WASHINGTON— U.S. Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Mike Lee (R-UT) joined Senators James Lankford (R-OK), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), and David Perdue (R-GA) in introducing legislation to repeal the 180-day waiting period that a military retiree must wait until he or she can enter a civilian job at the Department of Defense (DoD) for which he or she is qualified. This issue of losing quality candidates for important defense positions because of a six-month mandatory cooling off period was raised at several military installations around the country, including Utah’s Hill AFB. Companion legislation has also been introduced in the House of Representatives.
In order to protect the hiring process and ensure there is not a “revolving door,” for which the 180-day “cooling-off” period was established in the first place, the bill also clarifies that the position cannot be held open for the retiring member, clarifies that the qualifications were not written in a way to advantage the member prior to his or her retirement, and ensures that the member is considered under the standard civil service process for the position, the same process as for any other applicant.
“Right now, a six-month mandatory waiting period is preventing military installations around the country, like Utah’s Hill Air Force Base, from hiring the most qualified candidates for civilian jobs,” Romney said. “Our bill will remove unnecessary barriers so that the DoD can hire retired members of our military in a more timely manner. I appreciate the leadership at Hill Air Force Base for bringing this matter to our attention so that we can take action to solve it.”
“We should always seek to have the most qualified, best-fit federal workers in our agencies, who are hired through fair and equitable processes that invite all qualified candidates, whether former military or not,” Lankford said. “However, we are losing qualified candidates to the private sector where applicants and their families don’t have to wait six months to get hired on top of an already lengthy federal application process. The 180-day rule creates a road block for veterans who want to continue to serve their country in retirement. 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. 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. 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.”
“The six-month ‘cooling off’ period has proven to be an artificial barrier to entry for highly skilled veterans who are needed most, can least afford to wait, and are otherwise perfect fits for these jobs,” Lee said. “The waiver system meant to address this issue has proven to be slow and burdensome, therefore I believe it is Congress who is best suited to fix this problem.”
“The Warner Robins Air Logistics Center and other military depots around the country need qualified workers, and no one is more qualified than military retirees who already have DoD experience. Repealing the waiting period for military retirees to enter the federal civilian workforce in this capacity will help fill critical vacancies,” said Isakson, a member of the Senate Depot Caucus. “I am proud to join this effort to make our federal hiring process more efficient to support our military’s mission of maintaining the highest levels of readiness possible.”
“At a time when restoring readiness is a top priority of the Pentagon, the last thing we want to do is hamstring our military depots’ ability to hire the highly-skilled workforce necessary to do the job,” said Perdue, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “The current bureaucratic hiring process at DoD is forcing qualified, well-trained applicants to move to the private sector for timely employment after finishing active duty service. If we want our depots, including Warner Robins Air Logistics Center, to remain competitive in the 21st century, they must have the ability to secure the top talent to support our mission requirements.”