Assignments versus Authorizations
As of January 2009, the Air Force had a total of 43,515 line officers (excluding transients) assigned against 45,287 authorizations, for an overall manning level of 96.1 percent. Of these, 19,610 were field-grade officer assignments (majors, lieutenant colonels, and colonels), against 21,441 field-grade authorizations, resulting in overall field-grade manning of 91.5 percent. Company-grade manning (lieutenants and captains) was 23,905 assigned against 23,846 authorized (100.2 percent).
Table 3-2 compares assignments to authorizations in the five career fields that require a STEM degree. The table includes data for the Acquisition Management career field (63A) because field-grade manning in that field depends heavily on cross flow from the Scientist (61S) and Engineer (62E) career fields. The overall manning level in each of the five STEM-degree-
Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.
Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.
OCR for page 34
Examination of the U.S.Air Force’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Workforce Needs in the Future and its Strategy to Meet Those Needs 3 Air Force Career Fields and Occupations That Currently Require a STEM Degree This chapter begins with a discussion of issues for the five officer career fields that require a STEM degree, followed by discussion of issues for the three civilian occupational series that require a STEM degree. A third section reports on perspectives of the adequacy of these two segments of the Air Force workforce, heard by the committee during presentations from several Air Force functional organizations. ISSUES FOR OFFICER CAREER FIELDS REQUIRING A STEM DEGREE Relative to its current authorizations for line officers, the Air Force remains overmanned in lieutenants and undermanned in captains, majors, and lieutenant colonels (Table 3-1). TABLE 3-1 Line-Officer Manning, All Career Fields Lt. Capt. Maj. Lt. Col. Col. Total Assignments (A) 7,648 16,257 9,339 7,711 2,560 43,515 Authorizations (B) 5,948 17,898 10,924 7,962 2,555 45,287 Ratio, A:B 128.6% 90.8% 85.5% 96.8% 100.2% 96.1% SOURCE: Headquarters Air Force Personnel Center, Directorate of Assignments, January 2009. Assignments versus Authorizations As of January 2009, the Air Force had a total of 43,515 line officers (excluding transients) assigned against 45,287 authorizations, for an overall manning level of 96.1 percent. Of these, 19,610 were field-grade officer assignments (majors, lieutenant colonels, and colonels), against 21,441 field-grade authorizations, resulting in overall field-grade manning of 91.5 percent. Company-grade manning (lieutenants and captains) was 23,905 assigned against 23,846 authorized (100.2 percent). Table 3-2 compares assignments to authorizations in the five career fields that require a STEM degree. The table includes data for the Acquisition Management career field (63A) because field-grade manning in that field depends heavily on cross flow from the Scientist (61S) and Engineer (62E) career fields. The overall manning level in each of the five STEM-degree-
OCR for page 35
Examination of the U.S.Air Force’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Workforce Needs in the Future and its Strategy to Meet Those Needs TABLE 3-2 Manning in STEM-Requiring and Acquisition Management Career Fields Lt. Capt. Major Lt. Col. Col. Total 15W Assigns 129 187 119 96 16 547 Weather Auths 94 229 141 75 15 554 % 137.2% 81.7% 84.4% 128.0% 106.7% 98.7% 32E Assigns 326 339 216 199 61 1,141 Civil Eng, Auths 123 510 231 196 66 1,126 % 265.0% 66.5% 93.5% 101.5% 92.4% 101.3% 33S Assigns 686 1,109 656 391 110 2,952 Comm-info Auths 177 1,206 819 460 117 2,779 % 387.6% 92.0% 80.1% 85.0% 94.0% 106.2% 61S Assigns 260 249 155 82 9 755 Scientist Auths 105 367 202 92 11 777 % 247.6% 67.8% 76.7% 89.1% 81.8% 97.2% 62E Assigns 947 794 408 200 31 2,380 Dev. Eng. Auths 427 1,177 532 257 37 2,430 % 221.8% 67.5% 76.7% 77.8% 83.8% 97.9% 63A Assigns 275 670 542 539 106 2,132 Acq. Mgt. Auths 206 759 725 647 149 2,486 % 133.5% 88.3% 74.8% 83.3% 71.1% 85.8% SOURCE: Headquarters Air Force Personnel Center, Directorate of Assignments, January 2009. requiring career fields is above the 96.1 percent total manning level for line officers. Assuming no change in authorizations, shortages of officers in these career fields could be corrected only by increasing overall officer strength in the Air Force or by imposing even greater shortages on other career fields. Captain-to-Lieutenant Ratios The ratio of assigned captains to lieutenants in the Air Force generally (see Table 3-1) is 2.1:1 (16,257 to 7,648) while the authorization ratio is 3.0:1 (17,899 to 5,948). Thus, the proportion of assigned captains (and therefore, of the more experienced level among company– grade officers) is less than desired by the authorization ratio. In the STEM-requiring career fields, as indicated in Table 3-3, the captain-to-lieutenant authorization ratios range from 2.4:1 to 6.8:1. Since these ratios, like those of most other career fields, are greater than the aggregate assigned strength ratio of 2.1:1, captain authorizations are very unlikely to be completely filled.
