The Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel & Readiness), referred to throughout the report as P&R, is responsible for myriad functions that cover over 3 million personnel (including servicemembers, civil service employees,1 and contractors), retirees, veterans, and dependents. At its core, P&R is responsible for establishing policies for recruitment, placement, and retention of 1.3 million active duty military servicemembers, 1.1 million National Guard and Reserve members (DoD, 2015a), and 750,000 appropriated fund civil service employees (Defense Civilian Personnel Advisory Services, DoD Demographics as of September 30, 2014) who work for the Department of Defense (DoD).2 P&R makes a large number of consequential decisions and must assess how best to approach those decisions. In the process of daily operations, it generates and manages large quantities of data that are used, although not to full potential in the committee’s view.
This chapter outlines the responsibilities of P&R within the three general categories of readiness and force management, manpower and reserve
1 This amount does not include benefits provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Civil service employees are defined as “all appointive positions in the executive, judicial, and legislative branches of the Government of the United States, except positions in the uniformed services” (5 U.S.C. § 2101). While civil service employees work in most government agencies, this report refers only to those employed by DoD.
2 In addition, there were 125,000 nonappropriated fund civil service employees and 53,000 local national employees.
affairs, and health affairs, along with some of the decisions that are made and the research that is produced in these categories.
As laid out in the U.S. Code,3 the Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel & Readiness) is responsible for military readiness; total force management; military and civil service personnel requirements; military and civil service personnel training; military and civil service family matters; exchange, commissary, and nonappropriated fund4 activities; personnel requirements for weapons support; National Guard and reserve components; and health affairs (10 U.S. Code §136). P&R advises the Secretary of Defense and creates policies, procedures, and standards for recruitment; assignment to positions; promotion within the ranks; retention of personnel; and the transition to veteran status. In addition, it is responsible for administering benefits such as health care.
P&R is thus responsible for policy and oversight in the following areas:
- Staffing decisions for both servicemembers and civil service employees;
- Recruiting standards for both servicemembers and civil service employees;
- Selection criteria for military recruits;
- Selection criteria for civil service positions;
- Job assignment;
- Compensation standards for servicemembers;
- Training and education programs for personnel;
- Promotion criteria for servicemembers and civil service employees;
- Security clearance determinants;
- Access to DoD buildings and locations;
- Process for and time of transitions out of the armed forces;
- Provisions for mental and physical health care to servicemembers, civil service employees, retirees, and dependents;
- Suicide prevention among servicemembers;
- Provisions for the needs of families;
- Responses to problematic behavior;
3 Title 10, Section 136 (10 U.S. Code §136).
4 Nonappropriated funds are defined as funds derived from sources other than congressional appropriations and commissary surcharge funds, primarily from the sale of goods and services to servicemembers, DoD civil service personnel, and family members of both who are used to support or provide morale, welfare, and recreation programs (DoD 4105.67).
- Provisions for health and retirement benefits to separated servicemembers;
- Responses to congressional requests for information; and
- Prediction of future needs in all of these areas.
P&R is responsible for a broad set of outcomes regarding DoD personnel and their dependents. For many of those outcomes, its instrument is the policy pronouncement or regulatory mechanism, with the military Services (Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps) responsible for actually carrying out the policy.5 P&R, however, can judge the success of the policy (or lack thereof) only through empirical monitoring of the outcomes, which provides the basis for adjustments. (In the extreme, P&R can seek amended or new statutory authority.) Such monitoring also provides the basis for reporting on outcomes to the Secretary of Defense, the President, and the Congress.
For some issues, P&R, not the military departments, is also the administrative agent. Examples include the Defense Commissary Agency, the TRICARE health care program, the Federal Voting Assistance Program, the Defense Travel Office, and the Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC). As these examples illustrate, P&R holds responsibility for execution as the supervisor of a defense agency (or activity). And in emergent situations the Under Secretary’s immediate staff may have some responsibility for policy execution (as was the case, for example, in creating a Family Support Center in the aftermath of the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon, or in dealing with certain aspects of sexual assault). Even more so in these circumstances, the Under Secretary’s team needs an empirical monitoring capability, both to assess the effectiveness of policy and to ensure it is implementing those policies well.
Oversight of support programs for servicemembers and veterans, as well as their families, is also central to the mission of P&R. P&R encourages partnerships among other agencies, governments, and communities (Office of the Under Secretary of Defense [Personnel & Readiness], 2015).
