Fleet Cyber Command to Offer General Schedule Civilian Employees Opportunity to Convert to Cyber Excepted Service
By Steve Mavica and MC2 William Sykes, U.S. Fleet Cyber Command/U.S. 10th Fleet Public Affairs
FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, MD (NNS) -- General Schedule (GS) employees at U.S. Fleet Cyber Command (FCC) and its 28 operational subordinates will be given the opportunity to convert to the Cyber Excepted Service (CES) beginning this May.
In 2016, Congress authorized the Department of Defense (DoD) to establish the civilian CES personnel system as an Enterprise-wide approach to effectively manage civilian cyber professionals.
LCDR Lauren Zack, FCC deputy for Human Resources, said that FCC will issue one-time “opt-in/out” conversion letters to affected civilian personnel beginning in late May, and each employee has 30-days to either accept or decline voluntary conversion into CES. All of FCC (HQs and operational commands) are expected to convert into CES within the Department of the Navy personnel system by August 18.
“The conversion into CES for current GS employees is voluntary,” said Zack. “If an employee declines to voluntarily convert to CES, the CES-designated position will be converted to CES when vacated by the employee. An employee’s decision to decline an offer to convert voluntarily to the excepted service will be final, although the employee may compete for other positions in CES.”
U.S. Fleet Forces Command is responsible for CES implementation, and Scott Raye, the Civilian Human Resources director, is leading the CES conversion effort. Raye has held several briefings for civilian employees across different commands who are affected by the conversion.
“The workforce briefings were designed to ensure all affected employees understood that all DoD Cyber Personnel currently assigned to the competitive service (GS) will be converted to CES, and the GS pay code will be converted to the excepted service (GG),” said Raye. “In addition, I provided them with an overview of how CES came about, implications to the employee and supervisor, changes to expect, as well as the implementation timeline.”
The new system was created to promote a culture that is based upon mission requirements and employee capabilities.
“CES provides agencies with the needed agility and flexibility for the recruitment, retention, and development of high quality cyber professionals,” said Raye. “This helps to further enhance the strategic goals of the Office of the Department of Defense, Chief Information Officer, Principal Cyber Advisor, and U.S. Cyber Command (CYBERCOM).”
CES implementation and hiring, which applies to positions that perform, manage, supervise, or support functions necessary to execute the responsibilities of CYBERCOM, is being implemented in phases. Phase I began in August 2017 with U.S. Cyber Command, Joint Force Headquarters-DoD Information Networks, and Office of the Deputy Chief Information Officer for Cybersecurity. Beginning August 2019, Phase II implementation and hiring will occur at Defense Information Systems Agency and the Service Cyber Components. Following the completion of Phase II, Phase III conversion is projected to commence beginning in in January 2023, based on forthcoming congressional and DoD guidance.
Under CES, employees will be converted from the competitive service to the excepted service with no change in salary, grade, job title, position or duties.
“In order to convert positions that were previously classified under the competitive service, a CES position description cover sheet will be utilized to align positions to elements of the CES occupational structure,” said Raye. “During the CES conversion process, the integrity of the position (title, occupational series, duties, qualification, and grade) will remain unchanged at the point of conversion.”
Current employees will not lose their competitive status or see a change in pay when they convert to CES. Any completed probationary periods will be grandfathered in, and documented career-ladders will continue. Converting from the competitive service to CES will not impact an employee’s federal benefits, current protections and appeal rights.
Some of the changes implemented by CES for current DoD employees include: future compensation initiatives, future rotational assignments across the DoD cyber community, promotions and quality step increase awards up to step 12, and qualification-based requirements for promotion.
“High value is placed on experience, which transcends the typical time-based approach in the competitive service,” said Raye. “Promotions within CES are qualification based with no time-in-grade requirements for advancement.”
In order to keep up with civilian markets, compensation under CES leverages a market-based pay structure to deliver competitive compensation packages. Under CES, new hires will be appointed under excepted service appointment authorities versus competitive service authorities.
“In order to fast-track the hiring of a civilian workforce, CES is designed to give hiring managers the discretion to utilize direct hire authority and spot hire through agile recruitment sourcing outside the traditional confines of the USAJobs platform,” said Raye. “Under CES, applicants can be sourced by any legal means, with or without public notification and/or vacancy announcements, therefore streamlining the recruitment process.”
Additional information regarding CES conversion and specific POCs for each CES functional area will be released in the near future. Employees should contact their local servicing Human Resources Office for additional information regarding their organization’s specific procedures for implementing CES authorities and flexibilities.
FCC is responsible for Navy information network operations, offensive and defensive cyberspace operations, space operations and signals intelligence. C10F is the operational arm of FCC and executes its mission through a task force structure similar to other warfare commanders. In this role, C10F provides support of Navy and joint missions in cyber/networks, cryptologic/signals intelligence and space.