6
Managing STEM Personnel to Meet Future STEM Needs Across the Air Force

This chapter discusses options available to the Air Force to meet its current and future needs for personnel with STEM capabilities, including both STEM-degreed and STEM-cognizant military officers and civilians. The final section addresses issues in using contractor personnel to meet needs for STEM capability. The committee’s findings and recommendations are presented at the conclusion of major topics of discussion. Some recommendations draw on findings in Chapters 2 through 5, as well as on the findings stated here.

AN ACTIVE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM FOR STEM-DEGREED AND STEM-COGNIZANT PERSONNEL

The Air Force currently meets its requirements for STEM capabilities through a combination of organic and contracted personnel resources. Because the Air Force operates in a dynamic and somewhat uncertain environment, it needs authorities, policies and processes in place that provide the flexibility and agility necessary to adapt its mix of organic and contractor personnel resources to best meet changing needs, opportunities, and constraints.

With regard to whether an organic position requiring STEM capability should be staffed with a military officer or a civilian from the Federal Civil Service, the approach has generally been to fill the position with a civilian unless the requirement for a military officer is compelling. Examples of the latter include wartime/deployment requirements or a requirement for operational experience, especially as might be required to define or access operational requirements and capabilities of materiel to be developed, acquired, or tested. As an important exception to this general policy, the Air Force has selectively filled a number of junior technical positions—typically, within the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL)—with newly commissioned officers having STEM degrees. These young officers bring the latest technical skills, often in disciplines where the current state of the science is continually (and rapidly) evolving.

Thus, a key personnel management goal for the Air Force should be a process and a set of tools to ensure that its future STEM requirements can be filled by trained and ready personnel. The Air Force has four sources of STEM-degreed and STEM-cognizant personnel: members of the active-duty force, members of the Air Force Reserve Component, civilians, or contract labor. Determining the correct source for a particular STEM need involves answering three questions:



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6 Managing STEM Personnel to Meet Future STEM Needs Across the Air Force This chapter discusses options available to the Air Force to meet its current and future needs for personnel with STEM capabilities, including both STEM-degreed and STEM-cognizant military officers and civilians. The final section addresses issues in using contractor personnel to meet needs for STEM capability. The committee’s findings and recommendations are presented at the conclusion of major topics of discussion. Some recommendations draw on findings in Chapters 2 through 5, as well as on the findings stated here. AN ACTIVE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM FOR STEM-DEGREED AND STEM- COGNIZANT PERSONNEL The Air Force currently meets its requirements for STEM capabilities through a combination of organic and contracted personnel resources. Because the Air Force operates in a dynamic and somewhat uncertain environment, it needs authorities, policies and processes in place that provide the flexibility and agility necessary to adapt its mix of organic and contractor personnel resources to best meet changing needs, opportunities, and constraints. With regard to whether an organic position requiring STEM capability should be staffed with a military officer or a civilian from the Federal Civil Service, the approach has generally been to fill the position with a civilian unless the requirement for a military officer is compelling. Examples of the latter include wartime/deployment requirements or a requirement for operational experience, especially as might be required to define or access operational requirements and capabilities of materiel to be developed, acquired, or tested. As an important exception to this general policy, the Air Force has selectively filled a number of junior technical positions— typically, within the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL)—with newly commissioned officers having STEM degrees. These young officers bring the latest technical skills, often in disciplines where the current state of the science is continually (and rapidly) evolving. Thus, a key personnel management goal for the Air Force should be a process and a set of tools to ensure that its future STEM requirements can be filled by trained and ready personnel. The Air Force has four sources of STEM-degreed and STEM-cognizant personnel: members of the active-duty force, members of the Air Force Reserve Component, civilians, or contract labor. Determining the correct source for a particular STEM need involves answering three questions: 75

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76 Examination of the U.S. Air Force’s STEM Workforce Needs Is the position either militarily essential1 or inherently governmental?2 If it is, a contractor cannot be hired to fill it. How much funding is available to support the position? Is the funding single or multiple year? How does the position relate to the roles and missions of the Service components—i.e., the total force approach? The choice among the personnel sources is also influenced by statutory and policy (Office of the Secretary of Defense [OSD] and Air Force policies) constraints. In the case of positions requiring STEM expertise, a further complication occurs because STEM requirements cross multiple Air Force Specialty codes (AFSCs), major commands, and functional areas. The committee determined that the current Air Force personnel management process, which is aligned by AFSC and function, is not adequate for managing STEM personnel. The absence of a clear definition of STEM and the inability to comprehensively measure the inventory of STEM personnel make the personnel management task considerably more complex. Management Approaches Considered and Rejected Among the many management approaches for STEM-degreed (and STEM-cognizant) personnel considered by the committee, two extreme alternatives were rejected as inadequate. The committee considered a “STEM Corps” to be managed separately—and within which personnel would be promoted separately—from other segments of the Air Force workforce, i. e. non-line officers. Chaplains, Judge Advocates General, and medical personnel are managed this way. Although these career fields cross major commands, they do not reside in other Air Force specialties and functions. With each career field, independent actions can be taken that do not impact other AFSCs and functions. Additional motivation for a separate corps was the false perception that it would automatically result in a higher promotion rate. This is not true, as a separate corps does not automatically mean higher rates; in fact, promotion rates have been lower in some separate corps. In addition, if promotions within a corps were vacancy-based, a hard requirement must exist to justify promotion. For STEM capabilities in general, a defined requirement does not exist and inventory detail does not exist. “Do nothing” was also considered as an alternative. The Air Force has not managed its STEM-degreed workforce in the past and could continue to just let STEM-degreed and STEM- cognizant personnel migrate naturally among the officer career fields and civilian occupational series. The Air Force has historically commissioned large numbers of officers with STEM degrees and let the large numbers migrate on their own to various areas. Because college education leading to a STEM degree was so pervasive, requirements were filled from the excess numbers of STEM-degreed personnel at each grade and specialty. There were always enough STEM-degreed personnel to fill the needs, stated or unstated. Therefore, there was no active management of the STEM-degreed workforce as an entity. Because the committee foresees a continuing decrease in the STEM-degreed population and a decreasing percentage of STEM- degreed graduates capable of obtaining security clearances (i.e., U. S. citizens, see Chapter 5), 1 Militarily essential positions include those performing tasks that come under the Uniform Code of Military Justice and/or the Geneva Convention or are designated as militarily essential under the Status of Forces Agreements. 2 Inherently governmental tasks are certain roles defined as such within the Federal Acquisition Regulations, including tasks covered by the Uniform Code of Military Justice or the Civilian Code of Ethics for government employees. The Government Accountability Office has held that, in some cases, inherently governmental positions were filled by contractors under the guise of acquisition reform, in violation of statutory and/or regulatory requirements (GAO, 2008a, 2008b).

