This appendix provides an overview of published resources the committee judged important to its assessment and recommendations for strengthening of the U.S. Air Force (USAF) human capital management (HCM) system. These include relevant Department of Defense (DoD) and USAF strategic guidance documents and findings and recommendations provided in previous studies and reports, which the committee sought out in addressing the study’s charge to effectively recommend where USAF HCM should strive to be in the future. The following sections provide brief summaries of the most relevant and influential resources to the committee’s work in conducting this study.
DOD STRATEGIC GUIDANCE
This section introduces several DoD strategic documents the committee considered critical to the framing and context of this study. In 2015, then Secretary of Defense, Honorable Ashton B. Carter, issued a series of memorandums to guide the DoD, collectively titled, “Force of the Future: Maintaining our Competitive Edge in Human Capital.” In the initial memorandum, Carter emphasized that new and complex efforts to modernize the Services’ personnel practices will “require additional study to ensure they are implemented in a deliberate and durable manner” (Carter, 2015, p. 2).
The following are examples of the initiatives approved for implementation listed in the memorandum that are most relevant to this study’s task (Carter, 2015, p. 3):
- Piloting a transparent, talent-based assignment matching system;
- Establishing Military Department Centers of Excellence to improve the assignment processes through better talent-based assignment matching;
- Implementing an exit survey in the Transition Assistance Programs to better understand retention trends; and
- Establishing doctoral-level degrees in strategy or similar PhD programs at National Defense University and Service War Colleges or postgraduate schools.
A second memorandum, released in June 2016, addressed further initiatives needed to meet the challenge “to bring new flexibility to the system without undermining the valuable purposes that it continues to serve” (Carter, 2016a, p. 2). In addition to calling for a series of changes to enable this “new flexibility” in the military personnel management system, the second memorandum specifically called for the following (Carter, 2016a, p. 2):
- Modernization of U.S. Military Entrance Processing Command (MEPCOM), and
- Expansion of Joint Advertising, Market Research and Studies (JAMRS) micro-targeting to create a recruiting database.
Throughout the series of memorandums, Carter emphasized digital innovation to update and adapt personnel systems. For example, the establishment of the Defense Digital Service was intended to leverage expertise outside DoD (Carter, 2015) and the Office of People Analytics to improve talent management through big data applications (Carter, 2016a). Additionally, to enhance Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) operations, Carter called for “objective criteria and metrics of effectiveness” (Carter, 2016b, p. 4) as feedback for improvements.
More recently, in 2018, then Secretary of Defense James Mattis signed the 2018 National Defense Strategy (NDS) that, among other things, called out the need to “cultivate workforce talent” (p. 7). The NDS emphasized that “recruiting, developing, and retaining high-quality military and civilian workforce is essential for warfighting success” (DoD, 2018, p. 7). The strategy also provided important guidance on talent management:
Developing leaders who are competent in national-level decision-making requires broad revision of talent management among the Armed Services, including fellowships, civilian education, and assignments that increase understanding of interagency decision-making processes, as well as alliances and coalitions (DoD, 2018, p. 8).
USAF STRATEGIC GUIDANCE
The USAF Strategic Master Plan (USAF, 2015a), released in May 2015, provides context for many of the initiatives the committee learned about over the course of its study; examples include Pilot Training Next (self-paced training), mentorship programs, non-commissioned officer (NCO) promotions (including WAPS testing), and live-virtual-constructive training environments. Critical for this study’s task, the Strategic Master Plan calls for flatter organizations (fewer and smaller levels separating staff and senior leaders), including energetic vertical and horizontal feedback loops, with the intention of “foster[ing] organizations that can responsibly learn from minor setbacks in pursuit of major achievements” (USAF, 2015a, p. 17). It also emphasizes two strategic imperatives: Agility and Inclusiveness. To enhance its agility, the Strategic Master Plan calls for long-term investments in the following categories:
- Development and Education (specifically, recruiting, retention, and education and agile career development paths and opportunities across the DoD);
- Capability Development;
- Operational Training and Employment (specifically, promotions and assignments, improvements between initial skills training and operational skills needed; feedback loops and live virtual constructive training); and
- Agile Organizations (specifically, accelerated institutional feedback loops, networks of experts, and distributed decision-making).