The objectives of P&R shift as guidance from Congress and the Secretary of Defense change over time. Each year, for example, the Congress
5 The relationship between the military Services and the Office of the Secretary of Defense (and, therefore, P&R) is complex. At one level, P&R establishes policies, and the Services carry out or comply with those policies. At the same time, the Services establish their own policies (which may not be inconsistent with P&R’s policies) within their mission requirements. For example, P&R may require the Services to collect and report for P&R use certain data on each servicemember. The Services will do that, but they may also collect—and may or may not report to P&R—other data on those same servicemembers that a Service determines are necessary for its operations. While cognizant of these Service data collections, the committee focused its task on data available to P&R.
authorizes a maximum size for the active force and appropriates funds to pay that size force. The Services (Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps), with P&R oversight, then establish recruiting targets to reach—but not exceed—that force size, based on expected losses during the year. Similarly, P&R may establish targets for highly qualified enlistees, based on models that consider recruiting costs, training costs, and expected proficiency of the force.
The Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel & Readiness) supervises three Assistant Secretaries with the following responsibilities: (1) readiness and force management, (2) manpower and reserve affairs, and (3) health affairs. The Under Secretary also oversees the Defense Human Resources Activity (DHRA) and the Executive Director Force Resiliency. Each of these areas is discussed further in the following subsections, and a current organization chart is shown in Figure 2.1.
The Assistant Secretary of Defense for Readiness and Force Management assesses whether the current servicemembers and civil service employees are adequately trained and the units to which they are assigned are prepared for their responsibilities (Deputy Chief Management Officer memorandum of October 29, 2015). This assistant secretaryship is a new position, and it remains to be seen how it will focus its activities.
Manpower and Reserve Affairs
The two major tasks this office undertakes are developing personnel policies for civil service employees and servicemembers. The Office of Civilian Personnel Policy establishes policies related to human resource issues and develops strategies and procedures for the effective management of DoD’s civilian workforce, and may operate in partnership with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). Within the Office of Civilian Personnel Policy, the Civilian Personnel Management Service provides assistance to the military departments and defense agencies on matters of employment and leadership. DoD’s foreign national employment program also relies upon the Office of Civilian Personnel Policy for guidance related to employment of such persons. Additionally, the Office of Civilian Personnel Policy is responsible for oversight of the nonappropriated fund personnel system (Office of the Under Secretary of Defense [Personnel & Readiness], 2015).
The Office of Military Personnel Policy is responsible for establishing policy affecting all Services and for overseeing Service-specific policies to ensure that they are aligned with both DoD policy and congressional direction. Since 1965, the Office of Military Personnel Policy has overseen
production of a quadrennial report on military compensation (see, for instance, DoD, 2012a). These reports are a large undertaking6 that lays out issues regarding cash and noncash compensation for the active and reserve components of the military. Within the Office of Military Personnel Policy, the Office of Accession Policy establishes policy, planning, and review in order to maintain the force levels established by Congress. This office oversees the recruitment and processing of “accessions,” the military’s term for individuals who join the military. In addition to overseeing enlisted servicemembers, it oversees officer accession policy through, for instance, the service academies and the Reserve Officer Training Corps.
The Assistant Secretary for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, through the above-mentioned Office of Accession Policy, oversees the recruitment of enlisted servicemembers, a task that involves administering more than 1 million cognitive and noncognitive ability tests a year and more than 250,000 physical exams (USMEPCOM, 2015), with the goal of enlisting approximately 200,000 active duty individuals per year across the Services. The armed forces have traditionally judged recruits based on their cognitive, physical, and educational characteristics, as well as their behavioral records (Sackett and Mavor, 2003). To this end, the Military Entrance Processing Command administers the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) and medical exams, and conducts background checks to allow the Services to determine which recruits to admit and in what occupation each recruit should be trained (DoD, 2012b). Recruits take these tests at one of 65 military entrance processing stations (MEPSs) and more than 300 mobile sites (USMEPCOM, 2015). In 2014, these sites administered nearly 400,000 entrance tests.
DoD administered an additional 682,000 ASVABs in high schools during the 2014-2015 school year, with the goal of providing career advice to students while at the same time providing information to recruiters (USMEPCOM, 2015). The ASVAB includes multiple-choice questions in nine areas: general science, arithmetic reasoning, mathematics knowledge, word knowledge, paragraph comprehension, electronics information, automotive and shop information, mechanical comprehension, and assembling objects.7 Data gathered in this process are documented in the annual reports Population Representation in the Military Services (DoD, 2016, for example).
