Army to Test Enlisted Assignment Marketplace

Army to Test Enlisted Assignment Marketplace

Photo by: U.S. Army

An Army pilot program to test a marketplace-style assignment system for enlisted soldiers, like the new system now in use by the officer corps, is set to launch this summer with selected soldiers.

Soldiers and NCOs in armor, military intelligence and quartermaster MOSs will begin testing the Assignment Satisfaction Key-Enlisted Marketplace in June ahead of the planned implementation for the entire enlisted force by January 2021, according to an Army news release.

Using spreadsheets and email correspondence, a small number of armor soldiers tested the marketplace concept last year, an exercise that helped improve the web application that will be used in June by the larger group of soldiers. 

With the web-based system, soldiers will see a full list of available positions to choose from, a fundamental departure from the current assignment system in which soldiers are locked into six basing options at home or overseas. The new system will allow soldiers to rank their assignment preferences based on their needs and those of their families.

The effort is part of the Army’s overhaul of its personnel management system. Talent management is a top priority for Army leaders as they seek to refine the way the service acquires, develops, employs and retains its uniformed and civilian force.

In addition to the enlisted assignment pilot, the Army also is implementing several initiatives to streamline its civilian hiring process.

Civilian hiring time has been reduced from about 130 days to less than 80 days, according to data collected during the first quarter of fiscal year 2020. This is due, in part, to the Army’s streamlined security clearance process for select occupations, direct hiring and noncompetitive appointing authorities, the release said.

An Army pilot taking place at Fort Benning, Georgia, and Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas, is testing a new preemployment drug test procedure in which new applicants can start their onboarding process as they wait for their drug test to be approved, which could take several weeks.

“We know that less than 1% of the applicants come back positive on a drug test. It is a low risk, but we still want to be careful,” Carol Burton, director of the Army’s Civilian Human Resources Agency, said in the release. “We are committed to trying to improve the process and reduce the hiring time.”