OCR for page 36
Examination of the U.S.Air Force’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Workforce Needs in the Future and its Strategy to Meet Those Needs TABLE 3-3 Captain-to-Lieutenant Ratios Lt. Capt. Ratio, Capt./Lt. 15W Assigned. 129 187 1.4:1 Weather Authorized 94 229 2.4:1 32E Assigned. 326 339 1.0:1 Civil Eng. Authorized 123 510 4.1:1 33S Assigned. 686 1,109 1.6:1 Comm-info Authorized 177 1,206 6.8:1 61S Assigned. 260 249 1.0:1 Scientist Authorized 105 367 3.5 62E Assigned. 947 794 0.8:1 Dev. Eng. Authorized 427 1,177 2.8:1 63A Assigned. 275 670 2.4:1 Acq. Mgt. Authorized 206 759 3.7:1 SOURCE: Headquarters Air Force Personnel Center, Directorate of Assignments, January 2009. As indicated in Table 3-1, the average manning level for a line-officer career field is 128.6 percent for lieutenants and 90.8 percent for captains. All of the captain-to-lieutenant assigned strength ratios in the five STEM-requiring career fields are lower than the 2.1:1 Air Force average. Assuming a relatively level number of accessions from year to year, a career field with average retention would mirror this ratio. If the ratio is lower than 2.1:1, it is likely that the career field has experienced higher-than-normal attrition of captains, induced at least in part by the force reductions associated with Program Budget Decision 720.1,2 In summary, the low manning levels for captains (compared to authorized numbers) in the 32E, 61S, and 62E career fields probably result from a combination of high attrition and nonsustainable authorized grade structures. 1 A pattern of lower accessions followed by four years of higher accessions would also produce a lower-than-average ratio of captains to lieutenants. Since the Air Force generally accesses officers to a steady-state requirement, it is unlikely that such a pattern of accessions exists for the STEM career fields. 2 Program Budget Decision 720, entitled “Air Force Transformation Flight Plan,” was issued on December 28, 2005. by the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller). In it, the comptroller directed reductions in Air Force manpower from 2007 to 2011 totaling over 40,000 people, including active, Air National Guard, and Air Force Reserve civilian, officer, and enlisted personnel. Manpower reductions in specific career fields were not specified in the Program Budget Decision, but it was expected that the scientist, engineer, and acquisition manager career fields would experience significant reductions, as the budget decision reductions were allocated.
