HHS Webinar on IETA 2023
Title: HHS Webinar on the International Experience and Technical Assistance (IETA) program
On-screen graphic: IETA logo
On-screen text: IETA Program Overview
Patrick Chong, Associate Director, Overseas Operations Office says: This webinar focuses on IETA –CDC’s flagship global health professional development program. I am Patrick Chong, the Director of the Overseas Operations Office within CDC’s Global Health Center, and I am an alumnus of the IETA program. I am a middle age, Asian male, with salt and pepper hair and a gray beard. I am wearing a purple shirt with a blue and purple tie and a dark gray jacket. The first cohort of the International Experience and Technical Assistance program, or IETA, completed their international field assignments in 1998. Since then, the IETA program has provided over 480 HHS federal employees with the opportunity to gain global health experience while exploring whether working internationally is right for them. I am pleased to see all of you here today with the with the goal of learning more about this twelve-month competency-based program. I encourage any of you who meet the qualifications and are looking for a career in global health to apply to the IETA program. The IETA program changed the trajectory of my career. I was a project officer when I started with CDC over 24 years ago managing corporate agreements in the U.S. I signed up for IETA. I was considered the second cohort, so a long time ago. And it was supposed to be a three-month experience. Well, the three-month experience turned into an 18-year career overseas in multiple CDC country offices. And now I head up the office that supports over sixty plus country offices overseas. So, IETA had really changed my career, and placed me where I am today. So, I’m pleased then, to introduce your two presenters for today.
Lieutenant Commander Felicia Warren is the Team Lead for the Operational Policy and Training Team
within CDC’s Global Health Center’s Overseas Operations Office and Commander Alyson Rose-Wood, who is the IETA Program Manager. I will now turn it over to Felicia. She and Alyson will provide you with an overview of the IETA program and the application process. Thank you.
Lieutenant Commander Felicia Warren, Team Lead, Operational Policy and Training Team says: Hi. I am Lieutenant Commander Felicia Warren, and I am an African American woman with brown hair and glasses, and I’m wearing the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps modified service dress blue uniform, and I have a white IETA background. We are recording today’s webinar, and if we can go to the next slide, and it will be posted on the IETA website as soon as it’s made available.
- IETA program overview
- Application process
- Home office requirements
- Program timeline
The webinar will include an overview of the IETA program, and a description of the application process, including the program’s competencies and eligibility criteria. The presentation will also include information about the program requirements for participants and home offices, and the program timeline. We’ve allotted half of the hour for questions and answers. We ask that you please hold your questions until the end of the presentation. We will answer questions following the presentation. And also, please note that we also have a frequently asked questions on the IETA website that we will keep updated throughout the IETA application process. And if you have any specific questions about your eligibility, we ask that you send an email to email@example.com. As we transition into the formal presentation. We invite you to answer one poll question, and this will help us know who’s calling in today and where you’re coming from.
Commander Alyson Rose-Wood, IETA Program Manager, Operational Policy and Training Team says: All right. Thank you, Lieutenant Commander Warren. I am Commander Alyson Rose-Wood, and I am a white woman with brown hair pulled back in a bun, and I am wearing the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps modified service dress blue uniform, and I have a white IETA zoom background.
And can we go to the next slide? Thank you.
On-screen text: What is IETA?
- A 12-month competency-based training program offered by CDC’s Global Health Center
- Offers HHS employees the opportunity to gain global health experience while providing technical assistance to CDC country offices and partners
- This program is comprised of:
- Multi-day orientation and closing workshops
- Completion of all HHS and Dept of State security requirements
- 12-week (minimum), supervised international field assignment
So, the IETA program is a 12-month competency-based program comprised of several multi-day workshops and a 12-week consecutive supervised field assignment in one of the countries where CDC has an overseas presence. It is designed to offer HHS employees of all professional backgrounds an opportunity to gain overseas experience while providing technical assistance to CDC country offices and partners. Aside from attending the workshops and the supervised field assignment, IETA participants continue to work in their current positions throughout the 12-month program. Next slide.
On-screen graphic: There is a global map that highlights in dark blue and orange all the countries where CDC works and has a presence in that country. The countries shaded dark blue represent where CDC works in 66 countries. The countries that have been shaded orange represent previous IETA field assignments in 44 countries.
On-screen text: Countries where IETA participants have served
Blue: Where CDC Works
Orange: Previous IETA Field Assignments
So, the map on this slide highlights in blue and orange all the countries where CDC works and has a presence in that country. The 44 countries that are colored in orange are where previous IETA field assignments have taken place. It is important to understand that in applying to the IETA program, you are agreeing to be matched with a country where CDC has a presence. The country you are matched with could be a high-threat country as defined by the U.S. Department of State. In fact, any country could become a high-threat country at any point. To be successful in the IETA program, you need to be willing to provide your technical expertise where there is a need. Next slide.