Some Services have recently begun considering applicants’ results on the Tailored Adaptive Personality Assessment System (TAPAS), developed to measure characteristics that reflect resilience and persistence, to screen
6 These reports typically require 2 years to complete at an estimated cost of $9 million per report.
candidates not just on the basis of traditional cognitive aptitude screening criteria, but also on their personality traits (e.g., openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and emotional stability) (Heffner et al., 2011; Stark et al., 2014). DoD has plans to assess this new screening tool with a longitudinal study of its use (Sheftick, 2014), and there is hope that the ASVAB and TAPAS assessments and other measurements of performance potential can be further refined to aid in selecting members for particular units as opposed to general recruitment only (NRC, 2013).
There are nearly as many reserve and National Guard members (1.1 million) as there are active duty members (1.3 million) in the armed forces (DoD, 2015a). The Office of Manpower and Reserve Affairs has responsibility for six branches of reserve components in DoD, one each attached to the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps, as well as National Guard units associated with the Army and the Air Force (Reserve Affairs, 2015). The office also facilitates the incorporation of the reserves into the armed forces through the following programs: readiness, training, and mobilization; materiel and facilities; and family and employer programs and policies (Reserve Affairs, 2015).
A significant challenge in managing the reserves is figuring out how best to change their status from reserve to active duty—that is, how to mobilize them. Since 2001, P&R has overseen the mobilization of more than 800,000 reserve force members (Reserve Affairs, 2015).
The Under Secretary also oversees the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs under Directive Number 5136.01, who, in turn, oversees the Military Health Service (MHS), which cares for more than 9.6 million beneficiaries with a budget of more than $50 billion (DoD, 2014a; Military Health Service, 2012). The health service determines how best to provide for the health care needs of servicemembers, their families, civil service employees, and military retirees. As do other health care providers, it balances providing health care while minimizing cost (DoD, 2014a).
Health Affairs is also responsible for policy relating to the health status of current servicemembers, the health care of retirees, and the health care of families of both servicemembers and retirees. It not only oversees the TRICARE system, which operates somewhat like a health insurance provider, but it is also responsible for policy at health care facilities operated by the Services (e.g., hospitals and clinics), caring directly for servicemembers, retirees, and their families. Extensive data on health care utilization are collected through TRICARE and these military treatment facilities.
To manage the system, Health Affairs needs to know the types of health care that are needed, the types of providers that are available, and
how those providers are distributed geographically. It also must work to foster wellness among the individuals who are served by the system. In addition, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs has mandated a focus on the health consequences of deployment, particularly mental health. Servicemembers are required to complete the Postdeployment Health Assessment (PDHA) immediately after returning from deployment and the Postdeployment Health Reassessment (PDHRA) 3-6 months later (Appenzeller et al., 2007; AFHSC, 2009).
The Under Secretary also oversees the Defense Human Resources Activity (DHRA), which is responsible for overseeing and carrying out a variety of personnel-related activities in DoD, including the following:
- Overseeing the integration, support, and training of women in the military through the Defense Department Advisory Committee on Women in the Services. Within this arena, it must evaluate whether current policies and programs are effective and efficient.
- Working with employers of reserve members and overseeing the transition into and out of active status for reserves through the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve.
- Providing information on regional and language needs in the Defense Language and National Security Education Office.
- Managing the DMDC, which is the central repository of DoD human resource information.
- Advising the Under Secretary on issues related to compensation and benefits in the Office of the Actuary.
- Providing leadership in civil service employee management through the Defense Civilian Personnel Advisory Service.
- Overseeing the Federal Voting Assistance Program, which manages the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act.
- Coordinating DoD commercial travel through the Defense Travel Management Office.
- Determining how DoD responds to suicide, in terms of both preventing and responding to these acts, in the Defense Suicide Prevention Office.
- Preparing servicemembers and their families for separation that occurs during deployment through the Family and Employer Programs and Policies Office.
- Offering assistance via policy and program oversight to servicemembers entering the civilian workforce through the Transition to Veterans Program Office.
- Managing the Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program, which funds an accommodation program for employees with disabilities.
