Changing the Federal Hiring Process

The President has issued an Executive Order that authorizes noncompetitive appointments to federal jobs for spouses of military personnel.

In order to improve the ability of the armed services to recruit and retain members, the President has issued an Executive Order that allows noncompetitive appointments to federal jobs for spouses of military personnel under certain conditions.

The new Order reads, in part:

“It shall be the policy of the United States to provide for the appropriately expedited recruitment and selection of spouses of members of the Armed Forces for appointment to positions in the competitive service of the Federal civil service as part of the effort of the United States to recruit and retain in military service, skilled and experienced members of the Armed Forces and to recognize and honor the service of such members injured, disabled, or killed in connection with their service.”

The Order applies as follows:

Consistent with any regulations that OPM may write, the head of an agency may make a noncompetitive appointment to any position in the competitive service, for which the individual is qualified, of an individual who is:

“(a) the spouse of a member of the Armed Forces who, as determined by the Secretary of Defense, is performing active duty pursuant to orders that authorize a permanent change of station move, if such spouse relocates to the member’s new permanent duty station;

(b) the spouse of a totally disabled retired or separated member of the Armed Forces; or

(c) the unremarried widow or widower of a member of the Armed Forces killed while performing active duty”

The Executive Order is not a big surprise. FedSmith took a survey of readers earlier this year on this issue when the idea was made public. Readers generally opposed the idea but also made comments that are still relevant today.

For example, a A human resources specialist with the Department of the Army at Ft. Belvoir, VA pointed out that such a program already exists within the Department of Defense: “There is already a military spouse employment preference program in place within DoD. The Regulation is DoD 1400.25-M, Subchapter 315.”

Another reader working for DoD had some experience with the program and supported the idea but had this comment: “I would say yes, but with a caveat. The military spouse should possess the minimum qualifications necessary to perform the job. I was once ‘beat out’ of a job by someone with military spousal preference, but she wasn’t really qualified for the position.”

So, while many readers, probably most, support helping out members of the military and want to retain a strong military fighting force, there will be some some growing pains as new regulations are written and this requirement spreads throughout the federal bureaucracy.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47