Characterization of the Federal Workforce at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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Abstract

Context:

Studies characterizing the public health workforce are needed for providing the evidence on which to base planning and policy decision making both for workforce staffing and for addressing uncertainties regarding organizing, financing, and delivering effective public health strategies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is leading the enumeration of the US public health workforce with an initial focus on CDC as the leading federal public health agency.

Objective:

To characterize CDC's workforce, assess retirement eligibility and potential staff losses, and contribute these data as the federal component of national enumeration efforts.

Methods:

Two sources containing data related to CDC employees were analyzed. CDC's workforce was characterized by using data elements recommended for public health workforce enumeration and categorized the occupations of CDC staff into 15 standard occupational classifications by using position titles. Retirement eligibility and potential staffing losses were analyzed by using 1-, 3-, and 5-year increments and compared these data across occupational classifications to determine the future impact of potential loss of workforce.

Results:

As of the first quarter of calendar year 2012, a total 11 223 persons were working at CDC; 10 316 were civil servants, and 907 were Commissioned Corps officers. Women accounted for 61%. Public health managers, laboratory workers, and administrative-clerical staff comprised the top 3 most common occupational classifications among CDC staff. Sixteen percent of the workforce was eligible to retire by December 2012, and more than 30% will be eligible to retire by December 2017.

Conclusions:

This study represents the first characterization of CDC's workforce and provides an evidence base upon which to develop policies for ensuring an ongoing ability to fulfill the CDC mission of maintaining and strengthening the public's health. Establishing a system for continually monitoring the public health workforce will support future efforts in understanding workforce shortages, capacity, and effectiveness; projecting trends; and initiating policies.

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