Hiring authority for military spouses begins to take shape

The Office of Personnel Management on Friday issued draft rules that would provide agencies with special hiring authorities for spouses of military service members.

The proposal, published in the Federal Register, would implement an executive order issued by President Bush in September to allow agencies to noncompetitively appoint military spouses to positions in the competitive civil service.

"These regulations facilitate the entry of military spouses into the federal civil service as part of an effort to recruit and retain skilled and experienced members of the armed forces and to recognize and honor the service of members injured, disabled or killed in connection with their service," OPM stated.

The rules would apply to spouses of soldiers who are disabled or killed as a result of active-duty service, as well as spouses of active-duty service members who receive permanent change of station orders, according to the notice.

Spouses would be eligible for a noncompetitive appointment to the civil service for a maximum of two years from the date the service member was ordered to change stations, or two years from the date the service member was declared disabled or killed.

Spouses would be restricted to one noncompetitive appointment to a permanent job for each set of orders authorizing the service member's change of station. OPM did not propose a limit on the number of temporary or term appointments a spouse could have per relocation.

To qualify, applicants must have been married to the armed forces member on or before the date of the relocation order, the rules stated, and they must accompany the service member to the new duty station.

The draft rules also would require agencies to appoint spouses to positions within the geographic area of the service member's permanent duty station. The proposal made an exception for spouses of service members who are disabled or killed as a result of active-duty service.

Written comments on the proposal are due by Jan. 5, 2009, and can be e-mailed to employ@opm.gov.

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