Among the strategic imperatives and vectors laid out in the Strategic Master Plan, “Agility” offers the most important guidance for this study to consider. “Strategic agility hinges on the ability to negotiate risks associated with change and avoid the risks connected to stagnation” (p. 11). Further guidance includes goals and objectives for implementation, one of which appears to be the motivation behind several activities the committee learned about over the course of the study: “Combine training across multiple mission sets, including integrated [live virtual constructed] venues and operator-in-the-loop [modeling and simulation], in order to cultivate Airmen trained in agile and robust decision-making to devise multi-domain solutions to complex problems in uncertain, contested environments” (USAF, 2015a, p. 21).
To supplement the USAF Strategic Master Plan, four annexes were released to address narrowly focused objectives for specific attention. Key to this study is the Human Capital Annex released in May 2015. This Annex outlines objectives and tasks to be achieved in the near-term (0 to 5 years), mid-term (6 to 10 years), and far-term (beyond 10 years) time frames and is
intended for action by organizations across the entire Air Force HCM spectrum, including Headquarters Air Force, Major Commands, Core Function Leads, and Total Force Component leadership. Those objectives and tasks are divided into the following six areas of focus:
- Attracting and recruiting;
- Developing the Force;
- Talent management;
- Retaining ready, resilient airmen and families;
- Agile, inclusive, and innovative institutions; and
- One Air Force.
Included within these categories are significant calls for research, assessments, study, and data to support decisions.
As before, the committee took particular notice of the Human Capital Annex’s instruction for collaboration within “agile, inclusive, and innovative institutions.” The Annex emphasizes that collaboration
is a deliberately designed architecture of specific methods and people—how to obtain the wisdom of the group to inform decisions, how to build a policy, how to run virtual and in-person meetings, or how to effectively use electronic communications platforms such as e-mail (USAF, 2015b, p. A-12).
Further, it recognizes that collaboration ranges “from informal networking . . . to fully integrating the efforts of separate organizations” (USAF, 2015b, p. A-12). Notably absent from the Annex, however, is any meaningful consideration of strategic improvements to selection and classification (job placement).
REPORTS FROM RAND PROJECT AIR FORCE
Over the years, the Air Force has requested and received numerous reports from RAND Corporation, through the RAND Project Air Force (PAF), a federally funded research and development center (FFRDC) sponsored by the Air Force. Within PAF, the Manpower, Personnel, and Training Program provides USAF with expertise and data analysis capabilities to address “questions about workforce size and composition and the best ways to recruit, train, pay, promote, and retain personnel.”1
Within the context of this study’s charge, RAND’s most comprehensive recent study on USAF human capital resulted in the report, “Air Force
Personnel Research: Recommendations for Improved Alignment,” which was delivered to Air Force leadership in 2011 and released publically in 2014. RAND’s detailed assessment of the status of USAF personnel research and data collection at that time, including the roles and responsibilities of multiple contributing organizations, outlined gaps in the system, essential elements for change, and three potential solution scenarios.
One gap identified in the RAND report stood out as particularly relevant to this study: potential duplication of effort. Specifically, the report explained:
Without a single entity in charge of personnel research, consumers of that research are left with no guidance about whom to contact to get that research accomplished, and several Air Force organizations accept requests to conduct personnel research or engage in research to support their own ends without consideration of cross-Air Force similarities in data needs or strategic future data applications (Sims et al., 2014, p. 50).
Ultimately, without common priorities for data and analysis to support decision-making across the human resource capital system, the allocation of vital resources is sub-optimized. Fragmented and stovepiped decisionmaking erodes and diffuses strategic direction critical for mission success.
The complete list of six gaps in the personnel research system as identified by RAND follows (Sims et al., 2014, pp. 47–50):
- Narrow Organizational Missions: inhibits critical focus on broad strategic Air Force needs and results in missed opportunities to apply collected data across multiple relevant research areas;
- Inconsistent Data-Collection Coordination or Data Sharing: data inefficiencies result from restrictions on data ownership (e.g., contractors), lack of awareness of similar collection activities or research, and mindset that data collected serves single specific research needs;
- A Lack of Internal Personnel Research Expertise: several organizations “lack the necessary internal personnel research expertise to effectively carry out their activities to the highest-quality standards possible” (Sims et al., 2014, p. 48);
- Limited Resources: limited funding and available staff “among organizations conducting personnel research is too constricting to even support requests outside individual organizations’ immediate missions” (Sims et al., 2014, p. 49);
- Reliance on Contractors: a key capability to supplement research expertise, overreliance on contractors was found to limit institutional knowledge and restrict data availability across the Air Force; and
- Potential Duplication of Effort: organizations unaware of or not understanding similar data-collection or research efforts risk unnecessary expensive duplication of effort.