On-screen text: Eligibility criteria
- Be a full-time HHS federal employee (Civil Service or U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps officer).
- Be at the GS-11 grade or above or O-3 rank or above.
- Be in current position for 12 or more consecutive months as of September 1.
- Excluding deployments, have not worked in a U.S. Embassy as an HHS federal employee.
- Be available to travel for a minimum 12-week international field assignment between January 15 to September 1.
- Have permission from first-level and second-level supervisors to apply and fully participate.
The IETA program seeks applicants from all professional backgrounds. Through our discussions with CDC country offices, we know that a wide range of skill sets and technical expertise areas are welcomed. This slide outlines the eligibility criteria for the program. It is also found on our website. To be eligible, you must be a full-time HHS employee – either civil service or a U.S. Public Health Service officer – at the GS-11 grade or above or O-3 rank or above. Title-42 employees who are U.S. citizens are eligible to apply as are Term employees. You must be in your current position for 12 or more consecutive months as of September 1st of the year you apply. Excluding deployments, you must not have previously worked in a U.S. Embassy as an HHS federal employee. You must be available for the minimum 12-week international field assignment between January 15th and September 1st. And, you need to have permission from your first-level and second-level supervisors to apply and fully participate in the program. Receiving supervisory permission is part of the application process which we will cover later in the presentation. If you are unsure if you meet the eligibility criteria, email the IETA program at firstname.lastname@example.org. Next slide.
On-screen text: IETA Home Office Requirements
- Support the participant’s time away from current position to attend training workshops and complete their 12-week minimum field assignment.
- Cover the salary, benefits, and travel to Atlanta, Georgia for the orientation and closing workshops.
- Review the draft field assignment statement of work in collaboration with participant, host office, and IETA program.
This slide outlines the three requirements that the IETA program has of the participant’s home office.
In signing the application form, supervisors need to understand that their program will need to do the following three things: Number 1: Ensure that the participant can fully participate in all training workshops and the minimum 12-week field assignment. Number 2: Cover the participant’s salary and benefits throughout the program as well as any domestic travel costs associated with IETA program training. The host program – or CDC country office – pays all costs associated with the international field assignment such as airfare, lodging, and meals and incidentals. Number 3: Review the draft field assignment statement of work in collaboration with the participant, host program, and the IETA program. Next slide.
On-screen text: Applying to the IETA program
- Application materials will be available on the IETA website each summer.
- Complete the application electronically.
- A complete application includes the following documents:
- Application with essay responses and signature
- Evaluation form with signatures (first-level and second-level supervisors, and, for U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps officers, the signature of the home agency liaison officer)
- Resumé template*
- SF-50 for civilians or PHS-7063 (Personnel Order Form)
- E-mail completed application to email@example.com.
This slide covers the process for applying to the IETA program. All application materials are made available on the IETA website each summer. For the fiscal year 2024 program year, the application will open on Friday, June 30th, and all applications must be received by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on August 15th, 2023. A complete application includes the following four documents that we ask that you complete electronically. 1: The application form with essay responses and signature. 2: The supervisor evaluation form with signatures. 3: The IETA resume template. And 4: your SF-50 for civilians or PHS personnel order form #7063. For the SF-50 requirement for civilians, please make sure the SF-50 form that you submit covers the 12 months prior to September 1st of the year you are applying. If you are a U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps officer, your home agency’s Commissioned Corps liaison will also need to sign the application. We ask that you email the completed application to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than August 15th. Next slide.
On-screen text: IETA Competencies
Domain 1: Leadership
- Self-awareness and continuous development
- Emotional intelligence
- Mental Models
Domain 2: Cross-Cultural Humility
2.1 Embracing diversity
2.2 Cultural feedback
2.3 Cultural insight
Domain 3: Diplomacy
3.1 Political savvy and situational awareness
3.2 U.S. mission environment
3.3 Interpersonal relationship building
Domain 4: Technical Expertise
4.1 Project management
4.2 Communication skills
4.3 Complex problem-solving and decision-making
On-screen graphic: There is a circular graphic depicting the four domains of IETA. By each domain, there is a rounded rectangular box with the name and competencies numbered below.
This slide shows the IETA competency model which consists of four domains and their associated competencies. The four domains are: leadership, cross-cultural humility, diplomacy, and technical expertise. The IETA competencies provide the framework for the entire IETA program – from the screening of applicants to the training experiences we provide. They also describe the capabilities each IETA participant should be able to demonstrate following program completion. Having the IETA program be competency-based ensures that we are building a cadre of skilled IETA alumni essential for supporting HHS’s global mission. The IETA program is designed to provide the trainings and hands-on experiences so that each participant develops their abilities in each domain you see here. You can access a complete description of these competencies on the IETA website. Next slide.
