Federal agencies must make fuller use of their authority to recruit and non-competitively hire spouses of military personnel into term, temporary or permanent competitive service positions, under an executive order issued last week.

The authority applies after a permanent change of station or the death or 100 percent disability of the uniformed person. It does not grant selection priority but those hired may be converted to competitive service status after completing a probationary period.

“To the greatest extent possible consistent with hiring needs, agencies shall, when filling vacant positions in the competitive service, indicate in job opportunity announcements that they will consider candidates under the military spouse hiring authority in addition to candidates identified on the competitive or merit promotion certificate for the position as well as those candidates identified through any other hiring authority a JOA indicates an agency will consider,” the order says.

Agencies further are to “actively advertise and promote the military spouse hiring authority and actively solicit applications from military spouses for posted and other agency positions (including through USAJOBS).”

OPM meanwhile was ordered to consider potential rules changes “to account for cases in which there are no agency job openings within the geographic area of the permanent duty station of the member of the Armed Forces for which the member’s spouse is qualified.”

OPM also was told to: better publicize the authority on its website and through internal government HR channels; “ensure human resources personnel and hiring managers are briefed on techniques for its effective use”; annually collect data and issue a report on its use and the steps taken to promote it; and issue any needed additional guidance on using telework in conjunction with the military spouse hiring authority.