Subsequently, the report’s key message was the identification of seven elements for successful change necessary to meet future challenges (Sims et al., 2014, pp. 54–57):
- Oversight over all Personnel Research Efforts;
- Sufficient Authority to Coordinate Efforts;
- Institutional Knowledge;
- Quality Control;
- Access to Scientific Expertise and Resources;
- Wider Data Availability; and
- Increased Visibility to the Wider Air Force.
To assist Air Force leadership to operationalize these changes into a successful organization, the RAND report offered three distinct solution scenarios that covered the spectrum from relatively little change to a major organizational overhaul:
- Baseline Plus One Scenario: Retain stovepipes, add oversight organization (Sims et al., 2014, p. 58);
- Comprehensive Alignment Scenario: Reorganize personnel research organizations under a single oversight organization with “explicit responsibility for aligning the personnel system with the research that should support decisionmaking” (Sims et al., 2014, p. 59); and
- Hybrid Scenario: Reorganize and collocate many of the existing research directorates into two groups (one focusing on job analysis data collection and the other on operational personnel research) under a single new “Personnel Research Directorate” (Sims et al., 2014, pp. 60–62). Note that at the time of its writing, the report notes that “the Air Force is already moving in this direction, merging AFPC, AFMA, and Air Force Services Agency (AFSVA).” However, the report continues, “the extent to which the coordination of personnel research is a goal or even a consideration in this reorganization is unknown” (Sims et al., 2014, p. 63).
More recently, RAND PAF released two relevant Perspective papers that address current USAF manpower and personnel organizational issues:
- “Organizational Dynamics Between the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force, Manpower and Reserve Affairs (SAF/MR) and the Air
Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Manpower, Personnel, and Services (AF/A1)” (Ross and Armentrout, 2018a); and
- “Design of Air Force Human Resource Management Governance Board Membership and Processes for Optimal Force Management” (Ross and Armentrout, 2018b).
Both papers identify organizational challenges that negatively impact the ability of the Air Force to design, modify, and implement an effective human capital system. Among the specific recommendations, the first Perspective paper advises the Air Force to “[u]ndertake a comprehensive review and make a final determination on a governance structure or structures for force development and management to promote better linkages between policy, strategy, and budgetary actions” (Ross and Armentrout, 2018a, p. 9).
Relatedly, the second Perspective paper criticizes Air Force human resource policy and strategy decisions as overly budget focused. “Far too often, . . . programming or budgetary cuts are neither informed nor driven by HR strategy or priorities, and, in fact, they directly contradict those priorities at times” (Ross and Armentrout, 2018b, p. 5). Furthermore, it calls for cross-functional team input into strategic decisions and highlighted concerns over unsynchronized decision processes that determine strategic priorities and resource allocation. Ultimately, the second Perspective paper observes
proposed initiatives that are strategic and cross-functional—initiatives that could solve pressing organizational problems—are not acted upon because the organization has not systematically designed or maintained the structure and processes by which to get them funded or implemented (Ross and Armentrout, 2018b, p. 10).
As such, the report concludes, critical strategic initiatives are unlikely to succeed without an effective governance structure to determine prioritization and funding.
Human Resources Research Organization (HumRRO)
The USAF human capital research community and policy decision makers also receive research support from HumRRO, a nonprofit organization that conducts a range of services to address HCM needs for clients including federal agencies.2 Over the years, HumRRO has provided the Air Force with strategic organizational advice as well as focused initiatives to develop operational capabilities. One such recent initiative with particular relevance to this study was the development of a prototype tool to optimize
person-job matching.3 The prototype person-job matching tool is designed for pre- and post-enlistment by recruiters, applicants, counselors, and enlisted trainees. When used pre-enlistment, it would facilitate career and job exploration, whereas when it is used post-enlistment, it would inform job classification. Ultimately, the tool’s primary purpose is to optimize “multiple and potentially competing objectives (organization, person, and job)” and recommend “best” job matches (Ingerick, 2019, p. 1). As shown in Table A-1, the tool applies several components to qualify and optimize person-job match. Ultimately, the Job Priority Index Score considers the following factors: production goal, projected qualifying rate, technical school pipeline length (in days), and technical school difficulty.
