Some bills worth watching have been introduced in Congress addressing employment opportunities for spouses in the Foreign Service overseas, restoring hiring for ALJs from a central roster, and one allowing FERS employees to capture time in temporary positions.
S-1293, to improve employment opportunities for spouses of foreign service officers stationed overseas through steps including expanded hiring authority and preference for qualified spouses; ensuring that spouses receive notice of State Department vacancies and that those who apply receive consideration; making space available in State facilities for outside entities to provide career services; developing partnerships with the private sector to enhance opportunities; and including hiring preferences for qualified spouses in contracts between State and private-sector entities.
GAO recently highlighted persistent staffing shortages in overseas posts in high priority roles in the most high priority parts of the world.
HR-2429, to restore the former system of hiring administrative law judges in which agencies selected candidates from a roster of qualified applicants that OPM maintained after conducting occasional competitive examinations. The administration last year gave individual agencies full authority for assessing and hiring candidates through non-competitive “excepted service” procedures, and with fewer qualification requirements than OPM had used—a change it said was necessary due to a court ruling but which associations of ALJs and some members of Congress have said risks politicizing the ALJ cadre.
HR-2478, to allow FERS employees to capture credit toward retirement calculations for time worked in temporary positions for which no deductions were made from their salaries; employees would have to make a deposit plus interest for that so-called “non-deduction” service.