On-screen text: Selection Process
|Career goals||Identify global health career goals that support CDC’s global mission.|
|Cultural humility||Demonstrate the ability to live, work, and interact with people across a wide variety of cultural and social backgrounds.|
|Flexibility||Demonstrate ability to function well under uncertainty and frequently changing conditions.|
|Personal accountability||Own what happens as a result of your choices and actions.|
|Team player||Collaborate with others and care more about helping a team to success than individual success.|
|Technical expertise||Articulate how skillsets will contribute to HHS global health programs.|
So, this slide describes IETA’s best fit model, which is designed to help potential candidates consider whether IETA is an appropriate program to advance their public health career. This list gives an overview of the six screening criteria that the IETA program will use to screen applicants. And this list might help you determine whether you will be successful as an IETA applicant. First, we screen applicants on how IETA aligns with their career goals. We are seeking applicants who are trying to decide if working internationally for HHS is right for them. We will also screen applicants for their abilities in five areas of the IETA competency model: cross-cultural humility, flexibility, personal accountability, the skillsets you would bring to the program – which we refer to as technical expertise and being a team player. While trainings we provide in the IETA program might enhance a participant’s abilities in these areas, we seek participants who already demonstrate these abilities innately. All complete applications will be reviewed and scored by a screening panel that consists of a mix of CDC staff who have extensive experience working internationally for the agency, IETA program alumni, and subject matter experts in the fields of technical expertise identified by the candidate. The screening panel will review and rate each applicant based on the six screening criteria on the slide. To decrease the likelihood for factors such as unconscious bias towards names, genders, work, location, etc., each application reviewed by the screening panel will be blinded – identification details on each application will be removed by IETA program staff prior to screening. The highest scoring applicants will be invited to interview virtually. Following reference checks, finalists will take part in the matching process with host programs. Next slide.
On-screen graphic: Arrow depicting the timeline of the IETA program
On-screen text: IETA Annual Program Timeline
Summer: Apply to the program. September: Finalists announced. October: IETA program begins. Jan 15 – Sept 1: IETA field assignments. September: Closing workshop.
This slide shows a very high-level timeline of the program. The IETA website goes into more detail, and we’ll go into more detail for each specific program year. The IETA application process takes place every summer with finalists announced in late September. The program officially begins in October alongside a multi-day orientation in Atlanta, Georgia, the field assignment solicitation and matching process takes place in the fall. The IETA Program works with participants throughout the fall to ensure that they have completed all the necessary steps to be ready to travel to their field assignment in the new year. This includes getting cleared medically with the U.S. Department of State and completing all necessary security trainings required by the U.S. Government. Assignments take place between January 15th and September 1st. A multi-day closing workshop takes place in September. Next slide.
On-screen graphic: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Health and Human Services logo
On-screen text: For more information on the IETA program, visit www.cdc.gov/globalhealth/ieta/
For questions, contact email@example.com
So, this concludes our formal presentation on the IETA program, and I will turn it over to Lieutenant Commander Warren.
Lieutenant Commander Felicia Warren, Team Lead, Operational Policy and Training Team says: Thank you, Commander Rose-Wood, for that comprehensive presentation. I’ve been answering some of the questions in the chat. But we now have time for additional questions. So, if you could, if you have questions, please put them in the chat, and we will address those in the order that they’re received. And just please note that if you have a specific question about your individual eligibility, please send an email to the IETA mailbox at firstname.lastname@example.org. Commander Rose-Wood – one of the questions that came in the chat was, how many seats are in each cohort? And how is that determined? Could you walk us through that process?
Commander Alyson Rose-Wood, IETA Program Manager, Operational Policy and Training Team says: Sure, I’ll begin by directing you all to the frequently asked questions on the IETA website because this is one of the questions. On average, each IETA cohort historically has been approximately, had approximately 20 to 28 participants, and we have no plans to change that number, that average, going forward. And we, I will say this here, and I’ll add it to the website. The IETA program in extending offers into the program does not typically have a waitlist, and that is because you are being given that spot and things begin right after we extend that offer, including the matching process with countries. Over.
Lieutenant Commander Felicia Warren, Team Lead, Operational Policy and Training Team says: Thank you. And one of the other questions that came in is if the applicant’s home agency does not have funds to pay for the in-person trainings. And travel that may be associated with attending trainings that may be in Atlanta or other locations. How can that cost be covered?
