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NSA job post for 'Civil Liberties & Privacy Officer' goes live

The scandal surrounding the US National Security Agency is no laughing matter, of course. But it's hard not to look for telling lines in the agency's new job listing.

A reassuring pop-up on the NSA's Web site.
Screenshot by CNET

The US National Security Agency has posted an ad for a "Civil Liberties & Privacy Officer," offering critics of the NSA a well-nigh irresistible chance to play the time-honored game of reading between the lines of a job listing.

Some of the potentially more ironic phrases:

  • The candidate "rapidly adapts to...unexpected obstacles,"
  • "deals effectively with pressure; remains optimistic and persistent, even under adversity,"
  • "complies with established control systems and rules," and
  • "perceives organizational...reality and acts accordingly."

The NSA surveillance scandal is no joke, of course. It threatens both the Constitution and, possibly, the agency's effectiveness at fighting terrorism. But given the NSA's perceived double-talk on the issue, one might be forgiven a snigger or two at the job post. (Besides, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has said himself that the debate surrounding the agency's spy programs needed to happen -- surely that debate could include a ribbing or two.)

President Obama announced during a press conference in August the plan to create the new position, along with an NSA Web site devoted to greater transparency, which, surprisingly to some, took the form of a Tumblr blog.

Here's the job listing in full:

Job Description

Job Title: NSA Civil Liberties & Privacy Officer
Job ID: 1039797
Location: Fort George G. Meade, MD
Occupational Group: 0905 General Attorney
Full/Part Time: Full-Time Pay Plan: GG
Regular/Temporary: Regular


This position will be located at the National Security Agency (NSA) at Fort Meade, Maryland.

The NSA is a Component of the DoD Intelligence Community with combat support responsibilities. The work force is composed of both military assignees and civilian employees located worldwide, to include military members of the Central Security Service (CSS). The NSA's core missions are to protect U.S. national security systems and to produce signals intelligence information. The Information Assurance mission confronts the formidable challenges inherent in preventing foreign adversaries from gaining access to sensitive or classified national security information and in protecting national security information systems from unauthorized intrusion. The Signals Intelligence mission is to collect, process, and disseminate signals intelligence in response to intelligence and counterintelligence information requirements and to support military operations. NSA also supports U.S. Cyber Command.

The NSA Civil Liberties & Privacy Officer (CLPO) is conceived as a completely new role, combining the separate responsibilities of NSA's existing Civil Liberties and Privacy (CL/P) protection programs under a single official. The CLPO will serve as the primary advisor to the Director of NSA for ensuring that privacy is protected and civil liberties are maintained by all of NSA's missions, programs, policies and technologies. This new position is focused on the future, designed to directly enhance decision making and to ensure that CL/P protections continue to be baked into NSA's future operations, technologies, tradecraft, and policies. The NSA CLPO will consult regularly with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence CLPO, privacy and civil liberties officials from the Department of Defense and the Department of Justice, as well as other U.S. government, private sector, public advocacy groups and foreign partners.

Specific Duties:

a. Provide advice and guidance to the Director and the NSA senior leadership team to ensure that all agency activities appropriately protect privacy and civil liberties consistent with operational, legal, and other requirements.

b. As the senior architect for CL/P, ensure that protections are addressed as part of all internal strategic decision processes related to the agency's operations, key relationships, tradecraft, technologies, resources or policies.

c. Represent the Agency on CL/P matters and serve as a liaison to other department/agencies/boards and, as appropriate, the Congress.

d. Responsible for broadly and, to the greatest extent possible, proactively explaining how NSA protects CL/P to the internal workforce, within the IC, to USG partners and to the public.

e. Manage CL/P policy, and advise on related assessment and compliance programs.

f. Ensure adequate procedures are in place to receive, investigate, respond to, and redress complaints from individuals who raise CL/P concerns.

g. Ensure that appropriate CL/P offices within ODNI, DoD, and DoJ remain apprised of all significant CL/P issues arising from NSA activities.

h. Provide CL/P reviews and assessments as required of the NSA support to the U.S. Cyber Command.

i. Provide testimony at Congressional hearings and special briefings to Members of Congress and their staffs concerning any CL/P questions relating to NSA, as appropriate.

j. Ensure that NSA leadership is informed of significant developments or changes in CL/P related statutes, policies, best practices, or technologies affecting the NSA enterprise, its people or its resources.

k. Build partnerships with the public and private sectors and within the national security community to advance mission objectives.

l. Perform such other duties as the Director may prescribe.