OCR for page 37
Examination of the U.S.Air Force’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Workforce Needs in the Future and its Strategy to Meet Those Needs Field-Grade Officer Manning For the aggregate line-officer force, field-grade authorizations are 47.3 percent of total authorizations, while field-grade assigned strength is 45.1 percent of total (see Table 3-1). As indicated in Table 3-4, 15W and 32E field-grade authorizations are close to the line-officer aggregate figures, and their major, lieutenant colonel, and colonel manning levels indicated in Table 3-2 reflect this. In short, they are manned about as well as could be expected. The 33S career field has an above-average proportion of field-grade authorizations but a below-average proportion of field-grade officers assigned, consistent with the lower field-grade manning levels shown in Table 3-2. The 61S and 62E career fields have below-average proportions of field-grade authorizations but also have below-average proportions of field-grade strengths, probably reflecting some combination of low retention, low promotion rates, and migration of more experienced or tenured officers to the 63A career field. The shortage of field-grade assignments for the 63A Acquisition Management career field is discussed in Chapter 4. TABLE 3-4 Field Grade as a Percentage of Total Field Grade Total Field grade, % 15W Assigned 231 547 42.2% Weather Authorized 231 554 41.7% 32E Assigned 476 1141 41.7% Civ Eng Authorized 493 1126 43.8% 33S Assigned 1,157 2,952 39.2% Comm-info Authorized 1,396 2,779 50.2% 61S Assigned 246 755 32.6% Scientist Authorized 305 777 39.3% 62E Assigned 639 2,380 26.8% Dev Eng Authorized 826 2,430 34.0% 63A Assigned 1,187 2,132 55.7% Acq Mgt Authorized 1,521 2,486 61.2% SOURCE: Air Force Personnel Center, Directorate of Assignments Career Path for Officer Scientists and Engineers The Air Force has formally defined career paths for officers. Figures D-1 and D-2 in Appendix D show the career pyramids, which illustrate the formal career path, for officer scientists (61S) and engineers (62E). The pyramids appear to be identical to each other and differ from most other mission support officer career pyramids only at the company-grade officer level. In practice, the committee believes that leadership opportunities for officers in these career fields would be somewhat limited, and therefore promotion rates to lieutenant colonel and colonel could tend to lag other career fields. This requires increased crossflow (or recoring) of these officers. The committee has been advised that the Acquisition Workforce Manager, SAF/AQXE, encourages significant crossflow of 62E officers into acquisition management (63A) positions.3 3 Patrick Hogan, Director of Acquisition and Career Management (SAF/AQXD), briefing to the committee on December 3, 2008.
OCR for page 38
Examination of the U.S.Air Force’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Workforce Needs in the Future and its Strategy to Meet Those Needs Perceptions from the Air Force STEM Communities In several presentations to the committee, representatives of various Air Force communities shared common concerns regarding the consequences of these manning conditions for officers in the five STEM-degree-requiring career fields. Manning in captain and field-grade ranks has been insufficient to meet authorizations. It has been difficult to retain technically qualified personnel, both military and civilians (as complementary components). There are gaps in the numbers of advanced STEM degrees and in the skill mixes degree holders need to have, both now and for anticipated future requirements. In Appendix D, Figures D-3 to D-10, which were included in presentations from the Chief of the Force Management Division and the Headquarters Air Force Personnel Center, present additional perspectives on the current authorization structure and inventory for the five career fields that require a STEM degree and the Acquisition Management career field. The committee makes the following general observations based on the data presented in these charts: As shown in Figures D-3 through D-8, these six career fields except 33S share some sort of workforce “bathtub” for officers with 7 to 16 career years of service (CYOS). That is, in this range there are relatively fewer personnel at each year mark than in the years before and immediately after the low region. This window from roughly 7 to 16 years represents the time in officers’ careers when their accumulated Air Force–wide and career-field experience and expertise are typically leveraged by the organization to obtain the greatest value. In addition, Air Force–wide levies on officer resources come into play during this interval, and the STEM-requiring career fields are expected to send mid- to senior-level captains and majors off to other duties (instruction, Reserved Officer Training Corps, recruiting, etc.). These levies accelerate the actual and perceived experience deficits in these career fields. As seen in Figures D-9 and D-10, both the 61S and 62E career fields absorbed significant drops in their