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Immediate Release

Finalists Brief Ideas to DoD Senior Leaders for Talent Management Innovation Challenge

Launched in August 2023, the Department of Defense (DoD) 2040 Task Force (D2T) innovation challenge solicited ideas that elevate talent management with special consideration to recruiting, retaining, and promoting a diverse workforce.  The challenge allows the DoD an opportunity to hear directly from Service members and civilians closest to the pain points and gain insights from their ingenuity, promising ideas, or innovative solutions to talent management challenges.

Over 200 innovative ideas poured in from each of the Services at all levels and globally. A team of subject matter experts reviewed and ranked the ideas to determine which should move on to the semi-final round.  

Thirty-three ideas got the bid to move to the semi-final round, where their teams gave elevator-pitch-style presentations to a panel of Office of the Secretary of Defense subject matter experts and senior leaders.

Nine ideas were selected as finalists and winners. Ideas ran the gamut of the talent management space from equitable talent management using Artificial Intelligence, spousal support programs, upscaling workforce needs through 3rd party vendors, and competency development through gaming. On April 24th, finalist teams presented their innovative ideas in front of the Honorable Ashish Vazirani, performing the duties of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, and Ronald Keohane, assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs and other DoD Senior Executives.

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"The Innovation Challenge contestants' creativity, passion, and dedication to the Department and our nation are an important part of our combined efforts to carry out the National Defense Strategy and Secretary Austin's priorities for the Department – defending our nation, taking care of our people, and succeeding through teamwork," said Ashish S. Vazirani, performing the duties of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. "The Department's greatest strength is our people, and efforts like this challenge will help us develop cultures where staff feel comfortable bringing forward solutions to the Department's talent management pain points."

Presenting in the final round is a "win" in itself, but the finalists and their ideas have also been matched with policy offices to further explore, support, and develop their ideas.

"These creative ideas don't end today, the challenge ends, but the pathway continues," said Ronald Keohane, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs. "The longevity of the programs is what is really going to make the difference. The Department has various pathways for these ideas to become successful, and I'm excited to see what that will look like."

Although only a handful of ideas made it to the end of the challenge, each idea submitted helped leadership understand talent management challenges and pain points, and each idea is the result of the energy and creativity of the dynamic people of the Department.  DoD plans to use all the ideas submitted to better focus future talent management work across the Department in some capacity.

With this challenge and future ones, DoD is focused on driving real change in its approaches to talent management practices.  The ideas shared by our talented total force are the first step to making a ripple across DoD and the Defense community.