- Connecting National Guard and Reserve members, families, and communities with resources during deployment through the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program (YRRP) (DoD, 2015b).
In 2005, DHRA established the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO), which oversees Service responses when servicemembers are perpetrators or victims of sexual assault and develops programs aimed at preventing assault (DoD, 2015c). DoD reports on sexual assaults within the military, using administrative data on sexual assault complaints and how those complaints are resolved (DoD, 2015d) as well as periodic surveys.
Executive Director Force Resiliency
The recent reorganization of P&R created this new office to coordinate efforts on suicide, sexual assault, collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and diversity. SAPRO and the Defense Suicide Prevention Office will continue as part of DHRA, but the Executive Director will be responsible for creating a cohesive set of policies and actions across the range of these challenging problems. The Executive Director for Force Resiliency oversees the Office of Diversity Management and Equal Opportunity (ODMEO), the DoD/VA Collaboration Office, and Personnel Risk Reduction.
ODMEO is responsible for the development and execution of diversity management and equal opportunity policies and programs affecting all DoD personnel. The Director of ODMEO also provides supervision, direction, and policy guidance of the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI) at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida, which conducts equal opportunity and equal employment opportunity training, education, and research.
The DoD/VA Collaboration Office is responsible for managing the transition of approximately 200,000 active duty servicemembers to veterans annually (Joint Chiefs of Staff, 2014) and the transition as Reserve Component members are released from active duty. In doing so, these servicemembers may move from the purview of the Department of Defense to that of the VA.
The Office of Personnel Risk Reduction manages the accident reduction and safety portfolios and the Drug Demand Reduction Program. The office is focused on the operational safety arena, which incorporates military training, aviation operations, deployment, operational employment (combat), human factors (high-risk behaviors), wellness of civil service employ-
ees and servicemembers (to include deterring drug abuse), and leadership engagement to promote awareness and culture change.
P&R produces dozens of recurring research reports based on administrative data. Some of the most notable are Population Representation in the Military Services (DoD, 2016), classified quarterly readiness reports to Congress,8 the Defense Manpower Requirements Report (DoD, 2014b), and the Quadrennial Quality of Life Review Report (DoD, 2009). P&R also relies on congressional testimony as a means of disseminating information. In addition, P&R produces annual reports on desired and actual recruitment and retention.
The principal outcomes for which P&R is responsible can be grouped under six key areas.9 Each of these is discussed in more detail in Chapter 3, and some of the ways in which advanced data analytics could contribute to each are discussed in Chapter 7:
- Ensuring DoD can recruit, train, motivate, and retain the necessary numbers of qualified personnel.
- Creating incentives that guide the department to an optimal mix of personnel.
- Ensuring DoD creates a force that is ready to carry out directed actions.
- Influencing DoD’s decisions that affect the shape of military careers.
- Ensuring the services provided to support DoD personnel and their dependents are properly structured.
- Anticipating and responding to sensitive behavioral issues.
Early into his term as Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter committed himself to rethinking DoD policies for both military and civil service employees (Carter, 2015a). This reexamination was motivated by a concern
9 Grouping is necessary given the broad range of P&R’s responsibilities. One sign of the breadth of that range is that DoD directive 5124.02 is the most frequently referenced by other directives; second most referenced is 5134.01 for the Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel & Readiness). Even if one conditions the search on “acquisition,” it is the second most frequently cited.
that DoD is not attracting, managing properly, or retaining the talent it needs at this time. Following that speech, the then Acting Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel & Readiness), Brad Carson, spoke out frequently, raising fundamental challenges about civil service rules (e.g., authority to appoint) and military promotions (e.g., the up-or-out precept embodied in the Defense Officer Personnel Management Act).
An ambitious internal review process was launched, culminating in a set of far-reaching proposals in late summer 2015. For the military, these included replacing up-or-out with perform-or-out, whereby one might stay at the same military grade for extended periods of time, permitting greater lateral entry (the current paradigm starts virtually everyone at the bottom, except for professionals such as medical doctors, nurses, and lawyers) and adopting new benefits (such as a vast expansion of parental leave) to encourage more men and women to continue their service. For civil service employees, it was proposed that new hiring gateways be granted to DoD, and that non-bargaining unit employees be governed under the Secretary of Defense’s authority (Title 10 of the U.S. code) via OPM (Title 5). New mechanisms for interchange with the civil sector were advanced and new oversight mechanisms were recommended (e.g., an Office of People Analytics).