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Managing STEM Personnel to Meet Future STEM Needs Across the Air Force 77 this past abundance of STEM-degreed personnel will not exist in the future. Doing nothing is therefore not a viable option. The Need to Model Personnel Management Options Unlike the “STEM Corps” and “Do Nothing” approaches to managing STEM-degreed and STEM-cognizant personnel, there were a range of other approaches on which the committee was unable to make definitive recommendations because data on which to access their outcomes were unavailable and unattainable without a suitable workforce model. These approaches were suggested by committee members, briefers, or others involved in the study, Examples are bonuses to increase retention in certain year groups, increased recruitment in Reserve Officer Training Corps programs, changes in initial assignments of STEM-degreed graduates of the U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA), changes in promotion policy, creation of continuing education assignments, and creation of continuing education criteria for maintaining or acquiring a level of STEM capability.3 A workforce model capable of simulating the consequences of such actions would not only allow leadership to determine the impact of Air Force policy options but could also be used to access the impact of external factors such as increases and decreases in civilian education and STEM pay in the private sector. A credible model would also help justify the expenditure required to implement policy changes. How can such a model be built? Could it have credibility with the leadership of the Air Force, OSD, the Office of Management and Budget, and Congress? Is there a management system based on education rather than function that would be capable of managing a large force? Is there a management system that can prioritize both staff needs and critical operational capability? The answer to each of these questions is “yes.” In fact the basis not only of such a workforce model but also of a workforce management system already exists in the Air Force. It is the personnel model and the associated management system used to manage the critical asset of rated personnel. The Rated Management System as a Paradigm for STEM Management U.S. Air Force aeronautical ratings are military aviation skill standards established and awarded by the Air Force for commissioned officers participating in aerial and space flight. The six categories of aeronautical ratings are Pilot, Navigator, Combat Systems Officer (CSO),4 Air Battle Manager, Observer, and Flight Surgeon (USAF, 2009, pg.17). The Rated Management system is a personnel management system that tracks the education, currency of training, rank, and other attributes of each rated officer in the Air Force. This system allows senior Air Force leaders to identify and implement appropriate actions to ensure that requirements for rated categories of personnel, such as aircrews, are met (USAF, 1997). The requirements for each rated category vary a great deal, and there are multiple levels of rating within a category, but the common thread running through all the categories and levels is education and training. The Rated Management system provides an inventory of rated personnel, with each individual’s record having attributes such as education, currency of training, and rank that can be searched and documented. Maintenance of up-to-date records for rated personnel is a management priority. In addition, a complex taxonomy is used to identify needed staff, 3 Once a person is educated in a field such as math, physics, engineering, or the other disciplines listed in Table 1- 1, that person also gains a valuable set of general skills: critical thinking and how to apply the scientific method to problem solving. These general skills always stay with the person and constitute an essential part of the value in being STEM-degreed or STEM-cognizant. 4 The older Navigator rating is being replaced by the CSO rating, and the Navigator career field is being phased out. After 2009, only CSOs are receiving ratings formerly awarded to navigators.

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78 Examination of the U.S. Air Force’s STEM Workforce Needs operations, currency, and experience. Some of these workforce requirements are very specific; others are very generic. All requirements for rated personnel are periodically validated and prioritized by the leadership of the major commands and Air Staff. Thus, this system tracks these personnel independent of the AFSC they are currently filling. During policy reviews of the ratings system and budget allocation reviews, a workforce model, called the Rated Management Decision Support System (RMDSS) (USAF 1997, pp. 22, 25) is used, with the Rated Management system’s data as input, to simulate the impacts of alternatives such as the following: Should the number of pilots entering the Air Force be changed? Should the Air Force save dollars by cutting flying hours? Should a bonus be paid to encourage navigators/CSOs with 8–12 years of experience to remain in the Air Force to fill generic rated-personnel requirements at the colonel level? What is the impact of starting a new category of pilots that graduate from fixed wing training but are assigned to non-flying assignments in Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA)? The impact of such decisions 5, 10, or 20 years in the future can be modeled with the RMDSS, and the projected consequences can be communicated to senior decision makers. Many times several policy or funding decisions must be made concurrently. There is a high probability that the combined effects of such decisions will produce outcomes different from implementing a single decision. Effective modeling can help mitigate this problem by allowing the interactions of the decision options to be simulated and projected forward. While it is true that not all alternatives can be modeled, the improved knowledge that the RMDSS provides helps senior leaders make difficult, expensive, long-lasting, and critical decisions on how to meet current and future needs for rated personnel. 5 Most of the critical characteristics for the data input to enable the RMDSS to run simulations of rated management options are similar for personnel with STEM education and experience (that is, for STEM-degreed and/or STEM-cognizant personnel at any point in their Air Force career). For example, both rated-personnel management and STEM management must track by AFSC and by various aggregations or families of AFSCs. A look at parallels in taxonomy for a personnel record in the two management systems may help. A simple example is outlined below. Rated Management Specific training: pilot, navigator/CSO, air battle manager, etc. Category: fighter, bomber, mobility, combat, search and rescue, special operations command, etc. Utilization: line, first assignment instructor pilot, rated supplement, unmanned aerial vehicle, etc. Stem Management Specific education: electrical engineering, operations research, physics, etc. Category: engineer, mathematician, optics specialist, scientist, etc. Utilization: space operations, depots, acquisition, laboratories, etc. In addition to these and other similarities, there are some significant differences. STEM personnel management includes civilian employee and contractor options; rated management does not. Unlike the rated operational positions (e.g., F-16, B-1, C-17 for different flight 5 An in-depth review of both the Rated Management system and the model described here (also called the Air Force Rated Aircrew Management System ) can be found in USAF AFI 11-412 Aircrew Management. Appendix F of this report more extensively describes parallels and challenges in using the model and the principles and organization applied to rated management that could be adapted as the basis for STEM personnel management modeling.

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Managing STEM Personnel to Meet Future STEM Needs Across the Air Force 79 platforms) that are large in numbers, many operational “weapon systems” STEM positions are presently small in number—for example, those in space and cyber operations. This increase in complexity of personnel attributes may require more specialized tools for specific needs. Experience identifiers that can be tracked (paralleling rated flying hours) will be a task for a STEM workforce management system and decision support model. The experience attributes analogous to the basic experience measure of flying hours for rated personnel may, in a STEM management system, need to be tracked by specific assignments, time in a particular AFSC, or other characteristics such as those included in the certification required under the Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act (DAWIA) and discussed in Chapter 4. By substituting specific educational background for specific rated training, one may begin to see how the Air Force can manage the important STEM-degreed and STEM-cognizant workforce for the future. Regardless of the differences in the comparative numbers of personnel, most of the inputs and products of the RMDSS would have close analogues in a STEM decision support model: Cumulative Continuation Rates, Total Active Rated Service(which in STEM could be called Total Active STEM Service), retention, professional military education, continuation training, entitlements, absorption capability, experience levels, promotions, retention, etc. Some of these rated-personnel attributes are used by many functional managers as basic tools for workforce management. Suitable STEM analogues should likewise be used for managing STEM- degreed and STEM-cognizant personnel. A difference is that the STEM-degreed and STEM- cognizant workforce needs to be aggregated and managed not only according to individual functions/AFSCs but also as families of functions/AFSCs based on education, experience, and past utilization. STEM MANAGEMENT AND PRIOR OFFICER DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVES This section discusses an organizational home within the Air Force for permanent STEM management. The recent history of officer development initiatives in the Air Force provides context for the committee’s recommendation on this point. Beginning in 1999, General Michael Ryan, then the Air Force Chief of Staff, launched several initiatives to enhance the development of high-potential officers. Over the ensuing 5-year period, the Air Force established several new organizational entities dedicated to this purpose. The Air Force Senior Leader Management Office (AFSLMO) was formed in 2000 by merging the functions then being performed by the General Officer Management Office (GOMO) and the Senior Executive Management Office. It later assumed responsibility for managing colonels, chief master sergeants, and GS-15s. AFSLMO was disbanded in 2005, and its responsibilities were redistributed much as they had been prior to its formation. GOMO and AFSLMO were active in promoting new force development constructs for the Air Force. A series of force development advisory committees, originally formed by GOMO in 1999, evolved into a full-time staff to support force development. The Developing Air Force Leaders (DAL) office, established in 2001, had a high-level advisory committee chaired by the Vice Chief of Staff, Air Force with membership composed of vice commanders of the major commands and Air Staff deputy chiefs of staff or equivalents. When the DAL office was deactivated in 2003, the advisory committee continued to operate first as the Force Development Council and later as the Force Management and Development Council (FMDC). A representative of the Air Force Director of Force Development (AF/A1D1) described to the committee the roles of the FMDC, its subpanels, and the development teams

