Office of Economic and Manpower Analysis (OEMA)


Since 1983, the mission of the U.S. Army Office of Economic and Manpower Analysis (OEMA) has been to provide a sound basis for policy and planning for the Army of the future. Founded by General Maxwell Thurman, OEMA is nested within the Department of Social Sciences at West Point. The intellectual freedom and community-of-practice provided by this academic setting promotes out-of-the-box thinking and allows OEMA analysts to devise solutions to strategic challenges facing the Army.

While OEMA was originally known for its work on recruiting and retaining military manpower, the focus over the past few years has been on creating innovative talent management paradigms for the Army. Notably, in 2014 senior research analyst Mike Colarusso and emeritus director David Lyle published Senior Officer Talent Management, Fostering Institutional Adaptability, which proposed fundamental improvements to officer personnel management practices. In addition to writing about talent management, OEMA conducts empirical research and pilot programs that inform strategic level Army policy. Recent research topics include the use of matching markets for officer assignment, military compensation reform, and issues related to the well-being of Soldiers and their families, including financial health, family formation, and educational attainment.

OEMA also provides analysis for government organizations other than the Army, including the DOD, the Social Security Administration, and the Department of Veterans Affairs. In the recent past, OEMA has examined the restructuring of military retirement, veterans' benefits and unemployment compensation, and national security implications of the Great Recession.

What helps distinguish OEMA from other analytical organizations is its repository of personnel data, one of the largest in the Department of Defense. Continuously updated, this invaluable resource allows for rapid policy analysis on the Army's entire workforce (civilian, officer, enlisted, active, and reserve). The office now combines its rich data with information from other sources, including the National Student Clearinghouse, the Census, the Department of Labor, the Social Security Administration, and the Department of Veterans Affairs to gain a more holistic picture of soldiers.

OEMA hires both civilians and active-duty military personnel with expertise in economics, political science, history, and information technology. The team greatly benefits from partnerships with a network of academics across the country. These partnerships improve the quality and quantity of work that the office can complete and ensure rigor and precision in important policy matters. Currently, OEMA has partnerships with faculty at Carnegie Mellon, Columbia, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, MIT, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Tufts, the University of Notre Dame, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Virginia, and Yale. Recent research from our faculty has been published in the American Economic Journal: Applied, the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, the Journal of Labor Economics, and the Review of Economics and Statistics.

To view the West Point Department of Social Sciences staff and faculty click HERE.

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