authorizations (and consequently, their manning) from 2006 through 2008; this may be of concern because both career fields serve as feeders to the 63XX Acquisition Management career field. While the 61S career field absorbed significant drops in authorizations, as mentioned above, current and emerging mission requirements indicate a potential significant increase in requirements (both documented and undocumented) for scientists in the coming years. As indicated in Figure D-4, the 32E career field has demonstrated overmanning, in that assignments are consistently greater than authorizations. Extrapolations of contingency and deployment commitments, however, suggest real-world requirements that significantly exceed current assignments, further stressing the Civil Engineer officer workforce. Conclusions on Officer Manning Issues In summary, the committee believes there are captain and field-grade manning issues in the career fields that require a STEM degree. This judgment is based on the analyses above of assignments versus authorizations, captain-to-lieutenant ratios, and field-grade officer manning in these five career fields. The implications of the data analyses are supported by the perceptions of
OCR for page 39
Examination of the U.S.Air Force’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Workforce Needs in the Future and its Strategy to Meet Those Needs commanders and supervisors that their communities have insufficient personnel to perform the technically demanding aspects of jobs that require STEM capability. Furthermore, efforts to redress these shortages and imbalances are hampered by the fact that field-grade authorizations in the aggregate line officer force are larger than permitted by legal constraints on assigned officer field-grade strengths and the fixed (by policy) phase point for promotion from lieutenant to captain. There are too few officers, and the experience distribution is too junior to provide the needed expertise. In addition, there are high demands on field-grade officers in the Scientist and Engineer career fields to deploy for ongoing and future contingency operations. The Air Force’s manpower authorizations are inconsistent with both the total officer strength authorized for the Air Force and the grade structures established by law. Total strength is set in annual defense authorization acts. Field-grade strengths are set by law (originally promulgated as the Defense Officer Personnel Management Act) as a sliding-scale function of total officer strength. Officer promotions are managed so that actual field-grade strengths conform to these limits, but field-grade authorizations typically exceed these limits. As a result, overall field-grade manning is less than 100 percent. Similarly, total authorizations exceed allowable total strength, resulting in total manning less than 100 percent. Despite recognition of the effects of these constraints on field grade manning in the career fields that require a STEM degree, improvements have not been easy to come by. Under the Air Force’s Non-Rated Personnel Prioritization Plan, officer positions that are available to be filled are categorized as Must Fill, Priority, or Entitlement. The Must Fill and Priority categories are generally associated with joint-force assignments or assignments to the Combatant Commanders. The majority of positions in the product centers and test centers fall in the Entitlement category (see Figure D-11 in Appendix D). As reflected in Table 3-5, the respective manning percentages in the Scientist and Developmental Engineer career fields generally degraded between summer 2007 and summer 2008, exacerbating the manning imbalances discussed above. For example, the Non-Rated Prioritization Plan (NRPP) fill rate for lieutenant colonel engineers fell from 78 percent to 59 percent. For these STEM-degree-requiring fields and for the three acquisition-related career fields of Program Manager, Contracts, and Finance, the fill rates for captain, major, and lieutenant colonel positions are well below 100 percent, meaning there is an ongoing shortfall of experienced personnel in these positions. The fill rate for lieutenant colonel program managers fell from 42 percent to 31 percent, exacerbating manning issues discussed in Chapter 4. TABLE 3-5. Entitlement Category Fill Rates for STEM-Degreed and Acquisition Career Fields under the Nonrated Prioritization Plan, Summer 2007 and Summer 2008ab Scientistc Engineerc Program Mgr. Contracts Finance Lt Colonel 53%/50% 78%/59% 42%/31% 28%/22% 0%/13% Major 68%/65% 79%/63% 66%/66% 35%/34% 39%/50% Captain 34%/50% 58%/49% 77%/72% 66%/65% 39%/65% Lieutenant 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% aFill rate percentages for 2007 and 2008 are shown as a 2007/2008 format. bFill rates are for the Entitlement category only. Must-Fill positions were filled 100 percent; Priority-category positions were 85 percent filled. cRate is for overall career field—fill rate may vary by discipline. SOURCE: Patrick Hogan, Director of Acquisition and Career Management (SAF/AQXD), briefing to the committee on December 3, 2008.
