The Congressional Research Service, using DoD data, says that modest growth in employment is projected at the department through fiscal 2026, following a marginal drop this year compared with fiscal 2021.

An overview report on DoD civilian employment notes that like other agencies, DoD employment is measured for some purposes as a headcount – “onboard personnel,” or as a measure of work years – “full-time equivalents.” By the former measure, employment is projected to slip this year by about 300 to 813,715 while by the latter by about 600 to 841,252.


However, the latter is projected to exceed 847,000 in fiscal 2023 and stand just below 848,000 by 2026, it said.

It added that by law, the DoD “may not reduce the projected FTE of the civilian workforce without conducting all required analyses of how the reduction will affect its ‘workload, military force structure, lethality, readiness, operational effectiveness, stress on the military force, and fully burdened costs.’”

Other data in the report include that 80 percent are in competitive service, with the rest in other categories including the excepted service for specialized workforces in areas such as acquisition functions, intelligence activities, and cyber operations.

“While some civilian acquisition positions are statutorily designated, most are classified as such based on policy and guidance for defense acquisition employment. Acquisition civilians must participate in workforce programs for defense acquisition training, education, experience, and career development,” it said.

Intelligence positions generally fall under the separate Defense Civilian Intelligence Personnel System, which is a rank-in-person system where employees retain their pay level for any assigned role or position. It also includes pay-banding, allowing employees to qualify for a pay level without having to satisfy any grade or service requirements. The Cyber Excepted Service for certain employees in those fields includes similar requirements.

For EEO complaints, the most commonly claimed grounds are reprisal (such as for whistleblowing), disability, race, gender and age. Forty percent of those complaints are settled and fewer than 1 percent result in a formal finding against the department.

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