Applicants must have significant, senior executive level CL/P protection policy setting and program management experience and an authoritative knowledge of related best practices, norms, policies, statutes, and regulations. The successful candidate will be well known and highly regarded by U.S. privacy and civil liberties protection professionals. Must have demonstrated the ability to perform complex analysis, develop innovative solutions, give effective oral and written presentations, and forge working relationships with senior level officials. Must also possess the administrative skills to effectively oversee an office and manage other professionals. Substantive knowledge of CL/P issues as they relate to telecommunications and internet privacy is required. Experience with and knowledge of the CL/P issues related to surveillance in national security and law enforcement environments is a plus. Legal education or experience is preferred.

Evaluation Criteria: The applicant selected must meet all the Executive Core Qualifications (ECQ) listed below. Applicants should provide a brief narrative (no more than one-half page) to support each ECQ. In addition, each applicant must submit a resume. Fully qualified applicants will be reviewed by a Panel.


This core qualification involves the ability to bring about strategic change, both within and outside the organization to meet organizational goals. Inherent to this ECQ is the ability to establish an organizational vision and to implement it in a continuously changing environment.


- Creativity & Innovation - Develops new insights into situations; questions conventional approaches; encourages new ideas and innovations; designs and implements new or cutting edge programs/processes.

- External Awareness - Understands and keeps up-to-date on local, national, and international policies and trends that affect the organization and shape stakeholders' views; is aware of the organization's impact on the external environment.

- Flexibility - Is open to change and new information; rapidly adapts to new information, changing conditions, or unexpected obstacles.

- Resilience - Deals effectively with pressure; remains optimistic and persistent, even under adversity. Recovers quickly from setbacks.

- Strategic Thinking - Formulates objectives and priorities, and implements plans consistent with long-term interests of the organization in a global environment. Capitalizes on opportunities and manages risks.

- Vision - Takes a long-term view and builds a shared vision with others; acts as a catalyst for organizational change. Influences others to translate vision into action.


This core qualification involves the ability to lead people toward meeting the organization's vision, mission, and goals. Inherent to this ECQ is the ability to provide an inclusive workplace that fosters the development of others, facilitates cooperation and teamwork, and supports constructive resolution of conflicts.


- Conflict Management - Encourages creative tension and differences of opinions. Anticipates and takes steps to prevent counter-productive confrontations. Manages and resolves conflicts and disagreements in a constructive manner.

- Leveraging Diversity - Fosters an inclusive workplace where diversity and individual differences are valued and leveraged to achieve the vision and mission of the organization.

- Developing Others - Develops the ability of others to perform and contribute to the organization by providing ongoing feedback and providing opportunities to learn through formal and informal methods.

- Team Building - Inspires and fosters team commitment, spirit, pride, and trust. Facilitates cooperation and motivates team members to accomplish group goals.


This core qualification involves the ability to meet organizational goals and customer expectations. Inherent to this ECQ is the ability to make decisions that produce high-quality results by applying technical knowledge, analyzing problems, and calculating risks.


- Accountability - Holds self and others accountable for measurable high-quality, timely, and cost effective results. Determines objectives, sets priorities, and delegates work. Accepts responsibility for mistakes. Complies with established control systems and rules.

- Customer Service - Anticipates and meets the needs of both internal and external customers. Delivers high-quality products and services; is committed to continuous improvement.

- Decisiveness - Makes well-informed, effective, and timely decisions, even when data is limited or solutions produce unpleasant consequences; perceives the impact and implications of decisions.

