The Department of Defense (DoD), as part of a recent effort to reduce government spending and downsize the federal government as a whole, has been faced with the inevitable task of cutting staff. Between October 1989 and September 1999, DoD is required to reduce civilian employment by over 360,000 employees—a 32 percent decrease. To achieve the necessary reductions with minimum workforce disturbance, DoD developed and implemented the Civilian Assistance and Re-employment or CARE Program. Under CARE, the department capitalized on its existing internal Priority Placement Program (PPP), combined and enhanced reduction and transition assistance programs under the management of one division, and sought flexibilities from other federal agencies and Congress. In this significant departure from "business as usual,” the DoD combined separate and diverse initiatives under one umbrella program, thereby helping to effectively reduce civilian strength without compromise of mission or fiscal resources.
Through the CARE Program, laid-off employees get a comprehensive package of assistance and benefits including training, counseling, and job placement services. Because CARE places a high premium on employment assistance, the DoD has prevented the adverse impacts of lay-offs, which typically affect the least senior workers, including a significant number of women and minorities. The DoD has also maintained workforce balance not only in terms of gender and ethnicity, but also in occupation and grade.
The most significant measure of CARE Program success is a comparison of total reductions to involuntary separations. In addition, the DoD monitors incentives paid and placements made, as well as impact on women and minorities. In fiscal years 1993 and 1994, the DoD reduced employment by over 115,000 employees with fewer than 8,000 involuntary separations. Over 1,200 employees have gone to other federal employers through the Defense Outplacement Referral System and many more have gone to private and public employers. The DoD paid almost 55,000 incentives to encourage resignations and retirements and offered almost 15,000 employees continuing jobs within the department.
Between the start of the drawdown (October 1989) and September 1994, the percentage of women in the DoD civilian workforce held steady. Although the relative percentage of women in blue-collar occupations fell slightly, the percentage of mid- and high-grade white-collar positions going to women increased. For minorities, the relative percentage rose in all white-collar categories, although growth rates varied by subgroup.