Carter Announces Promotion, Hiring System Overhaul for Defense Employees
Military and civilian employees at the Department of Defense could see drastic changes to their hiring and promotions processes in the near future.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced the changes Thursday, citing a need for increased flexibility with military promotions and hiring civilians.
Carter said his proposal includes four specific changes that would require Congress to amends the Defense Officer Personnel Management Act (DOPMA). DOD wants to change the “lineal numbers” within each year group of military officers in order to have the freedom to promote employees based on performance rather than seniority.
“[The current system] can lead to a particular promotion going to the most senior person on the list, even if someone else a bit lower down would be more effective in the job,” Carter said in a speech to Defense employees in the Pentagon’s center courtyard.
The Department also wants the authority to bring on private sector experts as officers at relatively high pay grades. Reserved mainly for specialized subject matters like cybersecurity, this policy would let the department commission a new officer up to the rank of O-6, which equates to a Captain in the Navy, or a Colonel in the Army, Marine Corps or Air Force.
“We may not be able to offer as much money as the private-sector,” Carter said, “but we can offer one of the noblest of missions. We can offer the most intriguing of problems, and we should be able to offer a rank, status, and leadership position commensurate with their abilities.”
Carter also emphasized the need to make these changes to DOPMA permanent so DOD’s officers can plan their careers with more certainty than a pilot program would provide.
Additionally, the Department is seeking new permissions to be able to recruit directly from college campuses so applicants don’t get lost in the USAJobs system. Carter stressed the need for recruiters to have the authority to make college students tentative job offers because the top recruits will not wait 90-160 days for a reply from the DOD after they submit their USAJobs application. By that time, many have already found private sector jobs, Carter said.
In addition, the DOD wants to create a new “talent exchange” whereby civilian employees can move between DOD and private jobs more freely.
“Being able to temporarily exchange civilian employees, talent, and best practices with some of America’s best and most innovative companies will help DoD stay on cutting edge and be more efficient and effective,” Carter said.
The Department is also asking Congress to extend the paid maternity leave policy currently enjoyed by military employees to civilian workers as well.
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