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Personnel Types

Below is a list of some of the most common types of personnel terms used by the Department.


An individual appointed or elected to a position in or under the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the U.S. government, as defined at 5 U.S.C. § 8901, and includes government-owned or controlled corporations.

  • Consultant

A “consultant” is someone who, per 5 CFR § 304.102(b), “can provide valuable and pertinent advice generally drawn from a high degree of broad administrative, professional, or technical knowledge or experience” and may be appointed on a temporary basis (i.e., not to exceed 1 year) or an intermittent basis (i.e., without a regularly scheduled tour of duty).

  • Detailee

An executive branch employee may be temporarily assigned ("detailed") to another position in the executive branch, to a position in the judicial or legislative branch, or to a position in a non-federal entity, such as a state or local government or an international organization.

  • Intern

Internships provide students in high school, college or universities, trade schools, and other qualifying educational institutions with paid or unpaid opportunities to work in agencies while completing their education. Interns also receive developmental experience intended to promote possible careers in the civil service. Recent graduates, who graduated from qualifying educational institutions with an associates, bachelors, masters, professional, doctoral, vocational, or technical degree or certificate within the previous two years, are eligible for the Recent Graduates Program.

  • Political Appointees

The term "political appointee" refers broadly to any employee who is appointed by the President, the Vice President, or an Agency irrespective of whether the position requires Senate confirmation.

  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Corps Officer

The NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps (NOAA Corps) is one of the nation’s seven uniformed services. Part of NOAA’s Office of Marine and Aviation Operations, the NOAA Corps serves throughout the agency’s line and staff offices to support nearly all of NOAA’s programs and missions.


  • Contractor

As described by 48 CFR § 37.104, a “contractor” is an individual whose private sector employer has entered into a contractual agreement with the U.S. government for services that create an employer-employee relationship between the individual and the government and which gives the individual the appearance of being a government employee.

  • Unclassified
  • Classified

A "classified contract" is defined by 48 CFR 2.101 as any contract in which the contractor or its employees must have access to classified information during the contract’s performance period. A "classified contractor" is an employee of a company that the Department has entered into a classified contract with for professional services requiring access to national security information, prior to their entry on duty.

  • Committee Member

Committees may, from time to time, be established by the Department, the President of the United States by Executive Order, or Congress by statute when doing so for the purposes of providing advice has been determined essential to conduct its business.

While committee members may be federal employees and, in rare instances, an individual from the private sector may serve on a committee in an employer-employee relationship as a “special government employee,” in most instances, members from the private sector are not considered federal employees.

When a committee is chartered to provide advice on classified matters or deal with classified materials, a security clearance is required for any person under consideration for membership on that committee.

  • Guest Researcher

Several Department bureaus provide access to domestic and foreign individuals working on research projects of mutual interest. The length of access needed and the type of work undertaken will determine the type of background investigation required.