Public Administration ETDs

Publication Date



In its most familiar application, the personnel assign­ment problem asks for the optimum assignment of a group of persons to a group of positions, where the possible assign­ments are ranked by the ratings of the individuals in each of the available positions. This study considers the assignment problem, in general, with a specific application directed at the assignment of scientific and engineering officers in the United States Air Force. By selecting such a specific group, the methodology by which personnel can be optimally assigned was developed. It is the intent of this approach to provide the foundation on which such a technique can be applied to many large organizations and serves to illustrate both the feasibility and the complexity of the problem. In applying this approach to a specific group, this study addresses four major problem areas which in­clude

(1) the acquisition and quantification of data which describe both the characteristics of the position and the qualifications and preferences of the persons being assigned,

(2) the development of the normative mathematical model which calculates the predicted effectiveness of each individual in the positions available,

(3) a mathematical technique which, based on the predicted effectiveness ratings, can optimally allocate these individuals to the available positions within the computer time-and-memory constraints, and

(4) verification of the model.

The assignment of scientific and engineering officers was chosen as a specific application in this study for a number of reasons. The most important are as follows:

(1) through present assignment procedures, the Air Force has categorized all positions and the formal qualifications of these individuals required to fill them, which is a necessary prerequisite for acquiring the data;

(2) all of the Armed Services are unique compared to the industry in that they rotate most of their personnel every three-to-five years; and

(3) this problem along with its interrelationship with the retention of high quality scientific and engineer­ing officers, is of particular concern to the United States Air Force. It is contended that through the incorporation of such an approach to the assignment problem, the job ef­fectiveness of this group of officers and their retention rate would be significantly increased.

For the rather broad problem concerning the retention of scientific and engineering officers, an attempt is made to isolate all of the key issues and their interrelationships with the assignment problem. Other important considerations in any proposed dramatic change in the established procedures of an organization are the structure and dynamics of the environment in which the change must occur. For this reason, the changes which are occurring in the military establishment are reviewed in detail.

The feasibility of such an approach was established by assigning twenty officers to twenty positions. Although actual data were not obtained for this purpose, the data which were used are considered to be representative. Based on this information, the derived mathematical model was used to calculate the predicted effectiveness ratings of each officer in each of the available positions. These of­ficers were then optimally assigned using a special linear programming technique.

Although the specific application addressed in this study is directed at a military organization, it is con­cluded that such an approach is not only feasible, but would be desirable in an organization which is concerned with the problem of simultaneously assigning a group of individuals to a group of positions. The larger the group being assigned, the more effective this approach will be in matching individuals to positions in which their total value to the organization and their personal satisfaction with the position will be optimized.

Degree Name

Public Administration

Level of Degree


Department Name

School of Public Administration

First Committee Member (Chair)

Albert H. Rosenthal

Second Committee Member

Lloyd Wilber Wooruff

Third Committee Member

John Mace Hunger



Document Type