The Senate’s version of the annual DoD budget bill (S-1790) raises concerns about the department’s ability to recruit and retain employees in the high-demand STEM fields, ordering a joint study by DoD, OPM and Labor.
“As the Department of Defense continues to field increasingly sophisticated equipment and technology, it is crucial that the department build a workforce that is capable of maximizing the benefit such new technology provides. The committee recognizes that the military and civilian personnel required in the future must be well-trained in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math. Despite this well-known need, the committee believes that the Department of Defense is currently poorly suited to attracting personnel who have the necessary STEM backgrounds,” says the report on the bill.
It says that the special authorities already available “will not be enough to match private sector salary . . . only the institution of improved ‘‘total compensation packages,’’ including student loan repayments, flexibility in schedules and work environments, professional development experiences and opportunities, and other non-financial rewards, will enable the government to compete with the private sector and foreign governments for a limited pool of global STEM talent.”
It calls for an analysis of the categories of STEM workers the department will need, a comparison of private sector and federal compensation, “including an assessment of the level of compensation necessary to recruit and retain qualified STEM workers in the DoD,” and policy options and recommendations. The report would be due by next April, ahead of next year’s defense budget cycle.