OSD Response on War Zone Civilian Hires

DoD continues its quest for a few good adventurers. It has hundreds of slots to fill in far flung places in Iraq and more importantly Afghanistan.

DoD was kind enough to explain how one may apply.

“Inside the Headquarters” readers responded with interest to our May 19 posting on the filling of positions in current war zones. We shot what you had to say over to the Pentagon. While Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) officials say they cannot speak for other federal agencies (sure they can!), one rep directed us to this site which lists the positions and seems to have a reasonable application process. The catch? The Civilian Expeditionary Workforce program appears to be for DoD civilian employees and closed to non-DoD types.

Not true, we’re told. We pressed an OSD spokesman, who, after much rutting around, confirmed the site is for non-DoD personnel as well.

The Civilian Expeditionary Workforce program was announced in February 2008. There have been reports civilian positions have been tough to fill. Again, “Not true!” according to our DoD fountain of knowledge, who added DoD has been filling its slots with relative ease. (We don’t completely believe that.) Though numbers appear murky, he stated, “[Under the Civilian Expeditionary Workforce program] in Iraq we have 2,478 civilians and in Afghanistan we have1,080.”

Here’s the scoop according to our guy in the know:

“Department of Defense and non-DoD federal civilian employees, retired federal employees, and applicants from the private sector may all apply for Civilian Expeditionary Workforce positions on our Web site, www.cpms.osd.mil/expeditionary. Available job opportunities are posted on the Web site and vacancies are updated daily. If an applicant’s skill set is not a match for a position currently being advertised, his or her résumé will be maintained in our database for future needs.”

Since needs change, he could not quote the number of available positions.

If selected, DoD individuals are funded by their current agencies. Non-DoD types would be brought on in a temporary status and paid by the Army. DoD is working on a funding agreement of sorts with other federal agencies.

The DoD site explains the positions in detail. Openings can be accessed by job category such as accounting, electrical engineer, and many more.

There are medical exclusions and, except for a handful, it appears medical issues are handled by case. The program specifically excludes bipolar disorder, for example. But if you are current for heart failure (?) or positive for tuberculosis, you may have a shot. (That’s reassuring.) OSD says other conditions will be reviewed in accordance with the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, though we would think all conditions would come under review so as not to violate federal law.

Most positions run 12 months, though we noticed some contracting officers are called for just a six month hitch. (Given the grief and graft in the contracting world of late, this is no surprise.) Civilians may take a period of leave after 60 days in theater. Most positions require at least a secret security clearance; many are top secret and higher.

The Civilian Expeditionary Work program appears to be a solid, reasonable system to help fill the civilian vacancies in the CENTCOM theater of operations. Hey DoD: It might be helpful if interested and qualified parties knew about this dedicated Web site.

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