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ARLINGTON, Va. — Going once, going twice … sold! It’s job hunting auction-style in the Navy, and growing more popular with each cycle.

At first glance, the numbers might not appear staggering: 55 sailors have been selected out 235 applicants seeking to fill a total of 558 jobs now part of the Navy’s Assignment Incentive Pay program, or simply AIP.

But that’s 55 sailors in positions they want, and have not been forced to take, said Tony Cunningham, with the Navy’s office of Personnel Research Studies and Technology.

Sailors “bid” on jobs by indicating how much extra money they’d like to be paid, up to the maximum, which vary by job and location. It’s a gamble. With all things equal, such as eligibility, jobs go to the lowest bidders.

At first, when sailors bid nothing for the jobs, it raised concern among program managers who wondered if some might not have understood the process, Cunningham said.

That wasn’t the case.

“Some just really wanted to go there,” he said, using Naples and Sigonella, where the Navy has two bases, as examples. “Some had spouses of Italian heritage, and well, wanted” those positions.

Few bidders, however, said they’d accept no incentive to fill a vacancy, Cunningham said. Of the 55, 4 sailors have accepted no extra money to take on the jobs and 17 sailors have received the maximum amount for that station and position.

The Navy has set aside $13.5 million for AIP next fiscal year, and $150 million through fiscal 2007.

Jobs getting no takers will remain unfilled for up to six months, after which, a Naval personnel officer, or detailer, will select a qualified and eligible sailor to fill it.

“That’s not unlike what we deal with all the time,” Cunningham said. “We have jobs that people don’t apply for, that don’t get filled, but at some point, the decision is made that someone has to go to that job.”

Sailors not selected for a job can reapply in the next cycle if the position was not filled, but must resubmit an application because they do not carry over. Cycles last on average two weeks, and are continuous throughout the year.

Job vacancies are posted on the Internet, but sailors must submit applications through a career counselor, Cunningham said.

Some applicants were not selected because they were not qualified. Job-hunting sailors can file up to five applications, and not all have to be jobs within the AIP program, Cunningham said. For some of the 235 applicants, the AIP position was not a top choice and some were awarded number one requests.

The program’s popularity prompted officials to consider expanding to other duty stations to which the Navy has difficulty luring sailors, or “type 3” stations, said Steve Cylke, an assistant for policy analysis and evaluation.

Those could include Guam, Cuba and Korea, and some stateside. But since no decision has been made, and might not come until October, officials declined to provide specifics.

— Information on AIP program is available on the Super Job Advertising and Selection System, or Super JASS, at: www.bupers.navy.mil/jass/ or https://www.jass.navy.mil/jass/servlet/index.

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