September 5, 2018
Karen Jowers | Military Times
Military spouses will find it easier to apply for Department of Defense civilian jobs using military spouse preference, under new procedures being finalized now, according to DoD officials.
Under new procedures, spouses will no longer have to report to a DoD human resources office/civilian personnel office within the commuting area of their sponsor’s new duty station to register in the Priority Placement Program, in order to submit an application through USAJobs for a particular job, said DoD spokeswoman Jessica Maxwell.
DoD is working to streamline the procedures “to be more responsive to the needs of management and [priority placement] candidates,” she said.
Military spouses face continual difficulties in maintaining a career — whether in the private sector or public sector — because of frequent relocations with their military member.
The DoD Military Spouse Preference program, mandated by law, was implemented nearly 30 years ago. It’s one of the programs in the broader Priority Placement Program. Spouse preference can be used whenever competitive procedures are applied to the DoD civilian hiring process, and gives best qualified military spouses priority over other competitively referred candidates.
It doesn’t guarantee a military spouse will get the job, but allows certain employment preference for spouses of active duty service members. There have been a number of complaints over the years from military spouses who found inconsistencies in the way the program was implemented from one installation to another.
The new procedures will be solely application based, and avoid the complications of overlapping processes, according to Maxwell. It will allow military spouses to apply for and indicate their eligibility for spouse preference for the positions they are most interested in, she said.
Once the new procedures are in place, spouses will exercise their Military Spouse Preference by simply applying for positions, indicating their eligibility as a preference candidate and providing the required documents to support their eligibility for preference.
“I hope this brings more clarity. I’ve heard that it’s been confusing,” said Eryn Wagnon, associate director of government relations for the Military Officers Association of America.
“I’m interested to see how DoD presents the guidance to military spouses,” she said, and whether it will help more spouses secure the job they want.
Military Spouse Preference is different from the noncompetitive hiring authority, and isn’t being replaced by that authority. That hiring authority, which has been in place for a number of years, allows spouses to be considered for federal jobs without going through the competitive hiring procedures.
Spouses are included as a source of job candidates with other noncompetitive candidate groups, such as 30-percent disabled veterans. When considered along with other noncompetitive candidates, military spouses aren’t entitled to priority or preference over noncompetitive candidates.
On May 9, President Trump signed an executive order that encourages the federal government to hire more eligible military spouses under that noncompetitive hiring authority. The Office of Personnel Management is currently working on guidance to implement that executive order.