February/March 2008

Hispanics in defense
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Diversity in action
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Diversity In Action


The Coast Guard wants to hire 750 in 2008, many of them technical

Civilian employees fill a wide variety of roles that support the expanded mission of the service. Diversity gets lots of emphasis

Lead recruiter Carl Dolder: most jobs are filled at mid-career level.
Lead recruiter Carl Dolder: most jobs are filled at mid-career level.

In addition to its military personnel, the U.S. Coast Guard needs a civilian workforce. This year the Guard plans to hire at least 750. Many of the civilian jobs are in engineering and IT fields, says
Carl Dolder, lead civilian recruiter for the Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard wants experienced civilian techies. “We do hire at the entry level, but most of our positions are filled at the mid-career level,” says Dolder. Hiring managers generally need new hires to hit the ground running, which is why about two-thirds of them come to the Coast Guard with experience in other branches of the military or government agencies. Others come from the private sector.

Military experience is usually a plus. “The U.S. Coast Guard, working in partnership with the Department of Defense, is deeply involved with efforts like the Wounded Warrior program for wounded vets from Afghanistan and Iraq. In their case we will do training. We have eight of these folks doing a great job for us now,” says Dolder.

Civilian employees don’t fill military or seafaring roles, but they do a variety of other jobs, many of them involving technology. “They might do some of the day-to-day port inspections, for example, to free military personnel for other work,” Dolder explains.

The Coast Guard’s mission, and its need for civilian technical folks, has changed since it became part of the Department of Homeland Security after 9/11. The service’s role is now much more security-focused. That means some of the work once done by the military is now handled by civilian personnel as military service members are assigned to security-related work.

Diversity is another meaningful change. “After 9/11 we realized we need greater diversity in our civilian workforce,” says Dolder. “The Coast Guard civilian recruiting team, the Coast Guard Recruiting Command, the Office of Civil Rights and others are working together to increase civilian diversity at the USCG.”

The Coast Guard works with SHPE, SWE, NSBE and plus many other external diversity groups, to promote civilian career opportunities.

“Diversity is not a program or a policy; it is a state of being,” says the Coast Guard’s official diversity statement. “It provides well-rounded perspectives in problem-solving that let us identify better ways of performing the duties entrusted to us by our government and fellow citizens.”

Cindy Nelson-Possinger: including a special policy advisor for civilians.
Cindy Nelson-Possinger: including a special policy advisor for civilians.
Cindy Nelson-Possinger, chief of HR operations in the office of civilian personnel, notes that the Coast Guard has policy advisors for its military personnel who focus on diversity and gender issues, as well as a civilian policy advisor who focuses on issues that impact the civilian workforce.

There are several Coast Guard offices that review and coordinate diversity efforts, including gender and minority issues. Policy advisory group members represent active duty, reserve and civilian employees.

As part of the government-wide A-76 efficiency initiative, Nelson-Possinger notes, the USCG sometimes competes for projects with private contractors. The Coast Guard has been named the most efficient organization in all its competitions so far, she says proudly.

Good benefits and regular promotions and pay raises make compensation for civilian employees very competitive with the private sector, Nelson-Possinger reports. And, especially in an uncertain economy, the stability of government employment is attractive to many technical candidates.


Coast Guard Logo.

U.S. Coast Guard

Headquarters: Washington, DC
Employees: 8,000+ civilians and 39,000 active-duty members
Budget: $8.4 billion in 2007
Business: A military maritime service; one of the nation’s five armed services. Its mission is to protect the public, the environment and U.S. economic interests in the nation’s ports and waterways, along the coast, on international waters, or in any maritime region as required to support national security

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