- Entrepreneurship - Positions the organization for future success by identifying new opportunities; builds the organization by developing or improving product or services. Takes calculated risks to accomplish organizational objectives.

- Problem Solving - Identifies and analyzes problems; weighs relevance and accuracy of information; generates and evaluates alternative solutions; makes recommendations.

- Technical Credibility - Understands and appropriately applies principles, procedures, requirements, regulations, and policies related to specialized expertise.


This core qualification involves the ability to manage human, financial, material and information resources strategically.


- Financial Management - Understands the organization's financial process. Prepares, justifies, and administers the program budget. Oversees procurement and contracting to achieve desired results. Monitors expenditures and uses cost-benefit thinking to set priorities.

- Human Capital Management - Builds and manages the workforce based on organizational goals, budget considerations, and staffing needs. Ensures that employees are appropriately recruited, selected, appraised and rewarded; takes action to address performance problems. Manages a multi-sector workforce and a variety of work situations.

- Technology Management - Keeps up-to-date on technological developments. Makes effective use of technology to achieve results. Ensures access to and security of technology systems.


This core qualification involves the ability to build coalitions internally and with other federal agencies, state and local governments, nonprofit and private sector organizations foreign governments, or international organizations to achieve common goals.


- Partnering - Develops networks and builds alliances, collaborates across boundaries to build strategic relationships and achieve common goals.

- Political Savvy - Identifies the internal and external politics that impact the work of the organization. Perceives organizational and political reality and acts accordingly.

- Influencing/Negotiating - Persuades others; builds consensus through give and take: gains cooperation from others to obtain information and accomplish goals.


This core qualification is comprised of the Intelligence Community (IC)-specific "joint" competencies of Collaboration and Integration, Enterprise Focus, and Value-Centered Leadership.


- Collaboration and Integration - Share information and knowledge to achieve results by creating an environment that promotes employee engagement, collaboration, integration, information and knowledge sharing, and the candid, open exchange of diverse points of view.

- Enterprise Focus - Demonstrate a deep understanding of how the mission, structures, leaders, and cultures of the various DoD and IC components interact and connect.

- Values-Centered Leadership - Advance and reinforce DoD and IC core values: A Commitment to selfless service and excellence in support of the IC's mission, as well as to preserving, protecting, and defending the Nation's laws and liberties; the integrity and Courage (moral, intellectual, and physical) to seek and speak the truth, to innovate, and to change things for the better, regardless of personal or professional risk; and Collaboration as members of a single IC-wide team, respecting and leveraging the diversity of all members of the IC, their background, their sources and methods, and their points of view.

Pay, Benefits, & Work Schedule

Salary is commensurate with experience and education.

Salary Range: Up to $173,000

How To Apply - External

To apply for this position, please click the 'Apply Now' button located at the top or bottom of this page. After completing the application and clicking the `Submit Final' button, you will receive a confirmation email. Emails regarding your application status will be sent periodically. Please ensure your spam filters are configured to accept emails from noreply@nsa.gov.


U.S. Citizenship is required for all applicants. Reasonable accommodations provided to applicants with disabilities during the application and hiring process where appropriate. NSA is an equal opportunity employer and abides by applicable employment laws and regulations. All applicants and employees are subject to random drug testing in accordance with Executive Order 12564. Employment is contingent upon successful completion of a security background investigation and polygraph.

This position is a Defense Civilian Intelligence Personnel System (DCIPS) position in the Excepted Service under 10 U.S.C. 1601. DoD Components with DCIPS positions apply Veterans' Preference to eligible candidates as defined by Section 2108 of Title 5 USC, in accordance with the procedures provided in DoD Instruction 1400.25, Volume 2005, DCIPS Employment and Placement. If you are a veteran claiming veterans' preference, as defined by Section 2108 of Title 5 U.S.C., you must submit documents verifying your eligibility with your application package.

DCIPS Disclaimer

The National Security Agency (NSA) is part of the DoD Intelligence Community Defense Civilian Intelligence Personnel System (DCIPS). All positions in the NSA are in the Excepted Services under 10 United States Codes (USC) 1601 appointment authority.