DoD is facing difficulties in filling positions as it works to carry out a reorganization of its acquisitions functions as ordered by a 2016 budget measure, GAO has said.
That measure split what had been the office of the under secretary for acquisition, technology and logistics into two new entities—an undersecretary for research and engineering and an undersecretary for acquisition and sustainment. The goal was to elevate the mission of advancing technology and innovation within DoD while fostering distinct technology and acquisition cultures, GAO said.
A report said that as DoD carries out that mandate, it is still working to complete charters for the two new offices to define their functional responsibilities and identify the authorities delegated to them—a task that had been projected to be complete by year-end 2018 but now is projected to conclude next month. Also, decisions on allotting the more than 500 civilian and military positions in the prior office to the two new ones will not be finalized until sometime in the fiscal year starting in October.
“Both under secretaries are still working to staff their offices, with approximately 30 percent of current positions vacant in the office of the under secretary of defense for research and engineering, and 8 percent of current positions vacant in the office of the under secretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment,” GAO said.
Both “have experienced challenges while staffing their offices,” it said. The former office has experienced delays in getting positions assigned to it and delays related to developing new position descriptions, revalidating existing position descriptions, and “finding individuals with the right skill sets for positions,” GAO said. The latter “has experienced challenges stemming from needing to meet required personnel reductions while also hiring staff to align with the revised priorities from the reorganization.” Both experienced leadership vacancies as some positions remained vacant due to OPM’s policy to suspend processing for career SES appointments when an agency head leaves until a successor is in place.