It’s Time to End the ‘180-Day Rule’ for Retirees Seeking DoD Civilian Jobs

It’s Time to End the ‘180-Day Rule’ for Retirees Seeking DoD Civilian Jobs
Servicemembers attend a job fair at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston in 2019. (Photo by Marcelo Joniaux/Air Force)

Recently, lawmakers reintroduced bipartisan legislation in both the House and Senate to repeal the so-called “180-day rule” – the length of the required waiting period between a servicemember’s retirement/separation and any appointment as a DoD civilian employee.


The Retain Skilled Veterans Act (H.R. 4031 and S. 2161) continues last year’s efforts to permanently repeal the bureaucratic 180-day “cooling off period” for transitioning personnel applying for General Schedule-13 (GS-13) and below positions.


[TAKE ACTION: Ask Your Lawmakers to Repeal the ‘180-Day Rule’]


MOAA and The Military Coalition (TMC), a consortium of military and veterans’ groups representing more than 5.5 million people, have worked extensively to secure support for this legislation with Reps. Blake Moore (R-Utah) and Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.), as well as Sens. James Langford (R-Okla.), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz). The bipartisan legislation would permanently remove the waiting period.


The FY 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) temporarily removed the “180-Day Rule” under a two-year authority that applies only to industrial base positions at military depots. The Retain Skilled Veterans Act furthers this progress by permanently repealing the rule across all of DoD.




The 180-day rule forces many who wish to continue national service to consider other careers. The waiting period has resulted in a talent management problem for hiring officials grappling with an antiquated hiring process; it can take months to hire a qualified candidate with a current security clearance. 


The intent of this “180-day rule” was to prevent senior military officers in positions of influence from creating senior GS positions (typically GS-15 or Senior Executive Service) for themselves upon retirement. However, the current scope of the 180-day rule severely restricts the ability of federal hiring authorities to hire highly qualified individuals for GS-13 and below positions requiring current military certifications and experience.


Break Through the Bureaucratic Logjam

Removing the 180-day rule (GS-13 and below) will support efforts to improve the quality of the talent pool with active security clearances competing for GS positions and increase the readiness of the force — both major concerns for our military leaders. For many, by the time newly retired military personnel have waited 180 days, they have moved on elsewhere.


This modernization supports hiring officials with candidates holding active security clearances but are currently screened out of the applicant pool. A change in law that would break through the bureaucratic logjam to complete hiring actions is long overdue.  


Contact your representatives and ask them to support the Retain Skilled Veterans Act.


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About the Author

Lt. Col. Mark Belinsky, USA (Ret)
Lt. Col. Mark Belinsky, USA (Ret)

Belinsky retired in 2019 after serving 22 years, with overseas tours to Afghanistan, Iraq, the Republic of Korea, and Germany. He joined the MOAA team in 2019 as Director, Currently Serving and Retired Affairs.