseas                                 spouse, or partner) who (1) accompanied a sponsor (a federal civilian employee, a
Employees                                       non-appropriated fund employee, or a member of a uniformed service) while the
                                                sponsor served overseas; and (2) completed 52 weeks of satisfactory creditable
                                                overseas service while the family member accompanied the sponsor. The family
                                                member is generally eligible for the appointment 3 years after returning from
                                                overseas to the United States to resume residency.
Noncompetitive              2011                An executive agency may appoint noncompetitively to a position in the competitive
Appointment of Certain                          service (1) a spouse of an Armed Forces member serving on active duty who has
Military Spouses                                orders specifying a permanent change of station; (2) a spouse of a 100 percent
                                                disabled, retired, or separated Armed Forces member injured while on active duty;
                                                or (3) the un-remarried widow or widower of an Armed Forces member who was
                                                killed while performing active duty.
Pathways Programs:      2012                    The Pathways Programs authorized under Executive Order 13562, consist of the
Internship Program,                             (1) Internship Program, which provides students in high schools, colleges, trades
Recent Graduate                                 schools, and other qualifying educational institutions the opportunity to explore
Program, and                                    federal careers as paid employees while completing their education;
Presidential Management
Fellows Program                                 (2) Recent Graduate Program, which provides entry-level developmental
                                                experience designed to lead a civil service career in the federal government after
                                                successfully completing 1 year under the program; and
                                                (3) Presidential Management Fellows Program, which is a development program
                                                that appoints (at the GS-9, GS-11, or GS-12 level in the excepted service)
                                                individuals who, in the previous two years, completed an advance degree from a
                                                qualifying educational institution.
Schedule A for Persons      1982                Agencies may appoint, on a permanent, time-limited, or temporary basis, a person
with Disabilities and the                       with an intellectual disability, a severe physical disability, or a psychiatric disability.
Workforce Recruitment                           An agency may noncompetitively convert to the competitive service an employee
Program                                         who has completed 2 years of satisfactory service under this authority.
Schedule A Hiring           1997                Agencies may establish positions in the excepted service not to exceed 4 years in
Authority for Fellowship                        support of fellowship and similar programs that are filled from limited applicant
and Similar                                     pools and operate under specific criteria developed by the employing agency, a
Appointments in the                             non-federal organization, or both. These programs may include: internship or
Excepted Service                                fellowship programs that provide development or professional experiences to
                                                individuals who have completed their formal education; and training and
                                                associateship programs designed to increase the pool of qualified candidates in a
                                                particular occupational specialty, among others.
Schedule C (Political       1995                Upon specific OPM authorization, agencies may make appointments to positions
Appointees)                                     which are policy-determining or which involve a close and confidential working
                                                relationship with the head of an agency or other key appointed officials. Positions
                                                filled under this authority are excepted from the competitive service and constitute
                                                Schedule C.




                                          Page 44                                             GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
                                                             Appendix I: Key Hiring Flexibilities Available to
                                                             the Department of Defense’s Civilian
                                                             Acquisition Workforce




 Hiring flexibility                    Year current                 Description
                                       requirements were
                                       establisheda
 Scientific and                        1995                         The Director of OPM or an agency using standards and procedures prescribed by
 Professional Positions                                             OPM may establish a limited number of non-SES positions for specially qualified
                                                                    scientific and professional personnel for carrying out research and development
                                                                    functions classified above the GS-15 level in the competitive service. However,
                                                                    appointments to positions may be made without competitive examination when
                                                                    OPM approves the qualifications of the proposed appointee based on standards
                                                                    developed by the agency involved in accordance with criteria in OPM’s regulations.
 Senior Level Positions                1995                         The Director of the OPM may, for any executive agency, establish a limited number
                                                                    of non-SES Senior Level positions which may be classified above the GS-15 level
                                                                    that are generally in the competitive service; the Director may publish standards
                                                                    and procedures (including requiring agencies, when necessary, to obtain the prior
                                                                    approval of the Office) for classifying these positions above the GS-15 level.
 Special Selection                     2000                         An agency may appoint a preference-eligible-veteran or a veteran who has
 Procedures for Certain                                             substantially completed at least 3 years of continuous active military service if (1)
 Veterans under Merit                                               the veteran was selected from among the best qualified following a competition
 Promotionb                                                         under a merit promotion announcement open to candidates outside the agency’s
                                                                    own workforce; and (2) the veteran’s most recent separation from the military was
                                                                    under honorable discharge. Those veterans selected will be given career or career
                                                                    conditional appointments.
 Temporary Assignments                 2006                         Authorizes the temporary assignment of certain employees between the federal
 under the                                                          government and state, local and Indian tribal governments, institutions of higher
 Intergovernmental                                                  education and other eligible organizations, for up to 2 years, which may be
 Personnel Act                                                      extended.
 Transfers within                      1995                         Subject to 5 C.F.R. part 335, an agency may appoint by transfer to a competitive
 Government                                                         service position, without a break in service of a single workday, a current career or
                                                                    career-conditional employee of another agency.
 Veterans Recruitment                  2005                         To further the policy to promote the maximum of employment and job advancement
 Appointmentb                                                       opportunities within the federal government for qualified covered veterans,
                                                                    veterans must be eligible for non-competitive veterans recruitment appointments
                                                                    for up to and including the GS-11 level positons without regard to the number of
                                                                    years of education completed, and for subsequent career-conditional
                                                                    appointments, under the terms and conditions specified in Executive Order 11521,
                                                                    with certain exceptions.
Source: GAO analysis of laws and regulations. | GAO-19-509
                                                             a
                                                              The year current requirements were established represents the date of the source which contains
                                                             each hiring flexibility’s current requirements, including, for example, (1) the date a statute was
                                                             enacted; (2) the date a statute was amended; or (3) the date in a federal register notice which
                                                             implemented a flexibility where its requirements were not specifically included in statute.
                                                             b
                                                             These hiring flexibilities are veteran-related hiring authorities.




