Career Epidemiology Field Officer Program


The mission of the Career Epidemiology Field Officer (CEFO) Program is to strengthen state, local, tribal, and territorial epidemiologic capability for public health preparedness and response.

About the CEFO Program

Following the terrorist events and anthrax incidents in 2001, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention created the CEFO Program in 2002. Through the CEFO Program, CDC epidemiologists are assigned, by request, to state, local, or territorial public health departments to help strengthen their epidemiologic capacity and public health preparedness. With 27 assignees in 23 jurisdictions (as of October 2012), the CEFO program represents the largest number of staff epidemiologists ever assigned to U.S. state and local health departments by CDC. Field assignees have diverse professional backgrounds, skill sets, and experience levels, which enhance the program’s ability to assist health departments in meeting their different needs.

CEFO activities include

  • Developing or strengthening surveillance systems that provide essential data to inform public health preparedness decision-making and guide response efforts
  • Enhancing epidemiologic capability by investigating major health problems and mentoring and training junior staff
  • Supporting the development and implementation of public health policies, writing and reviewing public health emergency plans, and assisting with development and performance of all -hazards exercises
  • Coordinating timely and appropriate engagement of CDC and/or federal resources to support health department emergency responses
  • Collaborating with key partners including emergency responders, healthcare providers, and other agencies or organizations with preparedness and response responsibilities

The Public Health Matters Blog from the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response regularly posts CEFO stories. Read the blog post by Scott Harper, who is currently located in New York City.

How the CEFO Request Process Works

CEFOs are assigned to state, local, and territorial health departments by request. Health departments may contact the CEFO Program to initiate a request for a CEFO. Once the request is approved, the CEFO Program will work with the requesting health department to indentify priority areas of work and coordinate the recruitment of CEFO candidates.

CEFO positions are funded through the Public Health Emergency Preparedness cooperative agreement. The requesting agency agrees to support an initial CEFO assignment of two years with the option to renew the request annually.

Contact the CEFO Program

To contact the CEFO Program, send an email to or call 770.488.8881.

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