Personnel chief wants civilians to branch out
VAJONT, Italy — The Pentagon’s civilian personnel policy chief says that those who want a career with the Department of Defense better be open to new experiences.
“We want to adopt that old military theme: It’s not just a job, it’s an adventure,” said Patricia Bradshaw, deputy under secretary of defense for civilian personnel policy. “We want you to think ‘mobility’ in your career.”
Bradshaw, accompanying a group of civilians enrolled in the Executive Leadership Development Program on a swing through Europe, said the DOD is looking for future leaders who gain experience from different jobs and work in multiple environments for a variety of organizations. She said the idea is similar to the military’s system of transferring servicemembers from one location to another, giving them jobs with increasing levels of responsibility along the way.
In order to make sure that such opportunties are available, the systems in use by the various commands need some adjustments, she said.
“I’ve got two years left, so I’m going to do whatever I can do,” she said of the potential changes. “It’ll probably take longer than that, but hopefully the momentum will be in place.”
She said the DOD is not opposed to reviewing the five-year rule that many civilians in Europe are unhappy with. The rule, which forces civilians to give up their positions to others in the States, is in place for a reason, Bradshaw said. But with servicemembers and civilians likely to get stationed in new locations — such as Africa — it might make sense to extend some experts for longer periods of time.
Bradshaw said about 114,000 DOD employees around the world — a little less than half the total work force — have made the switch to the National Security Personnel System.
She said she thinks the system will reward good work and create supervisors who are more responsive to their employees. A few reviews and assessments of the system are already under way.
Bradshaw acknowledged that many employees are nervous about the new system and the potential loss of jobs under military transformation in Europe.
But she said those currently working in Europe have already gained valuable experience that should help their careers when they return to the States.