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American Forces Press Service

DoD Personnel Strategy Changing to Meet Mission Needs

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 8, 2006 While the Defense Department is busy transforming the military to meet the nation's needs in a changing world, it hasn't turned a blind eye to its civilian workforce, a DoD official said here today.

DoD is re-evaluating the type of person it hires, with the objective of creating a more flexible workforce, said Marilee Fitzgerald, director of workforce issues and international programs in the Office of the Deputy Defense Secretary for Civilian Personnel Policy.

Fitzgerald was speaking at the 2006 Human Capital for Defense Management Human Resources Technology Symposium.

The reality of life after Sept. 11, 2001, has created the need for multitalented personnel capable of meeting the challenges of DoD's ever-evolving mission, she said. "The days of specializing in a single area are probably not that great anymore," she said.

DoD needs people who not only work within their own department, Fitzgerald said, but who can move outside their primary skill set to enable a quick response to changing needs. The "new" DoD employees also need to be culturally aware, agile thinkers and decisive team players that deliver results, she said.

"People are key to DoD's transformation efforts," she said. "But few things are going to happen if we don't have the right people in the right jobs doing the right kind of work."

But it's not just about the skills needed to do the work, she said. It's about an attitude of excellence that will allow DoD to remain globally competitive and mission ready.

"It's not just good enough that your own individual performance is great, you have to move the needle (on) the organization's goals," she said.

DoD hopes its new National Security Personnel System will help attract this type of employee, Fitzgerald said. NSPS, which will replace the general-schedule and wage-grade pay systems, is competency-focused and performance-based, she said.

As NSPS is implemented, DoD will move away from a job-position construct and toward a capabilities construct. This will allow a clearer picture of available resources, she said.

"When you move into a capabilities environment ... you allow yourself to identify the kinds of skills you need," she said. "You can determine whether you have them. If you don't, you know where the gaps are and you know how to get (the skills.)"

When this evaluation includes both military personnel and the more than 700,000 DoD civilian employees, the pool of skills to draw from grows significantly, Fitzgerald said.

"(If) I have a need for someone who speaks Farsi to work at the virtual translation center for the FBI," Fitzgerald said, "you want to go into our bank of 700,000-strong plus our ... military and say, 'Who has that capability?' We find that we have military assets and we have civilian assets."

Then it's simply identifying the asset best suited to the task, she said.

While the goal of the DoD is excellence as a whole, Fitzgerald said, it's up to the individual to make that happen. "The small steps we take affect the whole," she said.

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