                                                             Page 45                                                  GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
Appendix II: Key Recruitment and Retention
                                                               Appendix II: Key Recruitment and Retention
                                                               Flexibilities Available to the Department of
                                                               Defense’s Civilian Acquisition Workforce


Flexibilities Available to the Department of
Defense’s Civilian Acquisition Workforce
                                                               Recruitment and retention flexibilities assist federal agencies in attracting
                                                               and retaining employees who possess unusually high or unique
                                                               qualifications, or who fill essential needs for the agencies. Additionally,
                                                               they allow agencies more control over compensation and are intended to
                                                               help government compete with the private sector. We identified nine
                                                               recruitment and retention flexibilities available to the Department of
                                                               Defense’s (DOD) civilian acquisition workforce as of fiscal year 2018—
                                                               four monetary incentives and five work-life balance policies and programs
                                                               (see tables 11 and 12).

Table 11: Key Monetary Incentives Available to the Department of Defense’s (DOD) Civilian Acquisition Workforce

 Flexibility                                    Description
 Recruitment bonus                              The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) may authorize the head of an agency to pay a bonus
                                                to an individual only if the position to which the individual is appointed is as a new employee of the
                                                federal government and the agency determines that the position would be difficult to fill in the
                                                absence of an incentive.
 Relocation bonus                               OPM may authorize the head of an agency to pay a bonus to an individual only if the position to
                                                which the individual moves or must relocate and is likely to be difficult to fill in the absence of this
                                                bonus, and the individual is currently employed by the Federal Government and moves to a new
                                                position in the same geographic area under circumstances described in OPM regulations or must
                                                relocate to accept a position in a different geographic area.
 Retention bonus                                OPM may authorize the head of an agency to pay a retention bonus to an employee if (1) the
                                                unusually high or unique qualifications of the employee, or a special need of the agency for the
                                                employee’s services, makes it essential to retain the employee; and (2) the agency determines that,
                                                in the absence of a retention bonus, the employee would be likely to leave the Federal service or
                                                likely leave for a different position in the Federal service. A retention bonus generally must be stated
                                                as a percentage of the employee’s basic pay for the service period associated with the bonus, may
                                                not exceed 25 percent of the employee’s basic pay.
                                                OPM may also authorize the head of an agency to pay retention bonuses to a group of employees
                                                in one or more categories of positions in one or more geographic areas if (1) the unusually high or
                                                unique qualifications of the employees, or a special need of the agency for the employees’ services,
                                                makes it essential to retain the employees; and (2) there is a high risk that a significant portion of
                                                employees in the group would be likely to leave in the absence of retention bonuses.
 Student loan repayment                         The head of an agency may, to recruit or retain highly qualified personnel, establish a program
 program                                        under which the agency may agree to repay (by direct payments on the employee’s behalf) any
                                                student loan the employee (a job candidate to whom an offer has been made or a current
                                                employee) has previously taken out. The payments must be made subject to the terms, limitations,
                                                or conditions to which agency and employee mutually agree in a service agreement, except that the
                                                amount the agency pays may not exceed $10,000 for any employee in any calendar year or a total
                                                of $60,000 for any employee.
                                                An employee selected to receive benefits must agree in writing, before receiving any benefit, that
                                                the employee will remain in the agency’s service for a period specified in the agreement (not less
                                                than 3 years), unless involuntarily separated; and if separated involuntarily due to misconduct, or
                                                voluntarily, before the end of the period specified in the agreement, repay to the government the
                                                amount of the benefits received from that agency.
Source: GAO analysis of OPM and DOD information, relevant laws, and regulations. | GAO-19-509