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80 Examination of the U.S. Air Force’s STEM Workforce Needs convened by functional managers.6 Its role is prescribed in Air Force Policy Directive (AFPD) 36-26, Total Force Development (USAF, 2008).7 AFPD 36-26 also recognizes the responsibilities of functional authorities to promote effective development of workforces within their functional communities. Per this directive, functional authorities designate functional managers, who are senior leaders responsible for day- to-day oversight of development within their functional area, and career field managers, whose primary responsibility is to manage development and other career field issues. The directive also requires that functional authorities create development teams to guide the development of individual officer and civilian personnel to meet both functional and Air Force corporate leadership requirements (USAF, 2008). Another product of the AFSLMO era was the publication of Air Force Doctrine Document (AFDD) 1-1, Leadership and Force Development, which articulates leadership and force development principles and tenets and provides a framework for measuring and developing them (USAF, 2004). It includes, as components of leadership, the Air Force’s three core values (integrity, service before self, excellence) and its enumerated leadership competencies.8 The FMDC serves as a corporate body to provide an institutional perspective on Air Force– wide force development issues and to make recommendations to the Secretary of the Air Force and Chief of Staff, Air Force. The Air Force Assistant Secretary for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, Air Force functional authorities, vice commanders of the major commands, the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, and appropriate Air Reserve Component and civilian representation make up the FMDC and provide a review of total force management. The Vice Chief of Staff, Air Force (VCSAF) chairs the FMDC (USAF, 2008, pg. 7). As Chapter 2 described in detail, STEM-degreed and STEM-cognizant personnel are dispersed throughout the Air Force, and their STEM-related capabilities are now and will continue to be of value across Air Force domains and missions. Thus, the FMDC, with its Air Force–wide scope of responsibility and representation, is the appropriate organization to provide oversight of a STEM management system. Finding 6-1. The Air Force does an excellent job of recruiting, managing, and developing officers and civilians in career fields that it values and considers mission essential. A paradigm example is the Air Force’s training, management, and development of rated personnel. In the past, the Air Force had a robust supply of STEM-degreed and STEM-cognizant personnel and thus did not devote special attention to managing them. Because of the changing demographics of the American population and the increasing technical complexity of the Air Force mission, this approach will no longer work. To maintain the technical competency of the Air Force, active management of the STEM-degreed and STEM-cognizant workforce is essential. Recommendation 6-1a. To manage the critical STEM-degreed and STEM-cognizant personnel assets for the future Air Force, two actions should be taken. First, the Air Force should establish a 6 Greg Price, Force Development Integration, AF1/A1D1, briefings to the committee on August 26, 2008. 7 The FMDC is principally supported by the Director of Force Development (AF/A1D). Its development teams are principally supported by the Director of Assignments at the Air Force Personnel Center (AFPC/DPA). The FMDC has chartered panels to formulate policy recommendations for its consideration. These include an Officer Force Development Panel, Enlisted Force Development Panel, and Civilian Force Development Panel, Air Force Learning Committee, Expeditionary Skills Senior Review Group, and Nuclear Enterprise Advisory Panel (Buzanowski 2008). 8 The list of competencies in the current version of AFDD 1-1 will eventually be replaced by an institutional competency list (ICL). STEM-related skills are not specified as either competencies or subcompetencies in the ICL, but they are sometimes represented in definitional statements. For example, “Utilizes innovation and technology in the employment of lethal and non-lethal force” appears under the subcompetency operational and strategic art. “Uses analytic methods in solving problems and developing alternatives” appears under the subcompetency decision-making.

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Managing STEM Personnel to Meet Future STEM Needs Across the Air Force 81 STEM Council to review policies and implementation and make recommendations on STEM accessions, utilization, and competencies across all Air Force missions, organizations, and career fields. This group should also determine what the minimum science, engineering, and mathematics educational requirements should be for STEM cognizance and determine which positions require STEM cognizance. This STEM Council should be a subcouncil to the Force Management & Development Council (FMDC). Recommendation 6-1b. The Air Force should develop a decision support model, analogous to the Rated Management Decision Support System, to predict future requirements, inventory, and impacts of personnel policies and decisions, not only for specific career specialties but also for the aggregate needs of maintaining the technical competency of the overall Air Force. Finding 6-2. Most Air Force functions have a designated advocate at the Air Force Headquarters level. This is an important step in managing a workforce. Since the Air Force has never managed STEM capability/functions as a distinctive entity across AFSCs and across major commands, STEM-degreed and STEM-cognizant personnel do not have a functional advocate. The Military Deputy to the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition is the one officer on the Air Staff who both sits on the FMDC and, through the Requirements Process, is close to both the acquisition workforce and the major commands. In the committee’s view, this position is particularly appropriate as the designated advocate for STEM-degreed and STEM-cognizant personnel across the entire Service. Currently, the Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Manpower and Personnel (AF/A1) is responsible for sustainment and use of career-force models for all current AFSCs. While many of these models were originally not developed in-house (i.e., the developer may have been a contractor or federally funded research and development center), the AF/A1 now has responsibility for their oversight and use. Thus, it is reasonable for oversight and use of a newly developed STEM decision support model to be under this official. Recommendation 6-2. Overall functional management of STEM-degreed and STEM-cognizant personnel should be accomplished in a manner similar to management of flight-qualified officers through the Rated Management system. The Military Deputy to the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition should be the functional advocate for all STEM personnel, and the Deputy Chief of Staff for Manpower and Personnel (AF/A1) should oversee STEM decision support modeling, as well as recommending and implementing STEM personnel policies. MEETING FUTURE NEEDS FOR OFFICERS WITH STEM CAPABILITIES The Air Force has two general approaches available to it for meeting its future requirements for STEM-degreed and STEM-cognizant officers. The first involves retaining the existing officer force. The second is to acquire new STEM-degreed and STEM-cognizant officers through accession. These approaches are obviously not mutually exclusive, and some optimal combination of options from both approaches will be needed. In this section, the committee discusses multiple options for retention first, then options for acquiring new officers. However, a STEM decision support model, as discussed in the previous section (see Recommendation 6-1b), will be needed to ascertain what practically feasible combination of options is most effective for achieving Air Force priorities, goals, and objectives. Proper management of human capital is vitally important to the Air Force, especially when that capital is critical to mission accomplishment, in short supply, and difficult to recruit and retain. Moreover, continuous oversight is necessary because personnel requirements and

