Fedweek

Washington DC, April 2019 - Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., USMC, confers with the chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, James Inhofe, R-Okla., before a hearing on a proposed US Space Force.

The Senate’s version of the DoD authorization bill revisits a topic that has been the focus of controversy for years, the hiring of military retirees into civil service positions at that department—a practice that many career federal employees consider a form of favoritism that limits their career advancement opportunities.

Military retirees are generally barred from being hired as DoD civilians for 180 days after their retirement, but that policy has several exceptions. At the Senate’s initiative, the defense budget measure for fiscal 2017 essentially eliminated the largest of those exceptions, hiring based on a “state of national emergency.”

The Senate Armed Services Committee report on its new measure (S-1790) defends that change against potential attempts to repeal it—as the House had attempted last year.

Says the Senate report, “At the time, the committee was concerned that the department was abusing the national security waiver and undermining the long-standing merit principles upon which the federal civil service is based. The committee remains supportive of this change and notes that the relevant statute provides a straightforward process to the Secretaries of the military departments in the event that they wish to hire retired servicemembers within the 180-day post-retirement timeframe.”

It stresses that the heads of the military services still may waive the restriction by showing that “minimum competitive procedures were followed in assessing the pool of eligible and interested applicants prior to making the selection. The committee notes that current law does not prevent retirees from applying for a position within the 180-day post-retirement timeframe nor does the law prohibit the hiring of such individual. The law merely requires that the Secretaries of the military departments give due consideration to other qualified and interested candidates prior to making the selection.”