Bipartisan Bill Would Repeal ‘180-Day Rule,’ Allow DoD to Hire More Veterans

Bipartisan Bill Would Repeal ‘180-Day Rule,’ Allow DoD to Hire More Veterans
Photo by Tech. Sgt. Brittany A. Chase/Air Force

While the Pentagon’s recruiting crisis stands out in headlines, DoD faces a war for talent on another front – filling critical DoD civilian positions.


Highly skilled applicants with hard-to-find credentials who are leaving uniformed service don’t qualify for openings via USA Jobs, frustrating DoD hiring officials. These transitioning servicemembers are coached to apply by their transition assistance adviser as a course requirement, only to find their application is screened out because of the infamous 180-day cooling off period required by law.


[TAKE ACTION: Ask Your Lawmakers to Repeal the ‘180-Day Rule’]


They move on, frustrated with USA Jobs, and find a different opportunity in the civilian sector.  The hiring official is often left with no choice but to accept an applicant who requires significant training and must acquire an expensive security clearance. It’s a poor outcome for the job-seeker, the Pentagon, and the taxpayers.


A bipartisan team of lawmakers recently reintroduced legislation removing the 180-day provision for all positions at the GS-13 level and below. The Retain Skilled Veterans Act – H.R. 939, introduced by Reps. Blake Moore (R-Utah) and Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.), and S. 334, introduced by Sens. James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) – would help combat a nationwide labor shortage, which has driven a greater sense of urgency to open up the competitive pool.


[READ THE BILL: Retain Skilled Veterans Act]


“Operating with the existing 180-day rule and current waiver process forces DoD to compete with one-hand tied behind their back,” said MOAA President and CEO Lt. Gen. Brian T. Kelly, USAF (Ret). “We look forward to working with Congress to pass this overdue bipartisan and bicameral legislation.”


The act “greatly improves the competitive pool of applicants for GS-13 and below positions,” Kelly stated. “This provides DoD with expedited access to experienced candidates who often hold active security clearances or unique skills not easily replicated within other candidate pools; at the same time the GS-13 limit still provides opportunities for our important career civil servants to reach senior ranks and continues to guard against the potential for senior military leaders creating positions for themselves, one of the original intents. In a competition with China or any adversary, speed and access to talent matters. 


[RELATED: MOAA’s Transition and Career Center]


Broad Support

MOAA and its partners in The Military Coalition (TMC) – a consortium of military and veterans’ groups representing nearly 5.5 million servicemembers, retirees, veterans, families, and survivors – have worked extensively to secure bipartisan support for this legislation.


“The 180-day waiting period has been bad for DoD and for retirees,” said TMC President CW4 Jack Du Teil, USA (Ret). “The waiting period has resulted in a talent management problem for hiring officials and an antiquated, cumbersome process for qualified candidates. Removing it helps federal hiring become more competitive with private industry and more navigable for the skilled technicians with security clearances who can support our weapons systems and national security priorities."


Grassroots action is important to grow awareness and support for the Retain Skilled Veterans Act. Staffers across the 118th Congress have begun work on their legislative priorities for the FY 2024 National Defense Authorization Act.


You can reach out through our Legislative Action Center or use MOAA’s Capital Hotline – 866-272-MOAA (6622), a toll-free line to the U.S. Capitol switchboard – to connect with your legislators' offices. For more information on other advocacy initiatives, please visit MOAA’s Advocacy News page.


[FROM 2022:  It’s Time to End the ‘180-Day Rule’ for Retirees Seeking DoD Civilian Jobs]


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About the Author

Lt. Col. Mark Belinsky, USA (Ret)
Lt. Col. Mark Belinsky, USA (Ret)

Belinsky retired in 2019 after serving 22 years, with overseas tours to Afghanistan, Iraq, the Republic of Korea, and Germany. He joined the MOAA team in 2019 as Director, Currently Serving and Retired Affairs.