Civilian Downsizing:

Unit Readiness Not Adversely Affected, but Future Reductions a Concern

NSIAD-96-143BR: Published: Apr 22, 1996. Publicly Released: Apr 22, 1996.


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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed civilian downsizing at the Department of Defense (DOD), focusing on: (1) the extent to which the civilian workforce has been downsized and whether the downsizing has affected military readiness and functions; and (2) whether the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) and the services had comprehensive strategies for managing civilian downsizing.

GAO found that: (1) between fiscal years (FY) 1987 and 1995, DOD reduced its civilian workforce by approximately 25 percent, or 284,000 personnel; (2) by the time DOD finishes current downsizing plans in FY 2001, it will have reduced its civilian workforce by almost 35 percent below 1987 end strength and about 16 percent below 1995 end strength; (3) civilian downsizing has not adversely affected military readiness at the installations GAO visited; (4) Army officials expressed concern that future civlian reductions could adversely affect military readiness if the process was not managed carefully; (5) officials from several services were concerned about the effect of downsizing on civilian workforce morale because of limited career and promotion opportunities, job insecurity, and longer working hours; (6) DOD and the services have various initiatives under way to downsize the civilian workforce and reduce infrastructure costs; and (7) the services have used a variety of approaches to downsize civilians, but the approaches to achieve civilian reductions were not guided by comprehensive, servicewide downsizing strategies.

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