Reserve Component Civilian Employment Information Program Begins
By Master Sgt. Bob Haskell, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Mar. 31, 2004 A new Defense Department reporting system has begun so members of all seven reserve components can register their employers.
DoD decision-makers need to know the civilian employers and government agencies of the department's approximately 1.2 million National Guardsmen and reservists, officials explained. The database will, among other things, give officials a better idea of who should, and should not, be mobilized for national emergencies, they said.
The database is called the Civilian Employment Information Program, and it is the way for all Guard and Reserve members to comply with the law that requires them to inform DoD of who employs them and how they are employed when not performing their military duties.
"This program will make it possible for defense officials, including those responsible for mobilizing our traditional Guard and Reserve members, to know who can be called up for active military duty without jeopardizing the civilian forces responsible for safeguarding our country," explained David Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness.
Members of the Army National Guard, Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve and Navy Individual Ready Reserve can now enter their employment data on the new Defense Manpower Data Center Web site. Members of the Army Reserve, Navy Selected Reserve, Marine Reserve and Coast Guard Reserve will be able to enter their employment data on their existing personnel reporting systems.
To register their CEI information, reserve component members should go to their respective service's CEI program Web sites, officials said.
Guardsmen and reservists must register 10 specific data fields concerning their civilian employers and job skills to meet three requirements mandated by law.
Chu said the Defense Department must:
- Give consideration to civilian workers -- including emergency responders such as police officers, firefighters and medical personnel -- necessary to maintain the national health, safety and interests when considering which Guard and Reserve members should be called to active duty.
- Ensure more members with critical civilian jobs and skills are not retained in the reserve components than are necessary to respond to emergencies.
- Inform the reservists' civilian employers of their rights and responsibilities under the 1994 Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act.
The information could be another tool to help determine which units or members of the Ready Reserve should be mobilized, defense officials explained.
Information about full-time employers also would make it possible for DoD officials to enhance employer support for the Guard and Reserve, officials said.
"The goal is to maintain a 95 percent accurate data base for the Selected Reserve," explained Thomas Hall, assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs, "and to maintain 75 percent accuracy for the Individual Ready Reserve database. The department is required by law to maintain adequate and current personnel records on members of the reserve components, including each member's civilian occupational skills."
The law also requires all members of reserve components to notify appropriate defense officials about any changes in their civilian employment.
Officials said the Defense Department knows 13 percent of the Guard and Reserve work for the federal government, and that half of those are federal military technicians.
Surveys have told DoD officials the general sectors of the economy in which the other 87 percent of reserve component members work: About 60 percent work in private-sector firms, 20 percent work for state or local governments, and less than 7 percent are self-employed.
Employees are considered full time for Civilian Employment Information Program purposes if their employer considers them to be employed full time. Self- employed personnel are considered full time if they work for themselves for an average of at least 30 hours per week.
Defense officials do not currently know the specific skills these members possess, or specifically who the employers are. Nor does the Defense Department know which members of the Ready Reserve are employed in the professions related to maintaining the national health, safety and interest, officials pointed out.
The Civilian Employment Information Program, Chu explained, will require all Guard and Reserve members to list on the database their employment status, their employer's names, their employer's complete mailing addresses, their civilian job titles, and their total number of years in their current civilian occupations.
The requirement on the part of the guardsman or reservist to provide CEI data is not a violation of the Privacy Act, added Hall. CEI is the extension of existing personnel data records, and is covered under previous Privacy Act systems notices, he said.
Unlike previous military service efforts to voluntarily gather employer data, registering employer data in the CEI program is mandatory. Guard and Reserve members who knowingly fail or refuse to provide that information, or who knowingly provide false employment-related information, may be subject to administrative action or punishment, officials said.
(Army Master Sgt. Bob Haskell is assigned to the National Guard Bureau, Arlington, Va.)