NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Skilled Personnel Exiting National Security Establishment

March 29, 2001

Experts on federal personnel requirements warn that serious shortages of skilled individuals are developing in some areas of the civil service -- particularly in defense-related positions. They predict the shortages could affect the military's ability to develop cutting-edge technology in certain areas.

  • As the Defense Department's civilian work force was cut back by 400,000 positions in the 1990s, little attention was paid to reshaping the work force to meet changing requirements.
  • Moreover, by 2005, more than 50 percent of defense workers will be eligible for retirement.
  • Recruiting to fill crucial positions is being made more difficult by the reluctance of young, tech-savvy Americans to enter government service.
  • Experts report shortages in such areas as linguistics, acquisition, and research and development.

The U.S. Commission on National Security in the 21st Century has recommended addressing the problem by reforming the civil service hiring process, strengthening professional education and retention programs and expanding the National Security Education Act to provide financial support in exchange for civilian or military service. Individuals who wish to study foreign languages or social services would be targeted.

Source: Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio), "Dangers of an Aging Federal Work Force," Washington Post, March 28, 2001.


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