                                                               Page 46                                        GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
                                                               Appendix II: Key Recruitment and Retention
                                                               Flexibilities Available to the Department of
                                                               Defense’s Civilian Acquisition Workforce




Table 12: Key Work-Life Balance Policies and Programs Available to the Department of Defense’s (DOD) Civilian Acquisition
Workforce

 Flexibility                                   Description
 Child care centers for lower                  In accordance with OPM regulations, an executive agency that provides or proposes to provide child
 income employees                              care services for federal employees may use appropriated amounts that are otherwise available for
                                               salaries and expenses to provide child care in a federal or leased facility, or through contract, for
                                               civilian employees of the agency. Amounts used for this purpose must be applied to improve the
                                               affordability of child care for lower income federal employees using or seeking to use the child care
                                               services.
 Drug and alcohol abuse                        OPM is responsible for developing and maintaining, in cooperation with the Secretary of the
 programs                                      Department of Health and Human Services and with other agencies, appropriate prevention,
                                               treatment, and rehabilitation programs and services for federal civilian employees with alcohol and
                                               drug abuse problems. To the extent feasible, agencies are encouraged to extend services to families
                                               (including domestic partners and their children) of alcohol and/or drug abusing employees and to
                                               employees who have family members (including domestic partners and their children) who have
                                               alcohol and/or drug problems. These programs and services should make optimal use of existing
                                               government facilities, services, and skills.
 Federal transit subsidy                       Federal agencies must implement a transportation fringe benefit program that offers qualified federal
                                               employees the option to exclude from taxable wages and compensation, employee commuting costs
                                               incurred through the use of mass transportation and vanpools, not to exceed the maximum level
                                               provided by law. Federal agencies are also encouraged to use any non-monetary incentives that they
                                               may offer under any other provision of law or other authority to encourage mass transportation and
                                               vanpool use.
 Flexible or compressed work                   A flexible work schedule allows an employee to complete a schedule which includes designated
 schedule                                      hours and days during which an employee must be present for work within the limits set by the
                                               agency. A compressed work schedule is a fixed schedule in which full-time employees complete the
                                               80-hour biweekly work requirement in less than 10 workdays. Notwithstanding the requirements in 5
                                               U.S.C. § 6101, each agency may establish programs which (1) use a 4-day workweek or other
                                               compressed schedule; and (2) allow the use of flexible schedules. Flexible schedules include (1)
                                               designated hours and days during which an employee on a schedule must be present for work; and
                                               (2) designated hours during which an employee on this schedule may elect the time of the
                                               employee’s arrival at and departure from work, solely for this purpose or, if and to the extent
                                               permitted, for the purpose of accumulating credit hours to reduce the length of the workweek or
                                               another workday. When the head of an agency establishes a flexible or compressed work schedule,
                                               he or she shall establish a basic work requirement for each employee as defined in 5 U.S.C. § 6121.
 Teleworking                                   Telework is a work arrangement that allows an employee to perform work, during any part of regular,
                                               paid hours, at an approved alternative worksite. The head of each executive agency was required to
                                               establish a policy under which the agency’s eligible employees may be authorized to telework;
                                               determine the eligibility for all the agency’s employees to participate in telework; and notify all the
                                               agency’s employees of their eligibility to telework.
                                               Each executive agency was required to consult with the Office of Personnel Management in
                                               developing telework policies. The Office of Personnel Management must provide policy and policy
                                               guidance for telework in the areas of pay and leave, agency closure, performance management,
                                               official worksite, recruitment and retention, and accommodations for employees with disabilities;
                                               assist each agency in establishing appropriate qualitative and quantitative measures and teleworking
                                               goals; and consult with specified agencies on certain policy and policy guidance.
Source: GAO analysis of OPM and DOD information, relevant laws, and regulations. | GAO-19-509

                                                               Note: We did not include work-life balance policies and programs in our analysis of recruitment and
                                                               retention flexibilities.




                                                               Page 47                                               GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
Appendix III: Objectives, Scope, and
              Appendix III: Objectives, Scope, and
              Methodology



Methodology

              Section 843 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year
              2018 included a provision for us to review and report on the effectiveness
              of hiring and retention flexibilities for the Department of Defense’s (DOD)
              acquisition workforce, with a focus on its civilian acquisition workforce, 1
              including

              (a)    the extent to which DOD experiences challenges with recruitment
                     and retention of the acquisition workforce, such as post-employment
                     restrictions;

              (b)    a description of the hiring and retention flexibilities available to DOD
                     to fill civilian acquisition positions and the extent to which DOD has
                     used the flexibilities available to it to target critical or understaffed
                     career fields;

              (c)    the extent to which DOD has the necessary data and metrics on its
                     use of hiring and retention flexibilities for the civilian acquisition
                     workforce to strategically manage the use of such flexibilities;

              (d)    an identification of the factors that affect the use of hiring and
                     retention flexibilities for the civilian acquisition workforce;

              (e)    recommendations for any necessary changes to the hiring and
                     retention flexibilities available to DOD to fill civilian acquisition
                     positions; 2 and

              (f)    a description of the flexibilities available to DOD to remove
                     underperforming members of the acquisition workforce and the
                     extent to which any such flexibilities are used.

