WASHINGTON - President Bush signed an executive order this week that will make it easier for spouses of servicemembers to get federal jobs.
The order authorizes noncompetitive hiring of spouses and should make the hiring process easier and faster for those in this category, said Patricia Bradshaw, deputy undersecretary of defense for civilian personnel policy.
"It shall be the policy of the United States to provide for the appropriately expedited recruitment and selection of spouses of members of the armed forces for appointment to positions in the competitive service of the federal civil service as part of the effort of the United States to recruit and retain in military service, skilled and experienced members of the armed forces and to recognize and honor the service of such members injured, disabled or killed in connection with their service," Bush wrote in the order, issued Sept. 26.
The order will allow spouses "to walk into any personnel office of any federal agency and get a job," Bradshaw said. "This sidesteps this long-enduring process that often turns spouses away."
Bush first proposed the initiative in his State of the Union address in January. "We want to ensure that our military families are taken care of," Bradshaw said. Surveys show that employment for spouses is a concern to servicemembers and their families.
To be eligible, individuals have to be the spouse of an active-duty member or of a reservist on active duty called on to relocate.
Also eligible are the spouses of servicemembers listed as 100 percent disabled and separated or retired, as well as widows or widowers of servicemembers who died on active duty and who have not remarried.
"We hear from servicemembers that a key to retention and recruitment is the support systems in place to help family members," Bradshaw said. "More than half of the military members are married, and this is a significant issue for them."
Only about 10 percent of military spouses remain in the same place for five years, and the frequent moves make employment a problem, Bradshaw noted.
"The objective of this appointment is to actually get their foot in the door, and then they will be able to move around the federal government that much easier," she said. "This authority gets them into the door. It doesn't waive the qualifications for the job."
The director of the Office of Personnel Management will issue the implementing regulations.
"We are working with them very aggressively as quickly as possible," Bradshaw said. "Unfortunately, it will be sometime after the first of the year before we see interim regulations."