Effective Models for Successful Human Capital Management
The committee identified two key previous studies that provided valuable input for effective models for successful HCM. The first, a Defense Science Board Task Force report on “Human Resources Strategy” (2000) spoke to issues identified across the entire DoD. Although published 20 years ago, the challenges and potential solutions have changed very little over that time despite the significant changes to operations resulting from the September 11 terrorist attacks and subsequent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Task Force described the challenge facing the military force in the year 2000 as follows:
The past decade has been an extremely busy period for the military. Not only has it been almost continuously involved in operations abroad, but it has been trying to develop a military strategy that is appropriate for the new world order while dramatically reducing the size of the force. Therefore, it is no surprise that the military has not revamped its personnel system to conform to the needs of the future (Defense Science Board, 2000, p. 47).
The report continued:
All the services are feeling the effects of a more challenging recruiting market with lower interest in the military among the nation’s youth, more young people opting to attend college right out of high school, limited recruiting resources, and competition for employees in a sustained robust environment (p. 52).
Ultimately, the Task Force recommendations included that the DoD establish a strategic human resources plan for the “total force” (military,
TABLE A-1 Summary of the Main Components of the Person-Job Matching Tool and Their Functions
|Applicant (Trainee) Score Entry||Form for entering person’s (applicant’s or trainee’s) qualifying information: (a) MAGE/AFQT/ASVAB scores; (b) AF-WIN scores; (c) TAPAS scores; (d) special test scores (e.g., Cyber Test), where applicable; and (e) physical profile (i.e., PULHES).|
|Person-Job Matches||List of jobs that the person qualifies for, rank-ordered by an overall projected payoff score (from highest to lowest).|
|Qualification Standards||Table with the current qualification standards on aptitude (MAGE/AFQT/ASVAB, special tests), non-aptitude (TAPAS), and physical (PULHES) for each entry-level job, where applicable.|
|Job Eligibility||Compares person’s scores to the current qualification standards to determine eligibility to qualify for each job (Yes-No).|
|Talent Profiles||Table with the talent profiles and estimated validity of each KSAO (predictor) set, aptitude and non-aptitude, by job. The talent profiles define the KSAO profile of successful accessions in each job. The profiles and validity estimates, in combination with the person’s scores on corresponding predictor tests (or measures), are used to compute the Person-Job Match Index score by job.|
|Job Priority Index||Computes a Job Priority Index score for each job. The Job Priority Index score reflects the relative importance to the Air Force of filling open position(s) to each job. The Job Priority Index score is computed from: (a) production goal; (b) projected qualifying rate; (c) technical school length (in days); and (d) technical school difficulty, for each job.|
|Person-Job Match Index||Computes a Person-Job Match Index score for each job. The Person-Job Match Index score is computed from: (a) a congruence score between the person’s scores on a predictor set and the corresponding job-specific talent profile (aptitude, non-aptitude); and (b) the validity coefficient for the same predictor(s).|
|Projected Payoff||Computes the projected score for each job. The Projected Payoff score is computed from (a) the Job Priority Index score and (b) the Person-Job Match Index score.|
SOURCE: Adapted from Ingerick (2019, p. 4).
NOTE: MAGE = Mechanical, Administrative, General, Electronics; AFQT = Armed Force Qualification Test; ASVAB = Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery; AF-Win = Air Force Work Interest Navigator; TAPAS = Tailored Adaptive Personality Assessment System; PULHES = Physical ability: physical condition, upper extremities, lower extremities, hearing, eyes, and psychiatric; KSAO = knowledge, skills, ability, and other characteristics.
civilian, and contractors) that among other things, would specify “overarching goals, policies, and resources” and proposes “necessary changes in legislation and directives.” Successful implementation of this plan, the Task Force noted, would require the development of “the necessary management tools to meet the specified goals” (Defense Science Board, 2000, p. 19). Although the Task Force also calls for improvements to “meet recruiting and retention goals and reduce training base and first-term attrition” (p. 78), the corresponding recommended initiatives are primarily focused on increasing resources available to recruiters.
