By By Scott Rowell, Civilian Workforce Integrator, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs/Army Deputy Chief of Staff G-1May 15, 2012
Once a year, Public Service Recognition Week is all about recognizing the contribution our civilian corps brings to the Army. However, many of us take Army civilians for granted and don't give them much thought beyond this one week where we say "good job, thanks." In reality, civilians do much of the generating forces' heavy lifting by training and supplying the force, testing and evaluating equipment, conducting acquisitions and managing resources so Soldiers can concentrate on their missions and come home safely. It has been said, "If a Soldier wears it, eats it, shoots it, rides in it, lives in it, he can thank an Army civilian." So, it's more than a one week deal: Army civilians are integral to the Army mission every week of the year.
The Army faces a period of monumental change and now, as never before, the Army is calling upon its civilian corps to assume greater levels of responsibility and accountability. However, the Army system doesn't always recognize and reward a civilian's dedicated service and contributions with development and education opportunities worthy of their potential. This must change because if the Army does not prioritize development of and investment in its civilian workforce, it stands to lose an important institutional asset.
Recognizing this reality, Secretary of the Army John McHugh has said, "The challenge for the civilian workforce is to keep pace with the new realities facing an Army winding down after more than a decade of conflict." To meet this challenge, the Army unveiled the Civilian Workforce Transformation initiative that provides the Army's path as it changes how it hires, trains, manages and sustains its civilian workforce today and in the future.
A lot of work has been done, with much of it behind the scenes, and the revolutionary nature of CWT and its potential positive impact on Army civilians and their managers is just becoming visible across the Army. Through CWT, for the first time, the entire Army civilian workforce -- all 316,000 of them -- is assigned to a Career Program and career maps are being developed for each occupational series within a Career Program. Once the career maps are developed, all Army civilians will have access to a professional blueprint that outlines the career, training, and educational opportunities available for their chosen occupation. In the near future, career maps will also include competency requirements. When fully implemented (October of this year), there will be almost 450 career maps that cover 99% of Army General Schedule (GS) civilians.
Once an employee's career map is developed, he or she can begin to proactively manage and monitor their learning, education and career objectives through a web-based tool called Army Career Tracker. The current version of ACT is similar to the one used for the military but designed specifically for civilians by providing occupational-series specific training and education resources. ACT also allows supervisors to advise and track their employees' development. ACT is already available to nearly half of the Army civilians and full implementation will be complete by the end of this year.
The Senior Enterprise Talent Management program is another major component of the Civilian Workforce Transformation initiative. SETM prepares participants for positions of greater responsibility through advanced senior-level educational and developmental experiences. SETM will generate GS-14/15 enterprise leaders who are networked, future oriented, agile, and able to set the context by which their Army organizations thrive and grow for future operations and sustainment.
CWT is helping prepare Army civilians to meet their future job requirements but much remains to be done to bring the program to fruition. For example, now that almost half of Army civilians have career maps available through ACT, the next immediate step is to energize individual engagement. To that end, Secretary McHugh has issued the following challenge: "I hold each Army Civilian accountable for mapping and navigating a progressive program of self-development. Commanders, supervisors and managers share responsibility for enabling Army civilian employees to reach their full potential."
More and more, as the civilian workforce is being recognized as an essential component of the Army's total force, it is understood that if they are not capable of assuming greater levels of responsibility and accountability, it will be the Soldiers who ultimately suffer. Therefore, CWT is focused on improving workforce abilities through developmental reforms aimed at creating a solid core of knowledgeable civilian leaders and employees by providing them the best training and developmental opportunities so they can succeed.