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Education & Training: Key career positions

Civil Engineer Career Field Team

     Each year in late February, the Air Force Personnel Center issues a call for civilian developmental education nominations and vectoring packages (Transition-Civilian Development Plan, or T-CDP) for annual development team vectoring. This year, the T-CDP call included the option for qualified personnel to opt in to the key career positions, or KCPs, program. A relatively new Air Force-wide program, KCPs offer a new option for senior (General Schedule, or GS, 13-15) civilians to grow professionally, and for CE to preserve a select pool of key positions for the development of civilian leaders. As Mark Correll, the former career field functional manager, or FM, highlighted in last winter's force development webinar, "we're looking forward to that [KCP] program as a way to purposefully and intentionally develop civilians who have said they want certain kinds of skills."

     At the March 2015 meeting of the CE civilians Functional Advisory Council, or FAC, the Deputy Director of Civil Engineers, Ed Oshiba, was introduced as the new career field FM. A goal Oshiba shares with the rest of the FAC is to increase the career field's participation in career development programs and awareness of leadership opportunities.

     "My predecessor did a great job of re-invigorating civilian force development. My intent is to build upon the solid foundation he created, and work toward improving the education, training and development opportunities necessary to prepare our civilian professionals for advancement into key leadership positions," said Oshiba. As a result, Oshiba is encouraging senior civilians to submit a T-CDP and sign up for the KCP.

Key Career Positions Explained
     But what are KCPs, exactly? In essence, KCPs are rotating, centrally managed civilian positions at the GS-13, 14, 15 and equivalent levels that the Air Force has identified as developmental positions to help civilians grow professionally and advance in their careers. While it's an Air Force-wide program, each career field was granted the authority to manage their own pool of select positions. The positions selected as KCPs in the CE career field include some base civil engineers and deputy base civil engineers; many major command, or MAJCOM, division and branch chiefs; select Air Force Civil Engineer Center directorate, division and branch chiefs; and headquarters Air Force division chiefs and program element managers. In total, the CE career field team, or CE CFT, has identified 112 KCPs. As the Air Force and CE continue to adjust to recent transformations and management headquarters reductions, this number may change accordingly and additional KCPs may be identified at the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center.

     One of the most important aspects of participation in the KCP program is a willingness to relocate. The Air Force deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services has agreed the best way to expose as many qualified civilians as possible to these developmental positions is to limit tenure to three to four years. Personnel who currently occupy a position designated as a KCP are grandfathered into the program, and therefore mobility requirements for the position won't become effective until the position becomes vacant. 

How to Apply
     Key career positions are filled internal to the Air Force from a pool of pre-identified candidates. This helps to ensure the Air Force is developing our leadership from within. Interested civilian employees in grades GS-13 through GS-15 can be considered for one of these positions by submitting a T-CDP and opting-in for KCP consideration. GS-14 employees submit their T-CDP in odd-numbered years, GS-13s submit their T-CDP in even numbered years and GS-15 employees submit development plans annually.

     The pool of KCP pre-identified candidates will be built during the annual DT meeting. Candidates for the KCP will be assessed to ensure they meet the following prerequisites: current Air Force senior civilian, available for reassignment and geographically mobile. Candidates who meet these prerequisites will be assessed during the DT against the following additional criteria: job performance, endorsement, depth, corporate breadth, leadership roles, higher education, Professional Military Education, professional certification and awards. Candidates will be categorized as "Ready, Groom, On Track or Current Assignment" based on this evaluation. Candidates assessed as "Ready" or "Groom" will be identified for the KCP candidate pool. If the candidate pool of Ready and Groom candidates is not robust enough to fill KCPs, the candidate pool can be extended to also include "On Track" or "Current Assignment" candidates.

      When a position designated as a KCP needs to be filled, the selecting official will request the KCP candidate pool from the CE CFT. Candidates approved for inclusion in the KCP candidate list remain on the list until they are removed by the DT, they request to be removed, or they are no longer available for reassignment. Candidates who were previously approved for inclusion in the pool but were removed can be added back into the pool when they become available for reassignment. If a candidate opts-in to the program but declines interest in three positions, they will be removed from the pool and will not be eligible for consideration for a period of four years.

Increase Your Leadership Potential
      The CE CFT is often asked what applicants can do to increase their competitiveness for KCPs and other leadership positions. The best ways people can set themselves apart are by proactively seeking opportunities to take on new and increased responsibilities, excelling in job performance, continuing self-improvement through training and education, and actively managing your career plan. Make your supervisor aware of your career goals and your development plan for achieving those goals so they can assist you in finding opportunities. The T-CDP is an effective way to clearly chart out your career path, and it is now an essential part of the civilian force development process. Civilians are encouraged to complete a T-CDP and review it with their supervisor and mentors.

Additional Resources
      If you're interested in learning more about KCPs or CE civilian career development, visit the internal "Air Force Civil Engineer Civilians" milBook site at https://www.milsuite.mil/book/groups/air-force-civil-engineer-civilians.

Editor's Note: This article is part of the education and training summer series.