Remarks - Under Secretary of the Army - Army Civilian Luncheon - AUSA Convention
November 2, 2010
- There are about 279,000 Civilians in the Army, If we add the Army Corps of Engineers, the number tops 335,000 civilians
- We are looking to manage the work force in a career field with the goal of moving 40% of the force managed in a career field, to 100%.
- A huge part of our generating force, 60% in fact, is the civilian workforce
- We need to manage the workforce in a career field.
Good afternoon everybody. Thank you for having me today. I'm delighted to be here. I have a couple of additions to the introductions. I could introduce almost half this room, because there are people that I work with everyday, and I can't tell you how much I appreciate what you all do. But I will say that one of my favorite general officers in the Army, a man that I knew when I was here before and worked with, with whom I have the utmost respect, and am teaming up with on so many different issues, is General Bostick. I'm really glad you are here today.
And another person I've learned a lot from was also the Under Secretary of the Army. He's someone whom I have relied on for some good advice and counsel as I started this job - Nelson Ford. And I really think it's great that you are here, and it shows a lot about your commitment to the civilian workforce.
Now I want to begin by quoting from the Secretary of the Army, and it's a speech I'm sure all of you heard on Monday. I think he gave a great speech, focusing a lot on the Generating Force. And he said, "Over the course of the past nine years, the operational Army - the pointy end of the spear - has changed dramatically. The need for that change has been driven by a fundamental imperative: daily contact with a decentralized, adaptive, creative and deadly enemy. But the institutional Army - the generating force - which prepares, trains, educates and supports our forces for current and future fights, looks much the same, structurally, as it did since the early to mid-70s."
I think that's a pretty telling statement. All of us in this room are in fact in the generating force. His statement and his commitment to do something about that is very important. He and I met before and after the speech. I said to him that I'm going go out there and make some remarkable statements about what we are going to do about this generating force, from the civilian workforce side, and he said "Go for it. Let's do it."
I first came to DC at the end of 1979 and beginning of 1980, on leave from the University to work in the Department of Interior under President Jimmy Carter. And most of us will remember the Carter administration for two main things. We will remember obviously the Iranian hostage crisis and we will remember the Olympic boycott. If you think about it, other things that happened during that administration are pretty remarkable. Deregulation of airlines. Superfund Law was passed under his watch. He only served four years, but he got a lot done in those four years. The National Energy Policy and the creation of the Department of Energy. A break-up of the then department of Health Education and Welfare, HHS and the Department of Education. The Camp David Accords. The Panama Canal Treaty. The Chrysler Corporation Loan Guarantee Program. The Strategic Arms Limitation Treaties SALT II. And the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978.
And it believe it or not, this act was the first comprehensive civil service reform to take place since 1883. It abolished the Civil Service Commission. It created the United States Merit Systems Protection Board. It created the Office of Personnel Management and the Federal Labor Relations Authority.
As the President signed that act into law in 1978, he said, it puts merit principles into statute and defines prohibited personnel practices. It establishes a Senior Executive Service, and it bases the pay of executives and senior managers on the quality of their performance. It provides a more sensible method for evaluating individual performance. It gives managers more flexibility and more authority to hire, motivate, reward, and discipline employees to ensure that the public's work gets done. At the same time, it provides better protection for employees against arbitrary actions and abuses and contains safeguards against political intrusion. The act assures that whistleblowers will be heard, and that they will be protected from reprisal. It moves Federal labor relations from Executive order to statute and provides a new agency, the Federal Labor Relations Authority, to monitor the system. And it provides for systematic research and development in personnel management to encourage continuing improvements of the civil service system.
It was pretty significant legislation, but it was a law mostly about efficiency and accountability. We face those same issues today. And it took 85 years for the government to act to improve federal civil service. Secretary McHugh and I want to move a lot faster and more aggressively, to use the tools that we have available and to initiate for us in the Army and for the Department of Defense, a new era of change for our civilian workforce in the Army. And we want to do it right now.
An era of workforce transformation is what we have defined it as. When I came into this office, the first thing I did was gather a group around and said what we do about investing in our civilian service. I got some great ideas, and they went on and established the Civilian Workforce Transformation Taskforce.