Commander Alyson Rose-Wood, IETA Program Manager, Operational Policy and Training Team says: So, your home office is asked to continue to pay your salary and benefits throughout the program. And just to reiterate this so everyone’s clear, and also to pay for the participants to travel two times to Atlanta, and on the website, we outline, when, a number of days that would be traveling to Atlanta, Georgia, for the orientation workshop in the fall and traveling to Atlanta, Georgia the subsequent September for the closing workshop. The home office is not asked to pay for any other travel for the IETA participant. The host program you match with for your field assignment would cover additional travel. I would say the IETA program would not, it does not closely monitor how the payment happens for traveling to Atlanta, Georgia. But let me consider that a little bit more and add it as a frequently asked question to the website as well. Over.
Lieutenant Commander Felicia Warren, Team Lead, Operational Policy and Training Team says: And then there are several questions about the matching process. Can you walk us through what the matching process looks like? How are country offices selected? How are the final assignments determined?
Commander Alyson Rose-Wood, IETA Program Manager, Operational Policy and Training Team says: Yeah, All right. I’ll begin by saying through the screening process we’re heavily focused on determining whether each applicant fits that best fit candidate description that I went over, and it’s on the application page of our website, which means the ideal candidate for the IETA program is willing to go anywhere CDC has a country presence, and anywhere you are matched. If you are interested in a certain part of the world, or a certain country, and it’s sort of that or nothing, this would not be the program for you. We work hard to screen that out, and we really don’t want to give you a spot only to have it not work out because you’re not willing to go anywhere that you match, anywhere where CDC has a presence. We encourage those folks with specific countries or regions of the world in mind to consider working directly with a CDC country office or CDC regional office to pursue a direct TDY there. And this is because you don’t know which CDC country or regional office in the world going to really be in need of your skill sets. I mean, you’re entitled to your prefaces, certainly. So, you might apply thinking: Gosh! With these skill sets. I know it’ll be the America’s region, for example, it will be Central America. Got the language, got all sorts of stuff going for me, but you might be the only laboratorian or microbiologist in the cohort, and Thailand really needed you. And so, we just need the applicants to be willing to go anywhere, and as I mentioned, it could be a high-threat post because you were traveling under U.S. chief of mission as an official U.S. government employee. The security situations in any country are closely monitored by the Department of State, by U.S. Department of Health and Services security officials, by CDC security officials, and so you only are sent to a country if 12-week TDY’s are allowed at that point. I do want to say that. So, the matching process works in this way. We have a standard IETA resume that will be posted on the IETA website on June 30th, which is when the application will be posted on the website as well, and you’ll fill it out, so everyone will have a similar-looking resume. It makes it easier for country and regional offices to be able to take a look across all the resumes. It’s a shorter resume than some of you might be used to, but it gets to the point of what your skill sets are, recent work experience, languages, educational backgrounds, etc. And so, in each year I ask CDC regional and country offices to raise their hands to potentially host an IETA participant, or potentially host several IETA participants in that year, depending on what their needs are, and when they raise their hand, the country and regional office are saying – please include us when you send out the package of IETA resumes. And so, I’ll be doing that alongside running the interview and selection process later on this fiscal year. The matching process runs much like I understand medical school and others run. I haven’t done it so I could be mistaken. But what we do is each potential host program receives the entire package of resumes, and in a two or three-week period, they get their resumes and they’re given instructions to reach out to those IETA participants they want to have an exploratory conversation with. And the IETA participants are told to be on standby to hear from countries. And at a certain date, the IETA program asks that all IETA participants and all host programs send to the IETA program their ranked preferences, and then the IETA program takes those ranks, matches them up, and notifies all the matches. It will be the case that some IETA participants might not match the first round. And the IETA program is committed to ensuring that everyone has a match during the year. So, if there are any IETAs who don’t match in that initial matching period, I work individually with those to ensure they have a field assignment in the country where CDC has a presence. It did work out this year. We piloted the matching process for this year’s cohort and most individuals and countries got their top choices, and I think that’s because when you go away from an exploratory conversation mutually, you might have a good feeling. And it just so happened that matches happened based on the mutual preferences. There were a handful of IETAs who didn’t match in the first round, and all IETAs are matched, and have field assignments this year. I’ll stop talking there and turn it over to you, Lieutenant Commander Warren.
Lieutenant Commander Felicia Warren, Team Lead, Operational Policy and Training Team says: So, I answered this question in the chat, but I think it’s worth repeating. So, there was a question in the chat about being a member of a marginalized community such as LGTBQ+. And are there, are those considerations taken when looking at the matching process and placing someone in a country where laws may not support them?
Commander Alyson Rose-Wood, IETA Program Manager, Operational Policy and Training Team says: Yeah, that’s a really good question. Especially in light of some current situations. What I will say is the IETA program, going into this next matching process, will be giving a foundation to the IETA participants about the country offices, and how to find out more about the different countries and that sort of thing. And the IETA participants have control, in a sense, over which countries you rank, and when, or which countries you speak to. The IETA program is also, I would say, based on that question, and what’s going on in the world, there might be some extra steps taken just to ensure that matches the safety and security of the IETA participant is ensured.
