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Section 519 Technician Study


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Section 519 Update:
DoD Tech Survey Gets Green Light

by Ben Banchs


Washington, DC (November 13, 2012) – DoD held a meeting with LIUNA and other Unions that represent National Guard Technicians in order to provide an update on the FY12 NDAA Section 519 Study, and to request input for a DoD-sponsored technician workforce survey which is now slated to take place sometime next Spring.

The meeting was hosted by LTC Patrick Zimmerman of DoD Reserve Affairs. The tone of this encounter was much friendlier than in previous occasions. LTC Zimmerman provided all those in attendance with an update on the status of the Section 519 study and the adjusted timeline.

The original deadline for the study was supposed to be December 31, 2012. However, according to DoD, the original contract that was awarded to CNA to conduct the Section 519 Study contained no provisions for a survey of the workforce. This was a huge oversight because Section 519 of the FY 12 NDAA contained very specific language requiring DoD "to ensure involvement and input of military technicians." According to LTC Zimmerman, it wasn't that DoD didn't want to conduct a survey of the technician workforce, rather it was that the workforce survey portion of the study had to be added to the contract. Now that the contract has been modified, and the survey portion of the requirement has funding, CNA can move forward with conducting the survey.

LTC Zimmerman stated that CNA was currently in the process of developing the survey. CNA considered two approaches: focus groups of a select number of States, or a web-based survey of the entire technician work force. Based on cost and reach CNA opted for a web-based survey of all technicians. We agree with this approach. Completion of the survey will be voluntary, and is expected to take about 20 minutes.  

CNA expect the draft-survey to be ready by December 31, 2012, at which point it will turn it over to DoD for review to ensure the questions are appropriate. That process should take a couple of months, and the survey should be ready to hit the field sometime in March 2013. That allows for an August 2013 survey completion, which should allow DoD to present the report to Congress by September 2013, a full year after their original expected completion date.

We asked LTC Zimmerman if Congress was aware of the delay and new timelines and he indicated that DoD would be sending an official letter informing them of the issues with the survey and the expected delay. However, they have informally notified Congress of these difficulties and Congress has indicated that they are willing to extend the original deadline of December 31, 2012.

LIUNA asked also LTC Zimmerman if this delay would affect the other phases of the DoD study into the Full-Time Support workforce of the Reserve components. He indicated that the rest of the study has been cancelled. The assumption here is that had the National Guard Technician study not been a requirement of the FY12 NDAA then this part of the study would have also been cancelled. This is an indication of how important LIUNA's efforts were to have the study language included in the law. If this study wasn't a "legal" requirement, it would have never happened.

LIUNA also questioned the independence of the survey. Concerns were brought forth about collaboration between NGB and the Adjutant General's Association of the United States (AGAUS). According to an NGB newsletter published last summer, the AGAUS submitted recommendations about the technician program through CNA in conjunction with NGB. This is a conflict of interest. The AGAUS is a private non-profit special interest group. They should not be allowed to sneak their "opinion" in through the back-door by disguising it as an official recommendation by NGB, which is an official entity of US Governement. LIUNA forwarded the NGB newsletter to LTC Zimmerman for review and asked DoD to ensure that NGB differentiate between recommendations put forth by them as an arm of DoD, and by the AGAUS, a special interest group.

In the meantime, LIUNA NGDC has been conducting their own survey of technicians. If you have not already contributed to this survey please feel free to do so by clicking here.

Point of contact for this article is Ben Banchs at benbanchs@liuna-ngdc.org.
  

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