Will this initiative help you?
ARLINGTON, Va. - If you are a military spouse facing a permanent change-of-station move, it just got easier for you to land a job with the federal government.
President Bush has signed an executive order that makes certain military spouses eligible for noncompetitive appointments to civil service jobs, said Patricia Bradshaw, deputy undersecretary of Defense for civilian personnel policy.
One goal is to provide greater employment opportunities for military spouses, whose careers are often disrupted by PCS moves, Bradshaw said Tuesday.
Details of when military spouses would become eligible for such appointments have not yet been worked out, she said.
Also eligible are spouses of servicemembers with a 100 percent disability rating and the unremarried widow or widower of a servicemember killed on active duty, Bradshaw said Tuesday.
The move, which applies to the entire federal government, is separate from an existing program that helps military spouses who work for the Defense Department find new jobs in the department, Bradshaw said.
"It is not a hiring preference, OK? It is intended to be another authority available to line managers to be able to quickly and expeditiously hire our military spouses," she said.
Bradshaw could not say how much quicker the move makes the hiring process.
"But it clearly, without a doubt, will make hiring faster," she said.
The executive order is also not meant to replace existing hiring authorities for military spouses overseas, Bradshaw said.
"This may in fact just be one other alternative for them," she said.
The federal government hires about 20,000 people per month, Bradshaw said. Most civil service jobs available to military spouses are in the United States.
Those jobs include nursing, public affairs and human resources, she said.
"You still have to be qualified for the job and there still has to be a vacancy available," Bradshaw said.
An executive order signed Sept. 25 by President Bush allows hiring managers for all federal agencies to hire qualified military spouses without going through the competitive process.
The new hiring authorities for federal managers probably will not be put into place until some time after the first of the year, said Patricia Bradshaw, deputy undersecretary of defense for civilian personnel policy. The Office of Personnel Management must issue regulations implementing Bush's order.
"One of the key things to recruiting and retention of service members is the employment of spouses," Bradshaw said, noting that only about 10 percent of military spouses stay in the same location for as long as five years. Frequent relocations make it difficult for spouses to build a career.
Spouses must be qualified for the federal positions for which they apply. But the new policy would allow federal hiring managers in some cases to hire spouses without advertising the jobs, depending on other hiring requirements.
"Here's a quick hiring authority for them to get to another bucket of talent that may have perhaps gone unnoticed in the past," Bradshaw said.
About 20,000 new employees join the federal work force each month.
Many details are yet to be worked out, such as instructions for spouses in how to request consideration under this new authority. But in broad terms, the executive order states that the new hiring authority will apply to:
- Spouses of active-duty members on PCS orders, if the spouse is relocating to the member's new permanent duty station. This will include members of the National Guard and Reserve on active duty. Details have not yet been worked out on the length of time that the new hiring authority will be in effect before and after a PCS move.
- Spouses of 100-percent disabled retired or separated military members.
- Unremarried widows or widowers of a military member who is killed while on active duty.
Bradshaw stresses that this is not a hiring preference program, and it does not require any federal agency to hire a military spouse. The language in the order states that heads of federal agencies "may" make noncompetitive appointments of spouses.
The order does not affect the Defense Department's existing spouse preference program, designed to help spouses who are already in civil service in obtaining jobs within that department.
That program does not help new spouses get into the federal civil service system; the new policy is designed to do that, Bradshaw said, adding that the policy will give Defense Department managers more flexibility in hiring.
The initiative also does not affect existing policies on veterans' preference for federal jobs.