              This report: (1) provides information on DOD’s use of available hiring,
              recruitment, and retention flexibilities for its civilian acquisition workforce
              personnel from fiscal years 2014 to 2018; and (2) determines the extent
              to which DOD has monitored and assessed its use of hiring, recruitment,

              1
               See National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018, Pub. L. No. 115-91, §
              843(b).
              2
               In this report, we are not making any recommendations related to changing hiring and
              retention flexibilities available to DOD for the civilian acquisition workforce. DOD officials
              told us they are advising Congress on which direct hire authorities, a type of hiring
              flexibility, could be consolidated and which direct hire authority requirements could be
              eliminated.




              Page 48                                            GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
Appendix III: Objectives, Scope, and
Methodology




and retention flexibilities for its civilian acquisition workforce. In doing so,
the report addresses elements (a) through (f) identified above.

To examine DOD’s use of available hiring, recruitment, and retention
flexibilities for its civilian acquisition workforce personnel from fiscal years
2014 to 2018, we reviewed relevant statutes, reports, and DOD policies
and guidance to identify hiring, recruitment, and retention flexibilities
available to DOD’s civilian acquisition workforce. Based on our review, we
identified the following hiring authorities:

•   competitive examination, which we refer to as “the traditional hiring
    method,” and
•   46 alternatives to the traditional hiring method, which we refer to as
    “hiring flexibilities” for the purposes of our review. 3
Appendix I provides additional information on these 46 hiring flexibilities.

We also identified four monetary incentives and five work-life balance
programs that DOD can use to recruit and retain civilian acquisition
workforce personnel. We scoped our analysis to the four monetary
incentives DOD can use to recruit and retain civilian acquisition workforce
personnel—(1) recruitment bonuses, (2) retention bonuses, (3) relocation
bonuses, and (4) student loan repayments—and collectively refer to these
four incentives as “recruitment and retention flexibilities” for the purposes
of our review. 4 We focused our review on the four government-wide
monetary flexibilities with personnel data in the Defense Civilian
Personnel Data System (DCPDS), DOD’s central repository for civilian
personnel transactions data, and required for submission to the Defense
Manpower Data Center. 5 Appendix II provides additional information on
these four recruitment and retention flexibilities.



3
 The 46 hiring flexibilities included 14 DOD direct hire authorities provided in statute, and
32 other flexibilities, such as government-wide hiring flexibilities provided in statute.
4
 Recruitment and retention flexibilities can also include other monetary incentives, such as
DOD’s permanent change of station incentive, which helps civilian employees pay for the
costs of relocation, as well as work-life programs, such as flexible work schedules and the
ability to telework.
5
 DOD, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (USD) Personnel and Readiness (P&R),
DOD Instruction 1444.02, Volume 1, Data Submission Requirements for DoD Civilian
Personnel: Appropriated Fund Civilians (Nov. 5, 2013).




Page 49                                           GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
Appendix III: Objectives, Scope, and
Methodology




We also analyzed personnel data from DCPDS. We obtained DCPDS
data on hiring actions from the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense
(USD) for Personnel and Readiness (P&R) – Defense Manpower Data
Center. We obtained DCPDS data on dollars authorized for recruitment
and retention flexibilities from USD (P&R) – Defense Civilian Personnel
Advisory Service (DCPAS). We also obtained acquisition workforce data
for fiscal years 2014 through 2018 from DOD’s DataMart, a central
repository of acquisition workforce data, from the Defense Manpower
Data Center. We analyzed the DataMart data to determine which DOD
civilian personnel were in DOD’s acquisition workforce at the end of each
fiscal year, the military department or organization in which these
personnel worked, and the career fields in which these personnel held
positions.

For our analysis of hiring flexibilities, we included all hiring actions for the
DOD civilian acquisition workforce with effective dates from fiscal year
2014 through 2018, except for actions with legal authority codes
designated as transfers. We did not include hiring actions designated as
transfers because they include hiring actions between military
departments as well as transfers from outside of DOD. We excluded all of
these transfer hiring actions because the data did not include enough
information for us to distinguish between internal and external transfers.
We identified 44,291 hiring actions for this 5-year period, and used the
legal authority code data fields for each hiring action to determine the
type of hiring authority or flexibility that DOD used. We analyzed DOD’s
usage of hiring flexibilities from fiscal years 2014 through 2018 across
each of DOD’s 14 acquisition career fields and the military departments.

