The Rediness Subcommittee met today for a hearing on Civilian Workforce Requirements -- Now and Across the Future Years Defense Program. Chairman Randy Forbes made the following statement available as prepared for delivery:
I want to welcome all of our members and our distinguished witnesses to today's hearing that will focus on "Civilian Workforce Requirements -- Now and Across the Future Years Defense Program."
The civilian workforce provides an invaluable contribution to the DOD mission both at home and abroad, frequently deploying to combat zones alongside military and contractor personnel. I welcome this discussion today and the opportunity to better understand how the Department of Defense is forecasting its future workforce requirements and balancing the critical skills required across all components of its workforce.
Additionally, I want to understand the impact of directed reductions. Right now, there are two possible reductions that could negatively impact the civilian workforce in the short term -- sequestration, and the proposed Senate NDAA language. Let's start with the Senate committee-passed language that directs civilian and service contractor workforce reductions commensurate with military end strength through FY17 which would be expected to be in excess of 5%. Based on the numbers provided in FY13, simple math would suggest that more than 39,000 civilian Full Time Equivalents would be eliminated.
Next, we have sequestration. Nobody wants it to happen, most especially not me. We have been talking about it for awhile, but, it appears there is little to no planning associated with this legislative mandate. Assuming an exemption for military personnel, we calculate there would be an approximate 11.3% reduction across all other accounts. Again, simple math would suggest that an additional 89,000 civilians would be eliminated. When you add the two figures, we are talking about more than 128,000 people. And, informally, some in the Pentagon have indicated that sequestration alone could be as high as a quarter of the total civilian workforce, or almost 200,000 people. The result of any such cuts, particularly without analytical underpinning, would be long-term, irreversible damage to the workforce. And, let us not forget the costs that would have to be calculated to implement, and the sunk costs from the first quarter of the year.
Fundamentally, I have opposed any effort without the necessary details that support the proposal. In the case of the Senate reductions and the mindless implementation of sequestration, both appear to lack any basis in fact or reason. That is why I believe the more prudent approach to managing the civilian and contractor workforce is to assess the requirement and then to shape the workforce to meet these decision. I look forward to discussing all of these issues later in this hearing.
So, where does that leave us? Well, according to the statutory requirement in 10 U.S.C 1597, any involuntary Reductions In Force require notification -- both to Congress and the employee. So, if sequestration were to take effect in January, DOD would be required to notify us at the end of September.
In light of potential reductions, what genuinely concerns me is the Department of Defense's planning for its future workforce requirements, and negotiating the appropriate balance among civilian, contractor and military personnel. Since 2001, GAO has listed federal human capital management as a government-wide high-risk area because of a need to address current and emerging critical skill gaps that are undermining agencies' abilities to meet their vital missions. And, we know that approximately 30% of the DOD workforce and 90% of its senior leaders are eligible for retirement as early as 2015.
I look forward to hearing about what analysis DOD has undertaken to identify and document critical skills and competencies required in each component of the workforce, particularly should directed reductions occur. And, what recommendations GAO has for that DOD process.
We were also recently notified that the Department just extended its civilian personnel cap through Fiscal Year 2018. Does that presume that budget is driving DOD workforce requirements, or vice versa? And, I look forward to clarification of how this cap is not in direct contradiction to the statutory requirement set forth in 10 U.S.C. 129 which clearly precludes any "constraint or limitation in terms of..maximum number of employees."
We in Congress, and namely this Subcommittee, have exercised great oversight of civilian workforce issues to ensure DOD best plans for its requirements. Total Force Management in particular directs a holistic perspective of workforce requirements across civilian, military and contractor personnel. However, I am not convinced that we even have perfect knowledge into our civilian requirements.
I look forward to our discussions today and delving into these topics further. We need to exercise appropriate oversight of the process to ensure that sequestration or other reductions do not blindside our workforce. They deserve to know what may lie ahead and it is our job to ensure the public is informed.