The move by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice marks a return to government for Wolfowitz, a conservative with close ties to the White House. As deputy defense secretary under President Bush, he was a major architect of the Iraq war.
Wolfowitz was replaced as World Bank chief last June after a stormy two-year tenure. His leadership was undermined by a furor over a hefty compensation package he arranged in 2005 for a bank employee who was also his girlfriend.
Wolfowitz will become chairman of the International Security Advisory Board, which reports to the secretary of state. The panel is charged with supplying independent advice on arms control, disarmament, nonproliferation and related subjects.
State Department spokesman Tom Casey said Wolfowitz is not being paid in his new position, reports CBS News reporter Charles Wolfson.
The portfolio includes commentary on several high-profile issues, including pending nuclear deals with India and North Korea and an offer to negotiate with Iran over its disputed nuclear program.
Wolfowitz currently is a defense and foreign policy studies expert at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative Washington think tank.
Controversy over job arrangements for his companion, Shaha Riza, put the World Bank's staff of 10,000 worldwide in revolt, tarnished the bank's reputation and strained relations with other countries, especially Europeans, who led the charge for Wolfowitz's ouster.
Wolfowitz was essentially forced to step down after a special panel found that he broke bank rules. He was replaced by Robert Zoellick, who had been Rice's No. 2 at the State Department and the administration's top trade envoy.