Assistant Navy Secretary for Manpower and Reserve Affairs Greg Slavonic said the initiative is “a pretty big deal” since “the last time we did this was about a decade ago.”

Assistant Navy Secretary for Manpower and Reserve Affairs Greg Slavonic said the initiative is “a pretty big deal” since “the last time we did this was about a decade ago.” Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Grant P. Ammon /U.S. Navy

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Navy Launches a New Civilian Human Capital Strategy for First Time in a Decade 

The goal is to improve hiring, retention and employees’ experiences at work.  

The Navy unveiled a new civilian human capital strategy on Thursday for the first time in about a decade to better compete with the private sector, among other reasons.

The main pillars of the 2019-2030 strategy are: tap into the best possible talent, improve employees’ experience at work, better align the civilian workforce with the Navy and Marine Corps mission, identify future skills needs, harness data in employee hiring and retention, reform the talent pipeline process, and ensure employees are training in digital and smart technologies. Within the next three months, the department will be setting up a task force to create pilot programs to address the goals outlined in the strategy. It will then use the programs to determine how it will pursue long-term changes.

During a roundtable with reporters on Thursday, Assistant Navy Secretary for Manpower and Reserve Affairs Greg Slavonic said the initiative is “a pretty big deal” since “the last time we did this was about a decade ago.” Based on his 34 years of serving in the Navy, he said, “I think it goes without saying that the uniform side could not do their mission without the civilian workforce.” He noted that civilians also work in combat zones. There are over 220,000 civilian employees in the Navy—29% of the overall workforce—who serve in over 558 occupations, according to the department. 

Like other federal agencies, the Navy faces the challenges of competing with the private sector for top talent, hiring employees in a timely manner, developing technology and data skills, and attracting young people. Additionally, “the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps face a shifting threat landscape, including non-state actors, reintroduction of multipolar competition, and the ambiguity of cyberspace,” the report outlining the new strategy stated. “The [Navy Department] must provide a civilian workforce that evolves and innovates even quicker, helping to ensure that our sailors and marines are prepared for the future.” 

For each of the goals, the Navy outlined how it will determine success. This includes: increasing the number of qualified candidates for jobs, reducing job vacancy length, implementing a leadership development program and educating employees on new technologies.

Slavonic said that to achieve President Trump’s goal of expanding the Navy’s fleet to 355 ships “we’ve got to have a civilian workforce that complements the uniform side and that we’re able to reach that goal in the 2030 timeframe.” Despite being a political appointee, he said he would like to “make sure we have sustainability with this program,” so it lasts regardless of party.

“We are implementing a new human capital strategy to better access and curate best in class talent,” said acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly, who will lead the plan’s implementation. “This strategy was developed leveraging leading private sector business practices designed for the new economy.”