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DOD Depot Workforce: Services Need to Assess the Effectiveness of Their Initiative to Maintain Critical Skills


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Why GAO Did This Study. DOD employs over 80,000 civilian personnel at its 17 major maintenance depots to maintain weapon systems such as aircraft, combat vehicles, and ships. The depot workforce has unique skills, and the depots must compete with the private sector for qualified personnel. Increasing numbers of depot workers have been retiring, and the number eligible to retire is expected to increase. Because it takes 5 years or more to become proficient in some occupations, DOD must systematically plan and prepare to hire, train and retain the workforce it needs to support its vital maintenance and repair mission. GAO was asked to review DOD's efforts to maintain critical skills at its maintenance depots. GAO examined (1) DOD's challenges in filling skilled occupations and maintaining critical skills in the depot workforce, and any potential effects of these challenges on maintenance activities and (2) actions DOD has taken to hire, train, and retain personnel with critical skills, including its efforts to determine the effectiveness of those actions. GAO analyzed personnel data from fiscal years 2013 through 2017, reviewed depot strategic plans, and met with depot officials responsible for developing initiatives to recruit and train depot personnel.



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