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News | May 21, 2019

Best and Brightest

By Tonya Johnson DCMA Public Affairs

Editor's Note: This article was originally published in DCMA’s 2019 INSIGHT Magazine, which highlights the agency's global warfighter support from F-35 to foreign military sales. The online version of the magazine can be found here.

Defense Contract Management Agency employees are the resources that allow the agency to accomplish its global warfighter support mission.

DCMA leaders make it a goal to recruit and retain the prospective talent pool’s best and brightest. The Human Capital Directorate is tasked with helping carry out that goal, which includes maintaining and staffing its recruiting division.

“DCMA offers diverse, challenging work, opportunities to advance and a variety of schedules to maintain work-life balance,” said Leslie Wilson, Human Capital’s strategic partner in the Eastern Region. “There are Centralized Development Program an employee can apply for, as well as college tuition assistance, to further advance their career. There are opportunities to work overseas. Other opportunities exist if an employee is seeking to relocate to other organizations either by applying for a competitive job opportunity announcement or through the voluntary reassignment website.”

By offering a variety of initiatives, the agency can recruit and retain a diverse group of employees to include various ages, education levels, veterans, people with targeted disabilities and individuals with prior private-sector experience.

A diverse workforce allows the agency to bring a variety of people together with different perspectives to solve problems and meet customers’ needs, while continuing to enhance the organization’s business procedures to meet the Department of Defense’s acquisition needs.

Clay Brashear, DCMA’s Diversity, Inclusion and Recruitment director, said a diversified workforce benefits the agency in many ways.

“Workforce diversity can enhance the competitive advantage and team productivity in an organization as well as in a small-team environment,” said Brashear. “The global economy and its associated workforce demand organizations be able to effectively work with different cultures, languages, generations and other differences.

“Giving employees the opportunity to work with people who bring different skills and ideas to the table helps individuals realize everyone is important for different reasons,” he added. “Feeling valued increases the morale and welfare of each worker and promotes a positive workplace. Also, a diverse leadership team allows managers and supervisors to bring in new skills and methods for attaining unity within the organization.”

Many of the agency’s employees are veterans. According to Human Capital’s Field Support Center, veterans make up 48 percent of the workforce. He said the average age of an agency employee is 48, and the average length of service is 14 years. Approximately 40 percent of the overall workforce have a bachelor’s degree, 24 percent have a master’s degree, and one percent have a doctorate.

DCMA has a strategic initiative to attract, recruit, develop and retain a high-performing and diverse workforce representative of the public it serves. This includes hiring people with disabilities and targeted disabilities. Targeted disabilities include developmental, deaf or serious difficulty hearing, blind or serious difficulty seeing, traumatic brain injury, epilepsy or other seizure disorders, as well as intellectual disability, just to name a few.

The Department of Defense established a goal for its civilian workforce of 12 percent for individuals with disabilities and two percent for individuals with targeted disabilities. The agency currently exceeds those goals. It is comprised of 15.2 percent IWD and 2.38 percent IWTD.

Prospective employees are also hired via targeted positions.

“Targeted positions are filled through the Keystone and Pathways programs. The Workforce Recruitment Program and the use of veteran and expedited hiring authorities are other great recruitment sources as well,” said LaToya Bedgood, Human Capital’s strategic partner in the Western Region.

Millennials are another group the agency targets to fill positions. Brashear said the recruitment team attends affinity conferences and career fairs throughout the year. In addition, recruiters partner with local contract management offices at career fairs on college campuses where they utilize the Keystone program to hire recent college graduates.

“Generally, millennial employees and potential recruits have a desire for a sense of purpose. Millennials thrive in an environment when their work has an impact. With a federal career, their impact is on a national level. The work they perform can be seen by the products that are delivered to the warfighter each and every day,” Brashear said.

To encourage people to join the team and retain them, Human Capital employees work hard to understand the changing needs of their colleagues.

“DCMA offers a variety of incentives to retain employees. These include the use of relocation incentives, retention allowances, repayment of student loans, superior qualification appointments such as advanced in-hire rates, and credit for prior service,” said Bedgood.

These benefits extend to individual needs, which often embrace private sector norms.

“Telework helps with retaining the workforce and a variety of flexible work schedules are also permitted for retention,” said Bedgood. “In addition to being compensated based on locality, supervisor differential pay, hazardous pay, environmental pay, Sunday pay and nighttime differential, are also ways employees are compensated for retention purposes.”

Telework is an incentive that many employees take advantage of, and some work multiple days a week from their home, depending on their job function and supervisory approval.

“Telework is becoming an essential recruiting tool for attracting talented millennials and retaining the knowledge of seasoned employees,” said Melissa Burgess, a human resource specialist in the agency’s Employee and Labor Relations Division. “Obviously, telework is not for every employee because many jobs are not conducive to telework. However, those employees who are in jobs which can allow for telework should be afforded every opportunity to participate.”

There are more than 12,000 DCMA employees, and more than 6,900 have telework agreements. Out of that number, over 1,000 telework three or more days a week and more than 1,500 telework one or two days a week. In addition, more than 3,800 perform their duties in a situational telework status, such as inclement weather.

“Telework is important because it helps promote employees’ work-life balance and benefits employees with disabilities or serious medical conditions,” said Beverly Smith, a human resource specialist in the Employee and Labor Relations Division. “The key to implementing an effective telework program is to develop a practice with strict standards to ensure accountability, high performance and productivity of employees who work remotely.”

When Brashear and his staff are recruiting individuals, he said he has noticed that more candidates use their mobile device to learn about the agency and apply for jobs.

“The biggest trend impacting the recruitment of talented candidates is the increasing implementing of mobile-friendly applications,” said Brashear. “Sixty percent of all job seekers review company websites from their mobile devices. Thirty-nine percent of all job seekers apply for positions using their mobile devices. Ninety-two percent of job seekers search for positions via their mobile devices. Fifty-eight percent believe mobile device searches will become the most common option within the next two years.”

Brashear said the individuals DCMA recruits and retains are the same candidates the defense industry looks to hire.

“Industry typically hires an individual in under 60 days while federal organizations like DCMA take 105 days,” said Brashear. “This means that recruiters have to manage expectations with the candidate and ensure good communication throughout the process.”

These challenges loom particularly large when facing a small recruiting pool.

“DCMA’s mission, scope and culture are critical pieces of the employee value proposition and thus how DCMA stays competitive within the current market,” he added. “Bottom line is that in the current economy the supply of highly-skilled professionals is far outstripped by the availability of opportunities. With employment rates being the lowest the country has experienced in many years, competition for talent is challenging. Having a diverse workforce enhances recruitment and fosters increased retention within the organization.”

Brashear said the employee value proposition is comprised of what employees gain by working for an organization, including salary, work-life balance, telework and benefits, and what the organization gains by having employees there, including a highly-skilled workforce.

Brashear said DCMA leadership emphasizes to current and future employees that the agency is committed to supporting its customers — service members who depend on agency personnel for contract oversight, and to review products including aircraft, equipment and systems to accomplish mission readiness at any given time.

“DCMA offers career satisfaction by allowing employees to do important and rewarding work, while receiving competitive salaries, excellent benefits and upward mobility opportunities,” said Brashear.