Lieutenant Commander Felicia Warren, Team Lead, Operational Policy and Training Team says: Thank you. And there are several questions in the chat about the actual field assignment. Could you walk us through potential field assignments? What type of technical assistance country offices are requesting? And then what that timeline might look like for a participant.
Commander Alyson Rose-Wood, IETA Program Manager, Operational Policy and Training Team says: Yeah. So, I would say, first off, related to the type of skill sets/professional backgrounds that the countries are looking for. They are very interested in seeing all the skill sets, and you’ll see, in the, on the IETA resume on the first page. There’s a huge list that we have possible areas of subject matter expertise that you could have, and you select all of them. And so country offices are looking at that, and very interested in all backgrounds. It – I will say, if you are, for example, an eye doctor with the Indian Health Service applying hoping to do specific work on eyes in the CDC country office or regional office. That likely wouldn’t happen. But what the country offices would do would see that you’re a clinician. Would sort of be looking big picture at the buckets of skill sets you have to see where you could plug in to help further a program. So, the IETA program doesn’t want to guarantee anyone that if you apply, you’re going to get to work in the exact field you work in in your home office. But what we can guarantee is all the skill sets you bring to that home office program will be taken into consideration and utilized by the host program. We do have on our website eight videos from alumni, and we’re working to finish some additional ones that try to capture the range of experiences that alumni have had based on their background. I will also highlight some recent IETA experiences including the following: We have a pharmacist with FDA who’s been in the IETA program, who was used by, her skill sets were used in a country office to look at supply chain processes and issues for HIV/AIDS medication in that country. We’ve had in the past a microbiologist with NIH go into a country to look at laboratory capacity building with the Ministry of Health with a focus on certain diseases. And we have public health advisors or contracting officers, grant managers, program managers, folks experienced with knowing how to move money, or to manage, start, or evaluate programs be used in any number of country offices. The primary programs that our country offices work on, and it varies by CDC country and regional office are HIV/AIDS through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief or through the Global Health Security work through our Division for Global Health Protection. And I will stop there, Lieutenant Commander Warren, to see if there’s more I could elaborate on. Or, if there’s another question to take.
Lieutenant Commander Felicia Warren, Team Lead, Operational Policy and Training Team says: So, Commander Rose-Wood, there are several questions about the process, if you could walk us through? So, I’m interested in the IETA program. What’s my next step? If you could sort of walk-through what potential applicants should be thinking through all the way from the approval process, and also thinking about getting ready for the program.
Commander Alyson Rose-Wood, IETA Program Manager, Operational Policy and Training Team says: Sure. So, if you are interested in the IETA program based on what you’ve seen on the website, and what you’ve heard today, the first thing would be to visit the IETA website starting June 30th to take a look at the application, the IETA resume template. Those are the two big areas that you’d be asked to submit by August 15th. So, you could at any point, even starting today, begin to explore with your home office supervisors whether they will be supportive for you to apply in this cycle for next fiscal year, or explore whether it’s something to put in your professional development plans and consider applying in a subsequent year. You would also want to review the eligibility criteria to make sure you are eligible, and you are invited to reach out to the IETA program email@example.com if you have individual eligibility questions that you’re not sure of. So, just making sure you’re eligible. A lot of you might have questions for the ins and outs of that requirement of having had to be in the same office in position for the 12 months leading up to September 1st of the year that you apply. So, if you have any nuanced questions about that, feel free to reach out. The IETA program is not a funded program, and we do rely for the success of the program on the home office, agreeing to continue to support your salary and benefits while you’re on the minimum 12-week field assignment, and while you’re doing the orientation workshop in Atlanta, the closing workshop in Atlanta, and supporting you taking the time off if you need to take any of the security. Well, the main security training is a five-day security training, and we describe it on the website. So, exploring I think with your home office and with your family if there is support for you to do this. We screen heavily to make sure that you are available at the time when the country office would need you. Country offices have different work schedules, and you do need to be able to be available between January 15th and September 1st of the year that you’re applying to get into the program. And so, if it’s a year where you have a lot of commitments, it may be wise to look at a different year to apply. There are a few things you can also do as you go through the application process as you wait to hear if you’re called for an interview or and to become a finalist, and that is all IETA participants are required to have a government credit card, so you could apply for that if you don’t have one. All IETA participants need to have an official U.S. government employee passport, not a personal U.S. government passport. So, you could look in with your home agency about whether you could apply for that now to have it. It’s good for six years. And all IETA participants have to receive a medical clearance from the Department of State, so there does exist the possibility that you could get into the program, and for reasons beyond your control, you aren’t able to receive that Department of State medical clearance. So, if you have any concerns about that, or just want to get a jump start, you could talk to your home agency. You could reach out the IETA program for the link to the Department of State Medical Clearance description. But you could look into beginning the medical clearance process or learning more about what it would require. So that’s the application. You would submit it by August 15th. Interviews will take place most likely early- to mid-September with finalists. Our target is to notify you by the end of the September. When we post the application and associated materials on the website next Friday, we’ll also include the program year, when the orientation will be in Atlanta, which you will be required to be at, and when the closing workshop will be. I’ll turn it back to you, Lieutenant Commander Warren.