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82 Examination of the U.S. Air Force’s STEM Workforce Needs inventory are constantly changing. The difficulties involved in predicting future STEM needs and determining whether there are likely to be shortages in STEM-degreed and STEM-cognizant personnel are addressed elsewhere in this report. At present, however, it appears to the committee that the Air Force is able, with a few exceptions,9 to meet its stated recruiting goals for STEM positions. Retention is another matter. Retaining STEM-Degreed Officers Retention is one of the primary challenges confronting managers of STEM-degreed personnel. This was a persistent theme expressed by product center and air logistics center commanders who briefed the committee (see leadership comments in Chapter 4). Retention problems within the Air Force have been exacerbated, in the committee’s judgment, by recent decisions to decrease end strength. Presentations at the Inside Aerospace conferences in 2008 and 2009 noted that, if people feel that they are valued within their organizations, they are less likely to leave. This was described as especially true for younger generations (AIAA, 2008; 2009). In the experience of committee members who worked with STEM-degreed personnel in the Air Force, another consideration is that, for government personnel, many times the “grass seems greener” on the other side—for example, if pay and benefits in the private sector are coupled with perceptions of long-term job availability in STEM-related careers. Furthermore, in the military, the door only opens one way; when experienced military personnel are lost to the private sector, they rarely return to military service. Even when military personnel do return via civil service,10 their positions must be carefully managed to prevent their civilian counterparts from feeling that the potential for upward mobility has been reduced. Among the primary contributors to the retention problem is a perception prevalent within the STEM-degreed workforce—especially among members of Generation X—of being undervalued. This perception was highlighted by several of the young professionals (less then 5 years in industry) at Inside Aerospace 2009 (AIAA, 2009) and was echoed by several STEM-degreed officers11 who were released during the recent force-shaping initiatives, which released a significant number of STEM-degreed personnel. Such a perception can of course be changed, but not unless sustained actions are taken to counteract it. Based on the presentations, described in Chapters 3 and 4, from commanders and staff of the Air Force product and logistics centers and on the committee’s discussions with the chief scientists of major commands,12 the committee identified several specific areas of concern for retention. Each is a problem in its own right and, in the committee’s judgment and experience, contributes to the perception of being undervalued. In combination, they have had particularly negative effects on efforts to keep talented and capable individuals from seeking opportunities outside the Air Force. First, placing lieutenants in an oversight position in acquisition without proper preparation and training seems, in the committee’s judgment, likely to detract from their performance. Lack of performance leads to delayed promotion or to separation. Delayed promotion results in less responsibility and upward mobility. The overall result is lack of promotion of experienced personnel and an increase in experience waivers. The perception of the young officers or civilians 9 In 2008, the Air Force was unable to meet its accession goals for six S&E career fields. 10 The Air Force’s civilian workforce comprises 22 percent former enlisted personnel and 6 percent former officers. 11 Discussions with George Muellner, committee co-chair, at an AIAA Section Meeting in Dayton, Ohio. 12 Dr. Janet S. Fender, Chief Scientist, Air Combat Command, briefing to the committee on December 3, 2008; Dr. Don Erbschloe, Chief Scientist, Air Mobility Command, briefing to the committee on December 3, 2008.

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Managing STEM Personnel to Meet Future STEM Needs Across the Air Force 83 is likely to be that there is a glass ceiling. They cannot see themselves moving up in the system, but instead see personnel from outside their career fields being assigned to or promoted into the leadership positions they should aspire to fill in the coming years. This diminishes their perceived value. In times of transition within a major command, when a major change in direction is required or desired, it is conceivable that the best option may be to choose a person for a leadership position because of his/her broad general background and demonstrated leadership skills in times of significant transition. When that is the case, the leadership making such a decision should make clear why such an assignment is being made. A second area of concern to the committee is that large numbers of vacancies are a daily visible sign that a position is not valued enough to commit the time and resources to backfill. Unfilled vacancies lead to more work on remaining personnel, resulting in decreased performance and increased burnout, inability to attend training, and other negative impacts on personnel. Assigning general officers without STEM qualifications to acquisition positions is a third practice that sends a strong message to colleagues in STEM-requiring career fields that their service and experience are not valued. Further, senior officers without domain knowledge of the many facets of the acquisition process cannot fulfill the important mentoring and role model responsibilities necessary to lead and inspire the next generation of acquisition leaders. It will be a particular challenge to develop this expertise in space operations, cyber operations, and other areas of growth for future STEM needs. Finally, because of the shortage of STEM-degreed officers, there has been a rush to contract out some inherently governmental tasks, including CONOPS development and requirements generation on the operational side and some project management responsibilities and oversight on the acquisition side. In the committee’s judgment, this use—or misuse—of contracting affects the perceived value of an individual’s contributions and sometimes creates the impression that military officers are merely performing a contractor’s job without bringing any special attributes or viewpoints to the table. These are four examples of areas where current practices contribute to perceptions of “not being valued”—and these perceptions may cascade into reality. Assignment of STEM-Degreed Personnel STEM-degreed personnel tend to be placed in either STEM-related or operationally focused assignments. Many STEM graduates are justifiably proud of their academic achievement and want to put their “extra” academic effort to work on meaningful projects. However, instead of being given assignments where they can apply these accomplishments, many times they are put in oversight positions where they are asked to supervise contractor personnel whose STEM knowledge, experience, and maturity exceeds their own. This lack of grooming often leads to frustration because the new graduates are not using their hard-won educational skills and they are not properly prepared for their supervisory roles. In contrast, if they were first afforded an opportunity to acquire knowledge of Air Force operations and apply existing skills, and then were transitioned to supervisory roles after they had received proper mentoring and training, the committee believes these young STEM-degreed officers would make more-substantial contributions, experience less job dissatisfaction, and add both real and perceived value for the Air Force mission.

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84 Examination of the U.S. Air Force’s STEM Workforce Needs Military Promotions of STEM-Degreed Officers Promotions have lasting, across-the-board impact. They affect not just job title and income but level of responsibility and sense of self worth. In the military, the symbols of rank are visible reminders to others of how one is valued by “the system.” Within the acquisition community, STEM-degreed personnel compete well for promotions at the lower ranks, but they do not compete as well for promotions to higher ranks. 13 Thus, the acquisition workforce is rich in STEM-degreed lieutenants and undermanned in STEM-degreed officers at every higher grade. Because of this, many highly qualified and experienced officers separate or seek early retirement. As of January 2009, authorized program manager positions at the level of colonel were only 71 percent filled (see Table 3-2 in Chapter 2). According to the Director of Acquisition and Career Management, the Air Force desires 50 percent of its field grade officers who are program managers to have a STEM degree; currently, only 30 percent have a STEM degree.14 However, statistics regarding officer promotions can also be misleading. The FMDC should review promotion rates both in the promotion zone (IPZ) and below the zone (BTZ). One can look at IPZ promotion board results and be content, but promotion to general officer is highly correlated with early promotion BTZ at the rank of lieutenant colonel or colonel. Therefore, to determine if a career field is viable in promoting enough officers to sustain it at the highest ranks, the BTZ promotion rates must be examined. Finding 6-3a. Multiple reductions in STEM-degreed authorizations and STEM-degreed personnel have had a negative impact on manning levels and morale and may be affecting the ability to recruit. Finding 6-3b. Both promotion and experience are required for growing future acquisition leaders. As discussed in Chapter 4, in recent history many senior acquisition leaders required waivers from DAWIA requirements for prior acquisition experience. Recommendation 6-3a. Promotion rates should be monitored to ensure that qualified acquisition officers are available at lower ranks to meet DAWIA requirements and experience needs for accessions to higher ranks. Recommendation 6-3b. The Air Force should use a STEM management decision support model (see Recommendation 6-1) to understand long-term impacts of cuts in authorization or manning for career fields requiring a STEM degree and to ensure that the leadership understands all the likely impacts of such cuts. Options for Meeting STEM Needs with the Existing STEM-Degreed Officer Workforce The committee identified three general options available to the Air Force to meet current and future STEM needs with existing officer assets. After describing each option in value-neutral 13 This committee statement is based on (1) Air Force promotion data reviewed by committee members but not publically released, committee discussion with Air Force presenters from the acquisition community (see Appendix B), and the personal experience of committee members while serving in the Air Force acquisition community. 14 Patrick Hogan, Director of Acquisition and Career Management, SAF/AQXD, briefing to the committee on December 3, 2008.

