The Department of Defense civilian workforce has lower percentages of women and minorities than the rest of the federal government, according to 10 years of data analyzed by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).
The department has taken steps to identify barriers to diversity, but little has changed over the past 10 years, the GAO said in its new report.
From 2012 to 2021, the number of full-time DoD civilian employees went up by more than 16,000. The proportion of women in the DoD civilian workforce, however, went down from 33 to 32.1%.
The GAO compared DoD’s numbers with those of the total federal civilian workforce from 2012 through 2018, the most recent OPM data available, and found a big gap of at least 10.5 percentage points every year. In 2018, for example, the total federal civilian workforce consisted of 43.4% of women compared with 31.7% at DoD, a 11.7 percentage point difference.
The number of historically disadvantaged groups at DoD went up from 31% to 32.6% between 2012 and 2021. However, it was still lower than the entire federal civilian workforce. Between 2012 and 2018, the number of historically disadvantaged groups at DoD was at least 3.8 percentage points below the entire federal civilian workforce every year. In 2018, it was a 5.1 percentage point difference.
Historically disadvantaged groups are identified as Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, Asian, American Indian, Alaska Native, Hawaiian Native or Other Pacific Islander, and two or more races.
At DoD, white employees are also more likely to get promoted than historically disadvantaged groups. Black employees, for example, were less likely to get promoted in all grades at or above GS-7 after controlling for factors such as education and occupation.
“The Department of Defense civilian workforce doesn't reflect the diversity of the federal government,” said the GAO in its report. “This may be because it is unclear which DOD office is responsible for overseeing such efforts. To better track DOD's progress with eliminating barriers to workforce diversity, we recommended that it clearly identify which office is responsible for oversight.”
The report is done in accordance with a requirement in the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act.