Lieutenant Commander Felicia Warren, Team Lead, Operational Policy and Training Team says: There’s several questions about family members, and whether or not family members are allowed to join IETA participants on their assignments.
Commander Alyson Rose-Wood, IETA Program Manager, Operational Policy and Training Team says: Yeah, that’s a really, really good question. So, the minimum twelve-week field assignment is a professional tour of duty for the IETA participant. Therefore, family members are not eligible to travel on because they don’t have U.S. government travel orders. So, any candidate applying to the IETA program should have the understanding that you will not be accompanied by family members for the duration of your field assignment. Depending on where your field assignment is, there could exist the possibility for your family members to visit you while you’re on that field assignment, as long as clearance is received and approved in advance by the U.S. Embassy while you were there on travel orders. There are, in any given year, a few high-threat posts where family members, if you were posted there, you couldn’t bring family members. And it would be hard for family members to visit you while you were there on travel orders. Over.
Lieutenant Commander Felicia Warren, Team Lead, Operational Policy and Training Team says: Then there’s a question about age restrictions or limitations. Perhaps you can go into eligibility criteria and our commitment to DEIA.
Commander Alyson Rose-Wood, IETA Program Manager, Operational Policy and Training Team says: Yeah. Well, I would say first off as a program, we’re committed to transparency. So, there’s no hidden eligibility criteria that are not listed on our website. There’s no catch. Certainly, you can write the IETA program if after looking at the eligibility criteria, you still want to ascertain if you’re eligible. If you are a civil service employee, Public Health Service officer working for HHS, and you meet the eligibility criteria, we invite you to apply. There’s no age limit. As I described in the presentation, we do the blinded screening. We’re very deliberate with the screening and interview process, and how we approached it this year when we piloted it, and we’ve evaluated it, and we’ll be using it again in the year ahead, adapting where needed. But we are committed to addressing unconscious bias and monitoring how people are moving through the application, interview, and finalist process. We follow all CDC and HHS travel policies, and we’ll be working on a frequently asked question on this as well. So, if you have any questions about your situation. Feel free to reach out. Check the website, and I guess I I’ll stop there. I don’t know if you have anything you want to add Felicia. I will say we are deliberate with even describing how we’re screening you all, what we’re screening for, and when you see the application, it’ll make sense. So, there’s nothing hidden there either, and I will also say this year I committed myself to offering anyone who applied who didn’t get in – a 30-minute consult with me to go through their application, talk through whether they want to reapply, and I’ll be offering that again this year as well. So yeah, I’ll end there. Turn it over to you Felicia.
Lieutenant Commander Felicia Warren, Team Lead, Operational Policy and Training Team says: And then there are several questions about the job, the job series, the job title, and the length that a person is in a particular position or office. So, can you clarify for the purposes of the application – what criteria must applicants meet, and how is their current position defined?
Commander Alyson Rose-Wood, IETA Program Manager, Operational Policy and Training Team says: I would say I don’t want to get into parsing out words in this particular webinar. If based on the eligibility criteria you’re seeing on the website, you’re still uncertain. Please reach out. We have the requirement of needing to be in your same position for the 12 months leading up to September 1st of the year you apply because the IETA program is able to exist because of home offices. We want to honor the home office by not having a situation where you have recently begun a position. And so, you’re still proving yourself to that home office, while at the same time asking to do IETA. So that’s the background for that requirement. We take all GS series we describe on the website. We try to make that clear on the website as well, and we’ve even gone so far as to really try to have a diversity in GS series featured in those alumni videos as well.
Lieutenant Commander Felicia Warren, Team Lead, Operational Policy and Training Team says: I think also to clarify country offices. They’re looking for specific skill sets, not necessarily a particular job series when reviewing resumes. And so, they want to know whether or not you can do the job or complete a certain deliverable. And so, whether you’re a public health advisor or a health scientist or a laboratorian – they’re looking at your job history and your skill sets, your overall skill sets, and how, whether or not, you can hit the ground running once you’re in country. There have been some clarifying questions about the whether or not the GS level, whether that counts towards a position requirement. So, if someone’s been in their position as a GS-11 for three years, and they’re promoted to a 12 – will that count as a new position? No, it’s the same position. It’s just a different GS grade. Then there are very specific questions about the type of roles. So, for example, if someone’s in construction or engineering or laboratory sciences – is there a role for them in the IETA program? I’m combining a few of the questions that are in the chat.