Of the hiring flexibilities, we focused our analysis on DOD direct hire
authorities because they comprised the single largest category of hiring
authorities used by the DOD civilian acquisition workforce for hiring
actions from fiscal year 2014 through 2018—26,385 of 44,291 DOD hiring
actions or 60 percent. DCPDS, however, did not include enough
information for us to determine which specific direct hire authority DOD
used for each hiring action. For these actions, the human resource
specialists manually entered the details of the specific type of DOD direct
hire authority they used in DCPDS. To determine the type of DOD direct
hire authority used, two analysts independently reviewed each description
and identified the appropriate DOD direct hire authority. For 360 of the
26,385 the hiring actions (or 1.4 percent), the descriptions did not contain
enough information for us to determine the specific DOD direct hire
authority used.



Page 50                                   GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
                                                               Appendix III: Objectives, Scope, and
                                                               Methodology




                                                               For the purposes of our analysis, we established three categories of
                                                               hiring actions based on the DOD’s designations in DCPDS (see table 13).

Table 13: Categories of the Department of Defense’s (DOD) Hiring Actions

 DOD designation                                                                                 GAO category in analysis
 Competitive examining (selection from a civil service certificate of                            Traditional hiring method
 eligible candidates)
 DOD direct hire authority, including the expedited hiring authority                             DOD direct hire authorities
 for certain defense acquisition workforce positions and hiring
 authorities under DOD’s Civilian Acquisition Workforce Personnel
 Demonstration Project (AcqDemo)
 Veterans-related hiring authorities, Pathways Programs authorities, Other hiring flexibilities
 Office of Personnel Management direct hire authorities, Senior
 Executive Service appointments, reinstatements, noncompetitive
 appointment of certain military spouses, Defense Civilian
 Intelligence Personnel System appointments, among others
Source: GAO analysis of Defense Civilian Personnel Data System data, Department of Defense guidance, and Office of Personnel Management guidance. | GAO-19-509



                                                               For our analysis of recruitment and retention flexibilities, we included all
                                                               actions authorizing recruitment bonuses, retention bonuses, relocation
                                                               bonuses, and student loan repayments for the DOD civilian acquisition
                                                               workforce from fiscal year 2014 through 2018. We identified 13,643
                                                               authorization actions. We used the award amount data field for each
                                                               authorization action to determine the amount of dollars authorized for
                                                               these four types of incentives. We analyzed DOD’s usage of the
                                                               recruitment and retention flexibilities from fiscal years 2014 through 2018
                                                               across each of DOD’s 14 acquisition career fields.

                                                               We assessed data reliability by electronically testing these data,
                                                               reviewing relevant data standards and guidance, and interviewing
                                                               DCPAS and Defense Manpower Data Center officials. We determined
                                                               that the data were sufficiently reliable for the purposes of reporting the
                                                               frequency with which DOD’s civilian acquisition workforce used hiring,
                                                               recruitment, and retention flexibilities for fiscal years 2014 through 2018.

                                                               We also identified factors that affected DOD’s use of hiring, recruitment,
                                                               and retention flexibilities for its civilian acquisition workforce by reviewing
                                                               DCPAS and military departments’ policies and guidance for using human
                                                               capital flexibilities, including implementation of 14 DOD direct hire
                                                               authorities provided in statute, and efforts by DCPAS to improve DOD’s
                                                               use of the flexibilities.




                                                               Page 51                                                            GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
Appendix III: Objectives, Scope, and
Methodology




To determine the extent to which DOD has monitored and assessed its
use of hiring, recruitment, and retention flexibilities for its civilian
acquisition workforce, we reviewed acquisition workforce human capital
plans from the Office of Human Capital Initiatives (HCI) within USD for
Acquisition and Sustainment (A&S); acquisition workforce plans from the
Air Force, the Army, and the Navy; and data and metrics collected by HCI
and DOD’s four Directors for Acquisition Career Management (DACM)—
one for each of the military departments and a fourth for the defense
agencies and field activities outside the military departments. We
assessed DOD’s efforts against our key practices for effectively managing
human resource flexibilities and federal internal control standards,
including that management should use quality information to achieve the
entity’s objectives. 6 We also reviewed reports by the Advisory Panel on
Streamlining and Codifying Acquisition Regulations—commonly referred
to as the Section 809 Panel after the legislative provision that required the
Secretary of Defense to establish an advisory panel on streamlining
acquisition regulations—and interviewed Section 809 Panel
commissioners to supplement our analysis. 7

