DoD aims to prepare future civilian leaders

DoD aims to prepare future civilian leaders

The Pentagon is shining a light on its brightest civilian prospects, growing future leaders through a comprehensive program of training, education and development.

In 1996, DoD established the Defense Leadership and Management Program (DLAMP) in response to recommendations by the Commission on Roles and Missions. Initially aimed at GS/GM-14s and 15s, DLAMP enrolled 297 employees in May 1997 and 343 last year. For fiscal 1998, DLAMP expanded to allow GS-13 participants and will eventually include high achievers at the GS-12 level.

Two classes will be admitted this year, including 350 for the Class of 1999 (May) and a similar number for the Class of 2000 when the starting date is moved to December.

"DLAMP is an extremely creative venture," said Diane Disney, deputy assistant secretary of defense for civilian personnel policy. "It's designed to develop civilians for the top 3,000 leadership positions within the department. Essentially, it applies developmental principles in the Goldwater-Nichols Act to the civilian workforce for the first time."

Those 3,000 positions represent roughly one-tenth of civilians in grades 14 and above, responsible for people, policy, programs and other resources of broad significance. Many of the positions support joint warfighting strategy, policy, plans and operational management. Graduates of the DLAMP will become the primary source for filling these positions, Disney said.

Generally at the GS-13 level, DLAMP participants receive a rotational assignment of one year or longer outside their occupation or component. "This is designed to broaden their perspective while they are still fairly young in their career," Disney said.

Those in grades 14 and 15 take part in professional military education. This is done either through 90-day professional military education courses at the National Defense University or through 10-month programs at one of the senior service schools. Seventy-four DLAMP students are currently enrolled in 10-month programs to graduate in June 1999. A similar number will start the 10-month program in August. Both groups of participants are required to complete advanced level graduate courses.

Since February 1998, 291 participants have completed at least one of the 14 DLAMP courses. Upcoming classes range from economics to human resource management, finance and accounting, management information systems, quantitative tools, public policy and electives.

Disney said the program takes an average of six to seven years to complete. Enrollees must complete at least 10 graduate courses and may need as many as 20 courses, depending on their previous schooling, she said. In order to continue in the program, participants must be recertified annually.

Applicants for DLAMP must submit a package containing their resume and educational history. They must describe how they meet DLAMP evaluation criteria, including Office of Personnel Management executive core qualifications and criteria. Details of the program and application process are available on the Internet at

A council chaired by the assistant secretary of defense for force management policy oversees DLAMP. Disney serves as the Council's executive secretary, with the DLAMP office located in the Civilian Personnel Management Service.

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