DOD takes on personnel modernization

DOD takes on personnel modernization

After years of sticking to the status quo, the Defense Department is finally ready to undertake a real modernization effort regarding personnel systems -- and it won’t be easy.

DOD -- the nation’s largest employer -- must transition from a “time-based management system to one of competency,” said Brad R. Carson, acting undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, at a recent briefing breakfast hosted by Defense One.

Part of the way to get there is emulating the private sector’s ability to quickly respond to change.  “Companies like Google and Uber use personnel systems in service of their products…not independent systems that exist on some kind of separate line that will hopefully and occasionally meet,”  Carson said.

Similarly, the Defense Department needs to be able to use the personnel data it has to identify the best commissioning source, or retention rates for specific technical fields. “We collect vast hordes of data about our personnel, but it’s never assimilated into a dashboard, which senior leaders can look at and say, ‘I understand where we’re trying to go, and I see the problems in it,’” he said.  

As part of the overall Force of the Future initiative, Carson also recently laid out talent management plans that can be implemented across the military. Some programs under consideration  include using technology to match cadets at West Point with professional niches based on learning proclivities, innate skills and behaviors; a Rapid Innovation Cell to empower personnel to develop new marketplaces for talent powered by social networks;  and the use of MyVector, a new career path tool to serve as a “one-stop IT tool for mentoring and career development for all ranks.” 

Currently, Carson is in week six of a three-month reform process, noting that he would report back to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter in mid-August – not much time for such a grand undertaking.      

About the Author

Mark Pomerleau is a former editorial fellow with GCN and Defense Systems.

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