For both objectives, we interviewed officials from

•   HCI, the office responsible for DOD-wide acquisition workforce
    strategic planning;
•   DCPAS, the office responsible for developing DOD’s civilian human
    resources policies and programs;
•   the Defense Manpower Data Center, the office responsible for
    collecting and maintaining DOD’s civilian personnel data;
•   the Directors for Acquisition Career Management (DACM) for each
    military department and the Fourth Estate, which is responsible for the
    30 defense agencies and field activities outside the military
    departments;
6
 GAO, Federal Workforce: Key Talent Management Strategies for Agencies to Better Meet
Their Missions, GAO-19-181 (Washington, D.C.: Mar. 28, 2019); Human Capital: Effective
Use of Flexibilities Can Assist Agencies in Managing Their Workforces, GAO-03-2
(Washington, D.C.: Dec. 6, 2002); and Standards for Internal Control in the Federal
Government, GAO-14-704G (Washington, D.C.: Sept. 10, 2014).
7
 Advisory Panel on Streamlining and Codifying Acquisition Regulations, Report of the
Advisory Panel on Streamlining and Codifying Acquisition Regulations Volume 2 of 3,
(Arlington, Va.: June 2018). The panel was established pursuant to Section 809 of the
National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016. The panel also released Volume
1 in January 2018 and Volume 3 in January 2019.




Page 52                                       GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
Appendix III: Objectives, Scope, and
Methodology




•   the Air Force Personnel Center;
•   Army’s Civilian Human Resources Agency;
•   Navy’s Office of Civilian Human Resources; and
•   the command within each military department that had the largest
    number of civilian acquisition workforce personnel in fiscal year 2018:
    Air Force Materiel Command, Army Combat Capabilities Development
    Command, and Naval Sea Systems Command. We also interviewed
    officials from the Defense Contract Management Agency, which had
    the largest number of civilian acquisition personnel of the other
    defense agencies with acquisition workforce personnel. Collectively,
    these four organizations comprised about 38 percent of DOD’s civilian
    acquisition workforce in fiscal year 2018.
We also interviewed personnel from the Office of Personnel Management
(OPM), which is responsible for developing and promulgating
government-wide human capital policies; and personnel from the Society
for Human Resource Management, the world’s largest human resources
membership group, who were familiar with metrics used by the private
sector to monitor hiring and retention efforts.

We conducted this performance audit from August 2018 to August 2019
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 audit objectives. We believe that
the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings and
conclusions based on our audit objectives.




Page 53                                GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
Appendix IV: The Department of Defense’s
              Appendix IV: The Department of Defense’s
              Usage of Hiring Flexibilities for the Acquisition
              Workforce by Career Field


Usage of Hiring Flexibilities for the
Acquisition Workforce by Career Field
              Section 843 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year
              2018 included, among other things, a provision for us to review the extent
              to which the Department of Defense (DOD) has used hiring flexibilities
              available to it to target critical or understaffed career fields. 1 In its
              December 2015 memo on using the expedited hiring authority for certain
              defense acquisition workforce positions, DOD designated 12 of the 14
              acquisition workforce career fields as shortage or critical needs
              categories. 2 We identified 44,291 DOD hiring actions from fiscal year
              2014 to 2018 for the civilian acquisition workforce, and categorized them
              as (1) traditional hiring method actions, (2) actions using DOD direct hire
              authorities, or (3) other hiring flexibilities (see appendix I for additional
              information on these hiring flexibilities, including DOD direct hire
              authorities). We further categorized the hiring actions by DOD’s 14
              acquisition workforce career fields and ordered the career fields by total
              number of hiring actions in fiscal year 2018. Figures 6, 7, 8, and 9 provide
              data on the use of hiring flexibilities for each of the 14 acquisition
              workforce career fields.




              National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018, Pub. L. No. 115-91, § 843(b).
              1


              2
               DOD did not designate purchasing or industrial contract property management as
              shortage or critical needs categories.




              Page 54                                             GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
                                         Appendix IV: The Department of Defense’s
                                         Usage of Hiring Flexibilities for the Acquisition
                                         Workforce by Career Field




Figure 6: The Department of Defense’s (DOD) Usage of Hiring Flexibilities for the Civilian Acquisition Workforce’s
Engineering, Contracting, Life Cycle Logistics, and Information Technology Career Fields, Fiscal Years 2014 to 2018




                                         Note: “Traditional hiring method” is the competitive examining method outlined in sections of Title 5 of
                                         the U.S. Code. “DOD direct hire authorities” are a type of hiring flexibility and include DOD-specific
                                         direct hire authorities provided in statute, including the expedited hiring authority for certain defense
                                         acquisition workforce positions, as well as DOD Civilian Acquisition Workforce Personnel
                                         Demonstration Project (AcqDemo) hiring authorities. “Other hiring flexibilities” include veterans-
                                         related hiring authorities and Pathways Programs authorities among other hiring authorities.




