Listed below are select findings and recommendations for special emphasis.
Finding 6. Managing the STEM Workforce
The career development support for the DOD uniformed STEM workforce is excellent while the career development support for the DOD civilian STEM workforce is far less developed. The defense-related Industry lies somewhere between them. (See Finding 6-4.)
Recommendation 5. Upgrade Education and Training for the DOD Civilian STEM Workforce
The DOD should ensure that the education and training, and the re-education and retraining opportunities for its civilian STEM workforce are both commensurate with similar opportunities afforded career military personnel and tailored to the needs of the civilian workforce. (See Box S6.) (See Recommendation 5-2 and Finding 6-4.)
Other emphasized findings and recommendations in the report:
Recommendation 3-2a. The Department of Defense needs officially to define a STEM taxonomy that spans the military and civilian workforce in a manner that meets its requirements and accommodates the mission-driven needs of the services within the department. When determining whether to define STEM narrowly or more broadly, DOD needs to take
into consideration the purposes for which this definition will be used and the funding issues addressed in Finding 4-1, giving due consideration to non-traditional STEM fields such as social sciences. Within the current budget environment the committee advises using a more narrowly defined STEM taxonomy for making training and education investment decisions for critical STEM skills.
Recommendation 4.1. The DOD should fund STEM recruitment and development in a manner that facilitates stability, such as multi-year programming, “one color” of money for STEM related costs, or funding based on a percent of total obligational authority. This would facilitate stability for long-term STEM investments and greater consistency across and within the services. In addition, DOD should require all services to justify, as part of the approval process, STEM-related manpower reductions in terms of impact on technology-based capabilities and, where appropriate, whether there has been sufficient return on investment from those who have recently completed postsecondary education paid for by the government.
Recommendation 4.3. The DOD should strengthen its ability to recruit, educate, and retain top STEM talent by offering competitive salaries and a constructive work environment, providing challenging and interesting problems in the workplace, enabling existing talent to keep up with the newly emerging scientific trends, and providing opportunities for the retraining of its STEM workforce to meet changing scientific and technological needs.
Recommendation 4.6. The DOD should consider changes in personnel policy that would enable it to move more nimbly to make competitive hiring offers in DOD-critical scientific and engineering fields. Some of these changes can be made internally within DOD. Where this is not currently, DOD should seek legislative and/or regulatory relief. The following changes warrant consideration by DOD:
• More active outreach and recruitment efforts, aimed at civilian hires, of needed scientists and engineers that emphasize the many exciting technologies that are being developed by DOD and their potential contribution to the nation;
• New measures to expe to expedite security clearances needed for such positions, including permission for temporary hiring into non-sensitive roles pending confirmation of security clearance;
• Actions to protect odite recruitment offers for occupations in which DOD determines that it must compete with more nimble corporate recruiters;
• Additional authorityr “ring-fence” science and engineering positions determined by DOD to be critical capabilities, thereby protecting the loss of such capabilities due to future RIFs and hiring freezes; and
• Further provisions to incentivize DOD scientists and engineers to seek additional continuing education and training in rapidly developing areas of science and technology.
Recommendation 5-2. Because DOD’s STEM needs evolve, a strategic assessment of DOD’s own STEM training/education capacities should be undertaken periodically to ensure that its capabilities to prepare its existing workforce to serve DOD needs is sufficient. As a follow up to this assessment, DOD should create/adapt programs in support of its STEM professionals to maximize their currency in this rapidly changing science, technology, and DOD program/project management environment. The DOD effort could also include
creating certificate and professional master’s degree programs developed in partnership with universities and possibly industry, whose content specifically targets the educational and skills needs identified by DOD.
Finding 5-4. Integration of postdoctoral fellows into the DOD STEM mission is the fastest, most cost efficient way to recruit and screen PhDs for future career employment while making them aware of exciting DOD opportunities. Postdoctoral fellowships have been largely ignored in favor of higher-cost support of graduate students whose expertise (selected 6 years in advance) may not align with the rapidly changing needs of DOD. Although DOD has contracts to pay postdoctoral fellows through the National Research Council and the American Society for Engineering Education, among others, the funds come directly from laboratory operating budgets and compete in many cases with funds for staff salaries. A DOD-wide postdoctoral fellowship program that covers all costs of the fellow to the laboratories would be most cost-effective.
Recommendation 5-4. The DOD should initiate a postdoctoral fellowship program for recruitment of the highest quality STEM graduates into the DOD laboratories that covers all costs of the fellowships. The applications should include inputs from both the postdoctoral candidate and the doctoral research mentor.
Finding 6.4. The career development support for the DOD uniformed STEM workforce is excellent, whereas the career development support for the DOD civilian STEM workforce is far less developed. The defense-related industry lies somewhere between them.