A huge part of our generating force, 60% in fact, is the civilian workforce. This generating force performs the incredible heavy lifting in support of ARFORGEN - training, supplying and engineering the force so our war fighters can concentrate on their missions and come home safely. You have deployed and stood in support of our war fighters during the most dangerous and difficult periods of these conflicts. But, this nation's ability to sustain the all-volunteer force will be difficult and challenged if we do not prioritize development and investment in our most important institutional asset, our people. Now, as never before, the Army is increasingly calling upon our Civilian Corps to assume greater levels of responsibility and accountability at organizations throughout our Service. But we have a system that doesn't always reward your dedicated service with development and advancement opportunities worthy of your potential.
So today I'd like to announce, the sweeping and dramatic changes that the Army pledges to vigorously pursue to enhance accountability and efficiency.
But let me first me tell you something about the Army Civilian Corp. There are about 279,000 Civilians in the Army. If we add the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Assistant Secretary for Civil Works is here representing that organization, and the non-appropriated personnel, the number tops 335,000 civilians. That's about 23% of our Total Army Force. About 15% of our civilians work in the National Capital Region. Another 5% are serving outside of the nation's borders in a multitude of assignments around the world. And that means that roughly about 80% of the Army Civilians, live and work, worship and play in support of local communities in our 50 states. About 47% of civilians are former military, with an average of about 11.8 years in uniform, with 17.6% of you having retired from the military.
Because so many of our most qualified applicants come from the military, the workforce is older. The average age of an Army civilian is steadily rising, and is currently around 46 years old. And over 44% of the civilian workforce is over the age of 50. Several career fields, such as Comptrollers, Ammunition Managers, and Quality & Reliability Assurance career fields, have almost half of their civilian population eligible for retirement.
Over the last few years, our Army Civilian population has steadily increased. The workforce has grown 28% since 2001, in contrast to our military force which has grown 16% in that time frame. This is due to a number of initiatives to convert military and contractor positions to civilian careers, as well as due to increased operational requirements.
Perhaps due to the recession, workforce attrition has decreased, and currently is about 14.5%. However, about 1/3 of new accessions leave by their fifth year of service. That's an alarming statistic. This amounts to an estimated 10,000 newer recruits departing in FY11. Although civilian numbers are growing, and overall attrition is shrinking, in certain critical career fields turnover is growing - such as in the Intelligence, Medical, Contracting and Criminal Investigations career fields. And it's difficult to replace these critical fields where turnover is high, because of the tremendous delays in the Army civilian hiring process. It takes an average of about 130 days to bring on a new employee, so we know many applicants have found other jobs in that timeframe, meaning we're losing out on talented individuals both today, and our future leaders for tomorrow.
But the most shocking statistic, and the one that, in my opinion, most reflects how we've overlooked managing our civilians' careers, is that almost 60% of you do not belong to a career field. This means we don't manage the training, leadership development, and career enhancing assignments for over half of our civilian workforce. This is not acceptable.
Congress also knows how crucial it is that we act, and has mandated in recent National Defense Authorization Acts that the military services dramatically improve how we manage our Civilian Corps. Now, as the Army's Undersecretary and Chief Management Officer, it becomes my responsibility to identify and address the Army's strategic challenges. I believe that Workforce Transformation is a strategic challenge. A major strategic challenge for the Army.
So what does the Army need to do' There are four major things. We need to hire the right people, and we need to do it quickly. We need to manage the workforce in a career field. And we need to train and develop our workforce into leaders. And we need to take care of you and keep you.
How do we do these' We need to develop our strategic plan, establish clear metrics, produce systems to monitor and manage this plan, and then align the resources in order to execute the plan. We want to capitalize on entry-level recruiting of high quality candidates and provide a focused investment in developing the force into leaders throughout their careers.
What are we going to do' We've already embarked upon a Civilian Workforce Transformation initiative. We have a task force. This transformation is one of the Army's top priorities. It has the support of the Secretary of the Army, the Chief of Staff of the Army, and the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army.
My initial guidance for the Civilian Transformation Workforce Task Force was to broaden, integrate and align it across the department. So we have the Army G-1 staff, along with the G-3/5/7, ASA M&RA and OSD Personnel & Readiness staff, developing specific short and long-term initiatives to transform the civilian workforce, consistent with Congress's 2010 NDAA requirements.
The Task Force is building upon the results of other studies of the past as well as other organizations and their work that have added a great deal of recommendations.
I know what you all are thinking. I was thinking the same thing as we were preparing these remarks. You've all heard this before. I saw it in the minutes of AUSA two or three years ago. What's different about this and what are we doing differently' I've directed the Task Force to take meaningful steps to meet our strategic objectives. First, in order to hire the right people, quickly, we are developing a scalable Hiring Process Proof of Concept, which will move us to achieve the federal OPM hiring standard of 80 days. The metric: By the end of FY11 we will document and implement a reformed hiring process that puts commanders in charge and leverages technology.
