Air Force

May 25, 2012

Knowing common hiring authorities critical in filling civilian positions

by Erin Tindell
JB San Antonio-Randolph, Texas

As the Air Force continues to reform its hiring processes, hiring managers can make better, timelier decisions when they understand which hiring authorities they should use when recruiting new employees.

Hiring appointment authorities provide managers with the legal means to hire employees via a new appointment, transfer or reinstatement. Ensuring managers understand the most frequently used hiring terms will benefit the Air Force and applicants as officials continue to meet an Office of Personnel Management directive to hire federal employees within 80 days.

“Hiring officials need to be aware of the various appointment authorities and eligibility requirements for each so they can make strategic choices about what authority will recruit the best possible candidates for their vacancies,” said Cynthia Garcia, the Air Force Personnel Center’s deputy director of civilian force integration. “Only when everyone involved in the hiring process is well informed will we have the greatest pool of qualified candidates to consider for careers in the Air Force civil service.”

Recruitment options include consideration of current Air Force civilian employees for movement into other positions through promotion, reassignment, change-to-lower grade, or detail. There are also numerous external recruitment methods to consider veterans, former federal employees, employees currently working for other agencies, students, and members of the general public.

Frequently used hiring authorities include the following:

Veteran Authorities: Individuals must have served in the military, be able to produce proof of service and disability (DD Form 214 and VA Disability Rating), and meet one or more of the Veteran categories to be eligible to apply:

  • 30 percent Disabled Veterans: current or former military member with a service-connected disability of 30 percent or more.
  • Veterans Employment Opportunity Act of 1998: Veterans who are preference eligible OR separated after three or more years of continuous active service performed under honorable conditions.

Veterans’ Recruitment Appointment: VRA is an excepted authority that allows agencies, to appoint eligible veterans. If you:

  • Are in receipt of a campaign badge for service during a war or in a campaign or expedition; OR
  • Are a disabled veteran, OR
  • Are in receipt of an Armed Forces Service Medal for participation in a military operation, OR
  • Are a recently separated veteran (within the last three years), AND
  • Separated under honorable conditions (this means an honorable or general discharge), you are VRA eligible.
  • The law defines recently-separated veteran as any veteran during the three year period beginning on the date of discharge or release from active duty. This appointment authority can only be used in announcements for GS-11 (or equivalent) and below.

Appointment of Certain Military Spouses (Executive Order 13473): This authority may be used to noncompetitively appoint eligible spouses to competitive temporary, term or permanent positions. Three groups of spouses are eligible to apply for federal employment using this appointment authority:

  • A spouse of a service member who has received permanent change of station, or PCS, orders to relocate
  • A spouse of a service member who retired with a disability rating at the time of retirement of 100 percent, or retired/separated from the Air Force and has a disability rating of 100 percent from the Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Un-remarried widows or widowers of service members killed while in active-duty status.

Spouses of an Armed Forces member who has been issued PCS orders will have two years to apply for jobs under this hiring authority. There is no time limit for spouses of retired members with a disability rating of 100 percent or for un-remarried widows or widowers of an Armed Forces member killed while in active duty status.

Other hiring authorities that managers and applicants should be familiar with:

Delegated Examining Authority: All announcements open to “public” in “Who May Apply” use this authority. An applicant need only be a United States citizen and 18 years of age, or a high school graduate 16 years old or older to apply. This authority allows individuals without “status” to be considered for a civilian position. Veteran’s preference rules apply under this authority. For more information, go to Delegated Examining Authority OPM’s DEU Handbook

Employment of People with Disabilities/Schedule A Appointment: Any applicant is considered disabled if they have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. To be eligible for noncompetitive, Schedule A appointments, a person must meet the definition for being disabled. The person must have a severe physical, cognitive, or emotional disability; have a history of having such disability; or be perceived as having such disability. In addition, the person must obtain a certification letter from a State Vocational Rehabilitation Office or the Department of Veterans Affairs to be eligible for appointment under these special authorities.

Transfer: Permanent federal civil service employee serving in a non-DOD position who is a current career or career-conditional employee.

Additional hiring authorities apply to employees who are returning from overseas; displaced due to a reduction in force or agency closure; and a former career/career-conditional federal employee who wants to be reinstated to federal service.

Hiring managers may learn more about their role in the hiring process by visiting the Air Force Civilian Careers website resource center at In addition to hiring authorities, the site contains detailed information and videos on recruiting, interviewing and assessing candidates.

For more information about hiring authorities, visit the Air Force Personnel Services website, myPers, at For more information on Air Force civilian careers, visit

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