GAO: DoD Needs to Remember the Human Aspect of Workforce Cuts

July 30, 2012 10:24 AM
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A recent GAO report highlights challenges the Department of Defense will face in any attempts to downsize its civilian workforce.

With the long-term fiscal challenges facing the nation, reductions to the civilian workforce may be considered to achieve cost savings. The Department of Defense is one agency subject to potential cuts, especially through sequestration legislation.

GAO looked at the history of past DoD cuts, noting that “civilian workforce downsizing efforts in the 1990s were not oriented toward shaping the makeup of the workforce, resulting in significant imbalances in terms of shape, skills, and retirement eligibility.”

GAO also noted in its report that “DOD’s workforce of 783,000 civilians performs a wide variety of duties, including some traditionally performed by military personnel, such as mission-essential logistics support and maintenance, as well as providing federal civilian experts to Afghanistan and other theaters of operations.”

GAO said that it has observed that the federal government has acted in the past as though federal employees were costs to be cut rather than assets to be valued.

Consequently, GAO concluded, “As decision makers consider proposals to reduce the civilian workforce, it will be critical to DOD’s mission for the department to have the right number of federal civilian personnel with the right skills.”

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About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of He enjoys writing about current topics that affect the federal workforce.