Let me just say something about that. I've been in positions in my career where I've hired people. I've wanted to hire a Vice Chancellor, a Vice President, a Deputy Assistant Secretary. The most difficult thing I had to do, and the one I failed at grossly, was writing that job description. Because ultimately people wanted to know - what do you want in that person, what do you want that person to do, what are the job responsibilities. I could have written a two hundred page speech before I wrote that job description. That's part of the problem. All of us have to invest the time to make this process more effective and more efficient. It is your job as the senior leaders of the Army to go out and to require people to put more attention to that task. It is a vital task. It is the only way for the applicants to know how to connect to the right job if you write that job description so it has common sense. I urge you to pay a lot of attention to that. That will help us reduce that 130 day mark to 80 days or less.
One of the programs we have found to be extraordinarily successful in the hiring arena, is the Civilian Career Intern Program. For over 40 years the Army has administered this program, which takes individuals from entry level positions to positions of mid-level management. The statistic is pretty interesting. About 70% of those that enter through this program stay an average of 15 years. This is a proven program that we need to capitalize on and look to expand and learn from.
Second we are looking to manage the work force in a career field with the goal of moving 40% of the force managed in a career field, to 100%. Dedicated staff will plan for and support the development of all employees in a career program. By the 2nd quarter of FY11, we will establish the path and resource requirements for 100% of the workforce to be covered by professional career program management.
Third. Once we hire talented civilians and place them in a managed career field, we will then take care of the third need, which is to train and develop them into leaders. We all are familiar in this room with the way the Army manages its Soldiers and Officers. I think it's incredible we can bring a Soldier, direct from theater, a war fighter, an aviator, a Stryker Brigade Commander, bring him into the Pentagon, give him a job, you're the next Legislative Liaison person, you're the next Executive Officer to the Undersecretary of the Army, and they move into those jobs as though they have been in them for 100 years. Why' Because the Army has invested in their professional development as leaders. It has educated them. It has given them a broad perspective. They can move into those jobs and excel. It is why so many of you who have been in the Armed Forces and retired and come back to the civilian workforce can do the same thing.
We need to do this for all of the young people that enter this work force and all the people that are in it. And certainly for all of our leaders. We need to do that for civilian workforce. It is essential to this generating force and essential to the war fighter. We need to mimic what we do for the guys in green for all of us in the Army.
The Army puts them in an MOS or branch, and then ensures they receive training in their field periodically throughout their career, while also receiving leadership training every few years as they move up in rank. The Army also capitalizes on their potential by ensuring they rotate into career enhancing assignments every few years, to broaden their breadth of experience.
That was the original intent of the SES system, to have that opportunity to broaden their depth of experience. But we haven't invested in our leaders well enough to allow that to happen. And we don't have the investment and support to move our leaders where we need to in the civilian workforce. We are looking into how we can do something similar for the Army Civilians.
I've directed by the end of 2011, we will implement a comprehensive competency-based Civilian Leadership Development Program. This program will ensure that employees and management understand what is required for success, with realistic career paths and developmental opportunities to achieve success.
Thus by the first quarter of FY2012, we will begin implementing an Education, Training and Experiential Development Program for the Army's Enterprise Leadership cohort. By the first quarter of FY2012 we will also fully deploy a Competency-Based SES Management System, which will outline SES talent acquisition, development and succession planning.
To manage the Civilians while they are attending this training we will also look to create an account for Civilian Management, similar to the military TTHS account, which I think is operating well. I'm very familiar with it and I think makes a big difference. We need to do the same thing for the Civilians. Civilians in their TTHS account should expect to be managed in a way, so that after attending a professional development school, such as a Senior Service College, they will then move on to a career enhancing position that capitalizes on the training they just received. No different than the military.
We anticipate that these programs will provide training and development goals and paths that will cascade throughout the Civilian workforce. As our Civilians retire, we will develop young leaders and train them throughout their career to become the next generation of senior leaders through succession planning.
By hiring the right people, putting you in a career field, training you and developing you throughout your career, we trust that this will be a start on meeting that final need, which is to take care of you and keep you.
I believe the programs I've outlined today will deliver on our corporate obligation to provide our Civilian employees viable career options and the required training to achieve their full potential.
