TOKYO – Airmen are once again administering the Air Force physical fitness test at some military bases because a hiring freeze has kept the service from replacing civilians who have left their posts.

Last year, the Air Force created 264 jobs for civilians to administer the PT tests after an internal audit faulted airmen with inaccurate data collection. But as those civilian jobs were vacated, the service has been unable to fill the positions after implementing a hiring freeze Aug. 9, which has since been made indefinite.

Officials acknowledged that vacancies exist, but did not know how many open positions there are.

Despite the audit’s findings, Air Force guidance allows base commanders to appoint airmen to augment civilians at Fitness Assessment Cells, according to Capt. Mary Danner-Jones, an Air Force spokeswoman at the Pentagon.

Danner-Jones indicated the service was preparing for a change in the current PT program in the comings weeks, but did not elaborate. In was unclear if the civilian assessment jobs would be affected by Wednesday’s announcement that the Air Force was cutting 9,000 civilian jobs, including many in service support fields.

In 2010, the service rolled out its new physical assessment program, which among other things increased the frequency of the test from once a year to biannually. The failure rate jumped to 12 percent in the first four months of 2010, when civilians started giving tests and the Air Force started using stricter standards.

According to Air Force Times, 90 percent of Air Force active duty, guard and reserve passed the tougher physical training test that rolled out early this year.

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