The Navy has embarked on a revolutionary move to staff its hardest-to-fill positions: open them up to online auction. The Wall Street Journal has the scoop (subscription required):

For decades, when the Navy needed to fill an unpopular job in a distant place, it simply ordered a sailor and his or her family to move.Recently, it took a different tack. To keep skilled sailors in the service -- which entails keeping their families happy -- Navy officials put some of those out-of-favor jobs up for online auction, a la eBay. Among the first to bite was Petty Officer 1st Class Elishaine Moses. He offered to take a job in Yokuska, Japan, but only if the Navy was willing to bump up his salary by $350 a month.He doesn't want to live in Japan. Nor does his wife. But they figured an extra $350 a month would go a long way toward a down payment on a house. "My No. 1 goal in life right now is to save enough money to build a house," his wife, Shana Moses, says.The online auctions are one piece of a new Navy plan to unleash the power of the free market on its personnel system. Under the old system a Navy personnel officer, known as a "detailer," filled all of the Navy's jobs by searching through a database for a sailor whose rotation date and skills matched up most closely with an upcoming vacancy. "The old system was Stalin-like," says Rear Adm. Jake Shuford, who is in charge of the redesign.In the new system, sailors will be able to bid on jobs that no one wants. Ships with vacancies also will be able to bid for sailors that they really want. The Navy is even considering allowing sailors who are particularly good at their jobs to apply for positions that would traditionally go to higher-ranking officers...Navy officials say they have no choice if they are going to persuade skilled sailors and their families to stay in the service. Although sailors are re-enlisting at record rates, the service is still short on troops trained in critical high-tech specialties such as cryptography, information technology and medicine. As the Navy replaces its current fleet with new ships, which rely heavily on automation to reduce the number of sailors on board, these technically adept sailors will be in even more demand."This isn't about creating a kinder, gentler Navy," says Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Vern Clark of the shift to a free-market system. "This is about focusing on performance more than ever before."
(via JO Forum)
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