OCR for page 40
Examination of the U.S.Air Force’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Workforce Needs in the Future and its Strategy to Meet Those Needs Captain manning is also generally problematic. Promotion from first lieutenant to captain is based on time in service (for line officers, four years). Thus, the ratio of captains to lieutenants is determined by the retention rate for captains (and the very limited attrition among lieutenants) and is unaffected by manpower authorizations.4 The ratio of captains to lieutenants in manpower authorizations is greater than the ratio of captains to lieutenants in the officer population, resulting in persistent overmanning of lieutenant authorizations and undermanning of captain authorizations. Lieutenant and captain manning could be balanced by redistributing the grade authorizations, pumping up captain retention (e.g., by offering retention bonuses), or reducing the promotion phase point to less than four years. CIVILIAN OCCUPATIONAL SERIES THAT CURRENTLY REQUIRE A STEM DEGREE Table D-1 in Appendix D shows the distribution of the Air Force civil service workforce in the three occupational series that require a STEM degree: Engineering (0800), Physical Sciences (1300), and Mathematics (1500). These are all professional occupations requiring degrees corresponding to the series title. Personnel in these occupations are managed within three career programs, roughly paralleling the functional areas within which they are employed. Aging of the Civilian Workforce in STEM Occupations Figure 3-1 shows a bimodal distribution of experience (years of service) in the civilian workforce employed in occupations that require a STEM degree. Air Force civilians become eligible for retirement with full benefits after 20 years of service. The valley that extends from the 9th to the 19th year of service indicates that promotion to senior grades will, within the next ten years, begin to accelerate markedly for individuals in these year groups as the larger cohorts in the years just ahead of them begin to retire from their Air Force careers. For many civilians (and officers), retirement from the Air Force after 20 years is more of a job change than a full retirement from their working career; many go on to second careers in industry or academia. FIGURE 3-1 Civilian Workforce in Occupations Requiring a STEM Degree. SOURCE: AFPC Interactive Demographic Analysis System, December 2008. 4 The length of technical training also affects this ratio for permanent party officer strengths. In the analysis below, the committee assumes permanent party strengths. Thus, the one STEM career field with lengthy technical training (33S—Communications and Information) would be expected to have a higher ratio than the other career fields.
OCR for page 41
Examination of the U.S.Air Force’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Workforce Needs in the Future and its Strategy to Meet Those Needs Civilian Scientist and Engineer Career Paths The career management team for the civilian scientist and engineer career field envisions three career paths for its employees. The technical expert path is characterized by increasing depth in technical experience. Some on this path will progress to GS-14 or GS-15 civil service grades (or the equivalent National Security Personnel System [NSPS] band), and a few will reach the senior level (SL) or scientific and professional (ST) level. The manager/leader path concentrates on both technical expertise and technical management responsibilities. This path can lead to Senior Executive Service (SES) positions, although the preponderance of personnel on this path will peak at the GS-14 or GS-15 grade (or NSPS equivalent). The senior leader path grooms civilian employees for organizational leadership. Their assignments are expected to include career-broadening into areas such as program management. Most SES positions in scientist and engineering functions and organizations would be expected to be filled by individuals progressing through this path.5 The Civilian Technical Expert Path Civilians may opt to continue on the technical expert path, leading to increased in-depth, technical experience. A few civilians on the technical expert path peak at the GS-14 or GS-15 grade level (or workforce project demonstration equivalent); even fewer make it to the SL or ST level. Unlike the senior leaders and manager/leaders, the technical expert aspires to become an expert in a selected field recognized at the national or international level. Therefore, this path allows individuals to increase their technical expertise instead of moving into management. Technical experts tend to strive toward increasingly technical assignments, doctorates, and technical training rather than management and leadership assignments. The Civilian Manager/Leader Path (to SES level) Those who select the manager/leader path will concentrate on both technical expertise and technical management responsibilities. The scientist or engineer will be recognized as a technical expert in at least one discipline but will also accrue management experience