Fedweek

One of the bills would help Foreign Service spouses find work overseas.

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.