Shipyard and depot maintenance workers and Military Sealift Command civilian mariners have been exempted from the federal hiring freeze, according to a guidance memo signed Wednesday by Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work.
The 90-day hiring freeze, announced Jan. 23 by President Donald Trump, allowed for exemptions to be made for positions that supported national security and public safety, but the Defense Department did not immediately announce any exemptions.
Work’s Feb. 1 guidance allows service secretaries, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other high-ranking Pentagon officials to make exemptions in their subordinate commands “sparingly,” and the memo notes that they “must be prepared to justify their exemption decisions to me on a position-by-position basis.”
Still, Work wrote, “The Secretary of Defense established these exemptions, recognizing the important functions performed by each of our civilian employees across the Department.”
“This is an opportunity for the Department to assess its most critical missions and requirements, ensuring that the civilian component of our force is assigned and capable of executing our highest priority work, while at the same time gaining full value from every taxpayer dollar we spend on defense,” he added.
Positions may be exempted from the hiring freeze if they directly support the execution of contingency missions and operations, scheduled operations and deployments, or exercises and training; are required for cybersecurity or cyber operations and planning; are required for space operations and planning; are required for nuclear reactor or nuclear weapon safety and security; perform direct management of inventory or direct maintenance of equipment at a shipyard or depot; are funded by foreign military sales; are civilian mariner positions at Military Sealift Command; and more.
Service and DoD officials may request additional exemptions as needed to fulfill national security and public safety duties, the memo adds.