Pentagon needs rationale for hiring civilian leaders, GAO says

With budgetary pressures affecting defense for the first time in more than a decade, the Defense Department is inadequately documenting to Congress its need to boost hiring of senior civilian leaders, the Government Accountability Office asserted in a Nov. 4 report.

In reviews of its civilian leadership workforces in such places as the war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan, auditors said, the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness should better document its analysis to support the Pentagon's requirements for Senior Executive Service employees, and senior management and technical staff.

The report examined Defense's reviews of how it manages leadership of the 718,000 personnel in its civilian workforce. Requested by three members of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel -- James Webb, D-Va., Lindsey O. Graham, R-S.C., and Ben Nelson, D-Neb. -- the report noted the Pentagon is relying more on civilians for "mission-essential combat support functions such as logistics support and maintenance that have traditionally been performed by the uniformed military."

GAO concluded that while Defense had conducted a baseline review to assess and validate its civilian leadership requirements, it failed to document its analysis or summarize the results, particularly in the Defense intelligence area. As a remedy, GAO recommended:

  • Common criteria for the military service and civilian intelligence agencies to use in their assessments of Defense Intelligence Senior Executive Service requirements.
  • Better communication of key information during the development and presentation of legislative proposals to congressional decision makers.
  • Clearly defined metrics for the Defense Senior Leader Development Program to measure its overall success.
Defense officials generally agreed with GAO's recommendations, though the undersecretary's office, in comments on a draft, said some facts were misstated. Pentagon officials also explained they did not summarize their analysis of one civilian workforce review because it was part of a larger human capital effort and that the review effectively resulted in "a number of key decisions -- for example, a reduction in one agency's senior leader needs."
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.