The current federal personnel workforce policies for the most part were drafted and implemented over 70 years ago, and by comparison have changed relatively little throughout the years. While the private workforce is nimble and able to make changes on the fly, the federal workforce is not structured that way. It was built for stability and not agility as is the case in the private sector.

But as we know, that strategy no longer works in today’s world. The bottom line is that the federal government workforce must automate and modernize. To that end, the President’s Management Agenda 21st Century Workforce Goal is an initiative whose goal is to better prepare the government for the future. One of the three key drivers of this initiative is the realignment of the workforce. Through statutory and administrative changes, senior leaders and first line managers will have the latitude and resources to better align skills and talents of their staff with evolving U.S. missions internationally and the needs of its people domestically as a whole.

Current federal Workforce Demographics

So what does the current federal workforce look like? As far as gender, the force is still male-dominant at 56.1% with 43.8% female. Culturally, the force identifies as:

  • 61.3% White
  • 18.1% Black
  • 9.1% Hispanic of all rac­es
  • 6.5% Asian/Pacific Islander
  • 1.6% Native American/Alaska Native
  • 1.8% multi-cultural

The federal government employs around 2 million workers. This figure does not include the 580,000 that work for the postal system – nor does it include the approximate 3.5 million in military service – both active duty and in the selected Reserve.

Of the federal workers today, 31% are veterans. This figure is about 6 times greater than veterans serving the private sector. The federal workforce as a whole is also much older than in private sector. Almost 29% are age 55 or older; at the other end of the age spectrum, 7.3% are younger than 30. In the private sector, the split between young and older workers is more even, at 25% and 23%.

One would think the bulk of the federal workforce would be centered in the D.C area, but only about 15% of federal employees live in metro D.C. Of the 85% outside the D.C. area, 36% live in rural communities.

Workforce Demographics Outline Need for Changes

Current goals to transform the federal workforce start by examining current demographic realities. One of the biggest challenges in many federal offices today is the graying of the workforce. This month the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation offered buyouts to 20% of its workforce. The goal wasn’t to downsize, but to change workforce demographics – make way for younger employees and streamline top-heavy offices. By streamlining the current bureaucratic human resources processes, the federal government can open jobs up to a larger number of applicants, along with better utilizing the skills and talents of workers already in government service.

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Kness retired in November 2007 as a Senior Noncommissioned Officer after serving 36 years of service with the Minnesota Army National Guard of which 32 of those years were in a full-time status along with being a traditional guardsman. Kness takes pride in being able to still help veterans, military members, and families as they struggle through veteran and dependent education issues.