JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas — The Air Force’s Personnel Center is adopting an innovative web-based platform to support the officer assignment system that aims to increase flexibility and transparency for officers and commanders within the assignment process.
Inspired by the Nobel Prize-winning National Residency Matching Program, this key talent management technology, called Talent Marketplace, examines officer assignment solutions by incorporating specific prioritizations from both the officers who are eligible to move and the gaining units. A redesigned website with interactive filtering capabilities, expanded billet information and enhanced officer information facilitates these prioritizations.
“This concept is proven in industry and we validated it with the Air Force scientist community,” said Lt. Col Craig Cude, Talent Marketplace lead at AFPC. “We tested the platform within our fighter pilot and fighter combat systems officer communities with about 430 officers to facilitate assignments during the Summer 2018 cycle.”
For the Winter 2018 cycle, AFPC is expanding the use of the Talent Marketplace assignment system platform to more than 4,000 officers and will be including all rated, cyberspace operations, force support and health services administrator officers.
Cude said the platform is designed to increase transparency and awareness regarding the billets being filled while allowing greater interaction and communication by the Airman, losing commander and, for the first time, by the gaining billet owner.
“One major change is that you, as a member of this community, will no longer submit a traditional Airman Development Plan for assignment selection,” he said. “Instead, you will use Talent Marketplace, hosted in MyVECTOR, to self-advertise, search for assignments and submit your assignment preferences to your leadership and assignments officer.”
The technology and the system itself are a giant leap forward with a modern feel and interactive features that make it much easier for officers and commanders to make inputs,
“AFPC continues to incorporate lessons learned as our plans call for a more flexible talent management system that moves away from one-size-fits-all development and looks toward flexible paths and approaches to help maximize and retain our talented Airmen,” said AFPC commander, Maj. Gen. Brian Kelly. “This system will not magically fix our various officer shortages or dramatically increase retention. But it is designed to provide increased transparency and interaction that should lead to greater awareness and satisfaction with the assignment process. We are also 100 percent sure we didn’t get it 100 percent right, so we continue to incorporate feedback and make modifications as we go.”
According to Kelly, Talent Marketplace brings the art and science of assignments into balance in order to provide “the 21st century assignments our officers desire.”
He defines “art” as officer development where a variety of warfighter requirements, special consideration such as join spouse or Exceptional Family Member Program requests, and individual desires are balanced to help maximize both officer and billet owner satisfaction with solutions sometimes outside of conventional parameters.
The “science” consists of providing predictability and consistency using defined timelines and rule sets that allow Airmen and families to understand and plug into the process accordingly.
“Getting the balance between ‘art’ and ‘science’ correct and driving increased transparency is the goal,” Kelly said.
“We must remember that our priority to fill valid warfighting billets still remains,” Kelly added. “Some of those billets are in austere or less desirable locations and produce few volunteers. We all know when we join that sacrifices are to be expected over the length of an Air Force career. But when we fill these type billets, we want to do so in a way that minimizes impacts to Airmen and families and we think Talent Marketplace can help.”
Cude said the key to Talent Marketplace is its ability to provide officers with more realistic assignment expectations, while giving all stakeholders a greater voice in the process.
“In the future, we hope to increase inputs from even more stakeholders in Talent Marketplace, to include aspects such as professional development and higher headquarters requisition priorities,” he said. “By continuously developing the software, we can improve our ability to provide agile and artful talent management.”
Talent Marketplace is the final piece of the revised officer assignment system triad, which includes advanced assignment notification to commanders and the transition from three to two assignment cycles each year.
For more information about Air Force personnel programs, visit myPers from a CAC-enabled, .mil system or the AFPC public website.