Hill AFB workers

Airmen with the 729th Air Control Squadron set up a communications antenna Feb. 5, 2019, during a readiness exercise at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. 

HILL AIR FORCE BASE — A federal hiring regulation that requires active-duty military retirees to wait at least 180 days before they can begin a Department of Defense civilian job may soon be a thing of the past.

U.S. Sens. Mitt Romney, R-Utah and Mike Lee, R-Utah, are among five members of the Senate to introduce legislation that would repeal the 180-day waiting period a military retiree must wait before accepting a civilian job at the DoD. According to an email from Romney’s office, companion legislation has also been introduced in the House of Representatives.

The policy was originally put in place in 1964, according to the Air Force Personnel Center, but was waived after a national emergency was declared following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. The practice was reinstated in 2016, after a report from the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board indicated that the absence of the policy “may be responsible for some perceptions that the hiring system is being inappropriately manipulated.”

But Romney has said the bureaucratic federal hiring practice is preventing Hill Air Force Base from filling out its expanding workforce in a timely manner and the issue could hinder future efforts, if not addressed.

Hill’s Ground Based Strategic Deterrent program involves crews on base working to develop a replacement for the Air Force’s fleet of Minuteman III nuclear missiles. The United States’ current land-based ballistic missile force is currently made up of some 400 Minuteman III ICBMs. The Air Force is upgrading the missiles, their rocket motors and other components, but plans to replace them through the GBSD program by about 2030.

According to the Congressional Research Service, the entire program will cost more than $60 billion and run for 30 years.

The GBSD work, along with new programs at Hill’s Ogden Air Logistics Complex and elsewhere on base, is expected to bring as many as 5,000 new employees to Hill — a 20% increase from the base’s current personnel total.

“Right now, a six-month mandatory waiting period is preventing military installations around the country, like ... Hill ... from hiring the most qualified candidates for civilian jobs,” Romney said in the email.

Lee called the moratorium an “artificial barrier to entry for highly skilled veterans who are needed most (and) can least afford to wait.”

In relation to the perception issue highlighted in the MSPB report, the bill stipulates that positions can’t be held open for active-duty retirees and that qualifications for jobs aren’t allowed to by written in a way to benefit an individual retiree. Retired active-duty members would be considered under the same standard as other applicants.

You can reach reporter Mitch Shaw at mishaw@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @mitchshaw23.

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