And we see this as a social contract with you. If you perform and choose to do the things we ask, then the Army will ensure we have the resources in place to make your development easy. We will also hold senior leaders accountable to follow Army policy regarding the selection, development and assignment of our best civilian performers.
So you ask, again, what makes this effort different from the past' We are not going to charter another study or commission another investigation into this. We're not going to just wish for this to happen. We are going to make it happen. There are three reasons why this time things are going to be different.
The first is "Alignment". Secretary McHugh and I are absolutely committed to the success of this initiative. Assistant Secretary of the Army Lamont and his deputies are committed to its success. The Chief of Staff and the Vice Chief of Staff believe this is important. I've directed LTG Durbin as the Director of Office of Business Transformation, to assist in the implementation and evaluation of this plan. And the senior leaders in G-1 - LTG Bostick, the G-3/5/7 - LTG Bolger, and TRADOC - GEN Dempsey, are all on board. Such alignment has never been in place in the past.
I personally am going to "Lead" this effort, to help ensure that Secretary Lamont, the G-1, the G-3/5/7 and the others have the resources and the abilities to move forward. I have charged the Office of Business Transformation and the Task Force General Officer Steering Committee to set a date for a senior leader off-site. This off-site will provide the Army's leadership the opportunity to examine first hand strategic options for all lines of effort in Civilian Workforce Transformation.
Third, the Army will "Resource" this initiative. This is why I said earlier Assistant Secretary Lamont & I expect the Civilian Workforce Transformation General Officer Steering Committee to bring us decision-quality information in order to make the right funding decisions.
We're about to start a new POM. We're going through a difficult efficiencies program. We're told by the Secretary of Defense that we need to move tail to tooth. In the Army we support that. But we've made it very clear to the Secretary that for the Army, a very personnel driven service, an Army at war, the generating force is essential to the war fight and the success of our missions. We believe that investing in our civilian workforce is an essential mission for the Army. It is tooth, it is not tail. We will make this case. We will build it in our POM. We will build it in our budget. And we will ensure we move the resources to get this done.
The Army Strategy, the Army Leader Development Strategy and the Army Campaign Plan serve as the vehicles to set conditions and direction for the future. I've been looking at the Army Campaign Plan literature coming out of FORSCOM, TRADOC, IMCOM, AMC, and all of them consistently state the importance of the workforce development as part of their directions. So all the commands are committed to this. In the case of the Army Campaign Plan it will serve as the mechanism for Civilian Workforce Transformation execution and the vehicle by which the Army's leadership can track its progress.
So some final thoughts. Some folks will want to ask the question about the role of civilians and the importance of civilians in the Army structure. I believe that your professional background, my professional background, our education, our culture, our experiences, all shape the way we see the world and the way we approach these challenges. And I will give an example.
I couldn't have been more proud of an individual, who was a former Army retired officer, who was in a meeting with the Secretary of the Army and others, and we were discussing a very important issue. There were a lot of opinions flying around the meeting and this person was giving the brief. At one point, he turned to the Chief and said, "You know I work for you, I have great respect for you, but I have to disagree with you." And he pointed out why he disagreed with the Chief. I was looking at him and I knew he was struggling with this. Because he had been brought up in a culture where you don't disagree with the Chief, at least not in front of all these people. He did it diplomatically, he did it professionally, he did it with passion, but he did it nevertheless. And I think the most important part of that whole dynamic is that the Chief really appreciated it. Because he had a person that instinctively he trusted but also understood that now he was looking at this from a different lens. And the lens that he referred to had to do with what he saw and experienced when he retired. When he retired, he went to work in the private sector and did this and that, and it opened his vision to other things. And so he had to tell the Chief, "that the way we are doing this isn't the right way." And it made a big difference. So I couldn't have been more proud.
That's exactly what we need to do. That's why we need this investment. Because we need that creativity and that innovation and that freedom of ideas in a highly structured and highly rigorous process to eventually help us shape policy.
It's our job, together, to help the civilian workforce shape the people that come after us, so that our Army and this nation will always be well served by a very dedicated and professional workforce. It's a remarkable opportunity for us to show what we are all about and what we can do.
I want to thank all of you for what you do every single day. For the tremendous success you have shown in shaping the future of this Army. LTG Stroup, tell GEN Sullivan thank you for this panel and for putting civilians right at the front and center of this important conference every year. And hopefully next year we will be back to report on the success of this program. Thank you very much.