                                         Page 55                                                GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
                                        Appendix IV: The Department of Defense’s
                                        Usage of Hiring Flexibilities for the Acquisition
                                        Workforce by Career Field




Figure 7: The Department of Defense’s (DOD) Usage of Hiring Flexibilities for the Civilian Acquisition Workforce’s Program
Management; Production, Quality, and Manufacturing; Facilities Engineering; and Financial Management Career Fields, Fiscal
Years 2014 to 2018




                                        Note: “Traditional hiring method” is the competitive examining method outlined in sections of Title 5 of
                                        the U.S. Code. “DOD direct hire authorities” are a type of hiring flexibility and include DOD-specific
                                        direct hire authorities provided in statute, including the expedited hiring authority for certain defense
                                        acquisition workforce positions, as well as DOD Civilian Acquisition Workforce Personnel
                                        Demonstration Project (AcqDemo) hiring authorities. “Other hiring flexibilities” include veterans-
                                        related hiring authorities and Pathways Programs authorities among other hiring authorities.




                                        Page 56                                                GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
                                          Appendix IV: The Department of Defense’s
                                          Usage of Hiring Flexibilities for the Acquisition
                                          Workforce by Career Field




Figure 8: The Department of Defense’s (DOD) Usage of Hiring Flexibilities for the Civilian Acquisition Workforce’s Test and
Evaluation, Auditing, and Science and Technology Manager Career Fields, Fiscal Years 2014 to 2018




                                          Note: “Traditional hiring method” is the competitive examining method outlined in sections of Title 5 of
                                          the U.S. Code. “DOD direct hire authorities” are a type of hiring flexibility and include DOD-specific
                                          direct hire authorities provided in statute, including the expedited hiring authority for certain defense
                                          acquisition workforce positions, as well as DOD Civilian Acquisition Workforce Personnel
                                          Demonstration Project (AcqDemo) hiring authorities. “Other hiring flexibilities” include veterans-
                                          related hiring authorities and Pathways Programs authorities among other hiring authorities.




                                          Page 57                                                GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
                                          Appendix IV: The Department of Defense’s
                                          Usage of Hiring Flexibilities for the Acquisition
                                          Workforce by Career Field




Figure 9: The Department of Defense’s (DOD) Usage of Hiring Flexibilities for the Civilian Acquisition Workforce’s Cost
Estimating, Purchasing, and Industrial Contract Property Management Career Fields, Fiscal Years 2014 to 2018




                                          Note: “Traditional hiring method” is the competitive examining method outlined in sections of Title 5 of
                                          the U.S. Code. “DOD direct hire authorities” are a type of hiring flexibility and include DOD-specific
                                          direct hire authorities provided in statute, including the expedited hiring authority for certain defense
                                          acquisition workforce positions, as well as DOD Civilian Acquisition Workforce Personnel
                                          Demonstration Project (AcqDemo) hiring authorities. “Other hiring flexibilities” include veterans-
                                          related hiring authorities and Pathways Programs authorities among other hiring authorities.




                                          Page 58                                                GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
Appendix V: The Department of Defense’s
              Appendix V: The Department of Defense’s
              Usage of Hiring Flexibilities for the Acquisition
              Workforce by Military Department


Usage of Hiring Flexibilities for the
Acquisition Workforce by Military Department
              We identified 44,291 Department of Defense (DOD) hiring actions from
              fiscal year 2014 to 2018 for the civilian acquisition workforce, and
              categorized them as (1) traditional hiring method actions, (2) actions
              using DOD direct hire authorities, or (3) other hiring flexibilities (see
              appendix I for additional information on these hiring flexibilities, including
              DOD direct hire authorities). We further categorized the hiring actions by
              military departments and defense agencies. Figure 10 provides data on
              the use of hiring flexibilities for each of the military departments and the
              Fourth Estate, which is responsible for the 30 defense agencies and field
              activities outside the military departments.




              Page 59                                             GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
                                          Appendix V: The Department of Defense’s
                                          Usage of Hiring Flexibilities for the Acquisition
                                          Workforce by Military Department




Figure 10: The Department of Defense’s (DOD) Usage of Hiring Flexibilities for the Civilian Acquisition Workforce by Military
Department and the Fourth Estate, Fiscal Years 2014 to 2018




                                          Note: The Fourth Estate is responsible for the 30 defense agencies and field activities outside the
                                          military departments. “Traditional hiring method” is the competitive method outlined in sections of Title
                                          5 of the U.S. Code. “DOD direct hire authorities” are a type of hiring flexibility and include DOD-
                                          specific direct hire authorities provided in statute, including the expedited hiring authority for certain
                                          defense acquisition workforce positions, as well as DOD Civilian Acquisition Workforce Personnel
                                          Demonstration Project (AcqDemo) hiring authorities. “Other hiring flexibilities” include veterans-
                                          related hiring authorities and Pathways Programs authorities among other hiring authorities.




