Marines set 90-day civilian hiring freeze

In an effort to meet Defense Secretary Robert Gates' goal of cutting back on overhead costs, the Marine Corps has instituted a 90-day freeze on hiring for civilian positions.

A memo issued Friday by Sheryl E. Murray, acting deputy commandant for manpower and reserve affairs, said, "A thorough assessment of civilian labor across the Marine Corps, to include contractors, is one of the major actions the commandant of the Marine Corps has undertaken to achieve efficiencies throughout the Marine Corps. This assessment is necessary due to [fiscal 2012] programmed budget reductions."

The memo said the Corps would immediately implement a 90-day "pause" in "all internal and external hiring actions, and promotions resulting from reclassification of positions, for all appropriated fund positions."

"This pause will assist headquarters Marine Corps and commands in reconciling their current civilian onboard strength and tables of organization with FY12 and beyond civilian personnel budgets," the memo stated.

The memo said, "Temporary, term, or contractor personnel will not be used to backfill any civilian billets that cannot be filled as a result of the freeze."

The memo listed several exceptions to the freeze. They include:

  • Hiring actions in which tentative offers already have been made in writing.
  • Promotions of civilians in career ladder positions.
  • Hiring for selected information technology positions and overseas jobs.
  • Conversion of personnel in internship programs into permanent positions "as a formal expectation of their internship."

The memo said additional exceptions would be considered on a case-by-case basis and hiring of first responders, such as civilian police officers and firefighters, would be allowed with individual command approval.

The American Federation of Government Employees was quick to criticize the freeze, noting some positions in the Marines have been left open for months because the organization did not replace retiring employees.

"We're one deep in most places," said Brian Leonard, president of AFGE Council 240, which represents Marine civilians. "If we lose somebody, that work doesn't go away. We still have to accomplish the mission, so that puts more work on everyone else."

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