A lengthy internal debate on these ideas ensued, focusing on their likely effects and costs (presumably also involving the OMB and White House staff). On November 18, 2015, Secretary Carter delivered a speech at George Washington University, “Building the First Link to the Force of the Future,” focusing principally on permeability, announcing a series of internships and exchange-type programs, and pledging to continue to work on the larger issues (Carter, 2015b; DoD, 2015e). He later elaborated on some of these initiatives (Carter, 2016a; Carter, 2016b). An accompanying Fact Sheet was released describing a new Office of People Analytics (OPA) (DoD, 2015f), which will use big data analytics to better understand key components of servicemembers’ career paths such as hiring, planning, and training. In its first year of operation, OPA plans to do the following:
- Appoint an acting director and acquire a team of highly-skilled data scientists and organizational psychologists with expertise in civilian workforce issues, military manpower issues, data storage, analytical and statistical methods, and social science research methods;
- Make an initial investment to purchase and assemble the supporting technology architecture, which requires modern and secure data storage, in-memory analytics, data analysis tools, and data visualization tools; and
- Convene an advisory board within a working group of stakeholders to categorize existing data sets, prioritize analytic projects, and
identify needs for new data sets (Mark Breckenridge and Kristin Williams, personal communication, April 19, 2016).
Once fully funded, OPA will explore ways that DoD can use analytics to better understand how policy or environmental changes affect the performance and composition of its workforce.
Some additional Force of the Future proposals concerning data and data management include these:
- Examining ways to improve recruiting. To avoid attrition costs to DoD, P&R would initiate and supervise a study that would reward military recruiters based on their recruits’ performance during the initial enlistment term and basic training. This study, conducted by a federally funded research and development center, would be used to advise DoD on the factors driving poor recruitment outcomes. The study is scheduled to start before November 2016.
- Implementing a web-based talent management system. The Services would develop a database populated with input from individual servicemembers via a web-based system in an effort to better match members with their assigned positions. DoD believes such a system would better satisfy the needs of both DoD and the individual members.
- Implementing exit surveys. Exit surveys would become standard practice to better understand the reasons why individuals leave military service.
- Updating and modernizing the retirement system. DoD would continue its work on the Blended Retirement System to allow greater career path choices for current and future servicemembers (DoD, 2015d).
AFHSC (Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center). 2009. Update: Deployment health assessments, U.S. Armed Forces, December 2008. Medical Surveillance Monthly Report 16(1):12-16.
Appenzeller, G.N., C.H. Warner, and T. Grieger. 2007. Postdeployment health reassessment: A sustainable method for brigade combat teams. Military Medicine 172(10):1017-1023.
Carter, A. 2015a. Remarks on the Force of the Future as Delivered by Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, Abington Senior High School, Abington, Pennsylvania. March 30. http://www.defense.gov/News/Speeches/Speech-View/Article/606658.
Carter, A. 2015b. Remarks on “Building the First Link to the Force of the Future” as Delivered by Secretary of Defense Ash Carter. George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs, Washington, D.C., November 18. http://www.defense.gov/News/Speeches/Speech-View/Article/630415/remarks-on-building-the-first-link-to-the-force-of-the-future-george-washington.
Carter, A. 2016a. “Department of Defense Press Briefing by Secretary Carter on Force of the Future Reforms in the Pentagon Press Briefing Room.” News transcript. January 28. http://www.defense.gov/News/Transcripts/Transcript-View/Article/645952/department-of-defense-press-briefing-by-secretary-carter-on-force-of-the-future.
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DoD. 2015c. “Sexual Assault Prevention and Response: Mission and History.” http://www.sapr.mil/index.php/about/mission-and-history. Accessed January 10, 2016.
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DoD. 2015e. “Force of the Future: Maintaining Our Competitive Edge in Human Capital.” Memorandum from Secretary of Defense Ash Carter. November 18. http://www.defense.gov/Portals/1/features/2015/0315_force-of-the-future/documents/SD_Signed_FotF_Memo_-_11.18.pdf.
DoD. 2015f. “Fact Sheet: Building the First Link to the Force of the Future.” http://www.defense.gov/Portals/1/features/2015/0315_force-of-the-future/documents/FotF_Fact_Sheet_-_FINAL_11.18.pdf. Accessed January 4, 2015.
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