through supervisory positions. Progression on this path, with its blend of technical expertise and management skills, can lead to SES positions, although the preponderance of those on the path will peak at the GS-14 or GS-15 (or workforce project demonstration equivalent). The Civilian Senior Leader Path (to SES level) The senior leader path is for scientists and engineers who choose to balance technical depth with breadth of alternative functional experience. Through communications and interactions with other career fields, organizational disciplines, and Air Force operations, the senior leader 5 The Department of Defense has announced the establishment of the National Security Personnel System Transition Office and the selection of John H. James Jr. as its director. He will report to the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Civilian Personnel Policy and will lead the NSPS Transition Office in managing the development of the plan to transition employees from the NSPS to non-NSPS systems. The fiscal 2010 National Defense Authorization Act, Public Law 111-84, repealed authorities for the NSPS and mandated the transition of NSPS employees to appropriate non-NSPS civilian personnel systems. The NSPS Transition Office will oversee the design and implementation of an enterprise-wide performance management system, hiring flexibilities, and a DoD Workforce Incentive Fund, authorities for which were granted to the Secretary of Defense under the 2010 National Defense Authorization Act. (News Release, Public Affairs Office, Office of the Secretary of Defense, January 20, 2010).
OCR for page 42
Examination of the U.S.Air Force’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Workforce Needs in the Future and its Strategy to Meet Those Needs becomes more of a strategist than a technical expert. Technical grounding, management experience, and leadership skills allow senior leaders to make the critical decisions that define organizational vision and focus. LEADERSHIP ASSESSMENT OF CURRENT WORKFORCE ADEQUACY This section conveys the main points in presentations to the committee from representatives of functional activities across the Air Force on the posture and status of the officer and civilian workforce in positions that require a STEM degree. Air Force Personnel Center From the Air Force Personnel Center (AFPC) perspective,6 while the majority of the five career fields that require a STEM degree appear relatively healthy in the aggregate, there are shortages at the captain level. Electrical engineers understandably remain in high demand, especially in light of the computerization and information technology enablers to myriad processes and programs, with positions in the 32E, 33S, and 62E career fields all competing for quality technically based candidates in the pool of eligible accessions. The data presented show a specific shortage of electrical engineers in these three career fields. Further, the shortage at the captain level is accelerated by the current high operational tempo, especially within the 32E community, which raises retention concerns. Air Force Space Command Speaking from an operational perspective, the Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) representative expressed concerns about the adequacy of the workforce in positions requiring or desiring a STEM degree. 7 He pointed out that significant numbers of Air Force Specialty codes (AFSCs) within the space community require or desire STEM degrees. For example, the 13S (Space and Missile career field), 14N (Intelligence), and 15W AFSCs all desire a STEM-related degree as an accession requirement but do not require it, while 32E, 33S, 61S, and 62E AFSCs all require a STEM-related degree. Specifically, the command has 1,923 13S requirements, of which only 102 have any degree-related requirements. Further, to meet its needs, AFSPC seeks to use extensive crossflow from 61S and 62E to 63A (acquisition program manager) duties because it considers technical and scientific experience and background necessary to succeed in the program management role. However, the AFSPC representative emphasized that the majority of the billets do not specify education requirements (e.g., a specific degree or level). Given AFSPC’s assessment of its own STEM-related requirements, the representative offered the opinion that the Air Force may be paying too much for technical expertise because of how it is procured. He believes that requisite technical expertise has migrated to the private sector and that, because of its unique and highly technical nature, it is extremely expensive to acquire by contract. AFSPC Headquarters employs contract personnel at a cost of $55 million, and the amount is growing. Contract costs are running at $250,000 per full-time equivalent and higher. The AFSPC representative suggested, as did the Air Force Materiel Command representative (see 6 Col Stan Perrin, Air Force Personnel Center, Director of Assignments, briefing to the committee on October 29, 2008. 7 Doug Bell, Deputy Director, Manpower, Personnel, and Services, AFSPC, briefing to the committee on September 30, 2008.
