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Using the Priority Placement Program (PPP) for Civilian Employees

Priority Placement Program PPP

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Civilian jobs in the military are affected much the same way that active military members’ jobs are affected when bases are cut back, closed, and when agencies decide to downsize. The great thing about working as a civilian contractor is that the federal government has a system in place to help you find a job within either the rest of the military, or elsewhere in the government. This system is known as the Priority Placement Program, and it has helped more than a quarter of a million people get a new job after their old one was discontinued.

How does the PPP work for civilian contractors?

When your current position is eliminated, and you are unable to take a job within your immediate area with the Department of Defense, your information is put into a computer program ran by the Priority Placement Support Branch. As new jobs become available, your information is matched up with the job requirements and prequisites to see if you would be a good match for the new position. Since jobs need to be filled relatively quickly, everything about the PPP works fairly fast. You can have a job offer in as little as 24 hours once you are entered into the system. If you do get matched up with an open position, you will usually only have a couple of days to think about it, whether you want to accept the position or not. If you don’t accept it, your information will be removed from the PPP.

What kind of priority level will you start out at?

Everyone who is in the PPP will be given a priority level which determines how quickly they will be considered for a new job. Being a Priority 1 employee means that your old job was discontinued or cut and there is no other work that you can do in the area. This is the highest priority level and people with this rank will be considered before those who are ranked 2 or 3.

Those ranked Priority 2 and 3 are usually eligible for a similar position nearby except with a cut in pay or grade. While this isn’t necessarily an attractive proposition, the DoD recognizes that those with no present job opportunities have to be given priority over those who can still work nearby. At the same time, the PPP gives Priority 2 and 3 employees a way to either get back to or keep their former pay and rank.

Are you likely to find a new job with the PPP?

Generally, there should be an opportunity for most people who get involved in the PPP. The job offer may not come the day after you sign up, but the fact that the military has needs that require civilian contractors often results in a job offer at some point. As mentioned before, over 250,000 people have found a job through the PPP in the past 47 years. If you have skills in a specialized area that is in high demand, chances are you should be able to find a job with the program pretty quickly.

The managers who work with civilian contractors like the PPP since they are able to get employees that are just as well qualified as those who go through a lengthy application process. This makes filling open positions much easier since the Department of Defense already has a pool of qualified candidates to pull from. According to several internal DoD surveys, managers have said that over 90% of their PPP employees are either better or just as good as candidates that they would get through interviews. Because of this, the PPP is an invaluable tool to the DoD, since it does save both you and them time and money.

Can you choose where the PPP places you?

Priority Placement Program RelocationYes and no. Your HR office will figure out where would be the best area for you to have a good chance of getting a match in the program. From this area, you can choose specific places where you would want to register. For most civilian contractors, this space will include where you currently work, and  the area around it. As you get into more specialized professions, the places you can choose to go expands if there aren’t many people in the system who have the same set of skills that you do.

You do only get one shot in the PPP for the job that you have. Once the program matches you up with an opening, you will only have 2 days to consider it if you are in the United States at the time, or 3 days if you are not. If you were to decline it, your name would be taken out of the PPP system. This is to ensure that other people who want jobs have a fair shot at them without a glut of people who deny several jobs so that they can find something extremely close by.

What is the best way to register for the PPP (Priority Placement Program)?

You should be able to register for the PPP through your HR office, they have everything you need in order to get started and get your information into the system. It is hard to stress enough that you need to very carefully consider what you are looking for in terms of employment when you sign up for the PPP. You will have the chance to name 5 things which you are well qualified for, these will be what the computer looks at when trying to determine if you would be a good fit for a specific job.

Relocation is also a big issue in the PPP, there is a good chance that if your job is specialized enough, there won’t be any openings in your area for possibly a very long time. This can lead to you needing to move in order to take a position. The more places that you can move to, the better of a chance that you will find something quickly with PPP (Priority Placement Program).

About the Author CPOL Employment (Civilian Personnel Online) is a site created by a couple of guys with a personal interest about CPOL. We are not officially affiliated with any other sites, we had been looking for the proper information ourselves and had a difficult time trying to find it. Therefore we decided to detail all the best information and tips and build a website putting this information out there to the general public making their research a bit easier.

9 comments… add one
  • Julie Loose February 26, 2013, 12:43 am


    I was wondering how do you get on a PPP list? I lost my job in 2011 due to several reasons. I was suppose to be on a PPP list but never have been on one and I have been unemployed since then. I have had no resources on how to get work again. I previously a permanent employees for over 8 years.

    Thank you,

    Julie Loose

  • Julie Loose February 26, 2013, 12:45 am


    Can you tell me how to get on a PPP list? I lost my federal job in 2011 and have been unemployed since then.I have had no resources.

    Thank you,

    Julie Loose

  • Julie Loose March 11, 2013, 2:32 am


    I have contacted my Hr department on the PPP list they say its unions job to put me on PPP list and the union says its Managemnt job so no one ever did it and now I have been unemployed over a year. Any ideas for me?
    Thank you!!

  • Lori Cardenas June 10, 2014, 8:58 am

    The PPP where I’m registered is a joke! I’ve been on it for almost 2 years and no one has ever called. I went in last week and my file was archived and they had me down in the wrong pay grade. My husband is about to retire from AD and this has put an enormous financial strain on us. Why does it seem the military wives are not a priority???

  • Ask March 31, 2015, 5:24 pm

    Military spouses are always a priority. However, you have to make every effort to help yourself. It all begins with a good resume. You don’t have to spend a fortune getting this done. We tend to think of the large items, but sometimes the little things will make the difference. Start writing down everything you’ve done. Revisit for about a week, adding more details as you think of them. Then, consolidate into a resume. Go straight to the CPAC for registration. Check USAJOBs twice a week. Come up with a good cover email message. Go online and get a list of contractors and start emailing them one by one. Same cover message. Good Morning,
    My name is Jane Doe and I am interested in securing a position within your organization. I have 5 years of experience in Contracting. I am DAWIA Level 2 certified. I have a Masters Degree in Business. I also have a valid Top Secret Clearance. I’m a subject matter expert when it comes to pre and post awards, blah, blah, blah. I would like to have the opportunity to broaden my knowledge and utilize my acquired skills. Attached is a copy of my resume along with my two most recent performance appraisals for your review. Please contact me at any time for discussion of possible placement opportunities.
    Thank you for your time.

    Phone Number

  • Ask March 31, 2015, 5:36 pm

    The Priority Placement Program does place spouses as well as other displaced or soon to be displaced employee.
    Remember, PPP does not guarantee placement.
    There are some locations where the job market is almost nonexistant, but don’t give up. There are many other opportunities out there besides the Federal Government. While you are waiting on an HR Specialist to make the magical call to you telling you the great news that you’ve been placed, continue to search for any other qualifying positions both within and outside the government. One thing you must never do is consider yourself above a certain grade level. I was always eager to work. I accepted a GS-3 position (no, I didn’t leave off a 1). Everyone told me that they would never take such a low position, but I did. That opportunity resulted in my career today. Had I not accepted that position, I would have been a GS-7 like some people I started out with.
    The difference between a GS-3 and a GS-15 is dedication, determination, and most of all…opportunity. Never give up!

  • John April 20, 2016, 2:58 pm

    Can you help me with Priority Placement Program, I am a Army civilian looking to take a civilian job overseas. 925.766.1236

  • DONALD BLYTHE November 27, 2017, 4:47 pm


  • jesus cabredo November 30, 2017, 11:04 am

    More of a question than a comment. Since PPP is now 2 years instead of 1, what is the average time do I have to complete in order not to pay back the PCS move?

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