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López Atencio working on project to help US Army workforce focus on strategic goals

Eduardo López Atencio, Director of Graduate Studies, Computational Science and Informatics PhD, Computational Science MS, Data Science Graduate Certificate, and his collaborators are working to analyze agent search methods in a constrained network environment. This analysis will be applied to a concrete setting, characterizing and forecasting the workforce flow within large organizations, in particular the Army Acquisition Workforce, a participant in the project.

The analysis the researchers are building on was developed for the study and modeling of employment searches in a landscape of firms in large, countrywide economies. The analysis is data-driven, disaggregate, and describes the system on the basis of a network in which locations constitute vertices of a graph. Edges between the vertices are introduced if there is evidence that movement between edges is unlikely to be due to randomness.

The researchers expect this project will contribute to the literature in Markov and other stochastic processes, specifically those concerned with search and matching, and to the understanding of employment mobility and search at the disaggregate level, which is a recent trend in this literature.

A Markov process is a random process in which the future is independent of the long-term past; in other words, what matters in terms of predicting the future is where you are, not where you came from. Markov processes are a particular kind of stochastic process, mathematical constructs designed to deal with phenomena that evolve over time under the influence of noise.

The researchers also anticipate that this project will contribute to the U.S. Army's mission by producing reliable forecasts of workforce behaviors across an extended planning horizon. This goal is consistent with one of the three priorities (reform of business practices for performance and affordability) in the 2019 National Defense Strategy.

Further, the project addresses calls in the 2019 National Defense Strategy for the implementation of 21st century talent management, enabled by leading-edge research, and leveraging technology and data-driven organizational research to continuously improve Army people, programs, and policies.

Finally, this project should provide an objective analysis of the effects of the Army's methods to incentivize individuals to remain active in the acquisition workforce, perform moves, and generally mold its workforce according to strategic goals.

López Atencio received $99,259 from the U.S. Department of the Army for this project. Funding began in June 2020 and will end in late May 2021.