Commander Alyson Rose-Wood, IETA Program Manager, Operational Policy and Training Team says: Yeah. I’ll answer that in two ways. If based on your background through this presentation and through the IETA website, you’re still wondering if you would have a place in the IETA program. Please reach out directly to firstname.lastname@example.org. What you will see on the application and the resume that will go to country offices just to underscore the point that Lieutenant Commander Warren just made. You’re going to be asked to describe all the areas of subject matter expertise that you have that you could bring to a country office. One of them is having familiarity working in a lab, being a laboratorian. But for others, I’m trying to remember if engineering is a specific slot. I’m not sure if that is that we give. But we have the chance to select other and write it in. But we have about 40 skill sets or areas you could contribute, and they include compliance, program management, policy, communications, clinical background, global health, epidemiology. So it’s buckets. And I’m imagining most of you on this call even if you describe yourself in one way for work, you actually would have a lot of those different areas that you could consider selecting as skill sets you could bring and experiences you could bring to the country office. And that’s what countries will be looking for.
Lieutenant Commander Felicia Warren, Team Lead, Operational Policy and Training Team says: Yeah, just to add to that, Commander Rose-Wood. We’ve even had attorneys apply for the program and be very successful where they may not have thought that they could contribute in a global health setting, but they were able to do so and thrived in the IETA program. And so, the program really truly seeks people from diverse backgrounds whether it’s education, training, or experience. And so, we just want to highlight that there’s no set number of epidemiologists that will be selected or a set number of public health advisors. We also have it listed as a skill set on the on the application and we also have regional IT advisors that are posted overseas. So, there are positions that correspond with that particular background. And so, we want to make sure that you see yourself represented. And also, that you’re aware of the different positions that are that are available and different ways that you can use your skill sets. To echo Commander Rose-Wood, I would encourage you to take a look at the videos that are posted on the IETA website. There are financial managers that are listed, contract officers, project officers – all sorts of backgrounds. And so, please be sure to take a look at the website and see some of and hear about some of those experiences. There were several questions about the January through September, and what does that mean in terms of the field assignment? Could you go over that one more time for those who had questions about that and needed clarification.
Commander Alyson Rose-Wood, IETA Program Manager, Operational Policy and Training Team says: Yeah. So, for the year that you’re applying, we are looking for applicants who are available to be in another country in their field assignment at any point between January 15th and September 1st. So, this means of that year. So, if you apply this year we’re talking about January 15th, 2024, through September 1st, 2024. We don’t want you in your field assignment as the fiscal year ends just because travel systems are closing budgets, all sorts of things. And so, this means at the earliest, you would be getting on a plane to depart from your duty location in the United States on January 15th, and at the latest you would be getting off the airplane, back at your duty location in the United States, on September 1st. Those are sort of the broad dates that you’re asked to be available. The matching process takes place in the fall, several months ahead of January 15th. And so, in the fall you would be matching with the country office, and learning about through that matching process, confirming with each country you speak to when they need somebody, and you would know earlier on the timing that you’re looking at for your minimum 12-week field assignment.
Lieutenant Commander Felicia Warren, Team Lead, Operational Policy and Training Team says:
Do you have a general idea of the cost for home offices for the two trips to Atlanta that you referenced?
Commander Alyson Rose-Wood, IETA Program Manager, Operational Policy and Training Team says:
I don’t have an estimate because this would depend on where your duty location is. The website describes the number of days you’d be in Atlanta for those two workshops, and you could look up through GSA what the per diem would be in Atlanta, and work with Omega concur or your agency’s travel program to look up contract carrier flights and what it would cost.
Lieutenant Commander Felicia Warren, Team Lead, Operational Policy and Training Team says: Thank you. And then there’s a question about going back to the 12-week field assignment. Can the assignments be longer, or can they be shorter? Could you?
Commander Alyson Rose-Wood, IETA Program Manager, Operational Policy and Training Team says:
Yeah. The assignments can be longer. That’s why we use the word minimum. It is up to the IETA participant in that country office about whether the country office would be interested in having you longer, and whether you’re interested in being there longer. The Office of the Secretary of HHS has been asking all individuals, even outside of IETA, doing international TDYs to really think things through ahead of time before you arrive in country and have a good sense of how long you’ll be there. Through the matching process and coming up with your statement of work with your matched country, you can fine tune the amount of time, but it’s a minimum of 12-weeks. We evaluated this amount of time while the IETA program was paused during COVID, and we determined that anything less than 12-weeks, it doesn’t – the goal is that we determine that 12-weeks works because less than 12-weeks you’re still not getting into the rhythm of what it’s like to work just day to day in a country office, you might still have the feeling that many TDYers do of just sort of arriving with your project and meeting, so the 12-weeks is deliberate. But we didn’t want to make the requirement any longer, because that would make it harder for you to get permission from your home offices, so the program requires minimum 12-weeks. I will say the maximum you could be on a TDY is just under 6 months, because for CDC, and I think this is across HHS – they discouraged TDYs of 6 months or longer, because it would make more sense to make that a detail. Over.
