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DoD Needs More Flexible Civilian Workforce, Official Says

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 3, 2006 – One day senior defense civilians could perform jobs now only filled by generals or admirals, and rank-and-file civilians could be deployed overseas to free up military members for combat-related duties, a senior DoD civilian said here today.

"We need to be more deliberate in our thinking about the roles of each of those (positions) and where they are somewhat interchangeable," Patricia S. Bradshaw, deputy undersecretary of defense for civilian personnel policy, said during an American Forces Press Service interview.

A senior civilian personnel expert with 27 years of DoD and Navy service, Bradshaw worked in the corporate world for six years after she retired from the government in 1999. She came back to DoD to help its workforce become more capable and relevant in the post-Sept. 11 era.

The Defense Department is looking to private-industry models to transform its management policies for senior-level and rank-and-file civilians so they can become a more capable and flexible workforce, Bradshaw said. For example, corporations rely on business executives with broad experience to oversee many kinds of enterprises, rather than tapping managers possessing expertise in narrow specialties, she said.

DoD also wants its civilians to learn new skills so they can be more flexible and available to be deployed anywhere in the world, Bradshaw said.

Military leaders need to be engaged in "managing the troops," Bradshaw said, rather than pulling duty that can be performed by civilian counterparts.

This brave new world of military-civilian interchangeability hasn't arrived yet, Bradshaw noted, because the current culture is still immersed in old-style thinking. "We have not left our comfort zone," Bradshaw acknowledged.

Today, "if you try to select someone who comes with an enterprise view of the world, who has experience in joint matters, the military will beat out the civilian (candidate) every time, because we haven't been deliberate in that."

It's time "to fix that," Bradshaw said, "not only at the Senior Executive Service level, but as we think about how we 'grow' our people below the SES level and prepare them for those jobs."

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Patricia S. Bradshaw

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