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Managing STEM Personnel to Meet Future STEM Needs Across the Air Force 85 terms, the committee discusses the challenges and issues it sees for implementing the option. Committee findings and recommendations are presented after all three options are discussed. Option 1: Reallocate STEM-degreed officers who are currently serving in AFSCs that do not require a formal STEM education Description. The Air Force currently has a significant number of active-duty, STEM-degreed officers currently serving in AFSCs (or positions within certain AFSCs) for which there is currently no formally established STEM requirement. Most notably, it has been estimated that approximately 45 percent of the pilots, 34 percent of navigators/CSOs, and 20 percent of air battle managers are STEM-degreed. Under this option, after establishing STEM requirements for all career fields, the Air Force could elect to selectively reassign STEM-degreed officers serving in positions that do not require those STEM capabilities to positions that require their STEM capability, if it judged the positions requiring a STEM degree to be a higher priority. Challenges and Issues. This option has to be very carefully considered and executed with sensitivity to the potentially negative career impacts on the individual officers who are asked to make mid-career changes between career fields. Such reassignments should be career-enhancing where possible, recognizing that the needs of the Air Force come first. In considering its priorities for reassigning STEM-degreed military personnel, the Air Force also needs to bear in mind that it is an inherently technical service and there is value in having some STEM-degreed personnel in every career field. Option 2: Use STEM-degreed Reserve and Guard officers Description. A second option to meet STEM needs with the existing officer workforce is to use STEM-degreed officers from the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard to help meet requirements for STEM-degreed personnel. Significant STEM-degreed capability (and by extension, STEM-degree requirements) resides in the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve officer components. Table 6-1 shows the officer populations in both reserve components for the five career fields requiring a STEM degree and for the 63A Acquisition Management career field. TABLE 6-1. Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Officers in Fields Requiring a STEM Degree and in 63A Acquisition Management 15W 32E 33S 61S 62E 63A Total Air National Guard 90 486 920 9 11 3 1,511 Air Force Reserve 59 378 520 66 342 190 1,555 SOURCE: AFPC IDEAS Personnel Statistics Database, January 9, 2009. Conceivably, it would be possible to establish specialized Reserve or Guard units to provide STEM support to the Air Force. One attractive alternative would be to constitute these units in locations that are proximate to the product centers, AFRL locations, and other organizations having significant requirements for STEM-degreed personnel. Challenges and Issues. In the near term, this option would have to be executed within the statutory and regulatory constraints that govern the Air Force Reserve and the Air National Guard. Policies and procedures would also have to be established to preclude any potential conflicts of interest that might arise for individual officers whose civilian employment was with a company competing for Air Force contracts.

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Managing STEM Personnel to Meet Future STEM Needs Across the Air Force 89 Number of Graduates Acquisition Base support Logistics Operations, except weather FIGURE 6-3. Distribution of USAFA Graduates, 2000 through 2008, among non-STEM- requiring Career Fields. Acquisition includes both 63A (Acquisition Management) and 64P (Contracting) AFSCs. Operations excludes 15W (Weather) AFSCs. SOURCE: Brig. Gen. Dana Born, Dean of the Faculty, USAFA, briefing to the committee on December 4, 2008. The USAFA is already committed to ensuring that all graduates are at least STEM cognizant through its requirement that all cadets take a set of core science and technology courses, whatever their intended major field of study. From time to time, the USAFA leadership revisits this core set of courses to ensure that it continues to meet evolving Air Force needs. The Air Force provides an avenue for enlisted airmen to attend the USAFA. The Leaders Encouraging Airmen Development (LEAD) Program delegates authority to unit and wing commanders to nominate highly qualified airmen to become Air Force officers via attending and graduating from the USAFA. Depending on a candidate’s educational qualifications, a LEAD nomination may provide direct entry to the USAFA, entry to the USAFA Preparatory School, or referral to other programs. Challenges and Issues. The USAFA annually graduates and commissions approximately 1,000 officers. Currently, about 41 percent graduate with a STEM degree. In recent years, the number and percentage of officers graduating with STEM degrees has been declining. Moreover, of this 41 percent, a significant number enter rated AFSCs or other AFSCs for which a STEM degree is not a formal requirement.16 However, since the USAFA is an asset organic to the Air Force, the Air Force leadership has the option of directing the USAFA to require that a larger percentage of cadets pursue STEM degrees. The Air Force leadership can also influence curriculum content to some degree, subject to a number of constraints. For example, the committee determined that the Chief of Naval Operations recently directed the U.S. Naval Academy to have 65 percent of the midshipmen in the Class of 2013 graduate with a STEM degree (Harvey, 2007). However, as this example illustrates, such a policy decision to increase the number and/or percentage of graduates with a STEM degree could take up to 4 years to achieve the mandated result. 16 Brig. Gen. Dana Born, Dean of the Faculty, USAFA, briefing to the committee on December 4, 2008.

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90 Examination of the U.S. Air Force’s STEM Workforce Needs Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps Description. The Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC) delivers the largest number of officers to the military Services each year. AFROTC offers programs through more than 1,000 colleges and universities, including some with long-standing military traditions, such as Virginia Tech, Texas A&M, Norwich University, The Citadel, and Virginia Military Institute. AFROTC scholarships are widely available and are used to help meet specific academic requirements, as well as quantitative requirements, for officers. The availability of degree-focused scholarships has historically been the primary mechanism used to encourage AFROTC cadets to pursue academic programs leading to a STEM degree. AFROTC cadets attend civilian colleges and may choose their majors, but they must take military-oriented courses throughout the period of their association with AFROTC. They also participate in structured military organizational activities and military drill, as well as a 4–6 week field exercise during one summer, to orient them to military organizations and bases and to help determine their career field, consistent with Air Force needs and their desires. Upon graduation, AFROTC cadets are commissioned as second lieutenants. The Air Force also has a number of programs to encourage enlisted airmen to complete their undergraduate education and earn a commission through the AFROTC program. For example, the Airman Scholarship and Commissioning Program allows enlisted personnel to separate from active duty and receive scholarships while pursuing their commission through AFROTC. Scholarships are awarded in a variety of fields, including both STEM and non-STEM fields. Selections are based on Air Force officer production requirements. The Technical Degree Sponsorship Program is intended to increase the accession rate of individuals with engineering and other technical degrees by allowing the Air Force Recruiting Service to recruit and place junior (no more than 24 months from graduation) and senior college students on (enlisted) active duty prior to college degree completion. This program also applies to graduate students no more than 24 months from graduation. The program’s intent, which is consistent with its supporting resources, is to maintain 25 enlistees who are 24 months from graduation and 25 enlistees who are 12 months from graduation. Challenges and Issues. The AFROTC program has the potential for producing the largest number of STEM-degreed (and STEM-cognizant) officers. The program is voluntary and depends primarily on the use of focused scholarships as an incentive to attract students enrolled in undergraduate STEM degree programs. Consequently, if the Air Force elected to invest significantly more in STEM-focused AFROTC scholarships, it would take 2 to 4 years to have a significant effect on the number of STEM-degreed officers entering the Air Force. There is no current requirement that all students commissioned through the AFROTC program be at least STEM-cognizant. Thus, if acknowledging and managing STEM cognizance is recognized as part of the solution for meeting future STEM needs, establishing and implementing such a requirement for AFROTC scholarships would in time substantially increase the accession of STEM-cognizant officers. Because the curricula at the various academic institutions attended by AFROTC cadets are not under the direct control of the Air Force, measures to ensure that AFROTC graduates are at least STEM-cognizant and preferably STEM-degreed would necessarily be more nondirective than at the USAFA and may need to be achieved through incentives. For example, most colleges and universities operate under the principle of “shared governance,” in which curriculum content and changes must be approved by the Faculty Senate or analogous faculty body. The senior military officer at an AFROTC detachment typically holds a faculty appointment and, directly or through his/her representative to the Faculty Senate, could make recommendations for changes in curriculum policy and content.

