Congress Considers Non-Competitive Eligibility
By Jonathan Pearson on Friday, July 6th, 2012
Along with setting funding levels for federal programs, congressional appropriations bills many times contain directives about those programs.
In both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, appropriations bills being prepared for Fiscal Year 2013 include proposed language to enhance Peace Corps’ Non-Competitive Eligibility (NCE) provisions for recently returned Peace Corps Volunteers seeking federal employment.
After hearing from a constituent about the NCE, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), successfully proposed language in the State/Foreign Operations Appropriations bill. The language asks the Peace Corps to report on the possibility of expanding the length of NCE eligibility, and reads as follows:
“The Committee is informed that Executive Order 11103, which provides returned volunteers with 1 year of noncompetitive eligibility for Federal hiring, with possible extensions to 3 years, in practice often results in volunteers only receiving this benefit for 1 year. The Committee directs the
Peace Corps Director to submit a report within 120 days of enactment of this act, on whether the noncompetitive eligibility for Federal employment of returned Peace Corps volunteers (including Peace Corps Response volunteers) who serve in good standing should in all cases be extended for 3 years, or at least match the volunteers’ length of service, without eliminating other grounds for extensions of noncompetitive eligibility for Federal employment. The Committee further directs the Peace Corps Director to recommend ways that human resource departments of all Federal agencies can be informed of the current noncompetitive eligibility of these individuals.”
While timing didn’t allow the House to insert language in their version of the State/Foreign Operations bill, the House Subcommittee worked another avenue to address NCE. Included in the Appropriations legislation of the Financial Services Subcommittee is language encouraging the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to do more to promote NCE for returning Peace Corps volunteers:
“The Committee encourages OPM to increase efforts to educate agencies about Returned Peace Corps Volunteers’ noncompetitive eligibility for Federal appointments. The Committee believes this status, which is granted for one year (extendable to three years in some circumstances) to volunteers who have successfully completed their service, is particularly beneficial for Federal employers due to the special qualifications of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers and the streamlined hiring process.”
Both branches of Congress will eventually need to come together and give final approval to the appropriations language.