Lieutenant Commander Felicia Warren, Team Lead, Operational Policy and Training Team says: And there are a couple of questions about current Commissioned Corps officers. Are there special considerations that fellow officers should be aware of? And what are they?
Commander Alyson Rose-Wood, IETA Program Manager, Operational Policy and Training Team says:
Yeah, a few things. 1: The IETA program did a webinar for Commissioned Corps officers that we recorded and have a transcript for. We did it, I think, about six weeks ago, just focused on some of the unique considerations for officers, and I’ll be sending that recording out and the transcript to everyone through their liaison officers for your agency. I will say special considerations for officers are the following: We will be doing a TDY memo for your EOPF for the field assignment which helps ensure that you are not deployable during that time. As part of the application, you will be asked to get the signature of your agency’s liaison officer to sign off stating you are basic ready. And that was a requirement that we worked out with Commissioned Corps headquarters as part of making sure that we were doing everything we should be for officers. I will also say currently, just the minimum 12-week field assignment is currently designated as long-term training, just those 12-minimum weeks we’re exploring and confirming that with Commissioned Corps headquarters. But there would with the IETA program working with the agency liaison officer pursuing just a long-term training packet for those minimum 12-weeks. I will add we are working on some updates to the IETA website to tell the story of the current cohort and previous alumni in general throughout IETA’s 25-year history. We have had 43 Commissioned Corp officers from, I believe, 8 agencies participate in the program. We had one all the way up from O-3 all the way up to O-7. We had one officer who was a rear admiral when she participated in the program. Over.
Lieutenant Commander Felicia Warren, Team Lead, Operational Policy and Training Team says: Aly, there is a question about other agencies. Could you clarify, again, the eligibility for the program and agencies that we have participated in the past and agencies that are eligible?;
Commander Alyson Rose-Wood, IETA Program Manager, Operational Policy and Training Team says:
Yeah. So currently for the IETA program, if you work for any of the HHS staff or operating divisions – you are eligible to apply. If you are a Commissioned Corps officer currently with a duty post – a billet currently assigned to a non-HHS agency, we invite you to talk to your supervisory chain and see if you would have supervisory approval to apply. We ask that you then reach out to the IETA program directly. We’ll be looking into any individual requests from officers assigned to non-HHS agencies on a case-by-case basis. When we update the website with some of the history of the alumni, you’ll see for both civilians and officers, we’ve had a nice representation in terms of the number of agencies within HHS that have had at least one participant. In relaunching the program, with our blinded screening, we welcome all agencies, and feel like everyone is richer for the diversity and home agency represented. In this year’s cohort, 40% of the participants in the cohort are not from CDC.
Lieutenant Commander Felicia Warren, Team Lead, Operational Policy and Training Team says: We have time for one more question. That question will be sort of – If you’re a home office, that’s listening, or if you’re a potential applicant wanting to communicate with your home office about the benefits for applying to the IETA program. Could you summarize sort of the what’s in it for me argument or case that potential applicants can share with their home offices, or that their home offices need to hear to be supportive of the program?
Commander Alyson Rose-Wood, IETA Program Manager, Operational Policy and Training Team says:
Yeah, I would encourage before you talk to your home office, if you haven’t already, spend some time on the IETA website. Because we do, among other things, have IETA competencies, and the IETA competencies are very specific to what you would get out of the IETA program. But soft skills and each of them you will grow in through the program and be bringing back to the home office. And so those competencies, I was told by this year’s cohort, because the competencies are new. But the competencies were very helpful for applicants and helping to talk about what could be brought back to the home agency. I will also share that in the application, there is a part of the application where we ask the applicants to describe exactly what they anticipate being able to contribute back to their home office through participating, sharing of lessons learned, practices, working with marginalized populations, and the soft skills, cross-cultural humility, learning to work in a new environment. And so, we also, through the application – we’ll be asking you to give that a lot of thought as well. Over.
Lieutenant Commander Felicia Warren, Team Lead, Operational Policy and Training Team says: I think that concludes our questions and answers. Thank you so much for attending today’s webinar. Again, we encourage you to go to the IETA website and review the videos and the frequently asked questions. We also encourage you to reach out to the IETA program if you have specific questions about your eligibility, and again, we will be posting the webinar recording on the website as soon as it’s available. Thank you so much for attending the webinar.