Goodbye, Professional Workforce

The Pentagon has been trying to develop a healthy, in-it-for-the-long-term professional force of program and contract personnel for years, and those plans may go up in smoke if the budget sequester persists, said Defense Department acquisition czar Frank Kendall. Speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 7, Kendall said the professional DOD workforce has gone three years without a pay raise. It also endured a furlough earlier this year, a partial federal government shutdown in October, and now faces a likely large-scale layoff, he said. “Some of my best people are really thinking carefully about whether [to stay],” said Kendall. “And, as far as recruiting is concerned,” he chuckled without humor, “the economy is starting to pick back up,” and skilled system engineers and managers are “thinking about whether government is the best place to work.” Building a professional workforce under such toxic conditions “is a real challenge,” he said.