Navy Officer Drawdown: The Game Show
While the Army is having a hard time retaining company grade officers, the Navy is finding itself in the opposite situation -- needing to find creative ways to get rid of excess O-3s and O-4s. As described in this Navy NewsStand story, the Navy earlier this week issued a NAVADMIN detailing how they plan to get rid of officers in "over-manned" communities. These communities include not only most of the Special Duty Officer designators, but also Surface Warfare Officers, pilots, NFOs, and submariners. (Specifically, the designators are: 111X, 112X, 130X, 131X, 132X, 120X, 152X, 161X, 163X, 180X, 310X, 410X, AND 510X. The non-nautical reader can find what these numbers mean here.)
The interesting thing to me is not that the Navy finds itself, seven years after the last drawdown ended, needing to start another drawdown; it's the way that "reality TV" seems to have made its way into Navy personnel programs. The message explains that officers will be given the chance to "bid" on how much money they'd take if they were to get out before the end of the fiscal year. Here's how the message describes the process:
Community managers will review all positive VSP elections to ensure officers meet established eligibility criteria. These positive elections will then be ranked from lowest to highest competitive bid until the target population for the community is reached. This target population will constitute the "successful bidders". Using what is known as a "uniform payment auction methodology", all successful bidders of each community will receive the same VSP payment as determined by the highest accepted bid. For example, if 300 people are sent notification messages (establishing that 100 personnel will be offered a separation payment) and if 275 people elect to participate by submitting a bid, and the lowest competitive bid is $1,000 and the 100th lowest competitive bid submitted is $30,000, then the 100 successful bids (i.e., the 100 individuals who bid $30,000 or less) will each receive the $30,000 bid.
If you find yourself scratching your head after mucking through the Navalese, that just means you read it right -- most officers will end up getting more than what they bid in order to get out. I suppose this eliminates the danger of massive collusion, but it still seems to have a little "game-show/E-Bay" feel that comes across as slightly inappropriate to me.
I guess I'm not surprised that submariners are included; the number of submarines is going down, and we were still bringing in fairly large numbers of new submarine officers at least as late as FY03. The good thing for submariners who might be thinking of getting out is that I'm pretty sure that they can't recoup your Buy-A-Nuke bonus (per Section 7.f.(2).(c) of OPNAVINST 7220.11A) if your "Price Is Right" and you get picked to test the civilian job market. Sign that new contract now!