Defense Acquisition Organizations:

Changes in Cost and Size of Civilian Workforce

NSIAD-96-46: Published: Nov 13, 1995. Publicly Released: Nov 13, 1995.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the composition and the cost of the workforce in the Department of Defense (DOD) acquisition organizations.

GAO found that: (1) in 1994, DOD acquisition organizations, including the Defense Contract Audit Agency, had a combined workforce of about 464,000, including 398,000 civilian and 66,000 military personnel; (2) in addition to acquisition missions, the acquisition organizations have other significant roles and related responsibilities, such as logistics, maintenance, and supply; (3) the workforce represents such white collar occupational fields as engineering, contracting, accounting, and computer specialization; (4) the workforce also includes such blue collar occupations as machine tool operators, pipefitters, shipyard workers, and warehouse personnel; (5) within this workforce, there are about 41,000 supervisors, or 1 supervisor for every 9 staff members; (6) the civilian workforce in DOD's acquisition organizations increased with the defense buildup of the early 1980s and decreased following the reductions that began in the mid-1980s; (7) in 1994, DOD's civilian acquisition workforce had about 53,000 fewer employees (12 percent lower) than in 1980; (8) however, this decline occurred without a commensurate decline in civilian payroll costs (measured in constant 1996 dollars), due in part to the significant decline in blue collar workers; (9) in addition, DOD officials stated that civilian payroll costs increased because of many factors, such as the advent of locality pay and changes in grade structure; (10) against the backdrop of the civilian workforce decline in DOD's acquisition organizations, defense-wide contract awards for services increased about $10 billion since 1980 (measured in constant 1996 dollars); (11) about $4 billion of this increase was for engineering/architectural and computer services, two large occupational groups in the acquisition organizations; (12) some of the savings from staff reductions in the acquisition organizations may have been offset by increases in contract awards for similar services; (13) even with declines in both the defense procurement budget and the civilian workforce since 1990, the number of acquisition organizations remains relatively constant; (14) DOD officials stated that it is possible that the workforce in the acquisition organizations will increase as it has in the past with the expected increase in the defense procurement budget; (15) however, each acquisition organization maintains similar occupational fields in common areas, such as personnel, budgeting, computer specialists, and contracting, and many of the duties performed in these occupations are not unique to an acquisition organization's mission; and (16) as a result, there may be opportunities to improve efficiencies in these areas.

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