There’s a new push to change the law that requires military retirees to wait 180 days after leaving the military before starting a civilian job with the Defense Department.
Several lawmakers say the mandated waiting period makes it hard for the DoD to get the best qualified people to fill government jobs because retirees often choose to pursue careers in the private sector instead of waiting out the 180-day “cooling off” period.
“The 180-day rule creates a road block for veterans who want to continue to serve their country in retirement." said Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., who is one of sponsors of a new bill to repeal the law.
"Our bill puts in place common-sense protections to prevent unscrupulous hiring practices but ensures when we find the right person for an important DoD job, they can come on board as soon as possible.”
Originally put into law in 1964, the 180-day waiting policy was intended to make sure that there wasn’t a “revolving door” in the hiring process at the DoD. The law was waived after Sept. 11, 2001, when a national emergency was declared, but was reinstated in 2017.
Between 2001 to 2014, while the waiting requirement was suspended, more than 41,000 retired service members were permitted to start government jobs without the 180-day wait, according to a report completed by the United States Merit Systems Protection Board.
The board’s survey found concerns about the immediate hiring of some veterans.
“Respondents in three different surveys indicated that inappropriate favoritism towards veterans was a problem," the report said.
"In the surveys that permitted respondents to identify the source of the problem, some respondents alleged that there had been improper manipulations of the system for the purpose of benefiting retiring military members,” according to the report.
The Senate bill takes some measures to address the original concerns, requiring that positions within the DoD cannot be held open for the retiring member. It also ensures that the specific job requirements don’t offer any sort of advantage to the service member.
The bill also ensures the service member is put through the same standard civil service process as any other applicant would be for the position.
“This legislation solves an unnecessary hiring hurdle and ensures the most qualified individuals are placed in jobs, while also safeguarding our federal hiring practices that are in place,” Sen. Lankford said.
The bill was introduced by Lankford, Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah; Mitt Romney, R-Utah; Johnny Isakson, R-Ga.; and David Perdue, R-Ga. They also say that in addition to this bill there is companion legislation that has been introduced in the House.
"I look forward to our bill’s full consideration in the days ahead so our qualified veterans can get to work and use their military expertise and background to continue their support of our defense missions and national security,” Lankford said.