What Is Civilian Personnel Management?

M. McGee

Civilian personnel management is a process used by military organizations in order to keep track of, and work with, the civilians employed by them. These systems create a buffer between the military systems and the non-military systems, both providing access to workers and security for military intelligence. Civilian personnel management can take many forms; from a portion of the human resources department of a military base to the computer system that contains the information related to the civilian workers.

Businesswoman talking on a mobile phone
Businesswoman talking on a mobile phone

It is very uncommon that a military organization doesn’t have a large number of non-military people performing duties alongside the soldiers. These people will do everything from janitorial work, to accounting, to running entire departments. While some of these workers are ex-military that are now working in a support or advisory role, many of them have had no military training at all. This creates a basic split in outlook and expectations between the civilians and the military personnel.

When used to describe a department within a military organization, civilian personnel management is nearly always a subsection of the human resources department. This department handles the day-to-day activities of the civilians working in that particular base or on a specific project. Outside of only managing a portion of the workers, this is nearly the same as with other human resource departments. The only real difference comes with dealing so closely with government regulations and security clearances.

In a computer-based civilian personnel management system, the complexity and differences are much greater than those of standard management systems. The most glaring difference comes from the security protocols used. In many corporate systems, the entire system is contained inside a single protective barrier. Military systems typically have two distinctly different management sections, one for military and one for civilian workers.

These two systems are kept apart from one another, but have a significant amount of interaction. The biggest reason for this separation is security. In order to keep secure information away from civilian employees and any unwanted onlookers, military information is kept separate from non-military. When a system requires information relating to both groups, the system will check user clearance levels and then create a combined record with the information.

The second major reason that civilian personnel management is separated from the military system is the difference in methods used to govern the employees. In a standard company, there may be hourly and salaried workers that have widely different payment and benefit schedules all in the same system. This doesn’t even approach the differences between a civilian system such as that and one that uses military information. The long-term and indentured methodology behind a military contract makes a civilian system inappropriate in many circumstances.

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