Federal Internship for Spouses, Military Spouses Only

President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 on October 28, 2009 and it had become Public Law No: 111-84. Sec. 564 of the Act is a pilot program to secure internships for military spouses with Federal agencies.

(a) Cost-reimbursement Agreements With Federal Agencies- The Secretary of Defense may enter into an agreement with the head of an executive department or agency that has an established internship program to reimburse the department or agency for authorized costs associated with the first year of employment of an eligible military spouse who is selected to participate in the internship program of the department or agency.

(b) Eligible Military Spouses-

  • (1) ELIGIBILITY- Except as provided in paragraph (2), any person who is married to a member of the Armed Forces on active duty is eligible for selection to participate in an internship program under a reimbursement agreement entered into under subsection (a).

  • (2) EXCLUSIONS- Reimbursement may not be provided with respect to the following persons:
    • (A) A person who is legally separated from a member of the Armed Forces under court order or statute of any State, the District of Columbia, or possession of the United States when the person begins the internship.
    • (B) A person who is also a member of the Armed Forces on active duty.
    • (C) A person who is a retired member of the Armed Forces.

(c) Funding Source- Amounts authorized to be appropriated for operation and maintenance, for Defense-wide activities, shall be available to carry out this section.

(d) Definitions- In this section:

  • (1) The term `authorized costs’ includes the costs of the salary, benefits and allowances, and training for an eligible military spouse during the first year of the participation of the military spouse in an internship program pursuant to an agreement under subsection (a).
  • (2) The term `internship’ means a professional, analytical, or administrative position in the Federal Government that operates under a developmental program leading to career advancement.

(e) Termination of Agreement Authority- No agreement may be entered into under subsection (a) after September 30, 2011. Authorized costs incurred after that date may be reimbursed under an agreement entered into before that date in the case of eligible military spouses who begin their internship by that date.

(f) Reporting Requirement- Not later than January 1, 2012, the Secretary of Defense shall submit to the congressional defense committees a report that provides information on how many eligible military spouses received internships pursuant to agreements entered into under subsection (a) and the types of internship positions they occupied. The report shall specify the number of interns who subsequently obtained permanent employment with the department or agency administering the internship program or with another department or agency. The Secretary shall include a recommendation regarding whether, given the investment of Department of Defense funds, the authority to enter into agreements should be extended, modified, or terminated.

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The defense appropriations act for FY 2010 is still in conference and has not been included in the omnibus spending bill that was just passed in Congress. Perhaps it’s not be too late to tell AFSA and your elected representatives to include Foreign Service spouses in this pilot program? If it is — there is always next year to lobby for a similar internship or fellowship. Contact AFSA here. Contact your elected representatives here.

Based on statistics presented in FLO’s 2009 ―Worldwide Family Member Employment overview, close to 10,000 adult family members accompany a U.S. Direct Hire employee on his/her overseas assignment. According to the Family Liaison Office — of this total, nearly two-thirds expressed an interest in working, while only a third was successful in finding employment. Unlike military spouses who may find employment inside military bases overseas, there are usually not enough jobs for diplomatic spouses overseas, inside the mission or in the local economy. And when jobs are available within the US missions, most jobs are clerical in nature and widely viewed by some 75% of family members with degrees (about half have advanced degrees) as not very challenging or interesting. A federal internship such as this would allow EFMs to obtain work experience for career advancement while accompanying the employee-spouse on a diplomatic assignment overseas. Which also means that returning home after years of being away would not put spouses and partners at a disadvantage when job hunting with their chequered and spotty resumes.