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Managing STEM Personnel to Meet Future STEM Needs Across the Air Force 91 Officer Training School Description. OTS, the third major avenue for commissioning new Air Force officers, is the most flexible in terms of numbers of candidates accepted and commissioned and in the number and frequency of classes being trained. OTS is typically the shorter term cushion used to help adjust commissioning numbers during the year of execution, with the required number of officer candidates and skills recruited “off the street.” OTS Basic Officer Training is a 12-week course for college graduates (including some enlisted airmen) who wish to become officers. Candidates may have a degree in any field. However, those with STEM degrees typically have a better chance of acceptance. Selectivity tends to be extremely high, given the relatively small numbers selected each year for OTS. Challenges and Issues. While OTS offers more flexibility and quicker response time for producing more STEM-degreed officers than do the USAFA or the AFROTC program, as a STEM option it would need to focus on candidates who already have an undergraduate STEM degree and are motivated to join the Air Force. Historically, OTS has produced relatively fewer officers than either the USAFA or AFROTC. The Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR), a division of AFRL, annually funds hundreds of research projects at civilian universities. Collectively, these projects involve thousands of undergraduate and (especially) graduate students in STEM disciplines. In the process of working on their projects, these students are exposed to Air Force needs and opportunities for STEM capabilities. The committee is aware of instances where these students have applied for OTS and Air Force civil service positions as a result of their positive experience working on AFOSR-funded projects. These students represent a high-potential pool of OTS (and civil service) candidates that should be exploited by Air Force military and civilian recruiters. Findings and Recommendations on Acquiring Additional Officer Assets Finding 6-7. The USAFA is a major source of new officers that are either STEM-degreed or STEM-cognizant. Recommendation 6-7a. The USAFA should periodically review the core curriculum to ensure that graduates with non-STEM majors nonetheless are STEM-cognizant—that is, that they have an adequate appreciation of the impact of science and technology on the Air Force’s ability to organize, train, and equip the forces required by combatant commanders in their respective areas of responsibility. Recommendation 6-7b. The Air Force Chief of Staff should establish a goal for the minimum percentage of USAFA graduates with a STEM major, based on an assessment of requirements by the FMDC and recommendations from the Deputy Chief of Staff for Manpower and Personnel (AF/A1) and the USAFA leadership. The USAFA leadership, in collaboration with the faculty and staff, should identify and implement policies, procedures, and incentives to ensure that this goal is met. Finding 6-8. AFROTC is the source of the largest number of new commissioned officers. This program offers considerable potential for helping the Air Force to meet its requirements for STEM-degreed officers.

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92 Examination of the U.S. Air Force’s STEM Workforce Needs Recommendation 6-8. The Air Force should make full use of scholarships and other incentives to encourage AFROTC students to pursue degrees in STEM disciplines or, if they are not enrolled in a STEM-degree program, at least to take sufficient STEM courses to qualify as STEM- cognizant. In addition, Air Force officials should encourage the provost and faculty at institutions with AFROTC programs to include courses in the institution’s undergraduate core curriculum that promote STEM cognizance. Finding 6-9. The OTS gives the Air Force an important avenue to selectively access new officers who already possess specific STEM degrees. Recommendation 6-9. The Air Force should establish annual goals for accessing STEM-degreed officers through OTS. These goals should be projected for the future 5-year period and reviewed and adjusted annually as appropriate. In recruiting candidates for OTS, the Air Force should consider those undergraduate and graduate students pursuing a STEM field of study who were (or are) involved in research projects funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research or Air Force Research Laboratory. Officers accessed through OTS who do not possess a STEM degree should be afforded the opportunity to attend one or more short (continuing education) courses developed and offered through AFIT (or other institutions) to qualify these individuals as STEM- cognizant. MEETING FUTURE NEEDS FOR STEM-DEGREED CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES As with military officers, the Air Force has two general approaches available for meeting its future needs and preferences for STEM-degreed civilian employees. The first involves managing the existing Air Force civilian workforce with an emphasis on retaining STEM-degreed personnel. The second approach is to hire new STEM-degreed civilian employees. Managing and Retaining Existing Civilian Personnel Assets The replacement of STEM-degreed civilians who leave the workforce is currently neither robust nor timely. In the past, the Air Force actively recruited STEM-degreed civilians and rewarded their service. As discussed in Chapters 3 and 4,17 a large proportion of senior Air Force civilians in positions that require a STEM degree will become eligible for retirement during the next 15 years. Several leaders of logistics and product centers who discussed civilian workforce retention problems with the committee believe the Air Force is lagging the private sector in competing for STEM-degreed civilians and in training its existing civilian workforce to assume greater responsibilities in positions that require STEM capabilities.18 As is the case for military officer positions, fill rates are an important indicator of civilian job value. Based on committee members’ experience, confirmed by discussions with Air Force presenters, the committee believes that if civilians see their colleagues leave and they are not replaced, this inaction sends a powerful message that those positions are not on the “A Team.” Currently, the Air Force has a 15 percent vacancy rate in civilian STEM positions requiring a 17 See text discussing Figure 3-1, as well as Finding 3-2, for STEM-degreed civilians in positions requiring a STEM degree and Figure 4-2 for STEM-degreed civilians in AFMC. 18 Joe Sciaba, Executive Director, AFRL, AFMC, briefing to the committee on October 30, 2008. Patricia Robey, Director, Manpower and Personnel, Space & Missiles System Center, briefing to the committee on September 30, 2008. Lt. Gen. Ted F. Bowlds, Commander, Electronics System Center, briefing to the committee on October 30, 2008. Lt. Gen. John L. Hudson, Aeronautical Systems Command, videoteleconference with the committee on October 30, 2008.

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Managing STEM Personnel to Meet Future STEM Needs Across the Air Force 93 STEM degree.19 And, against a goal of 50 percent of program managers having a STEM -degree, only 20 percent of civilian program managers currently have a STEM degree.20 However, the real shortage may be much more acute. When force reductions due to budget shortfalls were necessary, the Air Force made a disproportionate share of the reductions from the STEM-degreed civilians in the acquisition workforce. The following year, the Air Force tried to rehire these same people but was largely unsuccessful. The Air Force does have some limited ability to enhance the STEM capabilities of its existing civilian workforce. Within constraints (grade, geographic area, and qualifications), it can direct STEM-degreed civilians to move from positions that do not have a formal requirement for a STEM degree to positions having that requirement. It can also encourage STEM-degreed civilians to compete for those positions by offering incentives such as promotion and professional development opportunities. The Air Force currently provides financial assistance to civilians who are interested in pursuing both undergraduate and graduate education in STEM (and non-STEM) programs. Limited numbers of Air Force civilians attend AFIT’s Graduate School of Engineering and Management on a full-time basis, along with their officer counterparts. Air Force civilians also attend AFIT’s continuing education schools (e.g., the School of Civil Engineering and Services and the School of Systems and Logistics) to maintain their technical proficiency and currency. Finding 6-10. Fill rates are an important indicator to the civilian workforce that their jobs are valued. Based on assessments from several Air Force leaders who briefed the committee (Chapter 4) and civilian vacancy rates in program management (Chapter 6), the hiring process for STEM- degreed civilians is not timely. In the committee’s judgment, this contributes to a perception in the civilian workforce that the unfilled positions are not valued. Recommendation 6-10. The Air Force should develop policies and devote resources to recruit STEM-degreed civilian personnel in a timely manner. Finding 6-11. The Air Force does not currently have a process in place to systematically review its allocation and utilization of STEM-degreed civilians in light of changing requirements and priorities. Recommendation 6-11. The Air Force should establish a process to assess systematically and (at least) annually the utilization of its STEM-degreed civilian workforce. This review should include accessing the need to offer additional incentives to encourage STEM-degreed personnel to compete for assignment to the Air Force’s highest-priority STEM positions. This assessment should be done in conjunction with a similar review of assignments for STEM-degreed officers (see Recommendation 6-4). Acquiring Additional Civilian Assets The second general approach for meeting the Air Force’s requirements for STEM-degreed civilians is through the recruiting and hiring process. For purposes of this study, the committee focused primarily on the policies and processes by which the Air Force recruits and hires new STEM-degreed civilians. 19 Patrick Hogan, Director of Acquisition and Career Management (SAF/AQXD), briefing to the committee on December 8, 2008. 20 Patrick Hogan, Director of Acquisition and Career Management (SAF/AQXD), briefing to the committee on December 8, 2008.

