With the House and Senate versions of the FY 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) complete, the opportunity to repeal the rule that forces new retirees to wait 180 days before applying to DoD jobs is within reach.
MOAA and The Military Coalition, a group of military and veteran service organizations representing a combined 5.5 million-plus membership, have worked toward this repeal. Removing this barrier to entry would not only help highly qualified retirees find employment, but also help DoD talent managers who are struggling to fill these positions.
The NDAA versions contain different language addressing this "180-day rule":
- The House version would repeal the rule for all General Schedule (GS) positions at the industrial or depot level. This version’s strength is that it addresses personnel problems at depots; many members who retire with critical skills that match job openings at these locations can’t wait the 180 days and seek employment in the private sector. Unfortunately, this version would keep the 180-day rule intact for all DoD GS positions not at industrial facilities.
- The Senate version is not exclusive to industrial or depot-level jobs. However, it removes the rule only for GS-13 and below positions, and is relatively short-lived as a three-year pilot.
Is a Compromise Possible?
The short answer is yes. Unions have no objection to the House or Senate provisions to repeal the 180-day rule, which indicates the level of the growing war for talent between government employees and contractors.
MOAA and The Military Coalition have sent letters to the Armed Services committees in both chambers, advocating for a permanent repeal of the 180-day rule for GS-13 positions and below. This compromise would keep the original intent of the rule – a way to guard against senior military leaders creating a senior GS position for themselves upon retirement.
Making the repeal permanent and applying it to all GS-13 and below positions additionally supports modernization toward information-age talent management initiatives across DoD. The current industrial age personnel system forces many who would like to continue government service toward contracting jobs.
The transition assistance courses offered to servicemembers prior to retirement include extensive blocks of instruction on how to find and apply for DoD GS positions; some services even require transitioning members to apply for at least one position on USAJobs.gov as part of the course. Unfortunately, many learn after they apply that they are not in the “zone of consideration” because of the 180-day rule.
This is an injustice for those retiring, and a bad deal for the taxpayer. After DoD invests in professional military education, security clearances, and real-world experience in sought-after specialties, retiring personnel find a closed door in a very unlikely place.
Contact your elected representatives today and ask them to repeal the 180-day rule for GS-13 positions and below.
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