A Call to Strengthen Non-Competitive Eligibility
By Jonathan Pearson on Friday, April 13th, 2012
It’s one of the potential benefits of Peace Corps service. A benefit where there is momentum to bring about some further improvements.
In 1963, as the first groups of Peace Corps Volunteers were scheduled to return home, Executive Order 11103 was issued, allowing Volunteers and staff who successfully completed their service to be eligible for Noncompetitive Eligibility (NCE). Under this designation, appointment to certain federal positions (if job applicants were qualified) is granted to volunteers and staff without having to compete with the general public for those positions.
While many have benefited from this status over the years, some within the community believe improvements can be made. With this in mind, the National Peace Corps Association joined members of the Peace Corps Employees Union (AFSCME 3548) in issuing a joint letter to Director Aaron Williams calling for a further strengthening of NCE.
The letter praises the Director and the agency for “improvements in how NCE is encouraged among Federal Agencies through the Office of Returned Volunteer Services (RVS) and the Office of Human Resources Mangement (HRM).” But it also points to two areas of continued improvement:
- Additional staff resources dedicated to educating more Federal Agencies about NCE and further coordination and collaboration on outreach efforts. The letter notes that “Currently, many Federal agencies are either woefully ignorant of NCE or choose not to consider it in their hiring practices.”
- Extending the length of NCE for Volunteers to two years. Over the years, NPCA has heard from a number of returning volunteers that the one year window of eligibility is too short a period to be helpful.
Strengthening Noncompetitive Eligibility appears to have continued support from Peace Corps leadership. The topic was raised last month at a Peace Corps Town Hall meeting organized by the RPCVs of Washington DC. Director Williams responded positively to the question and expressed a willingness to explore further improvements.