April 17, 2024

Today, the Biden-Harris Administration is announcing a permanent memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the Department of Defense (DoD) and State Department to strengthen the Domestic Employees Teleworking Overseas (DETO) program for military spouses who work for the federal government. As directed by President Biden’s Executive Order (EO) on Advancing Economic Security for Military and Veteran Spouses, Military Caregivers, and Survivors, this MOA will help military spouses who are Federal employees maintain their careers and keep their families together when their servicemembers are stationed overseas. Later today, First Lady Jill Biden will be joined by Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Verma to sign the MOA during a ceremony at the White House.

With this Agreement:

  • DoD and the State Department will work together to facilitate approval of DETO arrangements for federal employees who are spouses of military and DoD civilian employee sponsors, and who plan to work remotely from their military-managed residences while overseas;
  • DoD will provide a range of security services normally carried out by Regional Security Officers at U.S. embassies and consulates, such as emergency planning, evacuation assistance, and initial incident response for serious incidents—streamlining residential safety and security screening requirements by eliminating State Department inspections of military housing, significantly shortening the DETO approval process; and,
  • The State Department will now accept DoD safety and security standards where DoD has approved accompanied assignments and Military Housing Offices (MHOs) serving the military installation community, easing the burden on military families by ensuring that all required security or safety upgrades are covered by existing housing allowances.

The President and First Lady, as a military family, recognize the commitment and resilience of military families as essential to the recruitment, retention, and readiness of our Armed Forces. Since Day One of the Biden Administration, Dr. Biden, through her Joining Forces initiative, has worked to eliminate barriers to employment and increase economic opportunity for military families. Meeting the economic, social, and emotional needs of our military and veteran families, caregivers, and survivors is a national security imperative.

Although military spouses are talented, diverse, and resilient, they find themselves facing a 21 percent unemployment rate, a rate that has not significantly changed over the past decade. With more than 16,000 military, veteran, and surviving spouses working for Federal departments and agencies, the Biden-Harris Administration is taking comprehensive steps to enable the Federal government to be the model employer for military spouses. Since President Biden signed the EO last June, the First Lady’s Joining Forces initiative, together with the National Security Council staff and federal departments and agencies, have made significant progress implementing the nearly twenty new actions aimed at enhancing career stability, expanding employment resources, and improving transition assistance support for military-connected spouses. Key actions to-date include:

  • Increased Federal Agencies’ Promotion of Military Spouse Hiring Authorities on USAJobs. As of April 2024, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) reports that 84% of federal agencies are advertising jobs with the military spouse hiring authority, up from 70% in December 2023. Under the EO, OPM is developing a data-driven approach to increase transparency and accountability in hiring and retention — including by encouraging agencies to: set goals for hiring under the Military Spouse Noncompetitive Appointment Authority established by 5 U.S.C. 3330d and for hiring individuals eligible for derivative preference, to use data internally to improve performance, and to use data to publicly report on progress.
  • Launched the Fast-Track Action Committee on Data about Military-Connected Federal Employees, Led by Military Spouses. In March 2024, the National Science and Technology Council established a Fast-Track Action Committee to identify ways for agencies to expand Federal datasets to track outcomes for military and veteran spouses, military caregivers, and survivors employed by the Federal government. This committee is led by military spouses with deep expertise in data, including the Deputy U.S. Chief Technology Officer for Tech Capacity, a Presidential Innovation Fellow, and a Program Director in OPM. Its membership includes data practitioners from ten Federal agencies, most of whom are themselves military-connected. The Committee’s work will enable Federal agencies to better use data to expand opportunities for military-connected Federal employees. 
  • Released the First-ever Government-Wide Military-Connected Strategic Plan. In February 2024, OPM published the Government-Wide Military-Connected Strategic Plan, the first whole-of-government hiring and retention strategy focused on leveraging the talent of military and veteran spouses, military caregivers, and survivors. This plan includes guidance to help federal departments and agencies: set standard metrics of success for the recruitment and retention of military-connected families; leverage existing tools to retain military-connected employees in federal careers; eliminate barriers to hiring military-connected employees; increase understanding of the talent, experience, and diversity of military-connected employees; and track specific data on hiring and retention of military-connected employees.
  • Published the Guide to Recruiting and Hiring Military Spouses. In February 2024, Joining Forces released a Guide to Recruiting and Hiring Military Spouses to: equip federal hiring managers and their staff with the knowledge, tools and resources to strengthen their recruitment of military spouses; build their understanding of the diverse skillsets and strengths of military spouses; and, share leading hiring and retention practices from successful teams across the Federal government. OPM has published this new guide on the FedsHireVets website and is providing the resource as part of annual training for agency human resources personnel and hiring managers.
  • Established Tax-Free Dependent Care Spending Accounts for Service members. In January 2024, DoD began implementing Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts to allow servicemembers and their families to use their pretax dollars to help cover the cost of child care and adult dependent care.
  • Reduced Child Care Costs for Military Families. In January 2024, DoD reduced the amounts that lower-earning servicemembers pay out of pocket for child care, lowering child care costs for the families of more than 32,000 children aged 0-12 enrolled in installation Child Development Programs. Military families earning $45,000 would see a 34% decrease in the amount they pay for child care.
  • Released Chief Human Capital Officer Guidance Memo. In November 2023, the Office of Personnel Management issued a Chief Human Capital Officer Guidance Memo encouraging federal agencies to improve work-place policies to help strengthen the recruitment and retention of military-connected federal employees.
  • Expanded the Military Spouse Employment Partnership. In October 2023, DoD inducted 130 new businesses as partners in the Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP), a recruitment and employment initiative that directly connects companies looking to grow their workforce with military spouses looking for work. Since MSEP launched in 2011, it has grown to include members from more than 700 businesses, nonprofits and federal agencies, which have collectively hired more than 275,000 military spouses.  
  • Launched Entrepreneurship Training Course for Military Spouses. In July 2023, the Small Business Administration launched the Military Spouse Pathways to Business Program, which provides a tailored curriculum through online and in-person courses to assist military spouses in starting and maintaining their small businesses as they transition duty-stations or relocate due to their spouses’ military service.

These actions represent the Biden-Harris Administration’s holistic commitment to ensuring that the Federal government is a leader among employers, modeling approaches to recruit, hire, and retain military spouse talent—but our work is not done. The First Lady’s Joining Forces initiative, in partnership with the National Security Council, will continue to lead federal departments and agencies in implementing the Executive Order on Advancing Economic Security for Military and Veteran Spouses, Military Caregivers, and Survivors. President Biden and Dr. Biden recognize that the commitment and resilience of military spouses and their families are essential to the recruitment, retention, and readiness of our Armed Forces. As Commander-in-Chief, the President will keep fighting for the economic, social, and emotional needs of our military and veteran families, caregivers, and survivors. 


Stay Connected

Sign Up

We'll be in touch with the latest information on how President Biden and his administration are working for the American people, as well as ways you can get involved and help our country build back better.

Opt in to send and receive text messages from President Biden.

Scroll to Top Scroll to Top