OCR for page 43
Examination of the U.S.Air Force’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Workforce Needs in the Future and its Strategy to Meet Those Needs Chapter 4), that more technical expertise be brought back in–house—that is, the Air Force should increase the organic officer and/or civilian workforce with the requisite technical expertise. Additional Perspectives from Senior Leaders and Managers A representative8 of the Air Force’s scientist and engineer career field manager indicated that the Air Force faces the following broad problems in managing the workforce in positions requiring a STEM degree: STEM is not defined. STEM is not managed across the Air Force. Needs and effects are not characterized or understood within each of the 26 career fields. There is no clear Air Force STEM advocate (candidates are the Science and Engineering Functional Manager (SAF/AQR), Air Force Chief Scientist, Air Force Research Laboratory Commander (AFRL/CC), or others). The concerns of the scientist and engineer career field manager include: captain and field-grade manning retention (military and civilian) advanced degrees (enough, the right mix, future requirements) civilian development into senior leadership Science and engineering role in the global war on terror STEM role, requirements and responsibilities. The Chief of the Air Force Force Management Division (AF/A1PF) accessed overall manning, personnel tempo, and retention conditions in the five officer career fields that require a STEM degree.9 He noted some personnel tempo issues but found no significant manning or retention issues. AF/A1PF did not access grade manning, as some other briefers did. However, in his presentation, he drew attention to the relative undermanning of captains and overmanning of lieutenants that is typical of many Air Force officer career fields. The Director of Assignments at the Air Force Personnel Center (AFPC/DPA)10 described manning gaps in selected AFSCs and grades: captains in AFSC 61S-A—operations research majors in AFSC 61S-B—quantitative psychology captains in AFSC 61S-D—physics, nuclear engineering, systems engineering. 8 Col. James Fisher, Chief, Engineering and Technical Management Division, SAF/AQRE, briefings to the committee on August 26, 2008, The formally designated Science and Engineering Career Field Manager is SAF/AQR, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Science, Technology, and Engineering. 9 John Park, Chief, Force Management Division, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, briefing to the committee on October 30, 2008. 10 Col. Stan Perrin, Director of Assignments, Headquarters Air Force Personnel Center, briefing to the committee on October 29, 2008
OCR for page 44
Examination of the U.S.Air Force’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Workforce Needs in the Future and its Strategy to Meet Those Needs He noted that captain manning is generally low in most AFSCs, offset by high lieutenant manning. He also noted the heavy flow of field-grade officers from the 62E to the 63A career field. The Air Force Director for Studies and Analyses, Assessments and Lessons Learned (AF/A9),11 who serves as the career field manager for analysts in the Air Force, noted no manning gaps other than the familiar captain-lieutenant imbalance. Among other topics, she discussed the effects of the Program Budget Decision 720 force reduction on the analyst workforce, as well as the role that AF/A9’s value model played in distributing the required reduction across officer career fields. FINDINGS Finding 3-1. In some cases, the grade structures in officer career fields that require a STEM degree are not sustainable under the current legal and policy constraints. Additionally, in some cases, career fields requiring a STEM degree may have experienced below-average retention or promotion rates. Finding 3-2. The workforce years-of-service profile (shown in Figure 3-1) indicates that a large proportion of the civilian STEM-degreed workforce will become eligible for retirement within the next 15 years. Finding 3-3. Fill rates for field-grade officers in the Scientist and Developmental Engineer career fields, in the Acquisition Management career field, and in other career fields important to the acquisition life cycle, while responsive to the Air Force’s Non-Rated Personnel Prioritization Plan, are well below 100 percent, which perpetuates the manning shortfalls in these career fields. The committee’s recommendations related to these findings and to the issues discussed in this chapter are in Chapter 6. 11 Jacqueline Henningsen, Director for Studies and Analyses, Assessments and Lessons Learned, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, briefing to the committee on December 3, 2008.