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In addition to the many kinds of military personnel that comprise the United States' Department of Defense, there is also a large number of civilians who are employed to fulfil tasks across the Department's communities. With over 700,000 civilian employees, the DoD is the biggest single employer of civil service staff within the United States government. The Department of Defense prides itself on the world-class standard of training and development provided for its military employees, and intends to fulfill this for its civilian employees too. In recent years, specialized branches of the Department have been developed to help to manage the Department of Defense training for civilian employees.
Over the years, many employees have taken advantage of the Department of Defense training opportunities, ranging from education to professional development. As of 2011, the Department offers more than 100 courses in DoD training to civilian employees. The Office of the Secretary of Defense sponsors a large proportion of these, as part of its directive to manage over 20 institutions (including postgraduate schools for the Army and Navy) and over 35 specialized programs (including Career Development Programs in areas such as Defense Acquisitions). Other DoD training programs are provided and overseen by related DoD agencies and offices. In addition, each military service has its own provisions for civilian education and leadership or professional development. In recognition of the fast-changing global environment, the Department has placed a new emphasis on leadership competencies and the development of a civilian leader pipeline, providing a progressive and structured approach.
Standards of quality, efficiency and cost-effectiveness are vitally important within the Department of Defense. The post of Chancellor of Education and Professional Development, and the organisation of his Office, was set up in 1998 with the remit that it should oversee and provide advocacy for the academic credibility, efficiency and usefulness of all DoD training and education programs. This has helped to create accountability and to ensure that the investment of time and resources in the development of civilian employees is used in the best possible way.
The benefits of these programs are numerous. The programs assist the Department in the recruitment, development and retention of a workforce that is diverse, motivated, highly-qualified and cost-effective. The programs reduce the number of competency gaps in the skill sets of civilian personnel, and enabled the development of long-term and annual measures of performance to assess the speed and level of development.