The second study, a Government Accounting Office report titled “A Model of Strategic Human Capital Management” (2002), was “designed to help agency leaders effectively use their people, or human capital, and determine how well they integrate human capital considerations into daily decision-making and planning for the program results they hope to achieve” (p.1). As such, four cornerstones of human capital were identified:
- Strategic Human Capital Planning (the critical success factors of integration and alignment and data-driven human capital decisions are particularly relevant to this study);
- Acquiring, Developing, and Retaining Talent (particularly relevant to this study are targeted investments in people and human capital approaches tailored to meet organizational needs); and
- Results-Oriented Organizational Culture.
As this Appendix shows, many of the areas identified in this study as being important to strengthen USAF HCM have been identified to varying degrees in previous reports. The Air Force itself is aware of its many challenges, as well as some of the actions recommended in this report that were formally documented 5 years ago in the Human Capital Annex to the USAF Strategic Master Plan (USAF, 2016b). However, change, especially revolutionary change, is difficult to embrace and even harder to implement at the operational and functional level. As such, this study has considered the recommendations of previous studies and sought to provide a Flight Plan to implement many of those recommendations that have failed to be implemented in the past as well as the committee’s own new ideas for improvement.
Carter, A. (2015). Force of the Future: Maintaining Our Competitive Edge in Human Capital. Department of Defense. Available: https://www.ndu.edu/Portals/59/Documents/BOV_Documents/2016/Jan/BOV%20OSD013757-15%20FOD%20Final.pdf.
Carter, A. (2016a). The Next Two Links to the Force of the Future. Department of Defense. Available: https://dod.defense.gov/Portals/1/features/2015/0315_force-of-the-future/Memorandum-The-Next-Two-Links-to-the-Force-of-the-Future.pdf.
Carter, A. (2016b). Forging Two New Links to the Force of the Future. Department of Defense. Available: https://dod.defense.gov/Portals/1/Documents/pubs/Forging-TwoNew-Links-Force-of-the-Future-1-Nov-16.pdf.
Defense Science Board. (2000). The Defense Science Board Task Force on Human Resources Strategy. Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics. Available: https://dsb.cto.mil/reports/2000s/ADA374767.pdf.
DoD (Department of Defense). (2018). Summary of the 2018 National Defense Strategy of the United States of America. Available: https://dod.defense.gov/Portals/1/Documents/pubs/2018-National-Defense-Strategy-Summary.pdf.
Ingerick, M. (2019). Advanced Accessioning System: Documentation on Year 1 Prototype Person-Job Matching Tool (Interim Report) (Report number AD1083244). Human Resources Research Organization. Available: https://apps.dtic.mil/sti/citations/AD1083244.
Ross, S.M., & C.P. Armentrout. (2018a). Organizational Dynamics Between the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force, Manpower and Reserve Affairs (SAF/MR) and the Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Manpower, Personnel, and Services (AF/A1). RAND Corporation. Available: https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/perspectives/PE200/PE266/RAND_PE266.pdf.
Ross, S.M., & C.P. Armentrout. (2018b). Design of Air Force Human Resource Management Governance Board Membership and Processes for Optimal Force Management. RAND Corporation. Available: https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/perspectives/PE200/PE255/RAND_PE255.pdf.
Sims, C., C. Hardison, K. Keller, & A. Robyn. (2014). Air Force Personnel Research: Recommendations for Improved Alignment. RAND Corporation. Available: https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR814.html.
USAF (U.S. Air Force). (2015a). USAF Strategic Master Plan. Available: https://www.af.mil/Portals/1/documents/Force%20Management/Strategic_Master_Plan.pdf.
USAF. (2015b). Human Capital Annex to the USAF Strategic Master Plan. Available: https://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a618032.pdf.
U.S. General Accounting Office. (2002). A Model of Strategic Human Capital Management (Exposure Draft) (Report number: GAO-02-373SP). U.S. General Accounting Office: Washington, DC. Available: https://www.gao.gov/assets/80/76653.pdf.
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