Senior Leader Engagement Program FAQs

Nomination Process


What is SD-SLEP?
The Secretary of Defense Senior Leader Engagement Program is an outgrowth of the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference (JCOC), the oldest public liaison program in DoD.  Participants in the Senior Leader Engagement Program are guests of the Secretary of Defense and attend briefings by senior military and civilian officials at the Pentagon.  The program has been held 84 times since 1948.

What is the objective of SD-SLEP?
The purpose of SD-SLEP is to increase public understanding of national defense through a forum of free exchange among influential citizens, DoD officials, and military leadership.

Specific objectives are to:

  • Acquaint participants with the strength and readiness of the U.S. armed forces through personal observation of Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps activities;
  • Facilitate the candid exchange of information on defense matters between the Secretary of Defense and program participants.
  • Help the American public obtain a better understanding of national defense policies and programs through opinion leaders who return to their communities and share firsthand observations and knowledge gained during the program.

Nomination Process

How are participants nominated for SD-SLEP?
Nominations are solicited from DoD officials, military commands, as well as JCOC alumni.


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What is SD-SLEP looking for in a nominee?
Nominees are civilians (non-DoD), who are influential leaders in their professions, organizations, and communities.  

Nomination and selection procedures are designed to bring together a geographical, professional, and cultural cross-section of influential Americans who are leaders in their fields. We also encourage nominations of leaders representing a broad spectrum of areas.

JCOC ParticipantsSD-SLEP participants routinely include opinion leaders such as:

  • CEOs and senior officials of private enterprises with regional or national reach.
  • Presidents of universities and colleges; and
  • National association and leaders of professional, minority and women's organizations
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How competitive is the nomination process?
The selection process is extremely competitive. SD-SLEP often receives more than 400 nominations each year, and only 40-80 slots are available. Selections are based on the qualifications of the nominees as determined by an inter-Service selection panel, not by the rank or the position of the nominator.

Who is NOT eligible for the SD-SLEP program?
JCOC Participants

Ineligible nominees are:

  • Federal, State or Local elected officials or candidates who will be in campaign status;
  • Anyone working for, retired from, or drawing any kind of paycheck from the federal government; and
  • Employees of government contractors whose primary area of responsibility is military related.
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What is the responsibility of a Nominator?
Nominators should speak directly with their nominees prior to nomination to establish that minimum basic eligibility requirements are met and to ensure that if selected they will accept the invitation, barring an emergency. Nominees must also be clearly informed that their nomination is not a guarantee of selection.

JCOC ParticipantsNominating components receive information on the status of their nominees after the invitation list is compiled.


How will nominees know if they are selected to participate?
The SD-SLPE staff, in addition to the service representatives, will reach out to all participants to tell them of their selection.

SD-SLEP will alert Nominators of the status of their nominees.

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How is SD-SLEP funded?

Recent policy changes have resulted in SD-SLEP being fully funded through appropriated funds. The conference is provided at no cost to the participants.

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What are the financial obligations of SD-SLEP participants?

Each participant is responsible for the cost of his or her round trip transportation to the conference registration site and any lodging costs exclusive of the actual conference dates.