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94 Examination of the U.S. Air Force’s STEM Workforce Needs The Air Force draws on two major sources to meet its requirements for STEM-degreed civilian personnel. The first is STEM-degreed civilians who are employed outside the Federal Civil Service—for example, in the private sector or in nonfederal government organizations. The second source comprises college students who are completing an undergraduate or graduate STEM degree. In the latter case, the Air Force has the capability to offer scholarships or fellowships to students in exchange for a commitment for some minimum period of Federal Civil Service. The Air Force can also use the authorities provided by the Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) to meet temporary STEM requirements or as a temporary means of staffing permanent STEM positions that are difficult to fill. The IPA provides the Air Force with the authority to compete for the (temporary) services of individuals who might not otherwise be available at the compensation levels the Air Force is authorized to pay its permanent Civil Service employees. Under the IPA, an individual with particular STEM expertise who is an employee of another government organization (federal, state or local), a university, or other qualifying (nonprofit) organization can be assigned—in effect, “loaned”— to the Air Force for a period of up to 4 years. Under this arrangement, the Air Force is authorized to reimburse the “loaning” organization for the employee’s salary and benefits. The committee identified two major challenges to recruiting and hiring STEM-degreed civilian employees. The first is related to funding; the second relates to the lengthy process to recruit and hire new civilians who are not currently in the Federal Civil Service. Funding New Civilian Hires The funding of civilian pay continues to be a significant challenge to those in the Air Force recruiting STEM personnel. The committee heard this repeatedly from presenters and interviewees.21 The issue is three-fold: operations and maintenance (O&M) funding versus research, development, testing, and evaluation (RDT&E) funding; timing; and predictability. A large portion of the Air Force STEM-degreed acquisition workforce is funded from the O&M budget (Account 3400). Other portions of the STEM-degreed workforce, such as AFRL, are funded from the RDT&E budget (Account 3600). O&M funding levels vacillate, sometimes significantly, from year to year. The appropriation for the 3400 line item is for one year only, and for the Air Force this funding line has been highly stressed by the challenge of the increased cost of sustaining aging aircraft. Thus, the Civilian Pay account under this same funding line gets perturbed significantly every year to balance the “must pay” O&M bills, creating workforce instability. The appropriation for the 3600 funding line, which is appropriated for multiple years, enjoys more stability. This variability, coupled with late budget approvals from Congress, typically delays O&M funding until the end of the first quarter of each fiscal year. Although Continuing Resolution authority allows the federal government to operate in the absence of congressionally enacted appropriations for the current fiscal year, this authority typically limits operations to spending at the previous year’s level (or some other restricted level). It does not permit new starts (e.g., new programs) and may include a specified or de facto hiring freeze. Moreover, an authorized O&M funding level can arbitrarily be further decremented (for example, from an authorized 97 percent to 92 percent) at the beginning of the fiscal year to offset other Air Force budget needs. This makes employment planning tenuous and filling of positions requiring a STEM degree more 21 Patrick Hogan, Director of Acquisition and Career Management (SAF/AQXD), briefing to the committee on December 3, 2008. Lt. Gen. Ted F. Bowlds, Commander, Electronic Systems Center, AFMC, briefing to the committee on October 30, 2008. Lt. Gen. John L. Hudson, Commander, Aeronautical Systems Center, AFMC, briefing to the committee during videoteleconference on October 30, 2008.

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Managing STEM Personnel to Meet Future STEM Needs Across the Air Force 95 challenging than it would otherwise be. If additional money becomes available later in the fiscal year, often in the fourth quarter, it is too late to help the civilian employment program. Hiring Time Nearly every Air Force field location representative who briefed or communicated with the committee—including AFRL, air logistics centers, product centers (such as the Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles), logistics centers, and test centers—said that one of their biggest challenges (if not the biggest challenge for some locations) is the length of time (nearly 180 days) it takes to fill civilian positions. The two major factors they typically cited were the process and the organizational structures established for this personnel management task. The slow response time adversely impacts the Air Force’s ability to recruit STEM-degreed personnel in a timely manner, especially when the competition (e.g., private-sector companies) can make on-the-spot hiring offers.22 The process factor results from the procedures imposed by the Office of Personnel Management to comply with statutory and regulatory requirements such as veterans’ preference, as well as from policies and procedures dictated by OSD and the Air Force. The organizational factor results from the Air Force policy to centralize nearly all civilian personnel servicing at the Air Force Personnel Center (AFPC), located at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas. Although this centralization remains a policy goal of the Air Force, it has not been totally realized in the staffing of civilian positions for three reasons: (1) lack of adequate staff and expanding workload at AFPC, (2) the lengthy process for filling positions as noted above, and (3) AFPC’s inability to fill positions in a timely manner. In response to many complaints from serviced locations, most notably those under the Air Force Material Command (AFMC), the Air Force returned most of the staffing processes, on an interim basis, to designated AFMC locations in late Spring 2008. Although resources were provided to AFPC in the 1990s to perform this work, no resources were provided back to AFMC when the work was returned in 2008. While there are always open fills in the Air Force recruitment and hiring pipeline, positions that require a STEM degree can be some of the most difficult to fill. It is imperative for the Air Force (at large) to reduce the number of open fills in the STEM-degreed civilian workforce (1,079 as of January 201023) to an acceptable level and to manage this workforce as a critical asset. A number of actions can be taken by the Air Force to help reduce civilian hiring time: Develop improved metrics related to civilian hiring time, especially for positions that require a STEM degree. Review career-field personnel business processes and civilian career program policies, processes, and procedures, with the goal of expediting recruiting and hiring. Participate in the Department of Defense (DoD) initiative for rapid improvement of staffing, with the objective of implementing a DoD enterprise staffing tool within the year. Encourage customers to: Increase the use of standard position descriptions, Prioritize their fill actions, 22 Appendix E provides a more in-depth description of the civilian hiring-time problem, including supporting data and related discussion. 23 Michelle Lowe-Solis, Air Force Personnel Center, personal communication to Dr. Albert Robbert, committee member, January 22, 2010.

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96 Examination of the U.S. Air Force’s STEM Workforce Needs Project their requirements and release fill requests as early as possible, and Act promptly on selections after they receive a list of names. Insist that those providing these services meet their requirements for timeliness and for the quality of candidates. Ensure positions are properly classified. Anecdotal evidence indicates that classification specialists often do not appreciate the technical complexity of a position and the qualifications required to do the job effectively. This results in under-classification of the position and applicants being judged as unqualified by the hiring official. Finding 6-12. At the Headquarters, Air Force organizational level, civilian pay is currently managed in a manner that hinders the employment and retention of STEM-degreed civilian personnel. Use of the O&M account (funding line 3400) for civilian pay, rather than the RDT&E account (funding line 3600), increases the variability and uncertainty in funding these positions from year to year. Consequently, employment planning is tenuous, and filling of positions that require a STEM degree is more difficult. In the committee’s view, the funding uncertainty and variability also increase the difficulty of retaining valued STEM-degreed civilian personnel. Recommendation 6-12. To address uncertainties in civilian workforce funding, and thereby improve employment and workforce stability, the Air Force should consider moving the acquisition workforce from the operations and maintenance funding line (Account 3400) to the RDT&E funding line (Account 3600). Finding 6-13. It takes the Air Force far too long to fill civilian STEM positions. The Air Force cannot compete effectively with other government and nongovernment organizations that can recruit and hire the best-qualified STEM candidates much more quickly. This disadvantage negatively impacts both fill rates and the quality of the Air Force’s STEM-degreed workforce. Recommendation 6-13. The Air Force should continue to look for ways to improve both the process of filling civilian positions (enabling legislation may be required) and the organizational issues that hinder the process. In particular, a means should be sought to make permanent the funding for civilian positions that require a STEM degree at the installations where these positions are located (or within the respective major commands). CONTRACT SUPPORT TO PROVIDE STEM-DEGREED PERSONNEL— ISSUES AND OPTIONS For purposes of this study, organic STEM workforce positions are those positions that the Air Force believes must (or should) be filled by a STEM-degreed military officer or federal civil servant because one or more of the following conditions are met: The duties and responsibilities of the position are inherently governmental.24 Adequate oversight of contracted activities requires in-house staff. The requirement for STEM capability is likely to be permanent. The Air Force believes that an organic capability is more cost-effective than contracted support. 24 A technical definition of “inherently governmental” is included in footnote 2, Chapter 6, where this term is first used in the report.

