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Army civilian workforce development on track

By C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (Oct. 13, 2011) -- In the last year, the Army has moved closer to transforming its civilian work force of more than 320,000 employees.

Currently, the Army Career Tracker is available to some 50,000 civilian employees. The online tool is designed to integrate training and education into one web site. The tool allows an employee and leadership to track their careers, and monitor education and training resources.

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During a lunch for Army civilians at the 2011 Association of the United States Army Annual meeting and Exposition in Washington, D.C., Under Secretary of the Army Joseph W. Westphal highlighted some of the progress made toward some short-term goals that he laid out a year earlier at the same event.

Included in those goals, Westphal said, was mapping civilian employees to a career program and also developing a "scalable hiring process proof-of-concept" to reducing hiring times for civilian employees.

So far, about 50,000 civilians have been mapped to one of 31 career programs and there is a target to have 100 percent mapped to a career program under ACT by Sept. 30, 2012.

To speed up civilian hiring, the Army conducted a "hiring reform beta test," aimed at reducing timelines for hiring actions.

"We invested in civilian employee professional development with a talent management program for GS-15s and aligned the SES and senior civilian management organizations," Westphal said. "We have also developed the Army career tracker, an online tool for tracking employee skills and training requirements. The ACT will help employees and their supervisors try and navigate a roadmap of professional success."

Westphal said that progress in civilian workforce transformation "has not been easy," and that transformation is still "embryotic."

The under secretary said studies have shown the Army has to improve how it hires civilians, manages civilian careers, and trains and develops leaders. Additionally, he said, the Army must adapt the workforce to changing national requirements.

"The primary goal [of civilian workforce transformation] is to ensure that every civilian that comes into the Army has a career path," Westphal said. "And that career path can be tracked, that people will be able to receive education training and development in those career paths so they can grow in the Army and provide greater expertise in their jobs."

Developing education for civilian employees, something similar to what is available for Soldiers, is also critical, he said.

"If you're a Soldier today, whether you are a noncommissioned officer or an officer, the Army invests a significant amount of money in your education," he said. "We've got probably the best educated military in the world. We need to do the same thing for our civilians. Putting money into that in a tight economy is going to be a struggle -- but I am going to make sure we do the best we can."

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