The recent extension of the federal government’s military spouse hiring authority marks a significant step forward in MOAA’s ongoing commitment to facilitating job opportunities for military spouses in the federal workforce.
Agencies will have until Dec. 31, 2028, to utilize the flexibilities granted by the military spouse hiring authority, according to an Office of Personnel Management (OPM) announcement. This extension was prompted by the FY 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which ensures there will be no lapse in the Military Spouse Non-Competitive Appointment Authority.
The policy grants federal agencies greater flexibility in their recruitment efforts by allowing them to bypass traditional hiring processes and noncompetitively appoint eligible military spouses to specific positions. Those eligible for this hiring authority include spouses of active duty military members and servicemembers with 100% disabilities, as well as un-remarried widows and widowers of servicemembers who made the ultimate sacrifice while on active duty. This authority is applicable to permanent, temporary, or term appointments.
It's important to note that despite these flexibilities, the final decision regarding appointments still rests with the individual agencies, which means military spouses do not receive preferential treatment over other applicants.
Around 16,000 military, veteran, and surviving spouses are employed by the federal government. Nonetheless, a staggering 21% unemployment rate plagues military spouses. Recognizing these challenges, Congress has incorporated military spouse hiring enhancements into various defense policy bills over the past several years, including the Military Spouse Career Accelerator Pilot.
MOAA continues to advocate for more robust tracking of military spouse employment, which is vital to addressing this persistent issue. Currently, we rely on DoD’s biannual surveys of active duty and Guard and Reserve spouses, along with information gleaned from surveys of fellow advocacy organizations like the Military Family Advisory Network and Blue Star Families.
[FREE DOWNLOAD: MOAA’s Military Spouse Employment Guide]
The Biden administration has shown unwavering support for expanding job opportunities for military spouses.
“Expanding access to federal jobs for military spouses allows spouses to grow and succeed in their own careers while also supporting their partners in uniform,” OPM Director Kiran Ahuja said in his office’s announcement of the authority extension. “This policy will assure the federal government’s access to a diverse and talented group of applicants across the globe, and we are honored to benefit from their expertise.”
In 2021, OPM further improved the regulations by eliminating geographic restrictions for certain federal positions that are eligible for telework or remote work. Previously, military spouses were limited to federal jobs in the same geographic area as their partners’ active duty assignments, necessitating relocations. The removal of this requirement was intended to broaden the use of telework- and remote work-eligible positions for military spouses.
The extension of the deadline for utilizing the military spouse hiring authority is a result of a June executive order emphasizing the need for federal agencies to do more to recruit military spouses, acknowledging that spousal employment challenges often factor into the decision to leave active duty service.
Despite the availability of the hiring authority for several years, the Biden administration identified underutilization by federal agencies as a persistent issue. To address this, the executive order directed agencies to attach the military spouse hiring authority to job postings outside of their workforce.
MOAA applauds these efforts to increase job opportunities for military spouses. We will continue supporting ongoing initiatives to provide meaningful employment opportunities for these vital members of our military community.
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