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Managing STEM Personnel to Meet Future STEM Needs Across the Air Force 97 Conversely, a position that requires STEM capability is non-organic only if (1) the position is not inherently governmental, (2) the position is not permanent, and (3) it is more cost effective to contract for the capability than to establish an organic capability. The Air Force relies extensively on contractor support for non-organic STEM positions. These external sources of STEM capability include systems engineering and technical assistance (SETA) contractors and federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs). SETA Support While SETA contractors have long been an important component of the government’s STEM capability, their roles and contributions in the Air Force have grown over the past decade. In significant measure, this growth has been necessary to replace manning and skills lost in the organic acquisition workforce and through personnel cuts at Headquarters, Air Force and in the major commands. In some cases SETA roles and support may have grown excessively, but in other cases SETA personnel provide unique and specialized skills essential to supporting Air Force program offices in executing their management responsibilities. Further, new Systems Engineering and Integration (SE&I) contracts are being established to assist the government in managing large-scale systems programs and complex system-of–systems procurements. FFRDCs FFRDCs such as the MITRE Corporation, Lincoln Laboratory, or the Aerospace Corporation are a special case of a contracted capability. While they are technically not-for-profit, nongovernment organizations, by law they essentially function as an organic (or quasi-organic) activity, providing essential STEM capability to the Air Force. Several FFRDCs were established to play an important role in Air Force development and acquisition by providing highly qualified STEM personnel with specific domain knowledge. These include MITRE and Lincoln Laboratory, which provide expertise in command, control, communication, intelligence, and surveillance sensors to the Electronic Systems Center, and The Aerospace Corporation, which provides expertise in space and missiles to the Space and Missile Center. As private, not-for-profit corporations, FFRDCs have trusted oversight roles, free from the conflicts of interest that might arise with for-profit contractors, and with greater flexibility than the government in recruiting and managing personnel with a high degree of specialized STEM capabilities. FFRDC scientists and engineers perform across the entire acquisition life cycle, including planning and concept development, research and development, systems acquisition, integration and test, mission assurance, and on-orbit support. They provide independent technical assessment, advice on standards and best technical practices, and technical problem resolution input to government engineering and program managers, which is critical to program and mission success. Appropriate Use of Contractor Support As stated in the above definition of an organic STEM position, contractor support should not be used for work that is inherently governmental. This work should be accomplished by Air Force military or civilian personnel. Where the work is not inherently governmental, contractor support should be used when it is clearly more cost-effective than using Air Force organic resources, considering all life-cycle costs, fully burdened with salaries, benefits, support costs, hiring and termination costs, overhead and profit, etc. Perhaps the most common appropriate role for

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98 Examination of the U.S. Air Force’s STEM Workforce Needs contractor support is work that is not inherently governmental and is temporary in duration—for example, projects or programs having a specified, limited duration. The committee heard anecdotal reports of situations where more-costly contractor support was used because limited civilian personnel funding would not support hiring Air Force civil service personnel at grades that would attract fully qualified candidates, even though the comparable costs favored use of Air Force civilians. While the committee has no doubt that such situations have occurred (and continue to occur), this is clearly an inappropriate use of contractor support. Rather, this is a programming issue, where the appropriate action should be to reprogram sufficient funds from other sources into the civilian pay account to permit execution of the more cost-effective organic alternative. That said, the committee recognizes that such reprogramming actions are often very difficult and time consuming. Considering the excessive time currently required to recruit and hire civil service personnel and the time required to execute certain funding reprogramming actions, the temporary use of contractor support might be necessary to provide adequate mission support. However, pending execution of the preferred organic alternative whenever this option is more cost-effective, such use of contractor support should be used only as a temporary measure. Finding 6-14. Based on the personal experience of committee members who served in the acquisition workforce, the committee believes that contracting out inherently governmental tasks can diminish the perceived value of the officers and government employees who perform similar tasks or who are assigned to oversee contractors. This negative effect on personnel morale and retention is in addition to the regulatory concerns when inherently governmental tasks are contracted out. Recommendation 6-14a. The Air Force should reevaluate its contracting procedures and ensure that all inherently governmental tasks are performed by Air Force personnel. Recommendation 6-14b. Significant portions of the STEM-degreed workforce now consist of contract personnel. The Air Force should consider converting contract dollars currently being used to pay for contracted engineering talent into funds that can be used to support additional civilian engineering authorizations to bring more of the required expertise in house. Senior Air Force leadership must, however, ensure that the dollars thus saved flow from the contracting accounts directly into the various civilian pay accounts. If adequate funds are not available in these accounts and if the authorizations are not forthcoming to support the previously contracted functions with governmental personnel, the potential consequences are risks to the capabilities of commanders and directors to carry out their missions. REFERENCES AIAA (American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics). 2008. Inside Aerospace: An International Forum for Aviation and Space Leaders Working Together to Build the Aerospace Workforce of Tomorrow. Report and recommendations of a forum held in Arlington, Virginia, May 13–14, 2008. Reston, Virginia: American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. AIAA. 2009. Inside Aerospace: An International Forum for Aviation and Space Leaders Working Together to Build the Aerospace Workforce of Tomorrow. Report and recommendations of a forum held in Arlington, Virginia, May 12–13, 2009. Reston, Virginia: American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Buzanowski, J. G. 2008. Council addresses Airmen issues. November 18, 2008. Washington: Air Force News Service.

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Managing STEM Personnel to Meet Future STEM Needs Across the Air Force 99 GAO (Government Accountability Office). 2008a, Defense Acquisitions: DoD’s Increased Reliance on Service Contractors Exacerbates Long-standing Challenges. GAO-08-621T. January 23, 2008. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. Available online at http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-08-621T. GAO. 2008b. Defense Acquisitions: Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs. GAO-08- 467SP. March 31, 2008. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. Available online at http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-08-467SP. Harvey, J.C. 2007. Memorandum for Superintendent, United States Naval Academy (USNA); Commander, Naval Education Training Command (NETC), from Vice Admiral John C. Harvey, Jr. Subject: Academic Major Policy for Scholarship Midshipmen. U.S. Air Force (USAF). 1997. Air Force Instruction 11-412, 1 August 1997, Flying Operations, Aircrew Management. Washington, DC: Department of the Air Force. 26 pp. USAF. 2004. Air Force Doctrine Document 1-1, Leadership and Force Development. February 18, 2004. Headquarters Air Force Doctrine Center. USAF. 2008. Air Force Policy Directive 36-26, August 27, 2008, Personnel Total Force Development. Washington, DC: Department of the Air Force. USAF. 2009. Air Force Instruction 11-402, 25 September 2007, Incorporating Change 1, 10 July 2009, Flying Operations, Aviation and Parachutist Service, Aeronautical Ratings and Badges. Washington, DC: Department of the Air Force. 178 pp.