Pentagon workforce could benefit from Wall Street layoffs

Laid-off financial sector employees might not need to look any further than the Pentagon in their quest for a job. The Defense Department's chief acquisition official on Wednesday said former private sector finance officials could be a perfect fit for thousands of jobs that will come open under a recently announced plan to boost the Pentagon's contracting workforce.

"Frankly, we're getting a lot of folks applying for positions who have financial management backgrounds and no longer have jobs in that environment," said Shay Assad, director of Defense procurement, acquisition policy and strategic sourcing, during a breakfast hosted by Government Executive. "Many of those folks with that kind of background are well-suited to be trained to do what we want to do."

Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Monday announced that the Pentagon will replace most support service contractors with more than 30,000 new full-time government employees during the next five years. About 20,000 of those jobs would be for acquisition professionals; Gates intends to add 4,100 contracting officers in the next year alone.

While some observers are skeptical that Defense will be able to compete with other agencies and the private sector to reach its ambitious hiring goals, Assad said Defense is not struggling yet.

"We are doing very well in terms of hiring acquisition professionals in the Department of Defense these days," Assad said. "So is it a challenge? Yes, especially in [the Washington] region, but this is a five-year process for us, it is not 'Let's run out tomorrow and try to hire as many people as we can.' "

Assad stressed the importance of making major workforce changes, including large staff increases, with thought and deliberation. Before Gates announced the significant shift from contractors to federal employees, the department conducted extensive assessments of the workforce's gaps and capabilities, he said.

"I don't want to leave the impression that we decided two months ago that we were about to do this," Assad said. "The ultimate decisions were made by the secretary as to the degree of it, but … getting that there was a need to increase the capability and size of the workforce was a deliberative process that frankly took a while to get our arms around."

The Office of Management and Budget will play an important role in helping agencies governmentwide assess the capabilities and needs of their acquisition workforces, according to Assad. By reviewing the integrated workforce and determining the appropriate roles for contractors, OMB will be able to guide agencies toward a measured evaluation of their human capital, he said.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.