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DoD To Reshape Workforce Via Expanded Buyout Program

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 8, 2000 – An expanded civilian buyout and early retirement program will enable DoD to reshape its workforce, the Pentagon’s top civilian personnel official said.

Diane Disney, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for civilian personnel policy, said the fiscal 2001 National Defense Authorization Act extends the scope of the buyout and early retirement programs. The legislation allows DoD to retain some job positions vacated by employees taking separation incentives and reassigning those slots to specialties envisioned for the workforce of 2010.

“The existing early retirement and buyout programs are continuing,” Disney said during an Oct. 31 Pentagon interview. “There is no change in them. What we have is an additional authorization that permits us to reshape the workforce.”

Under the original program, Disney said, DoD was required to abolish a position every time an employee taking a buyout left the organization.

In fiscal 2001, about 1,000 buyouts under the expanded program will be offered within DoD, Disney said, with another 4,000 on tap for each of the next two years, pending congressional authorization.

Many “baby-boomer” DoD civilians are expected to retire over the next five years, Disney said. DoD now has about 77 percent fewer people in their 20s than a decade ago. In light of these developments, she said, DoD must now start hiring younger people with the information technology and other specialized skills needed for tomorrow.

“After 11 consecutive years of downsizing, we have many organizations where we might have the right number of people, but we don’t necessarily have the right mix of skills,” Disney said. “The expanded buyout program will allow us to permit someone to leave, but then allow us to reengineer that position for the skills that we’ll need in 2010.”

For example, Disney said, a mid-level logistician could be approved for a buyout and the slot may be moved to hire an information technology specialist. Also, different language skills might be required today, she added.

“There was a time when knowing Russian was absolutely essential during the Cold War,” Disney said. “But, we may not need as many Russian speakers today. We may need more Arabic or Serbo-Croatian speakers, because the world is not what it was.”

Disney said the original civilian buyout program “was very much” a downsizing tool. Since 1989, officials note, the defense department trimmed over 400,000 civilian positions, with nearly 140,000 employees having qualified for separation incentives.

DoD does plan to reduce the workforce further -- about 4,200 positions in 2001 and 3,400 in 2002 -– through normal retirements, the original buyout program, and attrition, Disney said.

“But, that number of reductions is far less than the high numbers we saw in the mid-’90s,” she said.

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