                                          Page 60                                                 GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
Appendix VI: The Department of Defense’s
               Appendix VI: The Department of Defense’s
               Usage of Recruitment and Retention
               Flexibilities for the Acquisition Workforce


Usage of Recruitment and Retention
Flexibilities for the Acquisition Workforce
               Section 843 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year
               2018 included, among other things, a provision for us to review the extent
               to which the Department of Defense (DOD) has used retention flexibilities
               available to it to target critical or understaffed career fields. 1 In its
               December 2015 memo on using the expedited hiring authority for certain
               defense acquisition workforce positions, DOD designated 12 of the 14
               acquisition workforce career fields as shortage or critical needs
               categories. 2 We identified $123.9 million authorized in recruitment and
               retention flexibilities for DOD’s civilian acquisition workforce from fiscal
               year 2014 to 2018, and categorized them as (1) recruitment bonuses, (2)
               relocation bonuses, (3) retention bonuses, and (4) student loan
               repayments (see appendix II for additional information on these
               recruitment and retention flexibilities). We further categorized the
               recruitment and retention flexibilities by DOD’s 14 acquisition workforce
               career fields and ordered the career fields by total dollars authorized by
               DOD. 3 See figures 11 through 14 below.




               National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018, Pub. L. No. 115-91, § 843(b).
               1


               2
                DOD did not designate purchasing or industrial contract property management as
               shortage or critical needs categories.
               3
                About $251,000 of the $123.9 million in recruitment and retention flexibilities authorized
               for DOD’s civilian acquisition workforce from fiscal year 2014 to 2018 were not included in
               one of the 14 DOD-designated acquisition career fields and were instead designated as
               an unknown or obsolete career field.




               Page 61                                         GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
                                         Appendix VI: The Department of Defense’s
                                         Usage of Recruitment and Retention
                                         Flexibilities for the Acquisition Workforce




Figure 11: Department of Defense-Authorized Dollar Amounts for Recruitment and Retention Flexibilities for the Civilian
Acquisition Workforce’s Engineering, Contracting, Program Management, and Facilities Engineering Career Fields, Fiscal
Years 2014 to 2018




                                         Page 62                                       GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
                                         Appendix VI: The Department of Defense’s
                                         Usage of Recruitment and Retention
                                         Flexibilities for the Acquisition Workforce




Figure 12: Department of Defense-Authorized Dollar Amounts for Recruitment and Retention Flexibilities for the Civilian
Acquisition Workforce’s Life Cycle Logistics; Test and Evaluation; Production, Quality, and Manufacturing; and Financial
Management Career Fields, Fiscal Years 2014 to 2018




                                         Page 63                                       GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
                                         Appendix VI: The Department of Defense’s
                                         Usage of Recruitment and Retention
                                         Flexibilities for the Acquisition Workforce




Figure 13: Department of Defense-Authorized Dollar Amounts for Recruitment and Retention Flexibilities for the Civilian
Acquisition Workforce’s Information Technology, Science and Technology Manager, and Cost Estimating Career Fields,
Fiscal Years 2014 to 2018




                                         Page 64                                       GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
                                        Appendix VI: The Department of Defense’s
                                        Usage of Recruitment and Retention
                                        Flexibilities for the Acquisition Workforce




Figure 14: Department of Defense-Authorized Dollar Amounts for Recruitment and Retention Flexibilities for the Civilian
Acquisition Workforce’s Industrial Contract Property Management, Purchasing, and Auditing Career Fields, Fiscal Years 2014
to 2018




                                        Page 65                                       GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
Appendix VII: Comments from the
             Appendix VII: Comments from the Department
             of Defense



Department of Defense




             Page 66                                      GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
Appendix VII: Comments from the Department
of Defense




Page 67                                      GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
Appendix VIII: GAO Contact and Staff
                  Appendix VIII: GAO Contact and Staff
                  Acknowledgments



Acknowledgments


                  Timothy J. DiNapoli, (202) 512-4841 or dinapolit@gao.gov
GAO Contact
                  In addition to the contact named above, Nathan Tranquilli (Assistant
Staff             Director), Claire Li (Analyst-in-Charge), TyAnn Lee, and Ashley Rawson
Acknowledgments   made key contributions to this report. Lorraine Ettaro, Christopher
                  Falcone, Lori Fields, Cynthia Grant, Laura Greifner, and Sylvia Schatz
                  also contributed to this report.




(102981)
                  Page 68                                GAO-19-509 Defense Acquisition Workforce
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