Help MOAA Repeal the ‘180-Day Rule’ for Retirees Seeking Civilian Careers in DoD

Help MOAA Repeal the ‘180-Day Rule’ for Retirees Seeking Civilian Careers in DoD
Servicemembers and others take part in a hiring event featuring DoD and other positions held by Military and Family Support Center-Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in October 2022. (Photo by Anna Marie G. General/Navy)

By Lt. Col. Kimberly Purdon, USAF


Lawmakers in both the House and Senate have reintroduced bipartisan legislation this session to repeal the 180-day waiting period faced by military retirees before being appointed to a DoD civilian position.


The Retain Skilled Veterans Act (S. 334/H.R. 939) would remove this “180-day rule” for retirees seeking GS-13 and below civilian positions, allowing them to become civilian employees immediately upon retirement.


“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.”


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


This bill acknowledges the original intent of the rule, which was to prevent senior military officers in positions of influence from creating General Schedule (GS) positions for themselves upon retirement, by still requiring the 180 day wait for GS-14 and Senior Executive Service (SES) positions. But it will open a door for most military retirees, allowing them to continue service post-retirement.


DoD states that people are the department’s greatest strength, referring to both servicemembers and civilians. Repealing this requirement for GS-13 and below puts these words into action by allowing continuity of service (thereby improving recruiting) and retaining skill sets and experience. This is even more critical as DoD faces retention and recruiting issues, made more difficult in the civilian service by the monthslong hiring process and the 180-day rule.


Why It Matters Now

With the last of the Baby Boomer generation (born 1946 to 1964) reaching full retirement age, and Gen X (1965-1980) in the military retirement phase, this is a critical time to effectively recruit servicemembers who want to continue serving. According to the Department of Labor, Gen X made up 41.6% of the federal workforce in 2021, while Gen Z (1995-2012) composed just 1.6%.


[RELATED: MOAA’s Transition and Career Center | MOAA’s Federal Job Resources]


Gen X is described as independent (the “latch-key” childhood) and resourceful; when a door is shut to them, they tend to find another door, taking their expertise and security clearance with them. If the 180-day rule remains in effect as Gen X becomes the predominant workforce pool, who will fill the positions left vacant by Baby Boomers?


Should this bill become law – either as a standalone measure or as part of the FY 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) – servicemembers and DoD both would see a multitude of positive impacts. Of utmost importance is no break in income for the retiree, which reduces the stress of a transitioning member and provides stability for that individual or family. DoD would see an increase in the quality and quantity of its talent pool, thereby reducing the department’s list of vacancies, which sat at 9,909 as of April 24. The legislation would allow many recently retired servicemembers to pursue their desire for continued national service.


[READ THE BILL: Retain Skilled Veterans Act]


Join MOAA in supporting this legislation by reaching out to your lawmakers via 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.


Lt. Col. Kimberly Purdon, USAF, is serving as a DoD SkillBridge Fellow with MOAA. She will retire in the summer of 2023 after 25 years of service as a B-1 Weapon System Officer, commander, and strategic level staff officer, with multiple combat tours to Afghanistan and Iraq.


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