Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Senate Wants DoD to Cut Senior Executive Positions by 25 Percent

One provision in the Senate's version of the fiscal year 2017 NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) would require the Department of Defense to cut the number of Senior Executives (SES positions) by 25 percent before January 1, 2019. There are currently 1,000 such positions in the Defense Department so the cut would mean 250 positions. The House version of the 2017 contains no such provision and the two bills are now in compromise committee so the fate of this provision is unknown at this time.

That didn't stop the Secretary of Defense from sending a 23 page letter to the Senate (and a similar letter to the House) objecting to the provision. The Secretary called the provision arbitrary and without justification and would have widespread negative consequences on the Department's mission-critical programs and services. It would demoralize the DoD's civilian workforce when opportunities for promotion to SES are severely eliminated. The Secretary also noted that the Department has already cut the size of its SES workforce by 100 positions since 2010.

So what would a 250 person cut to the Defense's top executive ranks mean to Defense contractors? Well, it means fewer people to handle the same workload. There is nothing in the NDAA that would relieve the Department from some of its existing responsibilities. In the abstract, that means response times will increase. How's the responsiveness of your contracting officers working out for you now? It could get worse, if that's possible. What about the "demoralizing" statement. The opportunities for promotion are strong motivators to perform well. Take those opportunities away and the Secretary is concerned that the Department cannot continue to attract and retain experienced workers.

This provision is more than just an internal cat-fight. It could have a direct impact on the Department's ability to effectively and efficiently award and administer contracts.

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