Can I legally contract for an administrative assistant, or is this expressly forbidden in the DoD / Army policy?
Yes. A service contract can be written for almost any job title. The issue at FAR 37.104 - Personal Service Contracts is involved with who manages the individual. The government must be careful to respect the contract. A contractor's employee filling the job title for an executive administrative assistant would have to be managed by their employer's management. The contractor management team would be managing their employees to accomplish the tasks agreed to in the performance work statement (PWS) in the contract.
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The distinguishing factors between an employee and a contractor have to do with who manages the individuals work effort. FAR 37.104(a) states, "A personal services contract is characterized by the employer-employee relationship it creates between the Government and the contractor’s personnel." Managers manage employees and are responsible for training, evaluation, discipline, and establishing and approving work schedule, work priority and time off.
As long as the government is willing to NOT act as the executive assistant's employer and NOT exercise managerial control, other than what is stated in the contract's (PWS), there would be no problem awarding such a contract. On the other hand, if the executive to who the administrative assistant would be providing assistance felt they needed to direct the assistant's work, it would be better to either seek approval (FAR 37.104(b)) to award a personal services contract, or hire an employee to do the job.